Morning anxiety (A Brief Guide)


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Page last updated: 18/10/2022

Morning anxiety

In this guide, we will discuss what morning anxiety is and some tips to cope with it. 

Morning anxiety: What is it?

Morning anxiety seems to be more common than we might think. It is not considered a medical term and it is not an official mental illness categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, morning anxiety can be described as the anxiety you experience when you wake up. 

If the morning anxiety symptoms get worse or start manifesting in other contexts then, you may also have generalized anxiety. According to Timothy J. Legg from Healthline “Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by an excessive and uncontrolled worry that pervades daily life and occurs frequently for at least six months. People with GAD typically worry about everyday actives such as work, money, family, and health.”

However experiencing anxiety in the morning is not necessarily a bad thing, if we are talking acute anxiety it can even give us a boost to tackle our daily tasks.  During the morning our bodies tend to produce a greater amount of cortisol with the intention of waking us up but this is not the real problem. 

The problem is that it is no secret that cortisol is also involved in our “flight or fight” response to dangerous or threatening situations. This increased amount of cortisol released into our bloodstream can account for the morning anxiety. However, this physiological response doesn’t stop with cortisol since during the morning our body lowers sugar levels since we have been without food for a few hours. 

This means low blood sugar can actually contribute to increasing anxiety and having hypoglycemia can simulate the symptoms of a panic attack. Try “keeping healthy food by your bedside, such as whole-grain crackers, unsalted nuts, or granola bars (not overly processed, full-of-refined-sugar granola bars) to eat first thing when you awaken can help head off that panicky feeling (”

Are there any signs or symptoms?

The common symptoms of morning anxiety resemble or mimic the ones from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. When you are struggling with anxiety upon waking, you can experience:

  • Restlessness or feelings of being “on-edge”
  • Becoming irritable
  • Feeling fatigued or tired
  • Panic attacks or signs of having one such as pain chest, tight or tense muscles, faster heart rate, and breathing.
  • Difficulties concentrating 
  • Your mind going blank
  • Difficulties controlling the intrusive thoughts
Morning anxiety (A Brief Guide)

Common causes of morning anxiety

There are many factors associated with morning anxiety and those factors can also contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder. 

One of the many factors can be associated with having higher levels of the “stress hormone” called cortisol. This hormone is released by the adrenal glands when we face a fearful or stressful situation. Some researchers have found that cortisol is at its peak in the first hour after waking up in people with an increased stress response. Therefore, the effects of cortisol on morning anxiety need to be studied in depth.

Additionally, eating or drinking certain things can also elevate your anxiety during the first hours of your day. For instance, caffeine or sugary foods can increase your anxiety symptoms and if you have low blood sugar levels due to not eating then you can also make your anxiety symptoms worsen. 

Going to bed with a certain worrying thought or waking up in the middle of the night with such thoughts then you are very prone to feel anxious the next morning. 

Is there a treatment for morning anxiety?

Living with anxiety can become exhausting, frustrating and draining. Fortunately, there are treatment options available to help you cope with morning anxiety.

Some of the most useful treatment options are:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or (CBT) focuses on the role your thoughts have in your behavior. This type of therapy can help you by giving you the tools to modify your current thoughts to subsequently modify your behavior. 

  • Antianxiety medication. These types of medications can help relieve the symptoms related to anxiety. Your doctor is the only capable of prescribing anti-anxiety medication and will do so if he/she considers it a good option since there are some side effects associated with them and everyone seems to react differently. 

Establish a morning routine!

Most people with morning anxiety have an ineffective morning routine. We invite you to analyze your current morning routine and compare it with the following:

Wake up earlier

Do you get that feeling where you get up scared moved by the fear of being already late? This happens a lot when we have 10 alarms set at the same time or when we tend to snooze the alarm. Find out the best alarm clocks for anxiety.

So we get up in a hurry, rushing to get ready and get going. Try waking up an hour earlier, meaning, an hour earlier from the normal time you leave. 

Avoid checking your phone until you leave

I know, we wake up and we tend to scroll through our Facebook feed our Instagram or even just your emails. and this takes an important amount of time out of your morning routine. This also can make you elevate your anxiety since you are getting bombarded with many possible triggers. 

