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  1. #1
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    Anxiety In The Morning: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

    Anxiety In The Morning? Why It Happens And What To Do About It, According To A Mental Health Pro
    By Kasandra Brabaw, WomensHealthMmag.com
    Dec 11, 2019

    Have you ever woken up feeling low, anxious, heart racing, dreading the day that's about to come? Most of us have at least once or twice.
    It's totally normal to wake up anxious or panicked sometimes, says Natalie Wallace, LCSW, a behavioral therapy clinician at Behavioral Associates in New York. Occasional morning anxiety may stem from a nightmare you just had, or could be related to nerves about a big event coming up at work or in life.

    Heck, if you don't wake up anxious in the days, say, before your wedding or a career-changing project, then congrats! You're one of the few extremely well-adjusted people on Earth. So don't get too worked up about a one-off nerve-ridden morning. Generally the anxious feelings in those very particular types of circumstances will pass, and you probably won't feel that way for long.

    But for some people, morning anxiety is more than occasional. And if it's becoming a regular occurrence in your A.M. routine, then it's time to face it head on and come up with coping and prevention methods that work for you-like the techniques ahead.

    Why do I feel anxiety in the morning in the first place?
    FYI, "morning anxiety" is not a formal medical diagnosis. But it's common (and normal) to feel anxious at particular times of the day occasionally, or when you have something big to deal with in the day ahead.

    Usually, the anxiety stems from bad thoughts about the day to come. "A lot of times we have distorted thoughts about the reality of our days and of our situations," Wallace says. "So when you start to ruminate about how bad something is going to be, how stressed you're gonna be, and how tired you are, that is going to ramp up that insecurity."

    There probably isn't more to anxiousness in the morning than that, though. Meaning: While it may feel as if you're particularly off mentally/emotionally first in the morning, your body likely isn't going through any sort of physiological change while you're sleeping that causes you to feel panicked when you wake up. It's possible that levels of certain hormones (like the stress hormone cortisol) are higher in the morning, but scientific evidence to support that these hormonal fluctuations cause heightened anxiety in the morning is lacking.

    Ultimately, know that you're *not* alone if you ever imagine how terrible the day will be and feel like You. Just. Can't. Again, it's normal to have one of those days every once in a while.

    Okay, but what if I feel anxious, like, *every* morning?
    If you wake up feeling anxious most days, it'd be wise to get in touch with a therapist. Consistent anxiety-no matter what time of day it shows up-can point to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), Wallace notes.

    And it's normal for GAD to show up at consistent times. Some people who have GAD may feel anxious only in the mornings. "Typically, it's right before people go to bed and when they wake up in the morning," Wallace says. "I've also had people report that those are the worst times [for anxiety]."
    Why? Having anxiety in the morning tends to interfere with your mood and attitude for the day to come, and having anxiety right before bed can interfere with sleep and then also set you up to still feel on edge when you rise. Your anxiety may also dissipate as the day goes on.

    What are the morning anxiety signs to look out for?
    Number one on the list of symptoms: racing thoughts. Mentally, you'll feel as if there are problems you need to solve or that you can't possibly solve, and your mind will try to create solutions, Wallace says.

    The anxiety these racing thoughts create can also lead to physical symptoms including:

    • Fatigue
    • Sweating
    • Nausea
    • Tense muscles

    While it may feel as if the physical symptoms start first (e.g., the nausea hits and then your anxious thoughts start), that's not the case, Wallace says.

    In addition to racing thoughts, if you're regularly experiencing any of the following emotions or behaviors when you wake up, there's a chance you have generalized anxiety disorder that's presenting in the morning:

    • Overthinking worst-case outcomes constantly
    • Worrying about things that are out of your control
    • Blowing a scenario out of proportion with reality
    • You're terrified of making the wrong decisions
    • You're unable to let go of a worry

    "With generalized anxiety, your thoughts are racing, and you're trying to come up with solutions to problems that may not be realistic or might even be catastrophic," she says. "And then those physical symptoms can come up-heart racing or fatigue, for example. When all of this is going on in your body, you're exhausted."

