Remember That Anxiety Is A Normal Human Emotion To Feel
Bottom line: Dont shame yourself for how you feel. Driscoll said anxiety exists for a reason, and you dont need to brush it off as a problem thats all in your head.
There are legitimate problems in peoples lives setting off anxiety, he said, adding that behavioral therapy practices and mindfulness-based stress reduction have some of the strongest evidence bases out there for helping people let go of the struggle with anxiety.
So while this list provides a bunch of useful techniques that can work for one person, another may need more professional support to start feeling relief and thats OK.
Living With is a guide to navigating conditions that affect your mind and body. Each month, HuffPost Life will tackle very real issues people live with by offering different stories, advice and ways to connect with others who understand what its like. In May, were covering anxiety in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. Got an experience youd like to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What To Do When You Wake Up Depressed And Feel Bad In The Morning
- on June 26, 2019
Do you ever wake up and feel like you just dont want to get out of bed? Whether youre dreading the day ahead or feel too tired or sad to want to move, the energy and emotions you feel first thing in the morning can often dictate the course of the entire day.
When you wake up depressed, you need to take time to put yourself into the right state of mind, before you begin your day. No matter how bad you feel in the morning, you always have the ability to set your day off on the right foot.Fortunately, you always have the ability to set your day off on the right foot.
In this post Ill show you how.
First Thought Of The Day
Those that deal with intense anxiety often accidentally trigger their own anxiety symptoms. That’s because as soon as they wake up, they notice that they don’t have anxiety and start worrying they’ll experience it before long. This thought has the power to trigger a chain reaction that creates other symptoms of anxiety which then lead to even more anxious thoughts – and before you know it, youre stuck in a vicious cycle.
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Settle Into Your Routines
When it comes to sleep, routine is your best friend.
- Eating at the same time every day helps regulate your circadian rhythms.
- Eating breakfast signals that its time for your body to wake up.
- Regular daytime exercise releases endorphins and decreases levels of cortisol, the hormone behind stress.
- Going to bed at the same time every night teaches your body to get sleepy around the same time.
But if you want to lessen nighttime anxiety, its still important to implement a specific nighttime routine.
You cant expect to go from 100 mph and then suddenly stop, Dr. Albers says. Instead, institute a 30-minute transition between bedtime and the rest of your day.
Try quiet, tech-free activities that reduce your cortisol levels and help ease you into sleep, such as:
- Taking a bath.
- Doing yoga stretches.
The Answer: Morning Anxiety
Wide awake, but feeling wired, anxious, AND tired,Negative thoughts,What will the day bring?
Sadly, morning anxiety seems to be a common experience, given personal stories from family and friends, descriptions from clients, and the plethora of articles with titles like, Early Morning Anxiety, and Morning Panic. There are many possible contributing factors. Listed below are some explanations and ideas that will help:
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You Have Higher Amounts Of Stress Hormones In The Morning
“There’s actually a physiological reason why some people experience anxiety in the mornings,” Dr. Saltz says. “For one, it’s when cortisol levels are naturally at their highest.” She explains that cortisol is often called “the stress hormone” because high levels of it can lead to feeling stressed.
“There’s nothing you can do from stopping cortisol from raising slightly in the morningthat’s biologically what happensbut there are steps you can take to lower your cortisol overall so that it doesn’t peak as high,” Dr. Saltz says.
2. Coffee can lead to feeling anxious.
What you eat or drink in the morning can also lead to increased feelings of anxiety, according to Dr. Saltz. “The first thing many people do in the morning is drink a cup of coffee. Caffeine, particularly for people who already have anxiety, can definitely worsen the symptoms of that.” She explains that caffeine can lead to feeling jittery and having an increased heart rate. “Then our brain tries to come up with a reason to explain why we feel that way: I’m feeling jittery. I must be worried about X.” Dr. Saltz says this happens so quickly that it can feel like we have the thought first and then the physiological reaction, but it’s actually the other way around.
3. Sugar is another culprit.
4. Morning anxiety could also be a sign of having general anxiety disorder.
5. You’re chronically stressed.
Okay So What Can I Do To *stop* Feeling Anxious In The Am
If you feel anxious on some mornings when you have big events or things on your mind, here are five ways to cope that you can do on your own:
If morning anxiety is just a one-off thing for you, another solution is to think realistically about the day you have before you. Remember that whatever youre worrying about isnt as big a deal as youre making it out to be in your head.
