Morning Anxiety: Why it Happens and Ways to Decrease it

Do you wake up in the morning feeling anxious and stressed? If so, you're not alone. Morning anxiety is a common problem for many people. Morning anxiety can often feel confusing because we haven't even started our day yet and we're already feeling overwhelmed.

So what's going on? Why do we feel so anxious in the morning?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to morning anxiety. Biologically, one common culprit is cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol levels are at their highest in the morning, which can cause us to feel anxious and stressed. So, why are our cortisol levels the highest in the morning? Well, cortisol is actually part of our natural sleep/wake cycle. It is supposed to help to wake us up in the morning and get us going for the day. However, if we're already feeling stressed and anxious or are more prone to stress and anxiety, this can cause our cortisol levels to spike even higher. Which ultimately leads to these unpleasant feelings in the morning.

Another factor is that we often have a lot of things on our mind first thing in the morning. We're thinking about all the things we need to do that day and feeling overwhelmed before we even get started. This can lead to a lot of negative self-talk and rumination in the morning. If we're not careful, this can quickly spiral into a full-blown anxiety attack.

So, what can we do to decrease morning anxiety?

There are a number of things that can help. One helpful strategy is self-regulation. This means taking some time for yourself in the morning to relax and center yourself before starting your day. This can look like meditation, yoga, journaling, or simply taking a few deep breaths.

Taking some time for yourself will help you feel more calm and prepared to face the day ahead. Additionally, breakfast, as cliché as it might sound, is actually really important. It is especially important in regards to cortisol. Eating a nutritious breakfast will help to stabilize cortisol levels in your body. And as much as it pains me to say this...try to limit coffee consumption in the morning. Or try switching to tea for a less caffeinated morning drink option.

Also, try to start your day with something easy. If you have a lot of things on your to-do list, start with something that is quick and easy to cross off. This will help you feel more accomplished and less overwhelmed as you start your day.

So, if you're struggling with morning anxiety, know that you're not alone. But also know that there are things that you can do to help decrease those feelings. Try some of the strategies I mentioned above and see if they work for you. And, most importantly, be patient with yourself. It takes time to change our habits and patterns. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself some time to adjust. With a little bit of effort, you can start to enjoy your mornings again.