8 Surprising Morning Habits That Can Make Your Anxiety Worse
There's nothing more satisfying than waking up before your alarm, eating an elaborate leisurely breakfast, and leaving for the day absolutely sure that you've remembered to bring everything that you need. In actuality though, most people's morning habits aren't so picture-perfect every single day, and certain common rituals could even be hurting your mental health. Some of the morning habits that can be making your anxiety worse are surprising, from tidying up to forgetting to have breakfast.
For starters, something as small as switching out the very first sound you hear at the beginning of your day can make a major difference. Instead of jolting yourself out of sleep with an annoying clanging alarm tone, choose a more soothing sound or even one of your favorite songs, Dr. Nancy Irwin, a psychologist at Seasons in Malibu, tells Bustle. But don't stop there. Really set yourself up for a calming day by incorporating affirming activities into your morning routine, she says. Meditate, read an inspirational piece of literature, write in a gratitude journal, or move your body to put your mind in a positive space.
No matter which soothing habits help put you in the mindset to have the best day possible, just try to avoid these choices, which experts say could pose a problem for your anxiety levels later.
1. Getting Right Out Of Bed
It might seem like hopping right out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off is a good thing. While this habit might be productive in terms of saving time, it's not great for your anxiety levels, Dr. Catherine Jackson, a licensed psychologist and board-certified neurotherapist, tells Bustle. "That rushed feeling induces anxiety," she says, "and quite frankly, it is not a good start to the day." Instead of jumping out of bed, take a few moments to be still with prayer, meditation, gratitude, or whatever you prefer. Doing this will help reduce your anxiety in the morning and throughout your day, Dr. Jackson says.
2. Having Tough Conversations
The morning is definitely not the best time to fight with your partner or bring up an issue you've been having with your roommate, Shannon Thomas, trauma therapist and author of Healing from Hidden Abuse, tells Bustle. "There is a time and place to address relationship concerns, but during our morning routine is not optimal," she says. Fighting at the start of your day could cause you to spend the rest of the day replaying the conflict, which Thomas says will definitely increase your anxiety.
3. Doing Household Chores
The start of your day might seem like the perfect time to tidy up your space and make sure that all of your dishes are done before you leave for work. But working on too many tasks at the start of the morning can actually increase your anxiety and make you tired before you even start your commute, says Thomas. Instead, try cleaning up before you go to bed so that you can use any extra time to get in some yoga or savor a mug of tea.
4. Checking Your Work Email
"Wait to check work email," says Thomas. No matter how productive it might seem to wade through the first page of your inbox before you get to your desk, set a healthy boundary for yourself by keeping your morning free of work-related tasks. "We need to get up, be fully ready for our day, and then take a look at any work emails that are waiting for our attention," Thomas says.
5. Looking At Your To-Do List
"One of the worst things you can do in the morning is look at the long laundry list of things you have to accomplish in the day ahead," Reshmi Saranga M.D., a psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry, tells Bustle. "This will leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious." You can still be productive by dividing your day down into smaller, more manageable tasks, she says. Just focus on one task until you have completed it — only then looking ahead to the next thing you have to do.
6. Skipping Breakfast
Running out the door without having breakfast could potentially buy you some extra snoozing time. But clinical psychologist Carly Claney, PhD, tells Bustle that this habit is one that can potentially contribute to anxiety. Some of the symptoms of anxiety like headaches, tiredness, being "edgy," and having difficulty concentrating can all possibly be reduced by eating a regular, balanced diet, she says. "By not eating in the morning, you may be exacerbating these symptoms."
7. Hitting Snooze
Pressing snooze in the morning may buy you a few glorious moments of extra sleep, but it could also set you up for a more anxious day, says Dr. Claney. "When we put off getting up, it is likely that our anticipation for the day can contribute to a sense of anxiety about what's to come," she says. Sacrificing that extra snooze time might seem almost impossible, but try out a more gentle method of waking up like a sunrise alarm clock, and you might not even notice.
8. Drinking Coffee Instead Of Water
There's nothing wrong with savoring your morning cappuccino or energizing with a crisp cold brew, as long as you also drink plenty of good old-fashioned H2O, that is. "Drinking water first thing in the morning will relieve your dehydration and replenish your mind," Dr. Bryan Bruno, medical director at Mid City TMS, tells Bustle. Since coffee can dehydrate you, make sure that you get fully hydrated before caffeinating. The more you keep water in your body, the more you’ll find your body reacts calmly and functions correctly, says Dr. Bruno.
As you step back and take a look at your typical morning routine, be intentional about taking out some of the habits that could be making you more anxious. But this is also a great opportunity to add in some quick ways to set yourself up for a relaxing, positive day.