But if you are dealing with anxiousness in the morning all the damn time and think you might have clinical anxiety, the first thing to do is to make an appointment with your doctor, who can refer you to a therapist. Therapy can help you learn to cope with your anxiety. While it might not put a stop to your anxious thoughts completely , therapy can teach you ways to make the anxiety go away faster.
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How To Sleep Through The Night
There isnt a one-size-fits-all approach to better sleep. In most cases, sleeping medications arent going to be the magic pill to help you avoid nighttime awakenings.
Instead, using several of these strategies to get quality nighttime sleep may help you avoid the dreaded 3 a.m. wake-up:
- Aim for a consistent bedtime each night, and wake up at the same time each morning.
- Sleep in a comfortable, dark, quiet space.
- Make sure youre sleepy enough before going to bed, and dont lay in bed for 20 minutes or more if you cant fall asleep.
- Adopt a nighttime routine that helps you relax, such as reading or meditating before bed.
- Turn off screens well before you turn the lights out.
- Get adequate exercise during the day, but avoid doing it right before bed.
- Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day.
- Eat dinner several hours before bedtime.
- Reconsider drinking alcohol late at night.
- Quit smoking.
Common Misconceptions About Anxiety
Unfortunately, there are several myths regarding anxiety and how its handled. Some prominent misconceptions include worrying is genetic and incurable, anxiety medication is addictive, using distractions or avoiding stressful situations can help minimize the threat of anxiety, and being around supportive people can cure anxiety.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Anxiety
When you cant sleep due to anxiety, you may experience behavioral changes, including:
- Feelings of being overwhelmed.
- Tense muscles.
Some people also have nocturnal panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden, intense burst of extreme fear. Nocturnal panic attacks only happen at night, and often wake you from sleep.
What Morning Anxiety Looks Like
There’s a difference between waking up and being in a bad mood because you don’t feel like going to work and having actual morning anxiety. Here are the signs of the latter, according to Dr. Saltz:
- A rush in adrenaline, such as a racing heart or increased jitteriness.
- Increased blood pressure.
- A sense of worry for no apparent reason.
- Feeling on edge, but you aren’t sure why.
- Exhaustion even though you’ve just slept.
As for why anxiety can strike in the morning, Dr. Saltz says there are a few factors at play that could cause morning anxiety:
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First Up What Causes Morning Anxiety
Since morning anxiety is a reaction to worry and stress, there are so many reasons why you may be waking up with racing thoughts. Some common factors include:
The cortisol awakening response : This stress hormone cortisol is released by the adrenal glands. This has been found to be at its highest in the first hour of waking for people who are dealing with excessive stress in their life.
Thinking too far ahead: Overthinking about what lies ahead and pondering it over and over can quickly get your mind racing and lead to anxious thoughts.
Eating or drinking first thing: Foods high in sugar and too much caffeine can increase anxiety symptoms.
Low blood sugar: Not eating enough food might exacerbate anxiety.
Chronic stress: if youre stressed before going to bed, youre more likely to wake up feeling stressed.
Anxiety disorder: experiencing anxiety in the morning could indicate that you have an underlying anxiety disorder.
Is It Possible To Stop Waking Up With Anxiety
In my clinical practice, morning anxiety was something I saw all the time. As a result, I developed a set of pretty effective tools and strategies to help people break the cycle of waking up with anxiety, and instead, retrain their brains to wake up into peace and calm instead.
The key idea, though, is that morning anxiety is a habit. This means that it will take some time, effort, and a little patience if you want to break it.
In the next section, Ill walk you through 10 of the best strategies Ive found for ending morning anxiety for good.
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Causes Of Anxiety In The Morning
When we wake up in the mornings, our stress hormone, cortisol, is naturally higher. It tends to rise shortly before we wake up and is highest in the 30-45 minutes after waking. This is called the Cortisol Awakening Response .3 For those with morning anxiety, this increase in cortisol plays a factor in an increase in anxiety, since high cortisol leads to a faster heartbeat, increased blood flow, and higher adrenalineall of which are triggers for heightened anxiety.
It is also common for those who experience anxiety when they go to sleep to have higher levels of cortisol in their body, resulting in a greater release of cortisol in the morning that further adds to their feelings of morning anxiety.1,2,3 Its evident that there are many interrelated factors and mechanisms at play when it comes to the occurrence of anxiety and how it is experienced by individuals.
