How to Overcome Morning Anxiety for a Brighter Start

morning anxiety

Not everyone is a natural “morning person.” I, however, have always been one of those annoyingly chipper morning people who wake up jumping out of bed. That’s not always the case now. From having kids to life getting hard, no matter how much of a “morning person” I am—it’s not always easy to wake up feeling excited about the possibilities of a new day. 

In good times or bad, more often than not, we’re rushing around to look presentable for a Zoom meeting or to ensure the kids get to school on time while downing a cup of coffee and barely remembering to eat breakfast. Does any of this sound familiar? I’m right there with you!

Sure, the frenzied pace of some mornings can feel hectic and stressful—I know I have to intentionally control my flurry of thoughts in the morning. My mind races with energy. But, if your mind starts to race with overwhelming, panicked, or intrusive thoughts regularly, before your feet even touch the floor, a deeper mental health issue could be lurking beneath the surface. 

This might be an indication of morning anxiety. What I want you to know, first and foremost, is that this doesn’t need to be the norm for you—you can shake that morning anxiety. Secondly, getting a deeper understanding of your unique experience will help you overcome it. 

Let’s unpack all of this so you can start to have a fresher, brighter start to the day. 

Understanding the Causes of Your Morning Anxiety

While “morning anxiety” is not an official diagnosis, it’s more common than you might realize to deal with. Maybe some of this sounds familiar to you:

  • Fear of not being able to complete all the tasks on your schedule.
  • Feeling like you’re disappointing your spouse or kids.
  • Worrying about running late and people being mad at you.
  • Struggling to navigate work and home expectations, which makes you feel like you’re always failing.  

All of this can (understandably!) make starting the day feel almost impossible—and while many of us experience similar anxieties, the cause for them is different for each of us. 

To combat this morning anxiety, you need to know why it’s impacting you in particular. This will help you figure out what you need to do to overcome it. Here are just a few common culprits to consider as potential anxiety-drivers in your life. 

Chronically High Cortisol Levels

Cortisol (or stress hormone levels) immediately start to rise each morning within the first 30–60 minutes of being awake. This is your body’s way of priming your brain circuits for alertness and optimal function. 

But if cortisol production is too high (due to chronic stress or circadian rhythm imbalance), it can elevate your morning blood pressure, heart rate, and autonomic nervous system. These sensations activate the body’s “fight-or-flight” response, which often leads to anxiety.       

Insomnia or Sleep Disturbances  

According to the Behavioral Sciences Journal, frequent bouts of insomnia, sleep disturbances, or irregular sleep habits increase the overall risk of anxiety. That’s because chronic poor sleep quality throws off your body’s natural secretion of melatonin and serotonin, which are responsible for stabilizing your mood. 

Excess Sugar or Caffeine Intake

We’ve all heard coffee can be bad for us, and in this case, it can be playing a role in your morning anxiety. A recent study in the Cureus Journal found that increasing caffeine consumption leads to higher anxiety levels. Plus, excessive sugar intake can lead to inflammation in the body, which also contributes to anxiety.

Not Enough Balance in Your Life

Being able to maintain an intentional balance between family priorities, work obligations, and personal wellness is hard (I know how challenging this can be personally)—and yet it’s vital for reducing chronic stress, anxiety, and emotional burnout. (This is why we say play is important for all of us to reduce stress!)

From finishing work projects and shuttling the kids to soccer practice to figuring out dinner and ensuring the bills are paid on time, there’s a relentless task list competing for your attention. This can cause mindFULLness to take root, which distracts you from the present and throws you off-balance, resulting in that all-too-familiar morning anxiety and sense of overwhelm.

online breathwork

Practical Strategies to Help Relieve Morning Anxiety

It may not be cut and dry on what is causing your morning anxiety; it’s likely a blend of those causes mixed in with your own unique challenges. That’s okay. For right now, go with your gut—when you read the list in the section above, which ones cause a little “ping” in your mind? (Even if you’re trying to ignore that ping!)

I want you to follow that little gut feeling as you read these strategies so you can focus on the options that are best suited to what you really need. 

Establish a peaceful morning rhythm.

All the talk about morning routines is more than just hype. People who form a daily routine are more likely to experience a sense of meaning in their lives. Here’s the thing: this routine doesn’t have to be elaborate for you to reap the mental health benefits. Keep it simple. Choose up to 3 small things you can do to create a rhythm. The goal is to soothe anxious feelings as you transition into a new day. Here’s a big list of self-care activities to incorporate into your morning routine if you want some ideas to get started!

Tune into your body

All that noise that causes the anxiety is in your head. Take time to get out of your head (and all that noise) and instead listen to your body. A few of my favorite ways to do that include meditation, breathwork, body scans, and Pilates. When you tune into the sensations and experiences of the moment you’re in, you can reduce the stress associated with worrying about the past or thinking about the future. 

Integrate movement into your routine.

Exercise is a natural mood enhancer. Block out time in your schedule for physical activities, no matter what time of day it is. But remember: this doesn’t have to mean going to the gym or lifting weights if that doesn’t feel good for you. Focus on mindful movement and choose activities that you actually enjoy doing. If you struggle to get going in the morning, try Lindywell’s 10-minute Energizing Morning Pilates Routine. Start your 14-day free trial and try it tomorrow moring! 

Seek out extra support if you need to.

There’s no shame in asking for help when the anxiety is too debilitating to overcome on your own. Seeking this support was critical to my healing process—and I wish I had asked for it sooner. Check out Psychology Today’s directory of therapists and mental health professionals to find support that’s right for you. Don’t forget that talking to your friends, family, and network can be helpful too. Sometimes just saying it out loud is the relief that you need!

Adjust expectations with compassion.

If your anxious feelings come from unrealistic expectations, rethinking those expectations can be an effective antidote. Rather than holding yourself to certain ideals or performance metrics, embrace self-compassion and shift your mindset to “grace over guilt” (a favorite mantra here at Lindywell). 

Embrace Anxiety-Free Mornings with Lindywell

Ready to swap out morning anxiety for refreshment and renewal? Join our thriving community here at Lindywell where we love mindful movement, focus on grace over guilt, and embrace each season of life. 

As a Lindywell member, you have access to more than 350 Pilates classes, calming breathwork sessions, nourishing recipes, and other resources to help you overcome those anxious feelings and reclaim your well-being. Plus, 91% of our members say that Lindywell helps them stay consistent! Start your wellness journey with a free 14-day trial now!

share this post

Helping You Break Free!

Get your weekly delivery of inspiration—Pilates, nourishment,
& mindfulness—changing your relationship with food and your body.

6 thoughts on “How to Overcome Morning Anxiety for a Brighter Start”

  1. So much of your article resonated with me. Thank you so much Lauren, i don’t feel so alone now with my morning anxiety, which started when i began menopause. Your words are so honest and i am grateful for you sharing your story. I am getting up and doing your work outs in the morning now and they really help. Keep on being your amazing self.

    1. While we’re sorry that you are experiencing morning anxiety, we’re so glad that this resonated for you and hope that you found it comforting and helpful!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and being honest. I am 54 and use to be in much better shape when I was younger. Now that I am older and going through menopause, I am determined to take better care of myself. Our four children are grown and married and I have no excuses to not care for myself better. I am so thankful for Lindywell!!

    1. We’re so glad that you are prioritizing caring for yourself. You are worth it and we are cheering you on!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The only wellness
you need!

Most wellness programs are unrealistic, but with Lindywell it works wonders.

Feel good. Play Bingo!

Join our Be Well Bingo Challenge to build consistency + win some cozy fall prizes (up to $500)!