What to Do When I Wake Up in The Morning and I Have Anxiety


A few days ago, I had terminal insomnia, having awoken at the lovely hour of 4:30 am. I lay there trying to force myself back to sleep for two more hours before I finally got up at 7:00 am, grouchy and groggy. I could not stop those stupid thoughts!

Anxiety happens because of irrational thinking. When I wake up anxious, I know it’s because I’m engaging in negative thoughts and believing them. This was the case the other day. I woke up with a feeling of dread, a low level anxiety. I decided to try to root out my negative thinking and correct the distortions. I knew I was obsessing about a get together I had planned for later that evening. I was having 3, possibly 4 girlfriends over at 6 pm for coffee and cake (decaf tea for me).

There’s a saying in my 12 Step Program: Move a Muscle Change a Thought, that applies perfectly to anxiety. Don’t lie there thinking, obsessing, or ruminating.

It’s easy to stay stuck in a negative way of thinking, to stay down and confused and immobilized with fear when we stay there laying in bed after a night of tossing and turning.  Get up, move, do something different, move a muscle, and your thoughts will change. You don’t have to exercise necessarily.  Just do something to shift, move, change your perspective, take some action…just get moving.

I went into the kitchen and started putting away the dishes from the night before. Then I emptied the dishwasher, sorted the mail, and put away the recycling… And I started to feel better.

I thought about the things that kept me up that night. It turns out, the things I were focusing on were very negative and also irrational.  My thoughts basically went something like this:

Will I be able to make small talk? What if no one shows up? What if I get anxious? How can I be a hostess while I’m panicking? Will people notice? What if everyone notices my coffee cups don’t match?

These type of thoughts are self defeating. I’m not thinking much of myself to put so much worry into any event, much less a casual get together with friends. I realized I also wasn’t giving my friends much credit to feel they would judge me poorly for something as insignificant as coffee cups that don’t match. Looking back on this thought a few days later, I can’t believe how large that thought loomed in my head!

These thoughts weren’t rational because  really do think better of myself and my friends. They know I have anxiety, they’ve heard it all before, and honesty it’s just not a big deal to them–that’s why they’re my friends. The only person who thinks it’s a big damn deal is ME. And this I must continue to work on until it just isn’t anymore. ;)

When you wake up in the morning with anxiety, one of the best ways to manage it and to keep it from spiraling out of control, then, is to check in with your feelings first thing in the morning.  Whether you tossed and turned the night before, or just wake up with a low level irritating feeling of anxiety in your gut, try to identify your negative thoughts, and then correct the distortions. If you need to, Move a Muscle, Change a Thought.

I wish you peace,When Panic Attacks by David D. Burns M.D.
Jill G.

ps. When Panic Attacks by David D. Burns M.D. is an excellent book that goes into great depth about identifying and correcting self defeating thoughts and behaviors, called cognitive distortions.

photo credit: by Janine

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4 Responses to What to Do When I Wake Up in The Morning and I Have Anxiety

  1. Hitesh says:

    I’ve been having negative thoughts every morning for quite some time. They drive me crazy because I don’t know how to stop them and they zap all my energy. I try to think of a reason to get out of bed but I can’t – some weekends I spend just sleeping which makes feel even worse. Maybe it’s not so much tyring to find a reason but getting up and doing something for no reason. As Churchill said: If you’re going through hell, keep going.

  2. Rachel says:

    I’ve been waking up anxious because lately I’ve been having bad anxiety and depression. I just started taking medication which is bad but I was really getting bad anxiety to the point where I just wanted to go to the hospital. Its working pretty well. I get anxiety sometimes during the day but as the evening comes it gets better especially after I take my medicine. Part of my anxiety is due to my boyfriend quitting his job because I don’t have a job at the moment which is going to become a struggle. Also I have a one year old daughter and the thought of us struggling scares me. Please help

    • JillG says:

      Hi Rachel,

      It’s good that the medication is helping you. It sounds like the worries over your boyfriend not working are definitely contributing to this. If he is planning on staying home, can he take over some of the responsibilities of your daughter so that you can work? Or can you work from home? If you can be part of the solution it will help you feel better about the whole situation.

      Years ago when my kids were little I often had to worry about my husband’s job. He was always threatening to quit or telling me he was going to get fired, etc. I was a nervous wreck all the time because of this. I remember it got to the point where I forced myself to get back into the workplace. I just had to help myself and the family. It felt so empowering to go back to work and not feel I was at the mercy of his job or lack of a job or moods. Good luck to you Rachel! xx

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