One of the best ways to manage anxiety is to look for patterns. Ask yourself, when does anxiety occur most for you? Many people feel their most anxious in the morning and so I have written a short case study about morning anxiety. I want to identify the factors that can make this worse and include my recommendations for starting the day on a more positive note.
In the first hour after we wake, there is a natural increase in the stress hormone within our body. This can be compounded by many factors including what we put into our body, our mindset and what we did the night before.
Starting the day with a healthy breakfast is so important in the quest to reduce morning anxiety. Caffeine, however, can increase our experiences of anxiety so be wary of drinking caffeine before any food has hit your stomach. Staying hydrated by ensuring you drink water, on the other hand, can significantly reduce anxiety first thing. Drinking alcohol the night before can also make a big difference to those that suffer from morning anxiety. The withdrawal from the effects of the alcohol can cause an overwhelming feeling of depression and anxiety.
Engaging in negative self talk in the morning is a common factor too. We can fall into traps of anticipating the events of the day and worry before anything has even happened. On top of this, following the daily news first thing in the morning can trigger anxiety and fill our brains with worry.
Finally, a poor sleep routine can often be the most important factor in increased morning anxiety. It is important to not only get enough deep sleep but, if possible, have a calming and relaxing bedtime routine to ensure our sleep is recuperative. To promote restful sleep, we want our bedrooms to be a welcoming space, free from clutter, technology and other disruptions such as bright lights.
A good morning starts the night before so practicing good sleep hygiene can make all the difference. Follow a guided relaxation or meditation, and engage in some bedtime stretches or yoga practice, as part of a relaxing pre-bedtime routine.
If you go to bed worried or wake up in the night with anxious thoughts, you are more likely to feel anxious and concerned the next morning. Clear your mind as the last thing you do before sleep. You should feel more refreshed and prepared to face the day the next morning.
Begin the day by waking up with a gentle alarm clock that fades in gradually so that you don’t wake with a sudden jolt. This isn’t always achievable with children, I know, but the idea is to wake up slowly, giving yourself time to gradually adjust and stretch your body out. Starting the day in a state of hurry only provokes more stress and anxiety. If you struggle to wake up, having a shower and alternating the temperature can help or using an uplifting scented citrus shower gel.
Next, practice some affirmations. Self-compassion and acceptance are important to focus on. Be gentle to yourself, morning anxiety is common and it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you. Tell yourself, you are doing your best and you are exactly where you need to be.
As mentioned before, starting the day with breakfast is very important. Allow extra time if need be to make sure you get something in your stomach; this is crucial in stabilising your blood sugar. Healthy and satisfying options include wholemeal toast or porridge with cinnamon. If possible, skip the caffeine and if decaffeinated tea or coffee doesn’t do it for you, try a milky drink with honey or revitalising herbal tea.
I hope these suggestions are useful and help you to reduce your morning anxiety!
Written by Jane Etty