Thursday, June 25, 2009

Even More About Morning Anxiety: Its All About Your Attitude


Morning anxiety fascinates me. It also haunts me and I hate it with a passion, but its a curious thing. How is it that the moment you open your eyes you can go from peaceful sleep to out of control fear and panic?!? And how is it that sometimes its in my life on a daily basis and other times its nowhere to be seen for long periods of time?

I've done a lot of research on this topic not only because I struggle with it often, but its also the number one search that brings people to this site, so I know that a lot of you are struggling with it too.

Usually when the morning anxiety sets in, it takes me about a week or so to really remove it from my morning routine. Every time it comes one of two things happen. I either fear the morning anxiety and feel guilty and ashamed when it shows up, or I expect it to be there and tell myself its not a big deal and I can handle it. There are lots of little tips I have spoken of before but I have learned over time that for me, the best medicine for my morning anxiety is my attitude towards how I approach it each morning.

When I feel guilty and embarrassed about my morning anxiety, and when I give into the fear thinking that its too much to bare, a funny thing happens. My anxiety gets even worse and I am usually sick all day long until right before bedtime when I can finally eat something and relax. This can continue for a few days where I hardly eat anything because I feel so sick.

It gets so bad that I am forced to change my attitude. I tell myself the night before that I don't need to get upset if I wake up with anxiety. In fact I tell myself I should expect it to be there and stop worrying about if it comes again. I say, when I wake up and the anxiety hits, this is what I am going to do. I am going to tell myself that its ok that I feel this way, its not a big deal, and I can handle it. I CAN handle it! I can do whatever I need to throughout the day with the anxiety.

Then I will get out of bed and do something to distract my mind. Just start my day. Lately if my little girl is still sleeping I will get out my iPhone and play this app that I am addicted to called Scramble. Really, I am pretty addicted to it, and the sad thing is I am not even that good! But its an easy distraction. I have observed that when I can stay positive and treat my anxiety this way instead of as such a horrible thing to dread, it is much less severe throughout the day and eventually after a couple days of thinking positively about it, I will wake up anxiety free.

The positive affirmations stuck around my house really help to reinforce the positive thinking. I have one on my light on my nightstand so its the first thing I see when I wake up. I have one in my closet so when I get dressed I see and read it. You get the idea.

Sure there are some days as I have chronicled where I don't want to work at being positive. Its too draining and I just want to vent because I am annoyed that I even have to deal with this in the first place. But I find that I have more strength and have more positive days than the days I just want to vent and have a pity party for myself.

I hope you find this useful for your own morning anxiety because it really is an awful thing that if you let it, can effect your whole day. But waking up with anxiety doesn't have to set the tone for your day. You can accept it instead of fearing it and in doing so, you are controlling it and not letting it control you.




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41 comments:

Patrick said...

Great post. I was one of the people you mentioned that arrived at your site looking at morning anxiety. It's amazing how within 5 seconds of waking up I am in an anxiety state. Like you mentioned, the days it is the worst are when I just lay in bed and think about it. You are right in that if you can change your attitude toward it, you can then change your response and eventually your morning anxiety.

Diana said...

Yep, great post again. I do find that if I just push through and get moving into something positive, it deminishes. But it leaves its scar during the day in the form of exhaustion. So much of this horrible disorder has to to with switching the attitude. I noticed in the throws of a monstrous panic/axiety period, I stopped caring about my appearance, my home, and ignored the things I needed to do to keep my small business on sound footing. Taking those things back has been hard and fought for. It starts for me EVERY DAY. because I wake up with the damn anxiety every day and start pushing through it as I can. I hope that one day it will not be my bed partner any more.

stress test said...

It seems to me that 'morning anxiety' is one of the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. I faced the problem and it looked more like a mild depression...horrible period to say the truth. One of the reason of it is a lack of immunity as well as malnutrition, overfatigue, etc.

goodbyetoanxiety said...

Hello

I just wanted to thank you for your blog. Your description of the symptoms and the safety behaviours rang many bells.

I've started to blog about my own experiences (http://goodbyetoanxiety.wordpress.com/) as I am coming to terms with this unwelcome guest and learning to combat it.

Thanks

Luke

jason said...

Very interesting article...Thank a lot great information about "Morning anxiety"

Melvy said...

I used to wake up at times middle of the night with panic for no reason. But once morning comes, I'm just normal and no anxiety at all. I wonder what is the cause of this.

buy fluoxetine said...

