If you’re like me, you’re not a morning person, because you have anxiety when you first wake up. You snarl at anything or anyone within view before that first cup of coffee.
Like many anxious people, your anxiety probably starts grinding away as soon as you wake up. That’s why the first few minutes of consciousness are usually the hardest. Things generally get easier once you get up and get moving. The trick is getting up.
Anxiety would like nothing better than to paralyze you into staying in bed all day, ruminating on all the terrible things that could happen. It’s no way to live. Here’s some tips for how to feel better by dealing with anxiety when you first wake up.
Common symptoms of anxiety when you first wake up
Many people experience some combination of the following:
- Panicked thoughts about their responsibilities
- Wanting to hide and go into procrastination
- A sense of doom or dread
- Feelings of being helpless and/or worthless
- Trembling, sweating, pounding heart
- Difficulty breathing
- Intrusive, obsessive thoughts
- Feelings of despair or hopelessness
Loads of fun, right? I hated wake up anxiety so much I swore I’d find a way to fight back, get up, and get on with life.
How to make your anxiety better when you first wake up
- Sit up and put your feet on the floor. No matter how bad you feel, throw the covers back, sit up, and put both feet on the floor. Now give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve just overcome one of the most difficult parts of wake up anxiety.
- Smile. You may not feel like you have much to smile about. That’s OK. Lift the corners of your mouth up into a gentle smile anyway. Don’t grin or grit your teeth. Think of how the Mona Lisa smiles. Research has shown that the physical act of smiling makes us feel better. This is a simple DBT exercise that helps a lot.
- Take a shower. The heat and moisture of a good shower gets your blood moving and changes your physical state for the better. Afterwards, your emotions will often feel refreshed too.
- Plan your first reward. Give yourself little rewards throughout the day. This helps you cope better with your responsibilities because you know you’ll also get something pleasant. My first reward after showering and getting dressed is usually a big cup of coffee and a croissant. What’s your first reward going to be today?
- Eat something. Our moods are affected by blood sugar levels and you’ve just gone all night without food. Make sure to get some nourishment into yourself ASAP. A stable, even blood sugar level helps create a stable mood.
Dealing skillfully with anxiety when you first wake up can make or break the rest of your day. Use the tips above to wiggle out of morning anxiety’s vice-like grip. Once you do, it’s more likely you’ll have a successful, productive day ahead of you.