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4 min read

Why do I feel anxious in the morning? 5 Possible Reasons for Morning Anxiety

Key Takeaways:

  • Morning anxiety can be caused by several things including an underlying disorder and caffeine.
  • It’s best to check with a physician and a therapist to ensure there is nothing physical or psychological contributing to your morning anxiety.
  • There are several things to try in order to reduce your morning anxiety, including cutting back on alcohol and committing to journaling.

The alarm rings, or rather blares, ripping you from a place of warmth and ethereal pleasantness into the cold and often harsh morning light.

Almost immediately, you feel that sinking feeling deep in your stomach. Your heart races, and your mind begins to imagine everything that will go wrong today.

SNOOZE. Roll over. Back to sleep. Repeat every nine minutes until you have no choice but to groan and heave your body onto your wobbly knees.

This is the unfortunate and debilitating reality for those who live with morning anxiety. For them, simply starting the day can seem like an impossible task.

But unlike those with chronic anxiety, like those with generalized anxiety disorder, those with morning anxiety tend to feel better as the day goes on.

What causes this phenomenon? And what can those who experience it do to ease their anxiety in the morning?

Let's talk about it.

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#1: Stress

#2: Alcohol

#3: Caffeine

#4: An Anxiety Disorder

#5: Trauma

Tips for Managing Morning Anxiety

Get Help for Morning Anxiety in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

Definition Template (8)-1

#1: Stress

The first and most obvious possible reason for morning anxiety is that you actually have something to be anxious about.

Modern life is packed with stressors that seem to keep our minds trapped in a cycle of self-doubt and anxiety - work, money, family, our relationships. When things aren't going according to plan or are demanding an inordinate amount of time or attention, it can certainly contribute to anxiety when we wake up.

Interestingly, the psychological aspect of stress isn't the only player in the game here.

Physiologically, stress leads to morning anxiety because it releases cortisol, the stress hormone, into our brains. As cortisol builds up, it enhances the feelings of stress and anxiety that we already have due to the stressors in our lives.

This hormone can carry over from one day to the next, creating a stronger sensation of morning anxiety.

But if this morning anxiety is caused by legitimate stressors, why does it seem to diminish during the day for some?

One reason for this is that, as we go about our routine and start knocking out tasks, our mind begins to file things away and organize itself into a more productive and useful machine. Whereas your morning brain is still in a sort of half-dreamland, your afternoon brain just nailed a meeting and got all of your emails for the week done.

#2: Alcohol

Another very common cause of anxiety that is worst in the morning is the consumption of alcohol.

The relationship between stress and alcohol is a two-way street, so it's hard to know which one applies without talking to a professional, but the general outline is this:

1.) People undergoing more stress tend to drink more.

2.) Alcohol makes the body produce cortisol - the stress hormone - and inhibit GABA - the relaxation hormone.

Studies have shown that drinking as little as 1 to 2 drinks per night can have a significant impact on morning anxiety.

If you are finding yourself anxious in the mornings and have ruled out other physical and psychological causes, you should consider cutting back or stopping your drinking for several days to see how you feel. You might find that your morning anxiety has been significantly reduced.

#3: Caffeine

Simple concept here: caffeine is a stimulant, which makes your brain go faster. Sometimes it can start going so fast that you begin to feel anxious.

Those with other causes for their morning anxiety often make it worse by drinking coffee or having an energy drink right after waking up.

#4: An Anxiety Disorder

We should take a moment here to acknowledge something: Your morning anxiety may not be necessarily caused by anything. It's entirely possible that you have an anxiety disorder that needs to be addressed by a mental health professional.

In fact, if you are finding yourself riddled with anxious thoughts in the morning, talking to an anxiety therapist should be your first step (assuming, of course, that you have ruled out a more acute physical condition.)

Anxiety disorders come in all kinds of forms, and the causes behind them vary just as much. Speaking with a therapist is a great way to determine if your morning anxiousness is the result of an anxiety or panic attack disorder, or if you just need to cut back on the Cafe Bustelo.

#5: Trauma

Trauma can cause morning anxiety by facilitating anxiety conditions as well as by causing nightmares that put your body in fight-or-flight mode before you even wake up.

Trauma is serious business, and leaving it alone can lead to worsening symptoms and more deeply rooted issues.

If you have been through a traumatic experience, it may be contributing to your morning anxiety. Talk to a mental health specialist to get a professional's opinion.

Tips for Managing Morning Anxiety

Here is a quick list of things you can do to reduce morning anxiety:

  • Meditate - Medication can help bring your mind back to a place of solace and quiet.
  • Breath - Breathing deeply facilitates the process behind your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for pulling you out of states of arousal (the hyper-vigilant fight-y kind of arousal, not the sexual kind.)
  • Journal - Great for those with stressful jobs, journaling helps you organize your thoughts in the morning and might keep them from spiraling.
  • Organize Your Day - Organizing and setting time blocks for everything you need to get done that day creates a sense of predictability, which can help with stress-induced anxiety.
  • Therapy - Talking to a professional, regardless of the cause of your anxiety, can be a great way to not only reduce symptoms in the short-term, but also address the long-term, deeply rooted issues at hand.

Get Help for Morning Anxiety in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

If you find that your mornings are less exciting and more anxious, speaking with an anxiety therapist in Brooklyn may be able to help.

At Williamsburg Therapy Group, each of our therapists is doctoral-level. That means they maintain an unparalleled level of experience and expertise, and use them to provide insight, growth, and healing for our clients.

With more than 30 world-class therapists to choose from at our Brooklyn location, finding the right one for you can feel overwhelming. Luckily, we've accounted for that. Give us a call, and our patient coordinator will work with you to find the most compatible therapist.

Book a Therapy Session in NYC Today

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