Things To Do If You Wake Up Feeling Anxious
On Assignment For HuffPost
Anxiety isnt picky. It can creep in at any time of the day even first thing in the morning. And before you know it, youre fretting about the future when your present day hasnt even started yet.
Although there can be an almost infinite number of reasons why some people wake up anxious, at some point the mind starts traveling out into the future, whether thats a few minutes into the future or decades, , licensed clinical psychologist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, told HuffPost. Although that can seem productive like were just trying to work something out or solve a problem it has the consequences of feeding and amplifying an already difficult to experience emotion.
Luckily, there are several techniques you can practice to help you better deal with whatever it is thats causing you worry. Below are some research and expert-backed tips to try if you wake up feeling anxious:
How To Stop Waking Up With Anxiety
Stopping morning anxiety can be a complex task, because ideally you need to address the cause of your anxiety and learn how it affects you. A big part of that is trying your best to figure out why you have anxiety. If you’re waking up anxious because you fear anxiety, for example, then you need to be aware of this and find ways of coping adaptively. If you fear anxiety because you dislike your job, then you need to find ways to make your job less stressful or find effective ways of minimizing the effects of stress. Here are several strategies you can implement:
A very important part of dealing with this anxiety is simply recognizing it and understanding why it occurs. By reminding yourself that your anxiety doesn’t need to control your life – and by practicing some of the coping strategies we have discussed today – you may find that your ability to cope with it improves.
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Waking Up With Anxiety
Have you ever suddenly jolted awake in the middle of the night with your heart pounding? Or do you wake in the morning feeling a sense of dread, or immediately overwhelmed by stress? When we go to bed we expect or at least hope that well wake refreshed and ready for the day ahead. If that doesnt happen, any anxious thoughts, emotions and physical sensations of panic we experience can linger on, continuing to affect us through the rest of the day.
Its easy to feel dominated and upset by the physical and emotional symptoms of waking up with anxiety. They might seem all encompassing. You might believe youre starting the day on the back foot, and approach it with a negative frame of mind as a result. This could become a self-fulfilling prophecy!
You may not be able to control the anxiety you feel on waking, but you do have power over how you react to it choosing not to let it define or ruin your day.
Dont try to block the feelings out. It may seem like a logical response to try and ignore them, but dismissing them could actually make them loom larger in your mind. If someone tells you that you absolutely mustnt think about a pink elephant for the rest of the day, what immediately pops into your mind?
Challenge your thoughts. Its useful to recognise that we can change how we perceive the anxious thoughts weve woken up with, and that this will have an impact on the emotions and feelings we have during the rest of the day.
Can Nighttime Panic Attacks Be Prevented
According to Dr. Bea, one of the characteristics of true panic is that it occurs spontaneously like a bolt of lightning across a blue sky. While we cant prevent sleep panic attacks, he says that we can develop more effective mechanisms for coping with the stressors in our lives.
You might increase exercise or start a mindfulness practice. Overall, it doesnt hurt to actively develop coping strategies. However, understand that doing these things may or may not influence the experience of a nighttime panic attack.
Whats another thing you can do to lessen the intensity of a sleep panic attack? Normalize the experience.
Dr. Bea explains.
These experiences feel threatening and dangerous. You fear the worst when your hearts racing, youre short of breath, youre trembling and you have a sense of impending doom or feel like youre losing control, he says.
As frightening as the experience is, its safe. Of course, when we have a catastrophic thought or appraisal of the event, it tends to drive more panic it gets our body aroused. Learn to normalize that experience, to notice the sensations but dont try to fix them.
Dr. Bea compares it to being in quicksand.
After a sleep panic attack, youre not going to recover quickly and go right back to sleep. Dr. Bea recommends getting up and going into another room to do a relaxing activity . No catching up on work or paying bills. Do something that will help you calm down until youre able to go back to sleep.
Waking Up Dizzy: 9 Causes Of Morning Dizziness Explained
Do you feel dizzy in the morning? There are a few reasons why you may feel dizzy when waking up or light-headed after sleeping. If youre wondering why you wake up dizzy, then keep reading for more information about the causes of dizziness in the morning and ways to manage the condition.
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Lack Of Desire To Deal With Your Reality
We covered the common scientific reasons that might make you depressed in the morning. However, after talking to many people who are fighting morning despair , I have another, probable explanation that does not involve physical aspects.
Starting your morning is more than just opening your eyes, and get on with your day. It involves an entire process of gathering together the pieces of your sense of self who am I, and where am I type of questions.
You are coming back from a world of dreams, tucked in comfortable sheets to reality. Often times, a reality that you do not want to be in, and that you dont enjoy.
The depression that surfaces in the morning also occurs because you may not be happy and satisfied with your life in certain areas.
Here is the thing coming back to reality in the morning is difficult because all of the things you are not pleased about are popping up rapidly all at once!
Your brain can barely function rationally and cannot fully address all of the fear that is emerging. It is the fear of how will I start off when I have all these problems? Youre facing life feeling like youre trapped.
Morning Anxiety Causes: What You Should Know
One of the most prominent reasons for morning anxiety may simply be a lack of sleep. A 2016 study of university students, for instance, found a clinically significant relationship between insomnia and sleep disorders and an increased likelihood of anxiety levels.
But information collected by Wake Forest University suggests a more prominent factor in the morning anxiety equation: the stress hormone, cortisol.
In individuals who frequently experience stress, cortisol levels in the body are observably higher in the morning. This could be seen as a benefit in some cases, because people who experience worry often feel a higher degree of control from worrying .
