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How to Avoid Feeling Anxiety in the Morning

Faiq Shaikh, M.D.
How to Avoid Feeling Anxiety in the Morning

Morning anxiety is surprisingly common. It has no clinical definition, but most people define it as anxiety either immediately after waking up or anxiety that tends to build over the first hour or so upon awakening.

Morning anxiety is incredibly stressful because it tends to start your day off on a negative note. You'll have some days where morning anxiety fades as the day wears on, but often you'll find that when you start your day with anxiety, some type of stress or anxiety persists until you go to sleep.

Different Types of Anxiety - All Common

Most cases of morning anxiety are simply generalized anxiety. You wake up feeling anxious or stressed about your day, but otherwise, you don't necessarily have specific attacks or actions. You're simply stressed every time you wake up.

Morning Anxiety Causes

Often the causes of anxiety are too complex to guess. Anxiety is something that's forged over decades of experiences, genetics, and life choices. There are so many factors to what leads to anxiety that it may be impossible to ever figure out exactly what led to your anxiety symptoms.

But in general, morning anxiety is actually a bit easier to understand, because it's not necessarily its own type of anxiety. Rather, it's a reaction to anxiety that has its basis in a number of potential causes. These include:

The reality is that most cases of morning anxiety occur because you are afraid of the stresses of the day, or the anxiety that you experience throughout the day. It's an unfortunate consequence of living with anxiety, but sadly one that is all too common for those with anxiety symptoms.

Morning anxiety is also self-sustaining. Once you've started feeling anxiety in the mornings, you tend to feel it every morning because your body wakes up anxious for the anxiety it expects to feel. That makes curing it without outside help or life changes a bit more difficult.

How to Stop Morning Anxiety

Stopping morning anxiety involves several important things:

Remember, most morning anxiety comes from your mindset over what the day is going to be like, and from your stresses that occur later in the day. That's why the following are all useful strategies for preventing future morning anxiety:

Go Jogging

The first thing you have to do is exercise each morning. This is the single most important strategy you can implement. Exercise - especially jogging, if you're physically capable of it - burns away stress hormones, increases the release of relaxing neurotransmitters into your brain, tires your muscles and otherwise leads to better overall mental and physical health.

Daily exercise has been shown in several studies to be as powerful or more powerful than some of the leading anxiety medications. When you wake up in the morning, your body has all of this extra energy from sleeping and all of this anxiety that needs to be reduced for your day to go better. Immediate exercise - running, biking, or anything else that you can do - is the fastest and best way to cut down on that anxiety dramatically.

Reduce Your Daily Stresses

Your next step will be a little more complicated, but no less important. You'll need to make sure that you're looking forward to every day, and not experiencing a great deal of stress. Morning anxiety is directly related to the amount you're looking forward to your day. When your day is stressful, your anxiety increases as a result.

So what can you do? That depends on what's causing you the stress. For example:

Obviously, all of these are just examples. What you ultimately decide to do is based on what is causing your stress and anxiety. Only then can you make sure that you're taking the necessary steps to prevent it. But the point is that addressing your overall stress is the only true way to make sure that you're not going to associate waking up in the morning with a stressful day.

Positive Thinking Exercises

Similarly, morning anxiety suffers from a problem of negative thinking. You're waking up assuming that your day is going to be stressful, and you experience anxiety as a result. You may not even realize this assumption is occurring, but it's one of the key factors in creating this idea that you should feel anxious to start the day.

So you may need to try some positive thinking exercises. These exercises are something you need to commit to - they do not work right away, and for some people, they can take months to work effectively, but they are known to help improve overall positive thinking so that when you wake up, you won't find the day to be as frightening. A few quick examples include:

Are these going to immediately create a positive mood? It's difficult to say. But the more positive you are, the more you're going to feel better about each day, and the more you feel better about each day, the more likely you'll experience less morning anxiety.

Anxiety Reduction

Finally, the most obvious step is to address your overall anxiety. So many people look for a quick fix when it comes to controlling their anxiety, but anxiety reduction is simply not something that happens overnight. Whether you need to seek outside help or commit to an at-home anxiety cure, you need to make sure that you're dedicated to living a life free of anxiety. Once you do, you'll experience less morning anxiety as a result.

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