How to Overcome Morning Dread

Do you ever wake up and feel an impending sense of doom towards the day? This may feel like a tight feeling in your chest, a pit at the bottom of your stomach, or a cage of full of butterflies in your gut. This can be called ‘morning dread’.

Morning dread is not just waking up and feeling as if you can’t be bothered getting out of bed. Morning dread is waking up and feeling anxious for what the day ahead holds.  When we wake up, our body naturally releases hormones that are associated with stress – adrenaline and cortisol – to give us the energy we need to get up and start the day. If you suffer from anxiety, your mind might interpret this hormonal surge as an impending danger, which can kick into motion the snowball of negative thoughts and worries.

Therefore, if you are prone to anxiety, you may find yourself waking up and immediately feeling overwhelmed with an  all-consuming uneasiness. When you do drag yourself out of bed it may feel that everything that follows is exhausting.

Firstly,  you are not alone. Whilst no one wants to wake up and have your mind kick into overdrive first thing in the morning, it is a fairly common occurrence.  If you feel overwhelmed when you wake up here are some suggestions on how to manage this occurrence in healthy, adaptive ways.

Learn to recognise what these feelings are instead of allowing them to overtake you.  If you see them as a surge of hormones to get your body fired up for action this can make sense and remove the negative ruminating thoughts that may accompany the negative feelings.  Then try accepting this discomfort.  It will pass. Feelings are energy; they come, they dwell and they move.

Getting up is always the hardest past, but you have to realise that staying in bed and letting yourself get consumed by negative thoughts and fear is counter-productive to feeling good. Setting a plan and establishing a morning routine for the day ahead can provide a solid structure to follow when you wake up.

Beginning your day with a generous dose of self-care, intention and movement is key.  A helpful morning routine can consist of 10 minutes exercise, 10 minutes meditation and 10 minutes to plan out your day.

Movement is key to shifting the stress hormones out of your body. Exercise allows the adrenaline and cortisol a chance to be released from your body. This is why exercise is so good for you.  If you can exercise outside even better as the fresh air, sunshine and natural elements are all helpful in calming the nervous system.

Meditation helps calm the mind and racing thoughts.  A gratitude meditation can help further download the happy hormones of  dopamine which counteract the stressful hormones.  And finally by focusing on what your day looks like and all that has to be done can provide a sense of ease. If there is too much on your plate for that day, work out what isn’t an absolute priority and remove it. Saying no is very powerful.

This morning routine will help shift your mind away from your negative thoughts and uncomfortable feelings by giving you something productive and active to concentrate on.

At the end of the day, if you still find yourself feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try to shift your focus to the good things that occurred during the day. No matter how small or apparently insignificant, focusing on the good helps down regulate healthy hormones and helps to rewire the brain away from a negativity bias.

Morning dread is a real thing, but it is important to remind yourself that to no matter what you are in control of your mind, thoughts and behaviours. When you claim this agency over yourself you begin to create healthy habits to manage your stress.

If you find that you are suffering chronic stress, anxiety or depression then get in touch with The Melbourne Counselling Centre to find out how counselling can help you work through and resolve your stress.  Click here for Bookings.