Unfortunately, this cycle can also have severely negative impacts. Ongoing anxiety has the potential to lead to other long-term health issues like migraines, heart disease, ulcers and even things like eyesight issues.
Whats causing the insomnia, the cortisol spikes and the general increase in anxiety may be a variety of things concerns about work, about finances, about family members and loved ones. Anxiety could be caused by fears about the future or intrusive thoughts about the past.
You could be experiencing morning anxiety due to problems with your job, a big project, arguments with a partner or any other situation where heightened stress is a factor.
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Anxiety Disorders: The Basics
Morning anxiety is a specific type of anxiety, but it doesnt necessarily indicate that you have an anxiety disorder.
Just because this morning was a particularly anxious one, doesnt mean you have an anxiety disorder.
Whether or not you have an anxiety disorder depends on factors like the frequency of those feelings .
The National Institute of Mental Health says that what we call anxiety disorders are actually a collection of medical conditions that share a common trait: intense feelings of anxiety, severe unease or panic.
Anxiety isnt all in your head, either. Physiological symptoms may include insomnia, feeling wound up or on edge, a difficulty concentrating, a restless feeling, fatigue or muscle tension, uncontrollable worry or frequent irritability.
Further symptoms may include heart palpitations or an elevated heart rate, as well as higher levels of blood pressure in the early morning.
Oh, and according to most resources, a little anxiety here and there isnt a disorder you have to experience excessive anxiety most days of the week, for at least six months in order to qualify for an anxiety disorder prognosis. If you do, you may have generalized anxiety disorder.
And believe it or not, its actually quite common. Estimates say 30 percent or more of American adults will experience a form of anxiety disorder in their lives.
Generalized anxiety disorder is just the primary version of the disorder, which can be mild to moderate, and span months or years.
Waking Up With Anxiety Attack
If you have found yourself waking up with an anxiety attack or especially waking up with anxiety in the middle of the night then you may be experiencing a nightmare that caused a lot of distress or a nocturnal panic attack.
The symptoms you may get to experience are very similar to those of a panic attack which includes:
- Increased heart rate
- Shaking or trembling
- Feeling dizzy
- Chest pain or discomfort
If waking up with an anxiety attack in the middle of the night, you may be suffering from something called nocturnal panic attacks, but know that anxiety attacks and panic attacks differ in nature.
According to Dave Carbonell, Ph.D. A nocturnal panic attack is a panic attack which occurs in the midst of your sleep, waking you up for no apparent reason, which is more likely to be experienced by people with panic disorder.
However, this can make you feel disoriented upon waking or extremely frightened not knowing what is really going on.
This happens to many people with an anxiety disorder where they go to sleep and wake up feeling anxious and with stress. If you want to wake up and start your day calm, find out the best alarm clocks for anxiety.
They could think I hate waking up to this and even suffer from insomnia or fearing falling asleep, feeling they might get the same result the next morning.
Even though it is not ideal, try not to be discouraged by it since it is something quite common and with ways to minimize it.
Morning Anxiety : Symptoms And Causes
I am not a morning person. If you are reading this, chances are, you aren’t one either. Sometimes, I have been woken up in the early hours to instant panic. There isn’t a reason for the fear but as soon as my eyelids open I am absolutely terrified. Its a horrible feeling. When my day begins this way one of two things are bound to happen.
Either I accept the anxiety and try to ignore it, or I feel sorry for myself, pout, and sometimes cry, and it consumes and ruins my entire day.
My anxiety is always worse in the mornings. Always. Sometimes I find myself dreading to go to sleep at night for fear of what the morning will bring. I have learned not to plan important events or parties until the afternoon or evenings because I know I will be in a better mood at that time.
How To Cope With Morning Anxiety
Waking up with anxiety really sucks, especially when it feels like theres so much to be worried about. But there are ways to cope, practice self-care, and protect your mental health.
For people of color especially, its important to look for resources specifically for us, Ertel says. We live in a world and a culture that wasnt created for us, and its easy for therapists to have all the right intentions but not have the understanding. You don’t necessarily have to find a therapist, she adds. There are tons of podcasts that are specifically for mental health in the Black community, such as Between Sessions,Celeste the Therapist, and Naming It. Seeking resources like that whether in your community or on the internet can be really helpful because it helps you connect to something that is relatable, Ertel says.
Most of us use our phones as alarm clocks, which means that the minute we wake up, were confronting an inbox of unread emails and a barrage of depressing Twitter alerts. That can be a recipe for morning stress and anxiety. As an alternative, stash your phone in another room at night and rely on a manual or digital alarm clock instead, suggests Rosmarin. This isn’t about burying your head in the sand: The emails and headlines will still be there but youll give yourself a little time to center yourself and practice self-care before addressing them.
Jenny McCoy is a freelance journalist in Boulder, Colorado.
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Prepare For The Next Day
Getting yourself organised for the following day can help put your mind at ease, Bijlani says.
“Many people struggle to get to sleep because they are anxious about the following day. You can try to reduce this anxiety by making sure that you have everything prepared. For example, you could have a to-do list or even get your clothes ready.”
Sleep Schedule And Hygiene
Improving sleep hygiene habits, which includes going to bed and waking up at a consistent time daily, can help improve your ability to stay asleep. Its important to set up a bedroom that facilitates sleep . This will help limit stimuli that could wake you up at night and make it easier to fall asleep.
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