    Okay, so what can I do to *stop* feeling anxious in the A.M.?
    If you feel anxious on some mornings when you have big events or things on your mind, here are five ways to cope that you can do on your own:

    • Get a good night's sleep as often as you can.
    • Exercise regularly. Wallace suggests doing 30 minutes of exercise in the morning, which can release endorphins that help alleviate the anxiety and may make you feel calmer.
    • Practice regular self-care methods in the morning to help calm you, like taking a calming shower or going for a walk before you start your day.
    • Have a morning routine, which may help reduce the anxiety you might have about the unknown that day and help you avoid anxiousness associated with feeling frazzled in the morning.
    • Give yourself time to relax and wake up before checking your phone, email, or the news.

    If morning anxiety is just a one-off thing for you, another solution (should it come up again) is to think realistically about the day you have before you. Remember that whatever you're worrying about isn't as big a deal as you're making it out to be in your head.

    But if you are dealing with anxiousness in the morning all the damn time and think you might have clinical anxiety, the first thing to do is to make an appointment with your doctor, who can refer you to a therapist. Therapy can help you learn to cope with your anxiety. While it might not put a stop to your anxious thoughts completely (in fact, it probably won't), therapy can teach you ways to make the anxiety go away faster.

    "Psychotherapy is very helpful to reframe thoughts about your day and about the stress," Wallace says. "You're trying to create a routine that is more sustainable and manageable. Psychotherapy can also teach you to break those thoughts saying you're going to wake up feeling anxious the next day because you woke up feeling anxious today, which only perpetuates the morning anxiety.

  2. #2
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    Re: Anxiety In The Morning: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

    Hey, Doc!

    I'm just sifting through these great articles... I am in the middle of my gradual-return-to-work and it's the least gradual plan I've ever had.

    I know it's a bit of rumination, but also I'm having trouble organizing my thoughts and they overwhelm me sometimes. I do see/Zoom with my psychologist Wednesday, so hopefully the session will help.

    Perhaps I won't be so anxious now that (I hope) I have no more technical issues with my systems.

    The phone system is supposed to put you in a state of Not Ready when the call is finished but I have to do it manually and sometimes another call comes through and I haven't even put down my notes for the previous call. And then on top of that today, I had our internal tech support messaging me AND my manager and I was supposed to take part in a short (daily) meeting. It felt like too many things happening at once.

    On top of that, I asked why I can't go back to my skillset of cellular support, and it's because some genius decided that the manager and cellular team would all be in Saskatoon instead of my city of Regina... It seems so arbitrary and stupid. So I feel stuck doing a skillset (internet support) that I have a much harder time doing and I'm trying not to use words like "hopeless" or "resigned to" or "why me," and so on... Which really is just whining, when I "should be" focusing on getting to know this (not stupid) skillset (that I have no reason to detest this much)... It's a choice that I thought I had, but it apparently isn't a choice anymore.

    I have to convince myself not to be paranoid and think my employer is setting me up to fail. Is it just my bad attitude?

    I'm fighting my brain, trying to convince it that things will be fine, eventually, but it really wants to resist going to work (at home)... I had to force myself to stay on the calls... But then I couldn't stop crying.

    I am not sure I want to speak to my psychiatrist about it, because I don't want to be so drugged that I don't feel anything at all.

    I don't know what to do. My caseworker/liaison is supposed to be my go-to person but we're almost constantly playing phone tag and leaving each other voicemails.

    Anyway, now that I've blathered on and started crying again, I'll just stop and find something else to distract myself with.


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    Anxiety In The Morning: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

    @H011yHawkJ311yBean

    Holly I'm having a bit of trouble following you here (probably sleep deprivation on my part).

    Is the problem that there are too many things happening at once? Too many calls coming in before you've had a chance to process the last one? Too many people trying to contact you at once?

    If so, I would recommend that you go at your own pace. Make your notes - whoever else is calling can either call back or leave a message or something - just because someone is calling doesn't mean you have to answer right away.

    One of my sons when he was in his early teens had a real problem with not answering the phone and often it would turn out to be for me and I simply was too busy or otherwise not ready to talk. The idea of letting it go to voicemail seemed not to be an option. There were times when he would even come to the door of the bathroom to tell me someone wanted to talk to me. I finally told him very bluntly if you insist on answering the phone, YOU deal with it. Don't bring it to me. If someone is asking for me, tell them I'm not available and take a message. Eventually, he got the idea.

