If you ever wake up with a start on a weekday morning or feel dread in the pit of your stomach as you get ready for your day, then you may be experiencing morning anxiety.
Feelings of my stomach roiling, irritation, and even nausea were things I dealt with nearly every morning. Add tossing and turning while sleeping to this list, and my mornings were often a trainwreck immediately after waking.
Through trial and error, I figured out ways to nix morning anxiety.
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (also known as GAD) is having excessive and/or continual worry about a wide array of subjects.
Things like work, family issues, financial concerns, and health are top sources of concern for people with GAD. Per the National Institute of Mental Health, prevalent symptoms of GAD include fatigue, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, nausea, and irritability.
If you often find yourself worrying about things in the morning specifically, perhaps even more severely than usual, then you are likely experiencing morning anxiety.
Morning anxiety feels like extreme butterflies or stress soon after waking for many individuals.
No matter how your morning anxiety manifests itself, sometimes the feelings are inevitable.
It’s normal to feel jitters the morning of your first day at a new job or before you give an important presentation at work. However, if you frequently feel worried just after waking, it may be time to make some lifestyle changes.
By making a few tweaks to my daily life, I reduced my morning anxiety significantly. I tried multiple things to eliminate my morning anxiety.
These four tips were the most beneficial lifestyle changes that helped me take back my mornings. Keep reading to learn four simple ways to nix your morning anxiety and own the day.
The source of your morning anxiety often stems from things that happened (or didn’t happen) the night before. It’s essential to establish a solid bedtime routine to set yourself up for a morning that is as simple as possible. Try adding some of the following suggestions to your bedtime routine:
Stop using devices at least an hour before bed – Yes, I know it’s tough to put down your phone an entire hour before bed. However, this step is critical in going to bed on time and sleeping well once you get there. Putting your devices away helps your brain wind down and ready yourself for sleep. Trust me, try it for a week, and you’ll thank me later.
Create a bedtime ritual – Most of us have things that we do every night before bed. Things like a skincare routine, brushing our teeth, and showering are typical nighttime tasks. Consider turning the functions that you commonly do before bed into a ritual. For example, shower, do your skincare routine next, and brush your teeth. Try doing your usual tasks in the same order at nearly the same time every night before bed. Doing these things every night in the same order creates a predictable and calming ritual before bed.
Make plans for the next day – Thinking about the agenda for the next day is the principal reason we go to sleep with worry. It may be helpful to plan your next day (or week) to reduce concerns about the near future. Jot down essential work tasks, errands, or recurring thoughts to get them off your mind before bed.
If your mornings generally begin with your mind racing, the first order of business should be to clear it. Taking your brain out of a revolving thought loop can clear space for the thoughts (and morning) that you want.
Meditation – A popular way to clear your mind is to meditate. Many refrain from meditating because it seems complicated or unattainable, but it doesn’t have to be. Simply focusing on your breathing or concentrating on a single point for minutes at a time can be forms of mediation. If you’re not up for trying to meditate on your own, consider using an app. Guided meditation apps like Headspace and Calm are great options for meditation beginners.
Brain Dumping – If meditation isn’t for you, consider doing a “brain dump“ as a way to clear your mind. You don’t need fancy tools to complete a brain dump. Take a sheet of paper, set a timer for 15 – 20 minutes, and write freely until the timer runs out. Try not to limit your thoughts and truly let everything you’re thinking spill onto the page. Writing your anxious thoughts down can help clear them from your brain and make way for less intrusive thoughts.
Rather than waking up and immediately setting about your day, consider doing something for yourself first. Knowing that your morning will include something you enjoy, something that makes you smile, can make you dread it less.
Even something as simple as making your favorite cup of coffee can make your morning less anxious and give your something for which to look forward. Consider adding enjoyable things like the suggestions listed below to your morning:
Read an engaging novel for 20 minutes.
Watch an episode of your favorite TV show.
Listen to a music playlist that makes you feel upbeat.
Grab a croissant from your favorite bakery on the way to work.
Have a light and brief conversation with a family member or friend.
Light a candle or incense and focus on the pleasant scent.
Exercise is one of the simplest ways to expel excess energy, clear your mind, and nix morning anxiety. As a bonus, you’re also doing something good for your health in the process.
Find a form of exercise that you enjoy, like spinning or Pilates, and try to make it a part of most mornings. If you haven’t determined your favorite form of exercise, walking is a superb and widely recommended option.
Try dancing to your favorite upbeat playlist for 20 minutes to get some movement.
Think back to your childhood and try adding your favorite activities, like roller skating or biking, to your day for exercise.
If you’re into more aggressive workouts, consider options like kickboxing or lifting to relieve aggression.
You can also implement tried-and-true exercise choices like running or yoga to alleviate anxiety if you’re so inclined.
Dealing with feelings of worry and anxiety in the morning can be stressful, frustrating, and downright bothersome, but it isn’t uncommon. By implementing lifestyle changes like the suggestions provided, you may find that you can nix morning anxiety after all.
Note: If you frequently find yourself struggling with morning anxiety, it may be worthwhile to seek the assistance of a medical professional. Proper medical intervention can be the key to relief from frequent morning anxiety using methods like medication or therapy.
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