Furthermore, there is also a direct link between caffeine, sugar, and anxiety where an increase in these substances often contributes to higher anxiety. Likewise, low blood sugar can also worsen anxiety, so its important to eat regular, balanced, and healthy meals and stay hydrated with water as much as possible. In doing so, one may find that their anxiety in the morning remains at a more manageable level.2
Focus On Good Sleep Hygiene
If you find yourself having challenges falling asleep or staying asleep, it may mean that you need to work on your sleep hygiene. You can do this by trying to reduce your screen time before bed, going to sleep at a consistent time every night, engaging in relaxing activities before bed . All of these ideas can help you achieve better quality sleep, which can also help reduce how intense your anxiety may be upon waking up.
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How To Reduce Morning Anxiety
Your alarm goes off. Instead of waking up refreshed and energized, a very different feeling kicks in anxiety.
Anxiety is like an unwelcome visitor popping in when you least expect it. When you experience anxious thoughts or feelings in the morning, it robs your peace of mind and sets the tone for your whole day. Why do you wake up with butterflies in your stomach? How can you get rid of these feelings? Here are some ways you can address morning anxiety and improve your overall outlook for the day.
Scheduled Time To Worry On Purpose
Worry is the engine of anxiety: The more you worry, the more anxious youre going to feel.
So whether you worry at work or at home, in the evenings or first thing in the morning, the only way to control your anxiety is to control the worry that produces it.
And the best exercise I know to get your worry under control is a little routine called scheduled worry. The basic idea is that you make a little time each day to worry on purpose and on paper. By getting your worries out of your head and actually acknowledging them, you train your brain that theres a right time to worryand by extension, not to worry during other times.
It seems counterintuitive, but making time to worry on purpose at a regular time is by far the most powerful way I know to reduce the habit of worry. And when you get better at breaking the habit of worry, youll end up feeling much less anxious.
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You Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder
If you have a big day coming up, like a job interview, you can understand why you might wake up with anxiety. But if you arise with anxiety about nothing in particular on a regular basis, it could be a sign of something bigger. Celebrity doctor Andrew Weil, M.D. wrote that if you wake up with anxiety consistently, the cause may be that you have generalized anxiety disorder . People who have GAD cant seem to shake their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants, Dr. Weil writes. See a medical professional, like your family doctor or a therapist, if you think you have GAD so you can be diagnosed and start learning ways to manage it.
Catastrophising In The Wee Hours
As a cognitive therapist, I sometimes joke the only good thing about 3am waking is that it gives us all a vivid example of catastrophising.
Around this time in the sleep cycle, we’re at our lowest ebb physically and cognitively. From nature’s viewpoint, this is meant to be a time of physical and emotional recovery, so it’s understandable that our internal resources are low.
But we also lack other resources in the middle of the night social connections, cultural assets, all the coping skills of an adult are unavailable at this time. With none of our human skills and capital, we are left alone in the dark with our thoughts. So the mind is partly right when it concludes the problems it’s generated are unsolvable at 3am, most problems literally would be.
Once the sun’s up, we’re listening to the radio, chewing our Vegemite toast and pushing the cat off the bench, our 3am problems are put in perspective. We can’t believe the solution of just ringing this person, postponing that thing, or checking such-and-such was overlooked in the wee hours.
The truth is, our mind isn’t really looking for a solution at 3am. We might think we are problem solving by mentally working over issues at this hour, but this isn’t really problem solving it’s problem solving’s evil twin worry.
Worry is identifying a problem, ruminating about the worst possible outcome and neglecting the resources we would bring to bear should the non-preferred outcome actually occur.
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Symptoms Of And Myths About Anxiety
Many people conflate stress and anxiety, but theyre different. Websters defines anxiety as being uneasy, apprehensive or worried about what may happen, whereas stress is mental or emotional tension or strain characterized by feelings of anxiety, fear, etc. Stress can also be defined as not having the resources to complete a task, while anxiety is usually tied to a perceived threat, real or imagined. Stress may be alleviated by accomplishing the task, but anxiety sticks around, producing a host of physical and psychological symptoms.
Reflect On What Youre Looking Forward To
During an anxiety peak, it may be difficult to think about anything other than feeling anxious or stressed. However, it can also be helpful to think about something youre looking forward to time with your child or partner, meeting up with a friend for a walk, or devoting time to a hobby of yours. In thinking this way, you give anxiety less of a hold over your life and you get to take front and center on the stage.
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