What is Morning Anxiety?
Although morning anxiety is not a medical term, it does refer to waking up in the morning with feelings of stress and worry. If you are dealing with excessive stress, anxiety and worry when you wake, there’s a good chance you may also have generalised anxiety.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterised by uncontrolled and excessive worry that permeates daily life, frequently occurring for at least six months. People with GAD tend to worry about everyday activities such as family, money, work and health.
Morning Anxiety Symptoms
Morning Anxiety symptoms can mimic those of GAD. If you are struggling with anxiety when you wake up, you may experience:
- feeling on edge, restless, or wound up
- signs of panic such as tense muscles, tight chest, increased heart rate, or difficulty breathing
- difficulty concentrating or finding that your mind goes blank
- difficulty controlling nervousness and worry
What Causes Morning Anxiety?
A number of factors can cause morning anxiety. As morning anxiety is a reaction to excess worry and stress, several potential causes may contribute to your symptoms.
- Cortisol (one of our stress hormones) is released by the adrenal glands in response to stress or fear. Research has identified the cortisol awakening response (CAR) is most elevated in the first hour of waking up for people with higher levels of stress in their lives.
Food and Drink
- It’s no surprise that what we might eat and drink first thing in the morning may also contribute to higher anxiety levels at the beginning of our days. It’s a tricky balance to get the right mix for your body, as too much sugar and caffeine can increase anxiety symptoms; however, low blood sugar due to a lack of food can also increase anxiety symptoms.
- How you go to bed greatly impacts how you wake up. Going to bed worrying or waking up during the night with anxious thoughts increases your chances of feeling anxious and concerned when you first wake.
Morning Anxiety Treatment
Living with an anxiety disorder can really feel like a never-ending downward spiral of worry. But it does not have to take over your life. There are treatments and lifestyle changes that can help you and your body cope with anxiety and anxiety symptoms.
Psychotherapy / Talk Therapies
- Talk therapies can help you understand how anxiety affects your life. Therapists will work with you to develop strategies to decrease your symptoms’ severity. Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is one type of talk therapy that looks at the important role thinking plays in how we feel and what we do. Cognitive behavioural therapy teaches new ways of thinking and reacting to situations that cause anxiety.
- Medications such as anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants can help relieve anxiety symptoms.
- Brainwave entrainment is a wellness tool that uses high-frequency LED light to target fight or flight activity in the brain. This may help to reduce thoughts and feelings associated with anxiety.
- Brainwave Entrainment is a simple, non-invasive and deeply relaxing way to support a healthy mood, emotional well-being and positive, calm brain states. Designed to complement the successful management of mental health and wellness conditions.
- Lifestyle changes can support better management of morning anxiety, including:
- Ensure you get enough sleep
- limiting alcohol and caffeine
- eating a healthy diet, limiting processed foods and sugar
- If possible, reduce stressful situations at work or home
- Physical exercise
- Mindfulness and Mediation
- Deep breathing exercises
- Try to challenge any negative thoughts and stop the storytelling spiral.