Morning anxiety isn’t an easy thing to live with. The human body produces stress hormones as part of its normal daily operation. These chemical signals in your body, like adrenaline and cortisol, tend to peak in the morning in order to help wake you up from sleep.
Unfortunately for millions of people worldwide, these signals can also produce overwhelming feelings of stress and panic. This is especially true in people who are already prone to anxiety or depression.
For many, it’s a daily struggle. Medication can certainly help, but sometimes the list of side effects means they’re as likely to harm as help. But fear not. It just takes a little effort and a few simple tricks. Below are five things you can try at home to cope with morning anxiety without a trip to the doctor.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Managing your morning anxiety begins the night before. Many people who feel anxious in the morning also have trouble falling and staying asleep. Quality is more important than quantity here. If you’re hungry in the evening, a light snack is fine, but try to avoid foods with a lot of salt or sugar in the last few hours of the day.
Caffeine is your enemy. Avoid soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate at least four hours before bed. Herbal tea is usually caffeine free, but go easy with sweeteners. Have your chocolate immediately after dinner, or as far from bedtime as possible.
A shortage of quality sleep can wreak havoc on your body and your brain, so take time in the evening to do something that gets you into the right mental state for restful sleep. Read a favorite book or spend quality time with a loved one. Avoid watching the news, or anything that makes you feel stressed, afraid, or angry.
You can also take this opportunity to get a head start on your morning. Pick out tomorrow’s clothes and lay them out. Pack your lunch and gather all the things you need for the next day. Anything you do tonight will be one less thing to think about when your head hits the pillow.
Wake Up Naturally
Your body’s favorite time to wake is right after the transition from R.E.M. to deep sleep, which occurs every ninety minutes and lasts for about five. You know you’ve hit the target if you wake up feeling peaceful and rested. Syncing your alarm clock with your body’s internal clock can make a huge difference in how you feel in the morning.
Look for an online sleep calculator, which can help you find the right time to set your alarm based on when you fall asleep. Try a mobile app like Sleep Cycle for iOS. Apps like this work by detecting your body’s movement during the night to calculate when the best time is to wake up.
Most of us live our lives according to a schedule and need an alarm to keep it, but that intrusive alarm clock that jump starts your day can also jump start your anxiety. If you just can’t wake without an alarm, find one that uses white noise or soft music to wake you gradually.
While it’s tempting to close your eyes and savor those moments of warmth and comfort, it’s helpful to get up and out of bed as soon as you wake. Doing so gives you less time to dread the coming day and encourages you to meet your challenges head on.
Eat Something, Anything
This can be especially challenging if your anxiety manifests itself as nausea, gagging, or intestinal discomfort. Since you didn’t eat right before bed, you’ve probably gone close to ten hours without putting anything in your stomach. Your body responds by releasing stress hormones, but you can overcome this simply by giving your body what it wants.
Start with a glass of cold water. Sip it slowly and pay attention to the coolness of the water as it settles your stomach. When you feel ready, eat a bite of something light, like a saltine cracker or piece of toast. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to finish a meal right away.
Instead, take a shower or go for a walk. Come back to it whenever you feel hungry. Developing a habit of eating something for breakfast, however small, is a great way to establish a healthy morning routine. Healthy habits help reduce anxiety by creating positive associations.
Reclaim Your Morning
You probably associate the mornings with anxiety and stress. A good way to combat this mindset is to try to make the most out of the morning hours. Begin a yoga practice or go for a run. Physical activity and fresh air can work wonders on your mental state, so enjoy nature. Even something as simple as taking a short walk or sitting outside can help you feel more at peace.
If activities like these don’t appeal to you, try sitting quietly while you enjoy your morning coffee or tea. Paint, read a book, or watch an episode of your favorite show. You don’t have all the time in the world, of course. Just do what you can with the time you do have.
Consider getting up a little earlier. The goal here is to take your day back from anxiety’s grip. It’s not impossible. Work toward making mornings something you look forward to. You can do it if you are purposeful and willing to make small changes to your healthier life.
Read more: Six Easy Ways To Live Longer And Healthier
Acknowledge Your Anxiety
Learning to cope with the negative thoughts and feelings that race through your brain is perhaps the most important part. Life is hard. You have responsibilities and demands placed on you every day, and sometimes that stress comes out in unexpected ways, or at unexpected times. If you live with anxiety, that stress is going to be way out of proportion to the circumstance that caused it. That’s if there is an identifiable cause, anyway.
If you begin to feel panicked or light-headed, close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths to keep yourself calm. In these situations, remind yourself that these feelings aren’t part of who you are. They are often nothing more than your body’s exaggerated “fight or flight” response to normal situations. The feelings you experience are very real, but the danger is not.
It can be difficult in the moment when the room seems to spin and it feels like you’re drowning. But learning to recognize that anxiety symptoms have little to do with the reality of your situation is your best long-term strategy for overcoming them.