Morning anxiety is waking up with a strong feeling of worry and stress. While it’s not a diagnosable medical condition, it’s a common experience that can affect daily life. While some may experience it during a season of life, it’s a daily battle for others.

Why Am I Waking Up With Anxiety?

There are several reasons you may be experiencing anxiety in the morning. 

If you’re looking for answers to your specific experience, it’s best to reach out to a counselor. Inner Balance Counseling offers General Mental Health Counseling that addresses anxiety. Request a consultation and discover if Inner Balance can help you tackle your morning anxiety.

Cortisol Levels

Cortisol is a helpful hormone that supports several bodily functions. High levels of cortisol causes us to feel stress. It’s an important part of your flight or fight response. Moderate levels in the morning help us wake up and assess our surroundings.

When you go to bed, cortisol levels begin to rise, and are highest right before you wake up. This is called the cortisol awakening response (CAR). It’s a normal part of daily functions. But if cortisol levels get too high, it could mean waking up with extreme anxiety. 

Poor Sleeping Conditions

Someone could experience morning anxiety because of their sleep schedule or inability to sleep. Even grown-ups have a hard time regulating their emotions when they’re too tired.

There’s a strong connection between mental health and sleeping conditions. Poor sleeping conditions have been proven to worsen anxiety.

Life Stressors

Life is not always easy. Stressful situations, whether big or small, can affect your mental health. These stressors can look like:

  • Having an injury or illness
  • Starting a new career
  • Moving to a new place
  • Death of a loved one
  • Preparing for or having a baby
  • Having too much to do
  • Negative job experience

Life stressors can be a contributing factor to the development of anxiety disorders as well as morning anxiety.

Substance Use

Substances like alcohol and cannabis affect cortisol production, but so does your morning cup of joe. Some experts suggest coffee shouldn’t be consumed until 90 minutes after waking up so your body can naturally produce the correct amount of cortisol in the morning.

a woman sitting on the ground but leaning on her bed drinking tea to ease her morning anxiet

Current Health Conditions

Anxiety can make you sick, and illness can make you anxious. When you take care of your physical health—whether it be eating healthy, drinking enough water, or getting enough sleep—you’re protecting yourself against anxiety.

Health anxiety is fairly common among those with serious illnesses and health issues. Many with health anxiety wake up feeling anxious.

General Anxiety Disorder

Morning anxiety isn’t necessarily an  indicator of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), however, people diagnosed with GAD often feel anxious in the morning.

GAD can affect everyday life.  If you are experiencing anxious feelings that stop you from doing what you want, reach out to a counselor and see how they can help.

How Can I Stop Waking Up With Anxiety?

There is so much to do in the morning, and anxiety can keep you from starting your day on the right foot. Symptoms of morning anxiety can be managed in several ways.

Breathing Exercises

Shortness of breath is a common side effect of anxiety. This exacerbates anxiety symptoms by increasing heart rate, causing dizziness and tense muscles. Worsened symptoms can lead to more anxious feelings.

Breathing exercises combat the effects of anxiety by increasing blood flow and slowing down negative thoughts. Practice them  during your morning routine and any time of day.

A common and effective breathing exercise is box breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose, breathe out through your mouth, and hold your breath. Count to four during each of these steps and repeat.

a woman practicing mindful breathing techniques for anxiety

Get a Good Night's Sleep

Creating a hard bedtime may seem like something you outgrew many years ago, but it’s incredibly beneficial for regulating your emotions. It might take time for you to find what time works best for you. But once you find a schedule, stick to it.

A good night's sleep isn’t always possible while experiencing anxiety. If your sleep schedule is being affected by anxiety or insomnia, talk to your doctor or counselor about options.

Physical Activity

It’s hard to get quality sleep when your body still has energy to burn. Regular exercise can increase your sleep quality and help your brain get the rest it deserves.

Exercise also releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormones. This is your body rewarding your brain for doing something good. Physical activity is a healthy way to “hack” your reward system and increase your mood.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness is proven to benefit your psychological, cognitive, and physical health. It can reduce stress, increase attention, improve your immune system, and increase happiness.

Take a mental break by focusing on your present feelings, both emotional and physical. Body scanning is a mindfulness practice that takes this to a microscopic level. Start with your toes and move up your entire body, focusing on each part of your body separately. 

There are a lot of ways to practice mindfulness. Some tried and true exercises are meditation and yoga, but you can do small grounding and mindfulness techniques at any time. These practices will make you more aware of how you’re feeling and help you build resistance against stress.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) bridges the gap between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Many with anxiety disorders turn to cognitive therapy to build healthier habits and relieve anxious feelings. 

Behavior is a physical manifestation of what we believe. CBT helps us confront automatic negative cognitions and find ways to adapt them to be positive or realistic.

ways to stop waking up with anxiety: breathing exercises, get a good nights sleep, physical activity, mindfulness and meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy

Wake Up at Peace

Waking up without anxiety is hard enough. Whether you’ve been experiencing anxious mornings for years, months, weeks, or days, meeting with a mental health professional could help. 

Inner Balance Counseling offers counseling services for many mental health battles. Let our trained staff help you feel better by requesting a consultation. Reach out. Show up. Feel better.

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Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC

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Mesa, AZ 85206

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Tempe, AZ 85282

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© Inner Balance. All right reserved.