I feel for you guys. Made me more grateful of my own lot in some ways. I used to have so many problems that I dreaded seeing the light of day. But attending support groups and joining spiritual renewals allowed me to go through life a lot more confident. Friends help. And I agree with you guys that having the right attitude about the situation and the condition is one factor in dealing with it squarely.

Blogger with Ocd said...

The morning is tough for me, too, when I'm having a severe bout of OCD. Being in the shower alone makes it worse, because my thoughts don't have any competition for my attention. You're right--distractions remedy that, but it's work! ...Work that's worth it.

Bloggerwithocd just posted about ADHD at www.itsmewithocd.blogspot.com.

Fine Life Folk said...

I don't know how to begin except to tell you that I used to wake up anxious. Things changed for me not quickly and it's a work in progress on a daily basis. Whenever I wake up, I give myself a few minutes to be thankful for being alive. I humble myself for being gifted with life. I take my day from there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the morning anxiety post. I'm an on/off sufferer of anxiety for 14 fricking yrs now. When my severe attacks occur, I always 'fight' them "go away!" and and "God please make it stop!" I am not a deeply religious person, however, I prayed to God to help me help myself in dealing with this. soon after I came across your blog here searching for affirmations. When I read that paragraph about changing the attitude..saying "I can handle it" and it's ok if i have anxiety tomorrow, something just CLICKED! Why haven't any of my doctors told me this??? I am now working this new way of thinking into my life. So far it's helping a lot and the anxiety is a lot less. thank you SO much for sharing this. Bless you!

Lex said...

Wow great post!

Morning anxiety is a bit of a mystery. I wonder if you've ever looked into meditation (both active and inactive) techniques, exercise, and dietary alterations, as these seem to have a wide effect on many related problems related to anxiety, depression, etc.?

I also would be very curious to get your take on the mental health recovery model that is hitting the psychological field by storm, especially in reference to treatment plans for anxiety?

I would love to quote you on my blog devoted to informing people about and collecting all viewpoints regarding the mental health recovery movement at my Mental Health Recovery Blog if you would be comfortable with that! If you would rather I not quote you I would still of course love to hear what you have to say on the matter!

I look forward to speaking with you more on the subject!

All the best,
Lex
MHCD Research and Evaluations

Anonymous said...

Googled "morning anxiety" and there you were. Just getting through a 3 week period of GAD that started with a false heart attack and and an overnight at the hospital. Currently on 10mg of Paxil in the morning. Seems to be getting better. Your blog is spot on with fresh ideas. I just realized that at 50, I've had morning anxiety for years! I'll be following your blog.

--
Bill

xiang said...

As an effective medicine, paxil would surely provide you immense relief if you are in the grip of panic disorder, depression or generalized anxiety disorder but it is altogether true that the usage of Paxil occasionally facilitates certain side-effects such as headache, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat et al. These side-effects can yield serious results if not treated immediately hence take this medicine only on proper prescription.

Barry said...

I commend you for holding that little alligator. It seems to be symbolic of facing ones fears head on. Great article!

Mark said...

Funny, i was driving in this morning thinking i should start a blog about my anxious mornings. I work at a highly stressful job, but they treat me well, however i hate the commute and hate the deadlines. I seem completely fine on the weekends. I have started Lexapro (after not doing well on Zoloft for a few weeks) and i was on Effexior for 8 years before that.
I've handled the stress fine over the years, but our 1 year old seems VERY demanding and its driving my wife and I crazy. Our 5 year old is starting Kindergarden so there is alot of stress for us there too. I hope to follow your blog and benefit from it myself. Great job.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I don't have any suggestions but I just wanted to say that I have also been experiencing morning anxiety and it has been increasing in severity in the past few years. I guess it started during my 4th year teaching prac. I had many sleepless nights and would wake up sometimes 5 times during the night thinking about all the things I had to do before the morning or having sudden inspirations for lessons. By the time morning came I was exhausted and struggled to get out of bed. What followed were days of feeling extremely anxious (I had palpitations and was very teary, I would even feel as though I needed to be sick..though I never did). Even after finishing my prac and getting my degree the morning anxiety has persisted. I am doing supply teaching at the moment (as i'm not sure I'm capable of teaching full-time) but even on days when i'm not sure i'm teaching I wake up feeling extremely anxious with the same symptoms. It is really debilitating. I have seen a psychologist in the past but i'm not sure that she was much help. I think I may suffer social anxiety because I do have a fear of failure and it has resulted in my avoidance of certain situations (i.e. full time teaching work as I feel I'm not cut out for the job and might not be able to cope with the stress). Anxiety is a really tough thing to deal with but i'm finding this blog really interesting and helpful. I too am quite small. I've dropped about 10kg in the last 4 years (due probably to stress) and no matter how much I eat I just can't gain any weight. It's very frustrating and I do resent people telling me I don't eat enough because I love food!
Anyway, I look forward to reading more
X Daniela

Andrea said...

