I wish I woke up to the sound of birds chirping and a warm embrace from the sun’s morning rays, but instead I get greeted by anxiety – the complete opposite of that fairytale feeling. Even before seeing my schedule, I already feel overwhelmed by the day ahead, and it makes me want to hit the snooze button for the next few hours (or days). Do you wake up with a head full of racing thoughts too?

Morning anxiety is a common occurrence, even for those who don’t have an anxiety disorder. It refers to the anticipatory anxiety that occurs at the beginning of the day. Stress and worry about work, and other pressures such as socialising, start flooding in and you may even sleep in to avoid the day’s responsibilities as much as you can. If you were already anxious the night before, cortisol (the stress hormone) is usually at its highest in the first hour of waking up – which is why you feel even more stressed than you previously were.

Try minimising your morning anxiety with these self-care methods:

  1. Breathe – Practice deep breathing exercises to alleviate your anxiety. Inhale and exhale slowly while keeping your shoulders and jaw relaxed.
  2. Journal – Identify your feelings by writing them down, and then address these anxious thoughts. Create a positive mantra to help counter these negative statements.
  3. Move! – Exercise reduces your stress hormone levels, and since cortisol is as at its highest upon waking up, moving your body within the first hour of the day can provide stress relief.
  4. Avoid caffeine – Caffeine can make your anxiety worse, but if you just can’t give up your morning cup of coffee, reduce your intake, especially when you’re not feeling well.
  5. Plan out your day – If you’re anxious because of an overly demanding schedule, planning out your day can help you start on a productive note. Seeing and organising your tasks on paper can also make it feel less overwhelming.

Please consult a mental health professional if your morning anxiety gets worse and starts affecting your daily life. Don’t be afraid to – they will be able to treat your anxiety disorder and help you feel better.