At the break of dawn, many of us grapple with morning anxiety, a unique challenge that often sets the tone for the day ahead. Understanding the physiological aspects reveals the starring role of cortisol, our body's stress hormone. During the early hours, cortisol levels naturally surge, preparing us for the day. However, in cases of heightened morning anxiety, this surge can become overwhelming, exacerbating stress responses. In this blog post, we explore the factors contributing to morning anxiety and share three small but effective tips to cultivate a more calm and peaceful start to your day.
Who is more prone to morning anxiety?
Some people may be more prone to experiencing morning anxiety, such as those with generalized anxiety or those with C-PTSD. Generalized anxiety casts a broad net of persistent, excessive worry, making the morning a particularly vulnerable time. With C-PTSD, the amygdala, our brain's emotional center, may become hypersensitive due to prolonged exposure to trauma, triggering heightened stress responses during vulnerable moments like waking up. Those with C-PTSD and generalized anxiety may also experience feelings of urgency (needing to act on something right away) or a persistent sense of danger or doom, which can manifest as an urgent need to tackle the day, contributing to heightened morning anxiety.
Additionally, many of us struggle with the pressure to be productive the second we wake up, already overwhelmed by a list of things “to do”.
So how do we tackle the dreaded feeling of morning anxiety? Here are 3 small tips to cultivating a more calm and peaceful morning:
1. Incorporate calming activities that create a sense of peace and body safety. This will look different for everyone but some activities to explore may include meditation, a warm shower, journaling, listening to music, snuggling with a loved one, or doing a few nourishing stretches before starting the day.
2. Instead of just focusing on your “to do” list, create a “to be” list for each day, choosing one word that you would like to focus on throughout the day. Some examples of words can be compassionate, kind, or patient.
3. Eat breakfast. This signals to the body it is worthy of care and nourishment, and stabilizes blood sugar levels (low blood sugar levels can lead to feelings of anxiety).
Morning anxiety can be a formidable foe, but with a mindful approach, it can be conquered. By understanding the physiological aspects, acknowledging individual vulnerabilities, and incorporating small, nurturing habits into your morning routine, you can transform the dawn into a time of calm and peace. Remember, cultivating a more serene start to your day is a gradual process, and these tips offer a gentle starting point for reclaiming your mornings.