Today’s topic is Morning Anxiety: why it happens, what it feels like, and some practical solutions to help you feel better FAST so you can get on with your day.
Kay said: “I found myself waking up today edgy and I so hate being in the agitated state. More edginess ….
I feel my mind is swirling. Going from one trial to another. Like you, my problems are all real. Very real. It is not like past anxiety thoughts, “what if…..” NO! These issues I face are real, raw, in your face issues..
Worse, I do not want to feel and be this way. I do not like or want or these problems in my life, health, family and things today, in this moment, I cannot do anything about. So what can I do?”
Jill said: Hi Kay, I’m sorry you are suffering. Yes, life is sometimes full of problems. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming. And if you wake up with morning anxiety, you will not be able to think with a clear head, nor make thoughtful, productive decisions.
You will be in the BEST position to help yourself in your day (and in your life) if you make it a practice to check in with yourself- as soon as you notice your thoughts are making you feel unwell. As soon as you notice your mind is going off to the races.
“I found myself waking up today edgy and I so hate being in the agitated state.”
Waking up with morning anxiety can be a most unsettling way to start the day. When I am anxious on a weekend morning, and I have nothing really planned to do, the thought of a whole entire day to fill up can seem, well, daunting. Like hell on earth really. Especially if I have lots of situations going on in my life that are out of my control.
Basically if you are anxious (no matter what time of day) it is because you are engaging in negative thinking. Or you are listening to your mind tell you stories of doom and gloom and you believe them. You may not realize you’re doing it, because the mind is cunning, and this takes place mostly on a subconscious level.
Do you feel uneasy, anxious, on edge? That means your thinking is distorted! See this post: How To Notice When Your Thinking is Distorted.
Recently I found out that we are more prone to feel anxious in the morning- specifically 20 – 30 minutes after waking up, because this is when our cortisol levels (stress hormones) are highest. So morning anxiety is a real thing!
And while it sucks, it also makes perfect sense that this is a time when we, as recovering anxious people, need to be on guard – and have our self help tools in place to help us!
So how can we tackle Anxiety in the Morning? There are a number of things we can do to help ourselves if we wake up agitated or anxious.
-Try sitting in meditation. (Meditation rocks!)
Try sitting for a few minutes in meditation. I know I know, you all say you can’t do it. But have you ever really tried it? 🙂 I’ve been meditating regularly since 2014 and believe me, it helps SO MUCH with anxiety!
And like everything, I do it in teeny, tiny baby steps. Because if something’s too hard, I give up or won’t even try. 🙂
Most mornings I sit for 5 or 6 minutes tops. That’s it. If it’s summer and beautiful out and I have time, sometimes I can sit for 10 or 20 minutes. But I’d say 85% of the time I’m only sitting for 5 or 6 minutes.
And guess what? 5 minutes works. You don’t need to sit there like the Buddha for hours in order to feel calmer and more connected to your healing inner body! Thank God! 🙂
To start: Just use your phone or an egg timer and sit for ONE minute. Start with one minute and just sit with your eyes closed and breathe.
Focus your attention on your breathing. Take slow easy breaths. Now, just follow the breath. This you can do, it’s not hard at all. Just focus on the sensation of the cool air as you inhale through your nostrils. Then you can feel the slow rise in your chest and belly. When you feel ready, notice the subtle and restful feeling as you slowly exhale, feeling the warm air as it breathes out through your nose.
Now sit there for a few seconds until you are ready to take the next breath. Follow your breath for a few more times.
What if my mind keeps thinking while I’m meditating?
Thoughts happen naturally, you can’t just shut your mind off at will. But by focusing on your breathing, or alternately the sensation of aliveness in your body- your hands, your feet, your legs, your abdomen, your chest, your head- this takes your attention out of the thinking mind and into a place of no thinking. This anchors you in the present moment, in stillness, where peace resides.
Ok I did the meditation, but the anxiety came back.
Anxiety is a bugger and it will try to come in through the back door. It’s clever like that….
What you can do next is move your body.
If you get up and do some sort of exercise, you will get your feel-good endorphins going, and this can quiet an agitated mind. Take a walk outside, get on your bike, or get to the gym. Or do a DVD on your computer or TV. But do SOMETHING.
Please don’t just sit there feeling miserable and anxious. Take positive action steps to help yourself.
An anxious mind is a very troubling thing to deal with. It colors our world and makes life dark and frightening. But YOU always have the power to help yourself. 🙂
(Anxiety feels very unsafe. Many of us grew up in, or live in, or work in, or married into relationships that were not supportive and did not inspire trust. Read: How To Be Your Own Safe Person.
More Self Help Tips for Morning Anxiety
-Get out your favorite reference book for dealing with anxiety and give it a quick re-read. I happen to love the late Claire Weekes’ books Hope and Help for Your Nerves and Peace from Nervous Suffering. (Note: these are very old books and may not be easy to find these days)
And here are 2 more recent books that readers have highly recommended just in the past week. Both are excellent. Links to check them out on Amazon are provided:
Tip: If it’s a weekend or you have nothing to do and you feel anxious, make a trip to your local library and search for anxiety books. This is productive, takes you out of your problems, and helps you immensely! And there are so many good books out there that can help you!
Tip: Do not sit down and watch the morning news. Those 24/7 news channels are stress-inducing. Bad news attracts attention, and that is mostly what they are reporting!
Be selective as to what you allow yourself to be exposed to when you’re having morning anxiety.
Instead, find a good You Tube video and give it a watch or listen as you putter around the house. Here is a really nice Guided Meditation for Detachment From Over-Thinking and Anxiety:
So in conclusion, 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 is to check in with your feelings first thing. 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. Next, indulge yourself in a few minutes of mindful meditation, or get out and do some exercise.Then be discriminating about what you feed your mind. Read a helpful book that teaches anxiety self help, or watch a calming video.
Now you are in a calm and nonreactive mindset. This is the BEST possible place to be to tackle any situation in life. Even if your life situation is filled with challenges or difficulties.
Once you get out of the grip of Morning Anxiety, you are well on your way to a good day. Your mind is calm and you have taken your power back. And later you can look back and say, “Yes, I did it!” 😀
Have you battled anxiety in the morning? What helped you?
I wish you peace,