I have had terrible morning anxiety that would ultimately last throughout the entire day. I had trouble sleeping at night and when I did finnaly fall asleep the panic would spark right as I opened my eyes (either in the middle of the night or in the morning). It is very tough and frustrating, but I know anyone who struggles with this can get through it!

The best thing for me was to take it one little step at a time. I would play soft, soothing music when I woke up and take deep, controlled breaths. I know my blood sugar is low in the morning, which can spark an attack, so I would have a banana and some almond butter next to my bed. The first thing I would do is eat, something small, one bite at a time. This would help, along with the breathing and soft music.

I also wrote positive thoughts to place around my house. I had a note taped to my tissue box next to my bed that said "You are going to be okay." It helps!

Izabela said...

It should be a relief that there's so many people like me suffering with this, yet it makes me more frustated. Currently I am on uni holidays, not working, and each morning that it starts again, I fall for it and am convinced I am making a lot of mistakes in life. As its combined with depression, part of me is not motivated to get out of bed at all, the other part does not want to go back to sleep, even if I were sleep deprived that day. The worst was when I had a job I hated, it persisted until I quit the job.

Serling said...

Thank you for your great suggestions. I sometimes do a pretty simple thing that helps. I pray and thank God for the blessings in my life. I also like to listen to uppity music (ie. My Favorite Things, The Middle by Jimmy Eat World, anything ABBA) I tried meditation but the anxiety was too overwhelming to stay focused and actually made it worse. Meditation works better for me in the pm...when my mind has had time to settle. Anyways, great blog. Just found it.

Anonymous said...

Something directed me out of the blue at work this morning to type "morning anxiety" and I found your wonderful website of information. I, too, struggle with morning anxiety. I've tried crossing my arms (hands on opposite shoulders) and praying but the anxiety made it so I couldn't focus long enough to tell God what I needed. Two things I've found: one, if I can convince myself that I'll be able to take a nap later in the day I am able to rise and start my day realtively anxiety free; two, get to the bathroom mirror, look yourself straight in the eye, point at your reflection and say "You are going to be okay" Would be a good note to leave on the mirror. I've tried the "I have anxiety, anxiety doesn't have me." Really doesn't seem to help to acknowledge it as I need some affirmative movement to distract me from the anxiety. Just my two cents people, hope somebody can take some good from it.

Anonymous said...

I can not believe that there is a term "morning anxiety" and that there are people that understand. I suffer from panic/anxiety disorder, and am really struggling with horrible anxiety in the mornings. Just the dread of having another attack makes the anxiety horrible and then knowing how bad it can get. It is encouraging to know that there are a few things I can try to do. I think low blood sugar is an issue with me also, along with the negative thinking, stress, and fatigue. My empathy for anyone who struggles with this also, but I am glad to see that others have this very same struggle (unfortunately).

aj said...

Fantastic Read and I can relate so much, mornings have always been the worst for me but never considered it as it's own form of anxiety before, fascinating stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hey there,

It is indeed a problem that I am still suffering from. I just want to mention here that finding other people also trying to deal with the same problem is itself a releif. One of the manifestations of this horrible thing is feeling overwhelmed & alone. My approach to it is to accept it & realize that it's close to natural and what's helping me in that is finding you guys. I have a suggestion though which I am trying to implement, why not make use of this adrenaline/cortisol rush & direct it to something energetic (a morning workout or a jog)?

Anonymous said...

I have always been one of those "glass is half full" people. I'm nearly 40 and now all of a sudden WHAM I'm waking up with horrible anxiety. It's funny how much advice I had for others before it happened to me. On behalf of all of us who didn't understand what you were going through, let me offer a great big apology.

smilemore said...

