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Tips to Reduce Morning Anxiety

Is Your Anxiety Worse in the Morning?

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Updated May 30, 2014

If you have a panic disorder or another anxiety disorder, you may find mornings especially difficult. Many people with an anxiety disorder experience the start of each day with fear. Do you awaken filled with anxiety, feeling like you just want to curl up under the covers and not face the day ahead? If your answer is yes, then there are some things you can do to minimize your morning anxiety.

  1. Examine Your Sleep Habits

    Are you getting enough sleep? Or are you plagued with difficulty falling asleep or waking up too early? Poor sleep patterns and insomnia are known to cause a variety of psychological and physical complaints. These include headaches, decreased energy, poor concentration, short-term memory problems, irritability and anxiety. By regulating your sleep patterns, you can reduce morning anxiety and improve your ability to carry out your daily activities. If you find you are unable to sleep well despite practicing good sleep hygiene, talk with your doctor. There are a variety of safe and effective medications that may help you get your 40 winks.

  2. Examine Your Morning Stressors

    Can you identify parts of your morning routine that you find anxiety-provoking? For example, are you jolted awake from a peaceful slumber by the screeching sound of an alarm clock? Perhaps an alarm clock that wakes you to soothing music would be better. Do you feel anxious because you’re rushed in the morning? Make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to start your day without the added stress of being hurried. This may mean doing some of your morning tasks the night before (i.e., packing lunches, preparing clothes, etc.).

  3. Start Your Day with Some Relaxation Exercises

    Doing some relaxation exercises in the morning only takes about 10 to 15 minutes, but you’ll probably feel the benefits all day. If you start your day relaxed and focused, you may feel a sense of emotional balance that carries you through your day. Some techniques to try include:


  4. Start Your Day with Positive Thoughts and Affirmations

    If you’ve been dealing with morning anxiety for some time, it’s possible that you have developed automatic negative thought patterns: your mind awakens, and without any conscious effort on your part, worried and anxious thoughts take center stage, leading to more anxiety. It takes practice, but you can change these negative thought patterns. First, identify the thoughts that need change, and then develop your own positive counter statements. For example:

    You wake up and your first thoughts are:

    I feel terrible.
    How am I going to drive to work today?
    I’ll never get through the day.
    What’s wrong with me?

    You can replace these negative thoughts with positive statements, such as:

    Yes, I feel anxious this morning, but I have felt this way before and have been able to handle it.
    If I have trouble with anxiety during the day, I can use relaxation techniques that will calm me down.
    I am in control.
    Anxiety is a normal human emotion, and it is my cue to relax.

    The idea is that by changing your thoughts, you can change how you feel. The goal is to interrupt your pattern of negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts and affirmations. Negative thoughts are fuel for anxiety. Positive, encouraging and optimistic thinking, on the other hand, makes it much more difficult for anxiety to be maintained.

    Elizabeth Scott, your About.com guide to stress management, provides an insightful look at using positive affirmations to reduce anxiety.

  5. Consider Your Diet

    Studies have shown that people with panic disorder are more sensitive to certain substances than are people without the disorder. When these substances are given to people with panic disorder, the result is increased anxiety or a panic attack. Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are known triggers. It’s best to nix the alcohol nightcap and the morning cup of caffeinated pick-me-up.

    Some people have found that decreases in blood sugar can result in anxiety. The drop in blood sugar during the long hours of sleep may account for some morning anxiety. Try eating a high-protein snack before bed. If you suspect your morning anxiety is caused from a drop in blood sugar, you can keep healthy snacks on your nightstand to be eaten before you get out of bed in the morning. It’s best to stick with healthy snacks high in protein or complex carbohydrates (i.e., fruits, vegetables). Avoid sugary snacks as these will likely cause your blood sugar to drop just as fast as it went up.

  6. Talk to Your Therapist or Doctor

    If you take medications, review your regimen with your doctor. Perhaps changing medications or changing the times you take them may help your morning anxiety. Ask your therapist about additional ways you can cope with your specific morning tension and anxiety.

Source:

Bengston, M. Sleep Disorders: Tips for A Good Night’s Sleep. PsychCentral.com. 2005.

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