Some people just aren't morning people, no matter how you slice and dice it. For some of us, it's because waking up in the morning doesn't involve excitement about the day ahead — instead, it's filled with anxiety about all things to come throughout the day.
Kevin Chapman, PhD, a member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) says that morning anxiety usually comes from not looking forward to what you have to do in the day, whether you have a big project due, or you feel unprepared for that big team meeting.
But being anxious isn't necessarily a bad thing.
"[Anxiety is] trying to prepare you for the potential of future threat, so in that way, anxiety can help prepare us for demands, important meetings and tasks," he says. "Only when it’s chronic is it really a problem."
In other words, as annoying as anxiety can feel, a small dose of it helps you get your life in order. After all, if you weren't anxious about your meeting, you would't spend any time preparing for it. But if you generally start your day feeling a little stressed, Dr. Chapman recommends trying a cognitive behavioral exercise called the three-point check.
"A three-point check when you wake up in the morning is: One, What am I thinking right now as I’m waking up?," he says. "Two, How am I feeling physically in my body right now? And three, What am I doing or feel the need to do right now?"
Anxiety can help prepare us for demands, important meetings and tasks.
Kevin Chapman, PhD
Dr. Chapman says that asking those questions can help you figure out what's triggering your anxiety, and make it easier to address those triggers. If you wake up freaking out that you haven't prepped anything to bring for lunch, for example, you might put together some extra meals when you get home that evening to save yourself from that same anxiety the next morning. In fact, being able to pinpoint the source of your anxiety and prepare for it next time is probably one of the best ways to deal with that morning stress.
"Anxiety is a lot about uncertainty," Dr. Chapman says. "What goes along with anxiety is thoughts of uncontrollability and predictability of future events."
It's not possible to predict everything that's going to come up in a day, but establishing some sort of routine to take care of your anxieties really can help with morning stress. Maybe you set aside time the night before to pick out your outfit for the next day, or you spend five minutes in the morning making a list of everything you need to get ready so that you don't forget anything.
Because part of anxiety is feeling out of control, it helps to have something like a routine that you can control.
"If you have a set routine that is predictable and familiar, that in and of itself is going to help alleviate anxiety because it’s more predictable, it’s not uncertain," Dr. Chapman says.
If you are experiencing anxiety and are in need of crisis support, please call the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.