Sometimes all it takes to ruin an entire day is feeling slightly "off" when you wake up. Everyone's been there: You wake up, and for some reason, you can't even vocalize or fully understand why, but you're already anxious before you've even brushed your teeth. It probably doesn't help when some well-meaning co-worker jokingly asks you if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, as if that's ever remotely reassuring to the person being asked. Sometimes, on those truly terrible days, you can't help but wonder, why do I wake up with anxiety?
The most obvious reason often comes down to how stressed you currently are in your day to day life, although this can be harder to identify in reality than it sounds in theory.
Sometimes stress and anxiety can mask themselves at first, so you don't even realize how much a relationship or a work project is freaking you out until it explodes. Or, in other circumstances, there may not be anything external causing your stress; instead, it might be an indication of something more serious, such as a case of clinical depression or anxiety that you just haven't diagnosed yet.
It's easy to recognize feelings of anxiety or stress, but it can be incredibly difficult to understand why they're happening to begin with.
Morning anxiety is a pretty obvious affliction: It's the onset of anxiety as soon as you wake up, before you've even had time to think about your day or press snooze on your alarm.
When you're feeling anxious or depressed, it can often seem like you're the only one experiencing it. But in fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States, with over 18 percent of the population of American adults experiencing symptoms of chronic anxiety in their daily lives.
However, if you're sure that you're not dealing with a clinical, diagnosable form of anxiety, feeling anxious in the morning could also have something to do with what you're eating.
If you're feeling tense and anxious as soon as you wake up each morning, your blood sugar levels may be to blame.
Your blood sugar drops overnight while you sleep, which may cause feelings of anxiety in the morning before you've had a chance to eat breakfast. Having a snack immediately before bed could help to remedy this, or making a point to eat something in the morning before you start to worry about your anxiety.
Another cause of a.m. anxiety could have something to do with your caffeine intake. If you're a coffee junkie like myself, you could be mildly addicted to caffeine without even realizing it, and as a result, you feel anxious in the minutes or hours before you've had a chance to sip on your daily cup of jet fuel.
If you think your morning anxiety might be due to any of these diet-related activities, it'll be easier to locate the problem: All you have to do is see how you feel after that first cup of coffee or first bite of your breakfast. If your anxiety seems to diminish after that, the two are probably connected. If not, it might be something harder to diagnose, at least on your own.
Now, if none of these things seem to explain why you feel so crummy every morning, you might want to ask yourself if something has happened in your past that's causing you to associate mornings with negative emotions.
For example, if you once had a panic attack or a terrible, traumatic fight with your partner in the early morning, you might be experiencing anxiety due to that associated event.
Even if it happened a long time ago, it can be hard to overcome the memory of one especially impactful and stimulating event during a specific point of the day.
At the same time, anxiety can often be just that: anxiety. You're especially vulnerable to those feelings in the morning because you have to process everything that needs to get done for the entirety of the day to come, which can be overwhelming as hell when you've barely even opened your eyes to sunlight.
Of course, if you think your anxiety might be due to a traumatizing past event or representative of a larger mental health issue, it's in your best interest to speak with a medical professional ASAP so you can get the care and attention you deserve, and be well on your way to happier, more peaceful mornings.