Sometimes out mind starts to wonder after you see someone getting married or having kids, getting into a relationship or getting engaged, traveling, having a job promotion, and so on. This can cause a lot of anxiety since the beginning of your day and can accompany you for the rest of it.  

Breathe for a couple of minutes and stretch

As soon as you open your eyes try taking a few deep breaths, feel how the air fills your lungs and how it gets out. Additionally, try stretching your muscles to help you get up and be more energized. 

Drink some water as soon as you get up

Sometimes we live such chaotic and busy lives we forget to drink enough water. This can cause dehydration, which in turn prevents the body from normal and efficient functioning. Probably the lack of water is not responsible for your anxiety alone, but it has been shown to be a contributing factor. 

Try leaving a glass of water close, next to your bed so once you are up in the morning you can have some water.  Some people say they feel more awake and less sluggish after drinking water first thing in the morning. 

Be grateful

“Gratitude works against anxiety by forcing your brain to focus on the positive. As anyone with anxiety knows, you’re consumed by negative thoughts day in and day out. Stepping out of that pattern of darkness first thing in the morning helps to get your day started on a positive note (”

With that said, try keeping a journal and try writing down something you are grateful for. This will help you pause for a minute and think about the things you are the most grateful for even if they are perceived as very small. You can be grateful for the beautiful weather outside or the sound of the birds chirping outside or being able to have hot water while to take a shower in the morning. 

Recommendations to stop morning anxiety from ruining your day

  • Before going to bed try to put all your devices on silent and keep them out of your sight. If you receive a late-night notification about something stressful or something you are supposed to do the next morning, well, it will only increase your anxiety. 

But even if it is not something stressful, it can also be celebrity gossiping or anything else. The blue lights from screens can disrupt your sleep and prevent melatonin production which is a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. 

  • Try meditating. Before going to bed you can try some mindfulness exercises to anticipate the next morning. This practice can help you calm your mind and ease your anxiety. Also, during the first few minutes of your morning practice meditating for a few minutes. This will distract your brain from the intrusive thoughts and help you to control your anxiety.
  • Acknowledge your anxiety, don’t try to hide it. Notice you are anxious and your physical reactions. Take some deep breaths and accept your anxiety and your emotions. However, accepting it doesn’t mean you approve your anxiety or like it. It is just being aware of its existence in order to find ways to manage it and not hide it, making your symptoms even worse. 

Why is this blog about “how to get rid of morning anxiety” important?

Morning anxiety is something most of us can relate to but we are not sure sometimes how to effectively get rid of it. Here we presented some useful tips and tricks that can help you manage your morning anxiety. It will probably won’t disappear but it will become more manageable and tolerable, preventing from significantly interfering with your daily activities. 

Individuals will find this blog helpful because some believe that the answer to their question, why one wakes up confused or anxious lies in the understanding of morning anxiety.

Please feel free to comment in the comments section below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to get rid of morning anxiety

What causes severe morning anxiety?

Severe morning anxiety can be triggered by many factors, some of those are related to the stress hormone being released into the bloodstream increasing your anxiety in the morning. Additionally, financial problems, work, school, relationships, among others. 

How do you calm down anxiety?

There are some useful tips to help you calm down anxiety, some of them are:

Breathing exercises
Admit you are anxious and recognize the symptoms
Challenge your thoughts and rationalize them
Release your anxiety and your anger
Listen to some relaxing music
Take a warm bath
Shift your focus

Is an anxiety disorder permanent?

An anxiety disorder can become permanent if left untreated. The symptoms can be relieved through medication, therapy or other tips/techniques but the propensity to have anxiety is considered a permanent part of a person’s psychological makeup. The relief of symptoms is not permanent, but it can temporarily help you manage your anxiety. 

What triggers anxiety?

There can be many triggers for anxiety, it really depends on the person but some of the most common triggers are relationship distress, financial problems, work or school, being abused, certain medication or substances. 

What is a nervous breakdown?

A nervous breakdown is a term used to refer to a period of intense mental distress that causes an inability to function properly in your everyday life activities. It can also be considered as a breaking point where the person becomes vulnerable to developing a mental illness.