Two Essentials to Help With My Morning Anxiety

Because my anxiety is at its very worst first thing in the morning, it has occurred to me from time to time that I might need to examine how I sleep. This seems to be paying off. Here are two of my bedroom essentials for a low-stress morning.
Memory Foam Pillow

The first thing I bought was a memory foam pillow. I had noticed months ago that my anxiety seemed to reside in that little knob where the neck connects to the back. I would begin to feel a tingle or a burn there, and it would then spread to other areas of my body. After several nights, I noticed that, with my regular pillow, I was sleeping with my neck and shoulders all scrunched up. Spending eight hours in that position certainly couldn’t help. So, as this was an experiment, I went to Target and purchased the cheapest contoured pillow that I could find. (Specialty pillows can be very expensive!) I’m pleased to say that it seems to be doing the trick! I’m waking up with less anxiety in my body. It’s not gone, but it is noticeably less.
Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets and vests have long been used by occupational therapists working with autistic clients. Wrapping a child up in one of these items has the ability to calm them during tantrums, often to the point of sleep. Similar are thunder shirts, which are manufactured for pets who become anxious during thunderstorms. Temple Grandin pioneered the use of Deep Touch Pressure, the concept these blankets are based off of, with the invention of her squeeze machine.

Lately, I had been seeing advertisements on facebook and instagram for weighted blankets, not marketed for children, but for adults with anxiety and PTSD. Studies have been done on the use of blankets for both autism and ADHD as well as anxiety. Scientists hypothesize that when pressure points of the body are stimulated that the brain produces serotonin, an important neurotransmitter.

The recommendation is that the blanket weigh 10% of the user’s body weight. This blanket is only 12 lbs, but I find that to be sufficient.

It may be premature to say, as I only received this yesterday, but I LOVE THIS THING. I slept very well last night. I woke up in the middle of the night, as my cat likes to disturb my sleep by grooming my face, but I was able to fall right back asleep. And, for the past couple of weeks, my body has been waking me up by 5:30 AM, and I try to keep myself in bed until 6:30. This morning, I woke up at 5:00 AM, fell back asleep, had a dream, and then awoke at 7:00!

Well, maybe you were just tired, you might say.

Nope! No matter how late I had been going to sleep or how tired I was, my body was waking up consistently before 6AM. Then, I would just have a very tired day.

The anxiety in my body when I awoke was also significantly less. I would go as far as to say it was 40 to 50% less. I almost didn’t need my walk to release my jitters this morning!

Attending to my sleep has proven to be just as useful as keeping a morning routine.


It Gets Better

I broke my own rule this morning.

I know, I know, I just wrote about them yesterday.

But, I stayed in bed for an hour past when my body first woke me up. As I lay there, I was curiously feeling into my body. Observing the sensations. I was really feeling into my neck and my back and my limbs. I was astounded by what I found.

I found almost nothing.

This was in stark contrast to weeks and months ago, where I felt everything. Tingling, and energy, and jittering, warmth, tension. Sure, today, there was still some movement, some anxiety in my body, but today . . . what a difference.

The anxiety that is present in my body is not debilitating anymore. It is not paralyzing anymore.

I’m not waking up anymore, startled by the sound of the train as it passes by my apartment, because in my dazed mind, I truly believe that it is something that is going to hurt me.

Change and healing occur slowly and in small increments. From day to day, I might not notice, but if I compare today to three weeks ago, or three months ago?

I’m better.

Last night, this was the first card I drew from my archangel oracle deck. I’ve never been so happy to draw a card.

It gets better.

Understanding My Dad

When I was in high school, I would observe my dad in the following morning routine:

He would get up early, before the sun came up,

get dressed and go straight out for a walk,

come in and eat breakfast,

and then he would immediately get himself involved in busy work, usually some kind of cleaning.

I’m now finding myself doing the exact same things, in the exact same order. Back then I thought it was strange, but now I get it.

I get up early, too, because it is important for me to get up as early as, or before I start feeling anxiety in my body. Laying still only makes it worse. So, I get up for a walk to give the anxious energy that has stored up in my body an outlet, immediately, so it has minimal impact on my day.

Once I have walked it out, then I am able to gain an appetite to be able to eat breakfast. However, after breakfast, it is important that I find something productive to do, in order to maintain the positive momentum. If I let myself be idle, the anxiety creeps back in.

My Dad is who I inherited my anxiety from, and understanding my anxiety helps me to understand him more.

On Feeling Your Feelings

photo credit: Sit and watch via photopin (license)
photo credit: Sit and watch via photopin (license)

One of the most important things that we can learn is how to sit and be present with our emotions. That, if we take the time to experience them fully, and locate where they live in our body, not only will they not hurt us, but they will go away.

Our feelings are begging to be felt- not ignored. If we ignore the uncomfortable ones, they’ll keep intensifying, nagging at us to get our attention, until finally they’ll begin find a home in our body where they’ll cause us physical pain and discomfort rather than emotional pain and discomfort.