They say the morning is the best part of the day, but if you suffer from morning anxiety, then you’ll know that that isn’t always the case. My own morning anxiety is very up and down, I can go weeks without it, but if I’m stressed or unhappy, then just as easily I can wake up with it every single morning for weeks and weeks and weeks. Over time, I’ve found some quick ways to help get on top of it. I can’t promise all of these will work for you, but I wanted to share some of my findings with you in the hope that it might help you too!
1. Wake up gently – trust me, I know this isn’t always possible! But anyone who suffers from morning anxiety knows that waking up with a shock or a start is a disaster. So banish any piercing and loud alarms you may have and when it comes to waking up, set a really gentle alarm to start going off a bit before you would normally wake – try one of those that gradually gets louder – but don’t set it to anything other than a gentle birdsong or waves or nature noise. If you want to invest in some gadgets, it’s worth looking into a daylight lamp or a lumie alarm to gently increase the light in the room to wake you up naturally and gently.
2. Get moving – when you wake up in a panic, or the worry hits you in the face as soon as you open your eyes, you probably just want to crawl straight back under the covers. Don’t do this! The best thing you can do to quell the stress is to start moving, even if it’s just to go to the bathroom or to the kitchen to get a drink. As long as you’re moving, you’re distracting your mind a little – sitting in bed and dwelling won’t help AT ALL.
3. Shake – I know right, sounds a little odd? But have you ever seen an animal shake themselves after they walk away from a fight or a scare? Well, it’s actually something humans could benefit from – and this is because you need to physically stop the anxiety affecting your body. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell yourself to ‘calm down’, your mind can’t calm your body – you actually need to shake it off, literally! So, shake out your arms or your hands for as long as it takes to calm down and, whilst it won’t make the problem go away, it’ll certainly calm your body. Give it a try and let me know!
4. Breathe – focusing on your breathing during any form of anxiety attack is a huge help. It’s probably not the correct amount of counts, but for me, I breathe in deeply to the count of three, and breathe out slowly for the count of three. You can try your own variation, but by just breathing and focusing on your breath for as long as it takes, you can calm yourself down. This also works if you’re having trouble sleeping and can’t clear your mind!
5. Eat ASAP – first thing in the AM, your brain is low on fuel – and it can interpret this lack of fuel as a threat! I think we’ve all heard of ‘fight & flight’ and your body can respond to a lack of fuel/sugar in the same way – hence a nice anxiety attack first thing in the morning. So, try and eat something as soon as you can. Even if it’s just fruit or some cereal to get your body balancing out again.
6. Postive thoughts – morning anxiety, like all anxiety, is psychological – so one quick way to try and help yourself in the morning is to repeat positive mantras to yourself. Whether it’s one simple quote you say over and over, or a new thought for each day, start challenging your mind with positivity – even if you just chant ‘today is going to be a good day’ – if you say it enough, your mind will start to believe it. One amazing book for this that I absolutely love is Start Your Day With Katie by Katie Piper – she gives you 365 positive quotes and thoughts to kick start your day with. So worth a read!
7. Keep warm first thing – coming out of a state of warm sleep and out into a cold room doesn’t do anything to help your body. If you have a warm bedroom then you’re halfway there, but if you have a cold one, make sure you’ve got a dressing gown or something warm to put on as soon as you get out of bed – as being cold definitely won’t help you or your body calm down.
9. Understand what’s happening – sometimes trying to make sense of something in a clinical fashion is the best way to combat it. Understand why your body is doing what it’s doing – and whilst there will of course be underlying reasons for your anxiety, keep in mind that things like low blood sugar, being startled and production of cortisol are all contributing to your morning attacks. One random thing that worked for me was to simply say to myself, ‘My body is simply producing too much cortisol right now and I am panicking. I will be fine’ – oddly, it worked!
10. The feeling won’t last forever – however crap you may feel, a great, GREAT quote to keep in mind if you’re struggling is this one by Ralph Marston:
“Feelings come and feelings go. There is no need to fear them and no need to crave them. Be open to your feelings and experience them while they are here. Then be open to the feelings that will come next. Your feelings are a part of your experience. Yet no mere feeling, however intense it may seem, is your permanent reality.”