Ask Dr Irene: Waking Up with Anxiety and 3 Ways to Stop It


Introducing Ask Dr Irene!

Dr. Irene Luc is a Mycrodrops affiliate, pain specialist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. Here to answer questions at the intersection of East and West regarding treatment of the WHOLE you!


Are  you one of those folks who wake up in the morning feeling like they’ve got a heavy backpack of worries strapped to their chest? Trust me, you’re not alone, I’ve been there myself.   Being a high achiever, I mistook my anxious thoughts as being part of the hustle.  I felt it was normal to wake up with my mind spinning full of thoughts but  that kind of hustle left me with some huge gaps in my health.  I wanted to find a new way, one that I could still get things done but not feel overwhelmed. Many of patients going through health burnout  share in morning anxiety too  and there’s some fascinating science behind it.

Cortisol - Start your Engine… 

Cortisol, often called the “stress hormone,” plays a significant role in this morning anxiety phenomenon. Our bodies have a natural cortisol cycle, with levels peaking in the early hours of the morning. This surge in cortisol is part of our body’s way to help us wake up, get moving, and tackle the day.   This is normal.  But here’s the catch: if you’re already prone to anxiety, you may not  use cortisol throughout the day especially if you’re stuck at a desk and don’t get to exercise much.   Prolonged or chronic stress can lead to continuously elevated cortisol levels. This chronic elevation can contribute to anxiety. High cortisol levels can increase restlessness, irritability, and worry, which are common symptoms of anxiety.

Restless Sleep

High achieving, high stressed days can lead to restless nights. Traumatic events, (regardless of big T or little t trauma) can leave an imprint which disturbs sleep and makes it tough to get going in the morning.

Have you ever woken up from a dream that left you feeling uneasy or worried?

Dreams, especially those vivid nightmares, can leave a lasting impact on your mood when you wake up. Your subconscious mind doesn’t clock out for the night, and sometimes it decides to work through your worries while you’re asleep. This can result in a not-so-relaxing night’s rest and contribute to that anxious feeling when you wake up. 

The Circadian Rhythm Connection

Our bodies are wired to follow a circadian rhythm, a natural internal clock that regulates various bodily functions, including sleep-wake cycles. When this internal clock is out of sync, it can exacerbate that early morning anxiety.  This could happen when you don’t go to sleep until 2 am or have to keep getting up multiple times a night.   

Tips to Soothe the Morning Anxiety

Now that we’ve explored some of the science behind waking up with anxiety, let’s talk about how to cope with it. There are several strategies that can help you start your day on a more positive note:

1)Stop reaching for your phone when you wake up! Before you jump out of bed, take a few minutes to center yourself. Try deep breathing exercises or meditation to calm your mind.

2)  Go outside when you first wake up  and let your eyes see sunlight.   Having a good nights rest starts with waking early enough to see the sun!    Let your body know it’s daytime and that helps reset your circadian rhythm.  You eyes are linked to your internal clock.  Don’t stare at the sun but definitely get outside and extra points if you out your bare feet into the grass for some grounding

3) Reduce your caffeine intake.  I love a good cup of warm coffee to start my day but I’ve learned that one serving is 8 oz.  And has 91 mg of caffeine already.   If you’re drinking more coffee than that  (I see you… Venti size coffee drinkers), it can lead to  the jitters, stir up your anxiety, and lead to a crash later in the afternoon    

Instead of coffee,  I start my day  with the Grounded Elixir, part of the Mycrocalm line from Mycrodrops . The blend of cacao, ginger and dates adds a spicy tasty  pick me up and I usually blend it with some delicious warm raw milk (or your milk of choice).   It includes the brain benefits of Lion’s Mane mushroom combined with powerful plants to help calm and regulate the body  like ashwaganda, kava kava and Macuna.  

For those who aren’t sure if they can give up their morning cup of joe,  you can try half caffeinated instead or simply use grounded in the afternoon, away from coffee or drink coffee later. 

NOTE: Taking MycroCalm Products WITH fully caffeinated beverages will take down their effects somewhat, so give it at least a 2 hour break from taking Grounded to drinking caffeine. 

Everyone should think twice before having caffeine in the afternoon or evening. The last thing you need is to disturb the natural drop and cortisol that we all should be getting in the afternoon.  I’ll do another cup of Grounded Elixir with an herbal or decaf tea in the afternoon to keep focused and calm without the caffeine overload. 

 If I'm feeling more on edge I’ll use Mycrodrops Contented elixir which has all the goodness of the Grounded elixir's mushrooms and plants plus Full-Spectrum Hemp CBD.   The perfect evening wind down! 

Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve tried these strategies or if you have others to calm your morning anxiety! 


My bio is below :

Image of Irene Luc in blue button up shirt and gold earrings

Dr. Irene Luc is the owner of Mind/Door LLC in Eastern Washington.  Her passion is help others recognize their ability to heal from chronic pain, autoimmune and neuro-inflammatory conditions.  She is a certified neuroscience based pain specialist with a focus on connecting the mind and body instead of just pharmaceutical medicine. Dr. Irene leads groups for breathwork, Chinese healing arts, microdosing psychedelics and also offers new technology to retrain the brain like neurofeedback.  She blends science and the spiritual  in how she lives after healing from her own autoimmune condition and teaches others to do the same.  When she’s not nerding out, you’ll find her hiking and fishing, and looking for mushrooms!    For more info: 

Instagram : @yourburnoutdoc