I know I speak for so many of us when I say anxiety can feel at it’s heaviest & hardest in the mornings. Waking up with an invisible weight on your chest; your heart beating ten to the dozen, fear and panic crawling like scarabs under your skin. Just the very thought of attempting the day sets your brain on fire & you find yourself, at 6am, battling every dark thought that seeps in. It’s cruel really – you’re vulnerable post-sleep, not quite with it, and anxiety doesn’t care a hoot that you were caught off guard or unready to fend it off.
I’ve struggled with it myself for years and more often than not haven’t felt strong enough to overcome it. It’s affected my life in so many ways, particularly work. It’s only really in the last few years I’ve fought harder to get past it, but there are still days it knocks me for six. With that in mind, I wondered how others cope with morning anxiety, what their coping mechanisms are. I took to Twitter & with a little help from my friends, here are some tips from us to you, to get through those difficult mornings.
Sounds like an obvs one doesn’t it? Alas, anxiety has a way of taking our breathe away (& not in the oh look there’s Tom Hardy, *heart flutters* kinda way). Focusing on each breathe, concentrating on the in & the out, can help to regulate your heart rate & shift some focus from all that overthinking you’re up there doing.
Open the windows, let the fresh air in.
Even on the days I’m really in a funk, I force myself to open the windows. It’s a way of letting the outside in without having to physically go out in it straight away. Hearing the birds sing, the wind blowing, can bring you back to Earth a little.
On a personal level, when I wake up anxious, I often feel like my room is this stifled hot box – it can feel claustrophobic. So in the same way opening a window can let the outside in, it can also be that you’re letting the inside, out.
Say it out loud – affirmations & things I’m grateful for
Yes, yes I am suggesting you talk to yourself. Sorta. I know I’m not alone in this (so I don’t feel totally bananas) but saying things aloud that I’m happy about, that I’m grateful for, is like wielding a metaphorical sword & saying ‘actually, no, it’s not all bad, fuck you’, to all the negative spew my brain is feeding me.
Affirmations too, are a great way to combat anxiety. They’re not for everyone, granted, but repeating positive lines to yourself like ‘I will believe in myself and my abilities’, ‘I will celebrate my little victories, ‘I am brave’ & ‘Today will be ok’ can hopefully, with time, become things you begin to believe & your outlook might just become more positive.
*Tip! If saying affirmations out loud really isn’t you bag, why not print some off or write some down & pop them where you can see them in the morning?
One step at a time
This, I know, is crucial for so many of us. It’s something I’ve incorporated into every aspect of my life, not just my mornings. Breaking down things into more manageable chunks can make the day a little less daunting. It’s hard not to think too far ahead, but taking things one step at a time is more often than not, the very best way for our poorly brains.
Focussing on my pet’s needs keeps me present
Animals have proven to be incredibly therapeutic & so many folk have told me how cuddles & time spent with their fluffy pals has helped pull them through. Not all of us will have a pet, but for those of us that do, they can be incredibly good for our mental health.
No matter how we might be feeling, we know they need to be fed, watered, walked etc. We know that even if we can’t find the strength to get up for ourselves, we must try to find it for them. They’re our motivation.
Distraction is key
Once we’re up & about, it’s clear many of us find it important to keep busy. Whether that’s cooking, colouring, reading or exercising, distraction really is key. Cleaning is my default distraction & let me tell you, the bath taps sparkle. Come at me, Mrs Hinch! But, in all seriousness, tidying up your space, giving the place a once over, can make you feel pretty satisfied once it’s done. Promise.
Listening to music or a good podcast can be brilliant for drowning out anxiety too, & I’ve found creating a playlist of feel-good (see: cheesy) songs helps me personally, feel lighter. Try it yourself, whether it be a motivational playlist, the Grease soundtrack or a spot o’ Metallica, music really can be a wonderful friend.
Eat, drink, take care of you
When we’re feeling the weight of anxiety, often the last thing we wanna do is wolf down two & a half Weetabix, especially if we’re feeling nauseous. If & when you can manage it though, do have a pint of water. Do nibble on something. Know that it’ll likely make you feel lots better & you’ll definitely feel more energised for it.
Write it down
Keeping a diary on your bedside table can be an effective way of working out what your main worries are and getting things into perspective. I often feel like, once it’s on that paper, it’s less on me. Sort of like unloading a heavy rucksack. If you can work out what about the day ahead is bogging you down, you can perhaps – with help & in time – work out how to fix it.
Talk to someone
If like me, you suffer with persistent morning anxiety, you might find it helpful to talk to someone about it – whether it’s a partner, friend or GP, letting someone know you’re struggling – much in the same way as writing things down – means it’s a little less weight on you. I’m no professional and I’d never advise too much because we’re all different, but for myself, I had to talk; I had to have help figuring out what was affecting me so much, I had to change what I could accordingly. It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t sometimes, but with a little help from each of these tips, I’ll get there. We all will. One step at a time.
I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can do to combat morning anxiety, it’s different for all of us; but I hope you find something of my babbling helpful – and if you yourself have any tips, please do pop them below & lets help each other as much as we darn well can.