Ah, morning anxiety. My old friend.
It’s hard to get a good start on the day when your heart is pounding and you’re overwhelmed with the challenges of life before you even get out of bed. Hell, I feel like that before I wake up from the wild dreams and terrifying nightmares that roll through my sleep.
Morning anxiety—that intense anxiety one wakes up with—is something I’m struggling so hard with, although I didn’t even realize it was an issue until after my anxiety disappeared for a bit, then began returning increasingly aggressively during the night.
Strange. I asked a few friends if they knew what my deal was. Nope. So, I turned to the Internet. A quick Google search and I found that “morning anxiety” is not uncommon at all. With that term, I began to dig up some of the causes behind it.
One is nightmares, something that plagues my sleep. I turned to the private mental health Facebook group I belong to for help and got some stellar advice which the advice-giver kindly gave me permission to publish. Here goes:
She now adds that adjusting to the new meds might temporarily make nightmares worse. That was actually both of our experiences, but things got better as our bodies adjusted.
With her advice and the meds adjustment, I still have some nightmares, but they’re chilling out a lot and I accidentally stumbled upon some new tips from Tannis Ross of Pinch of Creativity during a vision book workshop I took with some friends at a bachelorette party.
Something I hadn’t heard before is that whatever is on our mind for the 45 minutes or so before we hit the sack is what’s going to slip into our subconscious and influence what we dream about. I haven’t verified this info, but it makes sense, right?
A week before hearing this, I had started putting my phone in another room at 10 p.m. each night and not allowing myself to look at it or think about work until 8 a.m. the next morning. Just this simple change in routine stopped me from waking up in the middle of the night, which has made for more pleasant mornings.
One night, I abandoned my no-phone rule and looked at real estate listings before drifting off. My nightmares were rather wild and convoluted, but I broke them down to being about feeling stuck in a home I don’t love.
Tannis is onto something. Before bed, she said she sets down her phone and opens her vision book in hopes of a night of sweet dreams.
I added nice thoughts before bed by trying to focus on what I want and how I will achieve it, rather than focusing on what’s wrong in my life. I might flip through my own vision book, talk to my partner about our future together or how much I love him now, read a book or just cuddle my cats and enjoy their company.
The more I talk to people—both IRL and online—the more tools I get to help me sleep better and wake up not feeling like I was battling for my life all night.
If you have morning anxiety, do you know why? How do you deal with it?
On this week’s episode of Ramblings of an Anxious Mess, I talk about how I’ve been figuring out that things I experience, such as intense and heightened anxiety throughout the night and first thing in the morning, is something others are struggling with, and even overcoming.