What’s the first thought you have when waking up in the morning?
When I was struggling with anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia, here’s what some of mine used to look like:
I don’t want to get out of bed, I’m already tired.
How much anxiety and panic will I experience today?
I can already tell that this day is going to be bad/hard.
I have so much to do today. How the heck am I going to get any of it done?
A panic attack already? How is this even possible?
And it didn’t help that I’ve never been a morning person (even to this day)!
As soon as I woke up, my anticipatory thoughts would fill me with so much dread and fear, which ultimately led to the symptoms. And once the symptoms kicked in, I would be so scared to leave the house because I didn’t want to experience them anywhere but my own home. I would then beat myself up and convince myself that I wasn’t capable of facing the day. Most days, I truly felt like I was just living the same day, day in and day out. It was extremely draining and frustrating to say the least.
If you can relate to any of these thoughts or feelings, I want to share with you some tips that helped me to work through and relieve morning anxiety, because they will help you too!
Get out of bed! I know that this is sometimes the hardest part, which is why you just need to do it. Instead of sitting there, thinking, scanning for symptoms, feeling, and ultimately ruminating, get out of bed. Get up and take a shower, or brush your teeth, or drink a glass of water, or move your body, or make your bed, or stand in the mirror and give yourself a positive message.
Don’t lay there. Don’t pick up your phone and start scrolling through social media. Get out of bed and start moving! A good routine and healthy habits can help to set your mind and body off on the right path for the day.
Going to bed anxious = waking up anxious. Sometimes it’s obvious why we wake up anxious, and it’s often because we go to bed anxious. Stress and anxiety from the day before will likely carry over to the next if you aren’t taking actionable steps every day to push past it.
If you have anxious thoughts when going to bed, keep a journal by your bedside. And when your mind starts to wander off to think of all of the what-ifs, coulds, or mights, write them down so that you can get them out of your brain and stop cycling through them. And writing your thoughts down will help you to start identifying patterns so that you can work through them in a healthy way and prevent them from even happening.
Prioritize your sleep. Not waking up anxious starts with the night before. Sleep is so important. Your brain is working so hard every day and it needs time to rest. Set a time to be in bed every night and stick to it. And this doesn’t mean get in bed and turn on the tv or scroll through social media… This means go to bed and allow your brain to be free of excess clutter.
Get present. Instead of waking up and immediately thinking about all of the things you have to do that day, get in the moment with mindfulness practices or healthy habits. When I wake up I like to do a breathing exercise and drink a full glass of water. I wish that I could exercise in the morning but I just don’t have it in me! But if you are a morning person, exercise is a great way to get yourself present, and it’s a great way to start the day (mentally and physically)!
Don’t scan for anxiety or symptoms. If you wake up and immediately start checking for anxiety and symptoms, guess what will happen? We often manifest our realities without even realizing that we’re doing it. Scanning for anxiety is sending a message to your brain that it’s possibly in danger and needs to protect you from something (even though there’s nothing to protect you from). This is when anxiety will kick in, along with the symptoms.
Anticipating anxiety is much like scanning for anxiety. If you are anticipating that you’re going to experience anxiety, panic, or the symptoms, you’re likely going to cause it to happen. Instead of scanning or anticipating, get present with some mindfulness practices or healthy habits!
Avoid caffeine and sugar in the morning. I know how tempting it is to reach for coffee in the morning, you almost feel like you have to have it in order to function... But I can tell you that once I actually committed to eliminating caffeine from my diet, I have more energy (and sustained energy) than I’ve ever had before. I’m serious! And no more unwanted anxiety, panic attacks, and symptoms! And sugar, well that can make your energy and your mood dip. Try eating something healthy and balanced in the morning.
Don’t beat yourself up. I say this often because beating yourself up leads to anxiety, panic, and the symptoms. You are already struggling with something that is incredibly hard, please don’t make your journey even harder! When you find yourself beating yourself up because you just can’t seem to get out of your own way, catch yourself, acknowledge that you gave yourself a negative message, and give yourself a positive one instead! Your brain and body will thank you for it.
And please remember, the start of your day doesn’t define the rest of it. Yes, how you start your day is important, but just because you experience anxiety and panic in the morning doesn’t mean that the entire day is ruined, or that it will be filled with anxiety, panic, and symptoms. If you have a rough morning, acknowledge it, accept it, and see it as your opportunity to change it! Ask yourself, what is one thing I can do right now to change how the rest of my day goes?
Healthy habits are powerful! And keep taking those small steps forward.