My roommate Lorenzo often questions why I wake up over two hours before my first class in the morning when I can just roll out of bed at 10:30 and make it to my 11 o’clock class. I can give him a bunch of answers that are true such as I get to eat a well-balanced breakfast or I don’t like wasting the day, but the real reason I do it is to help with my anxiety. Yes, as a matter of fact I too suffer from anxiety, the most common mental health problem for college students. So today I want to discuss my anxiety and how being a morning person has actually helped me overcome it.
Let’s back up for a minute, we all experience anxiety in one way, shape, or form in our lives whether it’s with exams, job interviews, or making important decisions, but an anxiety disorder is different. Anxiety is defined as feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. This has often caused me to freeze up while studying and just sit there feeling despair closing in on me, but I overcome it because I am stronger than this disorder and so are you! How neat is that?! *Everyone hears “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten playing*
Now, Brandon, how does waking up early help you with your anxiety? Oh I love how you all ask the important questions!
I’m Not Scatterbrained
Have you ever slept through an alarm or just chose to wake up late to get to class? It’s the most stressful thing in the world! You fly out of bed, put one sock on while losing the other, put your shirt on inside out, and forget to zip the fly of your pants for the whole day! Not to mention you probably grabbed the wrong notebook and realize it when you get there and then don’t take the notes because it would just mess up your whole note-taking system. (Rant over)
Who wants to live that way? That literally has anxiety builder written all over it. Waking up early allows me to gather my proper notebooks, find both socks, prepare my lunch, and plan the day. I’m not rushed to get to class or hurry along in the mornings. When you have anxiety it’s a load off your mind when you have some control over what’s going on around you.
It Gives Me Relief
You know what the best feeling in the world is? Waking up before your alarm goes off, checking the time, and seeing you have another hour left to sleep! (Oh yeah, you know what I’m talking about) This is how I feel every morning I wake up early because I get to make my breakfast, eat it, check the clock, and see I still have two hours to prepare myself for the day.
You probably assume I am proactive with those two hours and get my work done, well you’re wrong, I’m still an active procrastinator at heart and if I woke up and started doing work my anxiety would be worse. So instead I watch Seinfeld from 8-9!
If you haven’t watched Seinfeld you probably should because it’s literally about everyday life, well it’s actually a show about nothing but you get the gist. Anyway, it brings joy to my life and helps me relax in the mornings. So I finish my breakfast, finish Seinfeld, and now I still have at least an hour to do what? That’s right! Watch Kelly&Michael because they’re always happy and it rubs off on me!
Some people believe in relaxing at night but I believe in doing it in the morning as my form of meditation. After watching these shows my mood is lighter, my mind is more clear, and allows me to relax and ease into my day.
I Get To Eat Breakfast
I mentioned earlier this was a true statement! It does help me with my anxiety because I’m not going from hour to hour starving and looking for my next meal. A well-balanced breakfast gives me the vitamins and nutrients and yada yada yada…The real reason I get up for breakfast is so I can get my morning coffee.
Don’t call it an obsession, I have control over this, coffee is just something I love! I wouldn’t mind being a barista one day because a) I’m surround by the delicious aroma of coffee all day, and b) I would get to talk to people, two of my favorite things, but this is beside the point.
Now this may sound counterproductive to my argument because I know caffeine is often called an anxiety inducer, but not for me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been drinking it for so long the caffeine doesn’t affect me anymore, maybe it’s because I associate drinking coffee with catching up with friends, or maybe it’s simply because I enjoy it. It’s my own reward in the morning and makes me happy, but most importantly it’s something I have control over, and that is the real key to my mornings and anxiety.
Anxiety sufferers everywhere know how it feels when they think everything is spinning out of control and they can’t do anything to stop it, but you can. I wake up early because it gives me control over MY day, not anxiety’s day. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have anxiety attacks every now and then, but if I start my day with time to prepare, gather my thoughts while relaxing, and reward myself for making it that far, I have a solid start to the day and gain a better hold on my anxiety and I know you can do the same.
Not all of these things may work for you and that’s okay, but I urge you to try out a morning-person lifestyle and find something you can have control over. You’ll be amazed with what a little bit of control in your life can do for your anxiety.