Morning anxiety or strong feelings of anxiety, fear or dread on waking are a common experience my clients talk about.

So let me start by saying that when I say ‘mistakes’ what I mean is that we can very innocently make things worse for ourselves.

Anxiety can feel worse in the morning for several reasons including the fact we often don’t have other stimulation to distract us yet, low blood sugar and a natural surge in cortisol to change our brainwaves from sleep mode to wakefulness.

If someone is experiencing anxiety, negative thought patterns or high stress then this natural surge in stress hormones can become over elevated and amplify whatever stress is already going on in the system.

Here are 7 common habits that you might be doing in the morning which makes anxiety worse or perpetuates the pattern.

1) Not getting up at a regular time

Poor sleep leads us to be much less emotionally balanced. We all know that! The mornings are going to be harder if we haven’t slept. Often if we’re tired due to poor sleep, we’ll want to snooze or get up a different times.

One of the key ways to help regulate sleep again is to get up at the same time every morning. This helps to set up our sleep appetite which can build up through the day. Other poor sleep habits include not going to bed at a regular time, not having a wind down period before sleep, and being on screens before bedtime. These things can exacerbate sleep issues.


2) Not getting morning sunlight within 2 hours of waking.

Getting outside and having natural light into the eyes within the early hours after waking supports the wake/sleep cycle and prompts more hormonal balance. This over time will support better sleep meaning that you wake up feeling more balanced. Here’s the science –


3) Looking at screens as the first thing you do on waking up

We are shifting from sleep brain waves to action brain waves as we get up. When we look at screens we jump straight into the ‘doing mind’ and can encourage more cortisol. This is especially true, if we look at emails, work stuff or negative news stories.

Our focus first thing sets the tone and energy for our day. I encourage you to have some space to wake up fully before getting on our phone.


4) Having caffeine on an empty stomach

This is especially for women and especially as we get older. Caffeine stimulates our stress hormones and our body has to cope with the toxin. When we have eaten, our body can better respond and manage caffeine. Caffeine on an empyt stomach and encourage high stress hormones for the day.


5) Looking for anxiety symptoms

One of the habits of chronic anxiety is an oversensitivity and focus on physical symptoms. This habit of looking to see how anxious I am today sets a pattern, energy and expectation. Whatever we repeat becomes automatic. Becoming aware of this habit and choosing to focus on gentle exercise, activities or meditation instead helps break the cycle.

Look here for some tips on regulating the nervous system which you could do in the morning.


6) Skipping breakfast or overloading on sugar

Low blood sugar is a stress state for the body. Add this stress to any caffeine we might have, the amount of work or things we have to do and we set ourselves up for a much harder time. When are body is in stress mode our mind then starts to try to make sense of why. If we are already in patterns of worry or intrusive thinking, this can take us further into that when actually what we need is a nice healthy breakfast.

Too much sugar has the same effect as caffeine above. It can interrupt the balance of hormones through the day and set us up for higher stress levels.


Let me know if these are helpful. You might be thinking what can you do instead. Here are some ideas as a summary:

1) Get up at a set time even if very tired

2) Have gap between getting up and looking at your phone – (a few mins of meditation, feed your pets, run through some mantras or affirmations) Also, be careful what you look at first thing if you do look at your phone. What would be more uplifting or helpful?

3) Eat a protein/nutrition rich breakfast before caffeine (even something small)

4) Rehydrate with non-caffeine drinks after waking (eg: herbal tea, hot water and lemon etc)

5) Move our body even if just a little bit of stretching

6) Get outside for a walk or sit in the sun if possible

7) Journal your choices and intentions for the day. This is a great way to get into the habit of coming back to how you want to be instead of focusing on what’s wrong

And of course, as part of this we need to deal with whatever is driving and coursing the overall anxiety and stress. As part of this you can learn to relate to your feelings and thoughts in a healthier and more empowered way. See here for more on regulating the nervous system.

With lots of love

Clare xx