Last updated:

April 12, 2024


 min read

Waking up With Anxiety: Tips for Coping with Morning Anxiety

This blog explores practical tips to tackle morning anxiety, reclaiming our mornings and fostering a sense of calm and control. Discover strategies to greet each day with resilience and peace of mind.

Written by
Kanika Kant

Understanding Morning Anxiety

Occasionally, we wake up with a sense of anxiety due to stressors like looming assignments, projects, interviews, or other tasks that we may be apprehensive about. However, morning anxiety becomes more concerning when it occurs regularly throughout the week and starts to impact our daily functioning.

Several factors can contribute to morning anxiety, including:

  1. Biological Factors: Changes in cortisol levels, known as the stress hormone, occur naturally upon waking up. For some individuals, these hormonal shifts can trigger or exacerbate feelings of anxiety.
  2. Sleep Disturbances: Poor sleep quality or insufficient sleep can disrupt the body's natural rhythms and leave individuals feeling fatigued and more susceptible to anxiety upon waking (Ramsawh et al., 2009).
  3. Stress and Worry: Unresolved stressors or worries from the previous day may resurface upon waking, leading to heightened anxiety in the morning.
  4. Routine Disruption: Changes in routine, such as travelling, starting a new job, or experiencing significant life events, can disrupt one's sense of stability and contribute to morning anxiety.
  5. Underlying Mental Health Conditions: Morning anxiety can be a symptom of an underlying anxiety disorder, such as generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or social anxiety disorder.

Morning anxiety can stem from a combination of psychological, physiological, and environmental factors. Contemplating the multitude of tasks awaiting us throughout the day, spanning work, exercise, and social engagements, can heighten the morning anxiety we experience. 

Beyond the inherent stress of planning for the day ahead, there's a physiological aspect to consider: the Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR). Cortisol, dubbed the stress hormone, plays a pivotal role in the body's stress response system. In the initial 30 to 45 minutes upon waking, cortisol levels surge, triggering the CAR phenomenon, which can amplify feelings of morning stress.

Although morning anxiety can affect anyone, individuals with anxiety disorders are particularly vulnerable. For example, individuals with Generalised Anxiety Disorder may experience heightened morning anxiety on a more frequent basis due to their predisposition to anxiety. While anxiety can serve as a prompt for healthy individuals to strategize their day, it can prove more debilitating for those grappling with underlying anxiety disorders.  

Symptoms of Morning Anxiety

Morning anxiety refers to feelings of unease, worry, or fear that are particularly intense upon waking up in the morning. We all experience symptoms of morning anxiety from time to time, but the intensity and frequency of these symptoms vary from person to person. It's essential to recognize these symptoms to develop awareness of what is happening and take the first step towards positive change.

Morning anxiety symptoms may include restlessness, irritability, fatigue, panic attack symptoms (such as difficulty breathing, tight chest, rapid heart rate, tense muscles, sweating, and nausea), racing thoughts, difficulty focusing or concentrating, and difficulty calming oneself down (Terlizzi and Villarroel, 2020).

We may encounter one or more of these symptoms on any given morning when feeling anxious. Keeping a journal of our symptoms and the events or worries preceding them can help identify patterns. This process aids in understanding ouranxiety better, enabling weto take proactive steps toward managing it effectively.

Coping Strategies for Morning Anxiety 

Morning anxiety can cast a shadow over the start of each day, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and powerless. However, with the right coping strategies, we can reclaim our mornings and cultivate a sense of calm and resilience.

  1. Establishing a soothing morning routine: 

Establishing a soothing morning routine can be a powerful way to cope with morning anxiety (Brantley, 2003). Instead of jolting awake to the sound of an alarm, consider waking up gradually with a gentle alarm clock or natural light, taking a few moments to focus on our breath and set an intention for the day. Incorporate gentle stretching or yoga poses to release tension from our body and calm our mind, even if just for a few minutes.  According to a study conducted in 2015 on Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Mental Health Care Professionals, engaging in just a five-minute meditation session has been shown to decrease anxiety levels.