I have been suffering from GAD for a long time now. Doc thought I was depressed but the anti-depressants made me sick. I don't feel sad, just very, very anxious--only when I wake up. If I have to get a move on to work or some appt, I seem to be pretty good. If I don't start work til later or have nothing planned for the day, I am terrible. Don't want to get up, but can't sleep. Mind doesn't stop. Upset stomach. Once I get to work I am fine, and by the time I get home I am great. I have a prescription for Clonazepam-1 mg (1-3 x a day) I HATE pills. So, I take 1/2 a pill!! It seems to help most of the time. Guess I should take the whole damn pill. But, isn't there some simple way to get rid of this horrible, horrible, feeling?? Glad I am not alone, people don't understand, if they haven't experienced it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post! What you describe is exactly my experience. THe morning seems to set the tone for the rest of the day, so if I let things get out of control in the morning, it sets the cycle of not eating and anxiety for the whole day. I will try the positive affirmations and see what happens!

Holly

Patrick said...

Smilemore. I cannot stress how much working out first thing in the morning helped me out. It made me get up and plus the exercise is great for the anxiety.

Anonymous said...

I have suffered from morning anxiety on and off over the years and rght now i'm in a serious bout of it. It grips me upon waking and I have resorted to anti-anxiety medication to quell the symptoms, even though I also pray, express gratitude, etc. as many of you have mentioned. Nothing seems to work for very long. Today I will be seeing a doctor who I hope will be able to help me. I have come out of this before with medication, but really don't want to resort to antidepressants again. my heart goes out to other sufferers, and I appreciate your comments.

Vivre Sa Vie said...

Thanks so much for these posts Aimee - I've found them hugely helpful when waking up with the morning terrors! I've also just started a blog to try and help people with panic attacks and anxiety. It's pretty light-hearted, with loads of embarrassing and hilarious details from my neurotic life, website recommendations (including this one!), and all sorts of hints and tips for dealing with panic. Do check it out! It's at http://ohvivresavie.blogspot.com. Thanks, V x

Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only person experiencing such extreme, debilitating anxiety in the morning....over seemingly NOTHING!!! I am going to have to force myself to accept it and get on with my day, instead of calling in "sick" to work and dwelling on it all day. I am a kindergarten teacher and I worry about doing a good job and being responsible for 20+ kids, first thing in the morning. Thank you for your blog it is so refreshing and helpful!
-Tracy

Anonymous said...

So happy to find this great read this morning after a severe bout of morning anxiety . Nice it is still here a number of year later, There ARE people like ME out there

Anonymous said...

Just like the many who have posted before i also have on and off anxiety, there seems to be varying intervals of my anxiety though sometime sitting at bay for months and even years. Just recently I started to wake up with anxiety and this post certainly has helped pushing through instead of giving in is definitely the way to go. I hope everyone out there with this horrible problem has good luck and thank you so much for this post

Blue Dawn said...

I have severe morning anxiety. I have had anxiety, panic and PTSD for 12 years now. I was treated with medication for the first 11 years, now I am going it on my own. Even on the meds I would tell my doctor I am still having a hard time in the morning. On waking, instantly my heart pounds, I feel nauseous, I have feelings of dread. Sometimes there are thoughts of a terrible memory or worries such as how much I have to do. Sometimes a nightmare wakes me up and I have the residual of the feelings from the nightmare upsetting me.

I have developed ways of approaching this to minimize the uncomfortable (to say the least) sensations (more like unbearable) but it never seems to go away. This includes solitare, words with friends and draw something on my PDA without getting out of bed, listening to a panic and anxiety prevention recording (telling me everything will be alright), listening to calming music, hugging my dog, positive affirmations, journalling, or having something important to do that makes me hop out of bed even if I don't want to.

It occurred to me that in the morning my brain will have less blood flow as a result of sleep and being supine. Also a depletion of neurotransmitters, possibly dehydration as well. I think there must be a correlation to the physical which if addressed could help. Once I get up and moving the symptoms are slightly lessened although still greatly present. I have started taking amino acids in the morning with juice by the bed and that doesn't help instantly but it seems to help. I think getting up and moving is the biggest help - increasing the blood flow to the brain. Obviously it isn't enough to help completely but in concert with positive thinking, a glass of water, and amino acids - I feel slightly better. I wish I could make it go away; I feel so ill in the morning and if I don't do those things above, it can result in just moving to the couch and feeling lousy all morning until noon or 1pm.

Job loss, divorce, death of a family member, moving - these are some of the recent traumas in my life which are very real stressors.

Jeff @a frogs diary said...

