This week we're talking about how to calm morning anxiety as many of us are facing returning to work, or have children who are returning to school or heading off to college.
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Notes from the show
What are the symptoms of morning anxiety?
The symptoms of morning anxiety are often the same as the symptoms of generalised anxiety.
- Rapid heartbeat
- Tight chest, shortness of breath
- Physical tension
- Strong feelings of anxiety, or sense of dread
- Feeling confused or mentally overwhelmed
Nausea and loss of appetite are also common with morning anxiety
What causes morning anxiety?
Morning anxiety is usually caused by the same factors that may also contribute to general anxiety combined with the stress and overwhelm of facing a new day and the natural increase in stress hormones that happens in our first hour awake.
There has been some research on the stress hormone cortisol and something called the cortisol awakening response (CAR) which shows that cortisol is at its highest in the first hour of the day for those who are already experiencing heightened stress or anxiety.
This increased level of Cortisol gives us more insight into why we may experience an increase in anxiety in the morning.
Other things that can cause, or contribute to, morning anxiety are:
- Low blood sugar
- Drinking alcohol the night before
- Anticipatory anxiety and negative self talk
- Negative news and TV, or dramas
After the break we’ll be talking about what helps morning anxiety and the things you can do to start your day feeling more calm and in control.
What helps morning anxiety?
Waking up gently, try a gentle alarm clock that fades in gradually so you don't wake up with a jolt, or a wake-up light alarm clock or application. Don't sit up suddenly and shoot out of bed, give yourself time to wake up gently.
Skip the caffeine
If adrenaline spikes are causing anxiety, don't provoke things further with caffeine. Try a milky cereal-based coffee instead with a little honey, or a decaffeinated tea.
If you want to feel more awake use a shower, and alternate the temperature or use an uplifting scent like grapefruit.
Move your body
Go for a walk, do some yoga stretches or follow a brief Qigong practice — even ten minutes will have a positive effect on your morning.
Practice self-compassion and acceptance
Be gentle with yourself, morning anxiety is quite common and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.
Try practicing a slow and gentle start to your morning, we're not firefighters rushing out to an emergency. Starting the day in a state of hurry only provokes more stress and anxiety.
Before sitting up, or getting out of bed, stay where you are and try the following: place your left hand over your heart, and your right hand over your navel and taking some slow deep breaths, notice your hands rise and fall with your breath and feel their warmth, be gentle with yourself and allow a little time for a gentle transition into being fully awake.
Eat breakfast, allow extra time if need be to make sure you have something to eat that will help stabilise your blood sugar. Like wholewheat toast, or oatmeal with cinnamon. Avoid breakfasts that will spike your blood sugar initially and then cause a drop mid-morning.
Try EFT Tapping
Tapping can help you clear your mind and release the worries of the day before sleep and also help you start your day feeling more calm and positive about the day ahead.
A good morning starts the night before
Do all you can to support your sleep and relaxation the night before. Avoid screens and switch to a warm bath with some magnesium salts and lavender, read something gentle or inspiring, or follow a guided meditation or gentle bedtime yoga practice.
If you go to bed worrying or wake up during the night with anxious thoughts, you are likely to feel anxious and concerned about your day in the morning.
Having support in place helps calm anxiety whenever it spikes.
We recommend making an Anxiety Slayer care kit and keeping it by your bed with some Rescue Remedy, lavender essential oil, some comfortable headphones and a playlist that you find calming or uplifting.
Once you lower the baseline rate of your anxiety, you will experience fewer spikes and that means less morning anxiety.
We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s supported the podcast on Patreon this month and to our new patrons, Abbe, Trudi and Elizabeth.
If you found this episode supportive, we hope you’ll consider becoming a patron! We have over 50 Anxiety Slayer downloads available on Patreon including our guided relaxations, Tapping Sessions and extra resources for calming your anxiety.
Learn more at patreon.com/anxietyslayer