Practising mindfulness or meditation can help to quiet our mind and cultivate inner peace.Spend time outdoors or near a window to connect with nature and reflect on things you're grateful for in our life. By integrating these calming activities into our morning routine, we can create a peaceful and nurturing start to our day, easing the grip of morning anxiety and promoting a sense of well-being.

  1. Physical Exercise:

By incorporating exercise into our morning routine, wecan release endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, and reduce levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Whether it's a brisk walk or a workout at the gym, physical activity can help distract our mind from anxious thoughts and promote relaxation. In a study conducted in 2020 on Beneficial Effects of Exercise on Depression and Anxiety, it was discovered that exercises integrating mindfulness techniques (such as Yoga) can be especially beneficial in effectively managing anxiety. Additionally, regular exercise has been linked to improved sleep quality, which can further reduce morning anxiety. 

  1. Limit stimulants before bed: 

Limiting stimulants before bed can be particularly beneficial for managing morning anxiety. Stimulants like caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and some sodas, can interfere with sleep quality and exacerbate anxiety symptoms. In fact, studies suggest that individuals with anxiety disorders may be especially vulnerable to the impact of caffeine, as it is thought to exacerbate anxiety symptoms.Consuming stimulants in the evening can disrupt our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, leading to restless nights and increased anxiety upon waking.

To reduce morning anxiety, consider avoiding stimulants in the late afternoon and evening hours. Instead, opt for calming herbal teas or decaffeinated beverages to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. By prioritising sleep hygiene and limiting stimulants before bed, wecan create a conducive environment for restful sleep and a more peaceful start to our day.

  1. Plan ahead and set realistic goals

Planning ahead and setting realistic goals can be effective strategies for managing morning anxiety and may also help us feel more in control. When we have a clear plan in place, it can help alleviate feelings of uncertainty and overwhelm that contribute to anxiety. Start by creating a to-do list or schedule for the day ahead, breaking tasks down into manageable steps.

Prioritize tasks based on their importance and deadlines, focusing on what needs to be accomplished first. Be realistic about what we can achieve in a day and avoid overcommitting yourself. Setting achievable goals allows us to make progress without feeling overwhelmed, reducing the likelihood of morning anxiety.

  1. Seek support from loved ones

Sharing our feelings with trusted family members or friends can provide emotional validation and understanding, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. Loved ones can offer empathy, encouragement, and practical assistance, such as helping with daily tasks or offering a listening ear. It's important to communicate our needs and boundaries clearly with our loved ones, letting them know how they can best support us during difficult times.

  1. Consider Therapy 

If you suspect an underlying anxiety disorder or if morning anxiety significantly impacts our daily functioning, it's advisable to seek assistance from a mental health professional. Therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and medication can all be effective in managing morning anxiety, with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) standing out as particularly beneficial. Book an appointment  with Rocket health’s qualified therapists or consult a psychiatrist to explore potential medication options. 

Remember, managing morning anxiety is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It's essential to experiment with different strategies and find what works best for you. Be patient with yourself and prioritise self-care as we navigate this journey towards better mornings and improved well-being.

Take control of your mornings and prioritize your mental well-being with Rocket Health. Schedule a confidential online therapy session today and discover the support you need to overcome morning anxiety and thrive each day.


Brantley, J. (2003). Calming our anxious mind: How mindfulness and compassion can free us from anxiety, fear, and panic. New Harbinger Publications.

Ramsawh, H. J., Stein, M. B., Belik, S. L., Jacobi, F., & Sareen, J. (2009). Relationship of anxiety disorders, sleep quality, and functional impairment in a community sample. Journal of psychiatric research, 43(10), 926-933.

Terlizzi, E. P., & Villarroel, M. A. (2020). Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder among adults: United States, 2019.