“Morning anxiety” isn’t an official medical condition, but a casual shorthand for waking up with feelings of stress. It’s quite common: 40 million Americans over the age of 18 regularly battle generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and their worries are often at their worst in the morning when the stress hormone cortisol is at its highest. Ever gone to bed anxious the night before a presentation or flight and woken up earlier than intended? That’s due to an influx of cortisol, which can often beat your alarm.
Blood sugar levels are also quite low when you wake up, which only heightens anxiety. There are a number of techniques you can deploy to combat this cycle, and feel more prepared and equipped for the day. That includes getting to sleep earlier, practicing better sleep hygiene (that means keeping screens away from bed, not just washing your sheets), exercising after you wake up, challenging thoughts that only function to bring you down, and trying deep-breathing exercises. Morning anxiety doesn’t feel great — it’s like the Sunday Scaries, but without a night sleep’s buffer — and making an effort to change the narrative is well worth your time.
Another method, as HuffPost Life pointed out in a recent article, is to reassess what’s on your plate. Finding a steadying, balanced breakfast routine (somewhere in the middle between intermittent fasting and Fruit Loops) could work wonders for your anxiety, while helping your body function better along the way. Nutrients like zinc, magnesium, vitamin B and omega-3 fatty acids have all been linked to calming down issues with anxiety. Your best bets? Avocados, berries, eggs, oatmeal, salmon and yogurt. These foods contain all manner of fiber, vitamins, complex carbohydrates, probiotics and minerals.
Word to the wise: You don’t need to eat all of those options at once in a single breakfast. In fact, you shouldn’t. Try not to prepare them in butter, or add excess salt or sugar. And — this is important — if you can wean yourself off caffeine in the morning, that could make the biggest difference in quelling your anxiety. Coffee consumption accelerates heart rate and sensations of restlessness, which can cancel out the calming effects of these foods.
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