I know this is an old post but for me it is spot on. Most of my anxiety starts in the morning, for what appears for no reason. Like you its not until evening that I can finally have a meal and relax, but no matter how good I feel that night when I wake up there it is again.

I open my eyes and just kinda lay there thinking, is it there? Is it a going to be a good day? Then it starts to creep up again. Some days to a 2 or 3, others even more so that it's harder to go through the day.

Anonymous said...

I have been having a bout of anxiety for about 2 months now. I'm I guess a health hypocondriac. I started with a little acid reflux and now I have been spiralling out of control after that. I wake up about 2 hours early and as soon as my eyes open my heart is racing so fast. Its been going on since the anxiety started with the acid reflux. It freaks me out every time. If I am very lucky and I fall back asleep the alarm does the same thing to me. I have no pain just my heart racing which usually causes a panic attack unless I can calm myself down. Does this happen to anyone elsr.?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I thought I was the only person with this recurring anxiety in the a.m. Your analysis and explanation of the physical and nutritional aspects of this phenomena really helps. It makes sense, since once I am out of bed and not lying there obsessing it gradually improves. By the time I get to work, it is usually OK. Bottom line......great and helpful blog.....God bless you and prayers to all the posters who similarly suffer......JIM

annie said...

Like others here, I just searched for morning anxiety and found your blog. I can't exactly remember when my anxiety started, it's sort of grown over the past few years and it's definitely worse in the mornings. I believe now that it's the anxiety that's causing most of my fatigue problems, I get so worn out and I used to have lots of energy. I also have the worry of aging parents now which doesn't help! I have enough trouble coping with myself! I feel like I'm stuck on a wheel going round and round sometimes and can't find a way to get off!
Thank you for the blog, there is a lot of helpful information

Anonymous said...

My morning anxiety comes from waking to the realization that I have no job and no good prospects are likely to come up that day,and that I have no money so I can't pay my bills or support myself or my daughter, and that I am alone and no one gives a shit.

Anonymous said...

yes...I wake up in panic, followed by nausea, then vomiting... I get up and force in a banana, yoghurt and a juice. Due to low blood sugar and low BP. Trying to get help. Tried Zoloft made me much worse, now I take 1mg of valium. Then I do the school run. Two separate schools kindy and pre primary. I haven't been able to return to work since my Mum died 9 weeks ago. Mediation seems to help. Scared to try any other antidepressants, as I had such a bad time on them. Yep just trying to keep going, but Agoraphobia is kicking in. Thank god for online shopping. Wish I could be a better Mum and do parent roster and things, just trying to get through one day at a time. My son turns 5 on Sat. want to throw him a party, just too scared of another panic attack. I have them every morning, they wake me up at night and sometimes around 6p. Definately think my blood sugar affects my anxiety.

Anonymous said...

I always thought this only happened to me..... thank you for sharing

Don said...

Hi, somewhere in your blog you talk about controlling anxiety.
But the real key is giving up control and allowing yourself to feel what you feel. How is this possible, you wonder, when it's so damn uncomfortable. Just keep in mind that if you accept emotions the way they are, even if very unpleasant, they will change more quickly into another mood. A technique I've learned in meditation is to drop the "story line" about where this is coming from and where it might be going, because this kind of rumination takes you back to unpleasant memories of the past and forward to a worried sense of the future.
And when you go to those two places, you're no longer in the present. It's normal, totally normal, to want to escape the present when it's difficult, and that's actually why we slip into the past and future. A good way to drop the story line is to drop below it, so to speak, and ground yourself in the body. There is a practice called the body scan which, if done daily, enables you to ground yourself in the body more quickly, before you get highjacked by ruminative thoughts.
When you are grounded in the body, you can observe the sensations anxiety produces. This can be challenging to do, but if you approach it with an attitude of lovingkindness and not judgment or aversion, you will noticce that the sensations you fear r not solid because they shift in frequency and intensity and eventually subside. The key is the attitude of the participatory observer (one foot in, and one foot out of the experience) coupled with loving kindness for yourself and the pain all this causes you. I've learned what I know from formal meditation practice with a good teacher. Skilfull meditators are as empirical as any scientist, so you can trust the strategies they offer. There's also a great book,
The Mindful Way Through Depression, that works great for anxiety too. So, my final overarching recommendation is start meditating with a good teacher. Meditation is not a quick fix, however, but it is truly transformative over time.
This I know from experience.
May you all be happy and know peace, and may your lives eventually be easeful.
Don

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