Morning anxiety isn’t actually a medical term, but it is used to describe exactly what it says on the tin; feeling anxious in the morning. It can come with an increased heart rate, sweating, distress, worry, and feeling overwhelmed.
You may have a generalised anxiety disorder if you are suffering from morning anxiety, so we would recommend speaking to your healthcare provider for assistance in coping with that.1
The stress hormone cortisol rises before we wake up and peaks around 30-45 minutes after we wake up. This is called the cortisol awakening response (CAR).4 Those with generalised anxiety disorder are most likely to suffer bouts of anxiety in the morning due to this factor affecting them more than the average person.
So, why does it happen? How can you manage it? We will be sharing our best tips for managing morning anxiety to help you make the most of your day, every day.
Tip 1 - Seek Therapy
Sometimes, if you are feeling intense bouts of anxiety in the morning and you can’t pinpoint why, therapy can help you to uncover the root cause of your feelings of anxiousness.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is known as a fantastic therapy to help anxiety; within the sessions and with homework tasks, problems that appear overwhelming are broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces to relieve the anxiety the person is feeling.5
Tip 2 - Heal your Gut
Our brain and gut are connected through the brain-gut axis, and if your gut is out of balance, it can cause anxiety.
Consuming probiotics is a helpful way to ensure your gut microbiome is balanced and healthy. Probiotics are live bacteria, and adding new species of life bacteria to the gut microbiome increases diversity which is essential to keeping it balanced.
Tip 3 - Avoid Caffeine on an Empty Stomach
Our gut is best at absorbing what goes in first thing in the morning when it is empty. If you are starting your day with caffeine, more of it is absorbed into your bloodstream than if you have eaten first.
Try eating breakfast first, and then having your tea or coffee about an hour later. This should reduce some of the anxiety that can be caused by caffeine, such as sweating, shaking, increased heart rate and panic.
Many people report having anxiety and mood swings when consuming more than 400mg of caffeine per day. To put that into perspective, a Starbucks grande medium roast contains 310mg of caffeine, so it doesn’t take much to begin feeling anxiety from coffee for many people.6
Studies have shown that 5 cups of coffee is enough to cause a caffeine-induced panic attack, so keep this in mind when deciding how many cups to have throughout the day. If you are having more caffeine than your body can handle, anxiety is a probable side effect.
Tip 4 - Reduce Stress Levels
The stress hormone, cortisol, is released when you become stressed, and studies have shown that the cortisol awakening response happens within the first hour of waking up when people have high levels of stress, meaning cortisol levels are at their highest at that point.2
As we now know, cortisol levels rise when we are under stress, which induces feelings of anxiety and stress. If you are able to reduce your cortisol levels by reducing the amount of stress you are under, you may be able to avoid morning anxiety.
Reducing stress in the evening before you sleep can help to reduce stress in the morning. If you go to sleep worrying, you are more likely to wake up worrying, too.3
Tip 5 - Check your Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar can worsen symptoms of anxiety, and may not be the most obvious connection. If you are suffering from unexplained anxiety, then it is useful to get your blood sugar levels checked by a healthcare professional, even if just to rule this out as a possibility.3
It’s important to seek help if you are struggling with any form of anxiety, including morning anxiety. Although there are things you can do yourself to help, having support from those around you and professionals is extremely important in ensuring you don’t deteriorate.