6 ways to deal with homesickness and morning anxiety

Morning at Angel Island

Morning at Angel Island

Do you know that feeling in the morning, right when you wake up, you feel anxious. Maybe homesick. I did some research about morning anxiety and I learnt that many people are experiencing this feeling. How is it that the morning hour can be such a tough time for people?

 

Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund

A popular German saying goes  “Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund!” It translates to “The morning hour has gold in its mouth.” This was a common expression my parents would use to try to get me up to go to school on time.  The underlying notion of this saying is that the morning hours are a great time to get work done. It pays off to get up early, trust me.

Do you have an equivalent to this saying in English? How about: The early bird catches the worm?

I’m not much of a morning person. I like to stay under the warm cozy bed cover for as long as possible. Sometimes I briefly fall back asleep after the alarm went off. And it’s a great feeling to get that extra deep snooze.

Since I have moved to my new home, the morning hours have held some challenges for me. Despite feeling at home in my new surroundings, it’s the morning hours, just after I have woken up, that I still miss my old life back home. I lie restless in bed and can’t enjoy these last minutes before I have to get up.

Do you know that feeling in the morning when homesickness creeps up? What do you do in those moments? Are you crawling back in bed so you don’t have to face the day?

Don’t do that! I know how tempting it can be! Fight the urge!

I have realized that when I don’t linger in bed for too long, I end up feeling much better, because I can get up and give the day a purpose. All my negative thoughts seem to dissipate. I can embrace the new day and my life in my new home. Farewell Homesickness!

So I get up with my husband around 7 am, when he gets ready for work, make breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee while reading the newspaper. Then I usually check my email and start to work on my blog or prepare lessons for my Latin or German classes.

When I do this, I really do feel fine for the rest of the day.

 

Morning anxiety research

When I did some research about morning anxiety, I learned that many people are experiencing the same anxiety. How is it that the morning hour can be such a tough time for people?

I found an explanation from the Anxiety Disorders Association of Victoria:

On awakening, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol which is released when it’s time to wake up. Cortisol is also released as a response to stress and it can make us feel tense and anxious.

“On awakening, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol which is released when it’s time to wake up. Cortisol is also released as a response to stress and it can make us feel tense and anxious. You can change your thinking about your morning anxiety by telling yourself, “This is just a burst of cortisol which is my body’s natural response to waking up”. This might help in not becoming anxious about morning anxiety.”

“Another physical reason we might feel anxious when we wake up is that our blood sugar level drops overnight while we sleep, and this can cause feelings of anxiety in some people. Eating something soon after you get out of bed will help. Alternatively, have a snack or drink by your bed and have this before getting up.”

Now that makes sense and explains why so many people are troubled by morning anxiety. It couldn’t have been just a coincidence.

 

Dealing with morning anxiety

So here is what you need to do to fight anxiety, specifically homesickness, in the morning:

 

1. Morning routine

Have a morning routine: Get up on time, most importantly at the same time every morning. Don’t wake up to a shrill sounding alarm clock, but rather wake up to softer tones or music. I like to wake up to NPR news. It distracts me right away.

 

2. Exercise

The morning hours are a good time to exercise. It will help you gain a positive attitude towards your life with those happy hormones – the endorphins. Refer to my article on how to bust homesickness through exercise if you have not yet done so.

 

3. Relaxation

Try some relaxation exercises. In some older posts, I give detailed information about progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing. Relaxation techniques aid in reducing your stress and anxiety level caused by homesickness.

 

4. Errands in the morning

If you have to run errands, schedule them for the morning. That will force you to get out of the house. Make sure you plan them ahead of time; waiting until the morning to plan your day is not a good idea since you might easily make up an excuse to not doing anything that day.

 

5. Goals

Set yourself some goals for the day. Make a list the night before. You will feel that you are accomplishing things and that you are giving every day purpose. In my opinion, this is important for expats, especially for trailing spouses, who might not be able to work in the foreign country.

 

6. Gratitude journal

Try to stay positive. A positive perspective helps to keep those negative thoughts at bay. Negative thoughts often go unrecognized and we don’t realize what an important role they play in the way we behave and feel. Thoughts usually shape the way in which we perceive our life.

Start writing a gratitude journal in the evening before you go to bed. Look for those positive aspects in your life. Write down one thing you are grateful for in your new home. Maybe you love the different climate, extensive public transportation, beautiful scenery, friendly people, your nicer home, a wonderful coffee place, or …

If your brain is primed to see positive experiences, you are more likely to see positive things around you. Keep the list next to your bed. When you wake up and that dreaded morning anxiety and homesickness kicks in, you can read about all those delightful and gratifying aspects you have found in your life. You should begin to feel a little bit less homesick. Read more about journaling in my post “Homesick strategy: Journal your way to a happier self”  .

 

If you know someone, who would benefit from reading about morning anxiety and homesickness, then please share this article.

Do you experience morning anxiety and a more intense feeling of homesickness right as you wake up? What kind of strategies do you use to overcome those feelings? Please leave a comment.

 

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4 Responses to 6 ways to deal with homesickness and morning anxiety

  1. Nancy January 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    Very interesting about the science of morning anxiety. I am so not a morning person, but in the last couple of years I’ve become a big believer in getting up early (5:30 for me) and getting the essentials behind me (exercise, meditating, writing). That’s been a game-changer in my life. Makes sense that it would apply to homesickness, too. No matter what the cause of blues or anxiety (which I’ve had plenty of) *doing* something–anything–usually helps (especially if you have something concrete to show for your effort). Took me a long time to learn that one…and I’m still working on it.

    • Heike January 9, 2014 at 9:31 am #

      Nancy, thank you for your comment. Wow, 5:30, that is early. But I have heard from several people who get up at that time that they enjoy the early, quiet morning hours. There is no mad rush into the day. There is peace around you, uninterrupted stillness, so that you can begin the day in a less stressful, but cheery mood.
      I think I will give this a try. I would gain 1-2 hours a day! So plenty of time to set myself goals for the day and do some meditation.

  2. Nav August 31, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    Interesting and informative. I have been facing the homesickness anxiety for a while and the physical phenomena makes complete sense. Knowledge is power and a good tool to manage yourself. Sometimes morning anxiety comes heavy. How come it is different for different people?
    Is it because of our belief system?

    Thank you so much for this information.

    • Heike September 16, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

      Thank you so much for taking the time and send a comment, dear Nav.

      I think there might be different factors that can cause some people to suffer more from anxiety than others. It depends on a person’s preexisting stress level that exists next to homesickness. So outside factors contribute here to anxiety. And then of course negative self-talk, as “Things are just so bad and they are getting worse and worse” will promote anxiety even more.

      Some researchers say, that brain chemistry will have something to do with how anxious a person feels. People with higher level of neurotransmitter suffer more easily from a higher degree of anxiety.

      I hope you are able to manage your homesickness anxiety with the tips in this article. Mornings are just so hard. Stay positive!

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