We’ve all experienced dread when we first wake in the morning. A presentation we need to give, a difficult meeting to attend or heavy workload might be the cause. For others it can be the thought of running the kids around or doing the shopping. The reasons for morning anxiety can be environmental, physical or emotional and often it becomes a habit.
Whatever the cause, the symptoms are the same. You feel a sudden burst of anxiety as soon as you wake and your brain switches on. Many people who experience anxiety report the symptoms are most severe in the early morning.
Research tells us there may be multiple reasons for suffering morning anxiety. While asleep at night, we’re relaxed and the waking state can jar and make us immediately anxious. As we wake our bodies release the hormone cortisol which is also released when we’re stressed. At night while we sleep our blood sugar levels drop which can cause anxiety upon waking in some people. For many of us, we start the day with the same routine, with the same negative focus and therefore we prepare our bodies each day for stress and negativity. It becomes habitual. How many times have you awoken feeling neutral and then raised your anxiety by immediately checking your phone, emails or battling with your children. Once you have set a pattern of negativity and anxiety, it can become such a habit that you will make sure you feel it before you have finished your morning routine.
Many people suffer a little anxiousness as they wake in the morning which is completely normal but when the anxiety becomes all-consuming and debilitating, it interferes with a sufferer’s everyday life. But there are steps you can take to ease the anxiety.
7 Steps to Start the Day Right
Make some slight changes in your morning routine and you could get off to a better start.
People around the world over use meditation as a way of starting their day on the right foot. Research has shown that regular meditation can reprogram neural pathways in the brain which improve our ability to regulate emotions.
Meditation can help change a person’s relationship with anxiety by differentiating between an irrational episode and the truth. Meditation has also been found to reduce the body’s stress response by decreasing the heart rate and blood pressure.
#2 Morning Exercise
Putting on your sneakers as soon as you wake up and heading out for some early morning exercise is an excellent way of reducing anxiety. Research has found that it takes just 10 minutes of exercise to provide several hours of relief from anxiety and depression. It doesn’t need to be vigorous exercise like running, to realise the benefits, a brisk walk can be just as effective.
Exercising outside in a natural setting has been found to have additional benefits of improved self-esteem and mood, particularly for those who suffer from depression and anxiety. PeopleSense by Altius has accredited exercise physiologists who can provide individual exercise support.
#3 Deep Breathing
Some people prefer a form of meditation known as deep breathing to improve their peace of mind. Studies have shown controlling your breath can help manage stress and stress-related conditions.
People use the relaxed technique of breathing through the nose in a relaxed, even way to calm the nervous system and control the body’s involuntary functions.
#4 Eat A Healthy Breakfast
Starting the day off with just a coffee, and no food can make your anxiety worse, because caffeine can cause people to feel tense and jittery.
Overhaul your breakfast by eating nutritious, filling foods that fuel the mind and body. There are anxiety-fighting foods that are perfect for breakfast.
Egg yolks are a good source of vitamin D that helps with mood and depression. Yoghurt produces an anti-inflammatory response in the body and research has found chronic inflammation may be partly responsible for anxiety and stress.
Chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory and relaxant properties that can help reduce anxiety. If you prefer green tea, you’re in luck because the amino acid, theanine, has anti-anxiety and calming effects. PeopleSense by Altius offers a referral service to a nutritionist or dietician if you need nutrition support.
#5 Complete that Lingering Task
If your anxiety is attributed to a task you’re procrastinating about, commit yourself to get it done early in the day, so it doesn’t cause any further anxiety through the day. A task often becomes bigger or uglier in our mind, than it really is because we put it off.
Once you’ve trained yourself in this habit, your morning anxiety should decrease because you know you will have accomplished your most onerous task well before morning tea.
#6 Reinvent Yourself
Your body and mind like routines and familiarity. Therefore, if feeling anxious is familiar and regular, your body and mind will treat this as your normal state and try to return you there; even when it feels awful. It sounds ridiculous that your body would do this to itself, but is how anxiety can become habitual. It's almost like we habitually rehearse thoughts and feelings that make us feel bad. Breaking habits means doing things differently. Thinking differently, acting differently and responding emotionally differently. Reinventing yourself means preparing to react to your morning routine as a person who does not have anxiety. So, change your morning routine - for example, start the day with mediation, do not look at your phone/emails until you leave the house, focus on good feelings and thoughts, such as how soft and warm your bed is, and how great today is likely to be.
Once you are caught in a pattern of habitual negative thoughts, it can be really hard to change. If you need assistance with this PeopleSense by Altius has experienced psychologists who can help you work through this, step by step.
#7 Seek Help
Anxiety can be terrifying and debilitating. If you’re experiencing anxiety that affects your day, talking with a professional psychologist can help uncover the reason/s for your anxiety and help find strategies to help you deal with it. Call PeopleSense by Altius on 1300 307 912 or (08) 9388 9000, or contact us online.