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3 Easy and Simple Secrets for Relieving Morning Anxiety and Stress

By Krista

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Last Updated: November 12, 2021

For some individuals, mornings offer a fresh start.

They wake up feeling good, happy, and ready for the day. It’s almost like nothing can stop them. For others, the morning offers the completely opposite ordeal. Maybe you can relate. 

You wake up, and before you can stop them, your thoughts start racing. The worries of the day flood your mind, creating feelings of overwhelm and stress. Basically, the day has barely begun but you’re already in panic mode.

All in all, morning anxiety makes it tough to get anything done. You might even think about hiding under the covers for a little longer, attempting to avoid any problems and tasks entirely. 

So, let’s get you out of this rut. What can you do to combat morning anxiety? And why are mornings so tough in the first place?

 

What is Morning Anxiety?

The American historian, Alice Morse Earle, once said,

“Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.” 

In the midst of morning anxiety, that might not mean much. Yet, as the day goes on, you might begin to agree with this quote. The day isn’t as bad as it started. But why does it often start so bad in the first place?

Morning anxiety refers to feelings of stress and excessive worry first thing in the morning.

Many individuals that struggle with morning anxiety also have a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). However, just because you’re going through a rough time where morning anxiety keeps happening, it doesn’t necessarily mean this is the case. 

GAD is when this excessive worry continues for six months or more. In these cases, anxiety begins to significantly interfere with your daily life, such as your work, finances, health, and more.

Symptoms of morning anxiety often are very similar to GAD and may include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Trouble controlling your worries or stress

Related Article: How to Handle Post Quarantine Anxiety and New Social Norms

 

What Causes Morning Anxiety?

Morning anxiety is due to heightened stress and worries.

This means that a number of factors can impact whether or not you experience increased anxiety in the morning.

However, physiologically, there is a reason you might have more anxiety in the morning than at any other time of the day. The stress hormone, cortisol, is highest during the morning hours.

This is because as melatonin levels decrease (which are the reason you get sleepy at night), cortisol levels increase, elevating your alertness. 

If you’re already stressed about something, cortisol can spike even higher. Additionally, throwing caffeine into the mix can also cause an influx of cortisol. So, what can you do about it?

 

3 Ways to Combat Morning Anxiety and Stress

Undeniably, starting your day with increased anxiety doesn’t exactly set the right tone for the rest of your day.

If anything, you might end up carrying this stress with you as you go about your daily activities, leading to other issues and even more emotional distress. 

Luckily, there are things you can do about it. Below, we explore three ultra-simple and easy ways you can decrease your morning anxiety and set yourself up for success.

 

1. Practice Stress-Reducing Techniques First Thing

Beginning your day feeling relaxed and focused can ensure your day goes to plan. In turn, this can contribute to your overall happiness and fulfillment in life. Thus, some relaxing morning techniques you might want to try include:

  • Deep Breathing - Deep breathing through your nose can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system (your rest and digest mode). This can lower the stress response and help you find a state of calm.
  • Journaling - Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you explore and manage your stress and anxiety. It offers a way for you to vent and examine your thoughts and feelings from a more objective standpoint.
  • Meditation - Meditation is a wonderful morning mental practice that can help you gain back control of your thoughts, as well as live more in the present moment — without fear or worry of the future.
  • Progressive Relaxation - This simple technique involves contracting each muscle group, one at a time, then intentionally relaxing them.

Related Article: 10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Well-Being Right Now

 

2. Eat a Healthy and Nutritious Breakfast

A sure-fire way to deter a cortisol spike in the morning is by eating breakfast.

In the morning, your blood sugar is low. Cortisol can increase to compensate for this and to help the body dig into other energy stores to keep you going. 

But instead of letting cortisol do its thing, eating can help limit the stress response and help you feel more level-headed. In fact, you should be eating breakfast within a half-hour to an hour of waking up anyway, since you’ve, technically, been fasting all night long while you sleep.

On top of this, you should eat before grabbing that cup of coffee. If you opt for your coffee before food, you might find yourself feeling more stressed since caffeine can quickly elevate the stress response.

What are some healthy options you can choose for breakfast? Try these:

  • Greek yogurt and berries
  • Eggs and fruit
  • Eggs and potatoes
  • Veggie omelet with orange juice
  • Fruit smoothie with protein powder

3. Nail Down Your Sleep Schedule and Habits

This one isn’t exactly a secret. For optimal mental and physical health, sleep is of the utmost importance. Getting your sleep routine down-pat is one of the best things you can do for your health and happiness.

Some things you might want to consider include:

  • Waking up and going to bed at the same time so that you can obtain 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Avoiding screens 1-2 hours before bed.
  • Engaging in a relaxing and calming activity before bed, such as reading, completing a puzzle, or drawing.
  • Reserving the bed space for sleeping and sex only.
  • Sleeping in a dark, cool, and quiet room. If this isn’t possible, invest in earplugs and a sleep mask.

 

Experiment and Find What Works for You!

Ultimately, not everyone is the same.

It may take some testing to determine what exactly works for you, your body, and your mind so that you feel calmer and more collected throughout your mornings. Try the above. And remember, it takes time for the body to adjust!

Give each adjustment a good amount of time for testing, such as a week or a month.

Morning anxiety doesn’t have to be your norm. You can overcome it, and even make mornings one of your favorite times of the day.

Read Next: 8 Good Morning Inspirations You Need to Try Each Day

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

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