    Something like that is what you need to be telling yourself I think. You first need to do what you can and while you are engaged with one issue the rest can wait, even if it is your boss.

    What is your reaction to that?

    Added: Did your psychiatrist recommend a gradual return to work schedule? If so, is the employer sticking to it? If not, can you ask him to submit one?

  4. #4
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    Re: Anxiety In The Morning: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

    I agree. Just do the best you can -- which you do anyway. And if that is not good enough for them, oh well...

    On a lighter note about work:


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    Re: Anxiety In The Morning: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

    Well, a call comes in right away, automatically answers. I don't have a choice. They can hear me breathing! lol I could put myself on mute or hang up on them but if the call was monitored I don't know how I would explain that to my manager.

    Yes to all. No control. All of those things happening in succession. Boom. Boom. Boom. Everything happening at once and I lack any way to stop it other than logging out and shutting down my computer.

    So I did.

    My heart races and it's like... Anyway, sorry. I have to go to bed. I've been crying off and on all night and it's about 3 am. I might have to call my caseworker again tomorrow.

    I just feel completely effed over.

    Can I maybe just throw myself in front of a bus... That's what everyone always asks. "Did anyone get the license plate of that bus?" Or maybe it was a truck...

    *sigh*


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    Re: Anxiety In The Morning: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

    Quote Originally Posted by H011yHawkJ311yBean View Post
    and think my employer is setting me up to fail. Is it just my bad attitude?
    That is basically the theme of the Dilbert comic strip: the employees are set up to fail.

    As you may know all too well, the attitude of a lot of employers is: If you won't deal with our system the way it is, we will find someone else that will. So it is a take-it-or-leave-it strategy unless they can be forced or coerced to make some "reasonable accommodation."

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    Re: Anxiety In The Morning: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel View Post
    So it is a take-it-or-leave-it strategy unless they can be forced or coerced to make some "reasonable accommodation."
    And that's where strong medical/psychological documentation comes in. If your employer is presented with a clear case for accommodation, their ability to harass you in various ways is limited by that under threat of significant financial penalties and damages.

    The system isn't perfect by any means but for those who need workplace accommodation it really is the only recourse.

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    Re: Anxiety In The Morning: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

    And, of course, it doesn't help to be a perfectionist since most employers almost pride themselves in offering work in a "fast-paced environment."

    Even in academia, deadlines can matter more than quality, with some professors telling poor undergrads that work that is one minute late is given a grade of zero. Then the professor takes 2 or 3 weeks to grade it.

    On the positive side, I have learned to be less perfectionistic due these societal demands, though painfully so

    Screenshot_2020-06-16 UQasar on Twitter Dilbert also has a time and quality issue that the boss .jpg

    Screenshot_2020-06-16 Humour - NOS.png
    Last edited by Daniel; June 16th, 2020 at 01:19 PM.

  9. #9
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    Re: Anxiety In The Morning: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

    Quote Originally Posted by H011yHawkJ311yBean View Post
    On top of that, I asked why I can’t go back to my skillset of cellular support, and it’s because some genius decided that the manager and cellular team would all be in Saskatoon instead of my city of Regina... It seems so arbitrary and stupid. So I feel stuck doing a skillset (internet support) that I have a much harder time doing and I’m trying not to use words like “hopeless” or “resigned to” or “why me,” and so on... Which really is just whining, when I “should be” focusing on getting to know this (not stupid) skillset (that I have no reason to detest this much)... It’s a choice that I thought I had, but it apparently isn’t a choice anymore.
    I think that is where I would be putting my hopes if I decided to stay -- things can only get better as you gain knowledge and experience of yet another domain.

    BTW, some of my favorite quotes of late:

    "Life is a guy trying to play a violin solo in public, while learning the music and his instrument at the same time."

    "Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging."

    ~ Joseph Campbell

  10. #10
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    Re: Anxiety In The Morning: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

    Thank you guys. I feel a little better today.

    Some things have come to light that weren't clear before. I have a little hope. I'm exhausted right now, but I'll touch base when I feel better!

    *hugs* to you both! I might call in and take today off to ground myself a bit.


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