For many of us, it’s becoming the norm to lie in bed for what seems endless hours. Perhaps you’re worried about the direction your life is heading.
Ultimately, this can lead to something that can make our mornings a whole lot worse; we’re talking about the Cortisol Arousal Response.
Cortisol is a stress hormone. It increases sugars in our bloodstream, enhances our brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also prepares our bodies for a fight-or-flight situation.
Cortisol can cause weight gain and affect our blood pressure if released too often and can lead to heart disease, affect our concentration and cause insomnia.
Therapist Emma McAdam says the CAR (cortisol awakening response) can be a blessing or a curse. The anxiety it creates is an emotion, and emotions have a purpose.
It causes us to react in different situations, for example, moving out of harm’s way, playing in a football match or taking a test. It helps us survive!
Too much anxiety, however, can more often than not cause us to feel paralysed in a never ending cycle.
Here are 7 things McAdam suggests to help manage your morning cortisol levels.
1. Start your day grounded
Practice some breathing exercises, meditate or say a morning prayer.
2. Do something simple and soothing.
The first thing you do in the morning shouldn’t be complex. Get out of bed and sit on your favourite chair.
3. Give yourself some positive affirmations.
Believe in yourself, say, “I can do this!”
4. Write things down.
Start a morning journal; by turning your feelings into something physical, you will be able to organise and make more sense of them.
Transfer the negative mental energy you are storing into positive, physical action.
6. Skip caffeine and sugar.
Sugar doesn’t mix with cortisol and well can lead to more anxiety.
7. Don’t skip breakfast.
Low blood sugar can also cause anxiety; opt for healthier options like eggs and whole grains.
You will need to look at what is causing your overall stress. Are you taking on too much at home or work? Do you need to be more organised?
Try preparing what you need to achieve the day before and learn to worry on your own time – When you decide! Start teaching your brain that you’ve got it under control.
Finally, make sleep a priority! Remember, sleep deprivation is one of the key contributors to morning anxiety.