Updated: Mar 23, 2020
Is there crazy thoughts that run through your head, a tight feeling in your chest, sweating palms, the feeling of not being able to breathe, dizziness and a fear of going crazy or dying? The strange thing is often this is all going on in your body and mind and no one knows except you.
You may have had this overwhelming issue for a long time or a short time but it can be all consuming and you may want try some things to help yourself.
Exercise is so important to help with stress, anxiety and depression. It helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain and body. Increases endorphins which are our pain relief and mood elevating hormones. It uses up some of our stress hormones that have built up during the day. A stressful day at work? Anxiety peaking? then get out and exercise. But which exercise is best? Anything !!! A run, a gym workout, a walk in nature. Anything that gets the heart pumping and the body moving. This will help to decrease the self talk internal chatter because you are too busy concentrating on breathing or not falling off the aerobics step. (be careful not to find a scary gym instructor though as this may cause more fear and anxiety)
Breathing, Yoga and Meditation
These are all fantastic to help with anxiety. The vagal nerve is the nerve that controls the parasympathetic nervous system. When the sympathetic nervous system turns on the fight or flight responses— the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline surge through your body—the vagus nerve tells your body to calm down. Deep breathing, yoga and meditation all help to stimulate the vagal nerve and help to calm the body down allowing for decreased heart rate, improved digestion and controlled breathing. It also helps to decrease inflammation through out the body which may help with pain. When deep breathing take deep breathes right into the belly and make the exhalation longer than the inhalation. Do this 10 times a few times per day.
Good quality sleep is so important as when we sleep our body repairs and restores. This happens both in the body and the brain. The brain actually detoxifies at night as we sleep and all that toxic gunk is transported in the glymphatic system into the body for removal. It is thought that people who do not get good sleep may have a higher incidence of getting Alzheimers.
To get refreshing sleep it is important to :
Do not eat too late at nigh (we want to rest and repair not digest food)
Remove bright light from the evening including phones and laptops
Turn phones to silent/aeroplane mode at bed-time so we are not disturbed by notifications, or better still have it in another room.
Have a regular sleep routine, same time to bed same time to rise each day
Avoid sugar, alcohol and caffeine for a few hours before bed, or avoid all together until a good sleep routine is reached. A good routine will not happen over one night it may take a few weeks to establish.
Talk is not always talking to an external person, but remembering that self-talk is important. Do not belittle yourself for how you feel. Start your morning by thinking of something positive you will do that day and end the day with something you have achieved. That may be that you cooked a healthy meal for the family, or managed to walk to dog. Give yourself credit and self-worth, not constantly put yourself down for how you feel. Healing comes from within and starts with your thoughts.
A high sugar diet can deplete our body of essential vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, Zinc and Magnesium which are all essential for a healthy nervous system. A diet high in caffeine, alcohol and sugar can lead to general acidity and this can also increase symptoms of anxiety so sticking with a diet full of good quality foods can decrease some of the symptoms by decreasing deficiencies.
Add heaps of leafy greens to your meals each day.
Good quality protein such as eggs, free range chicken, legumes, fish.
Nuts and seeds which contain calcium, zinc and magnesium can be added to salads and snacks.
Quality oils that help with decreasing inflammation, improving brain health and healthy neurotransmitters. These include olive oil, coconut oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds and the avoidance of deep fried foods and processed foods with poor quality oils that can lead to inflammation.
Side effects of medicines
Some medications may lead to side effects that can have symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is important to look at the side effects and nutritional deficiencies that may be caused by certain medications. Even though a medication may be given to help with symptoms, such as anxiety due to hormonal issues, even contraceptives whether implants or tablets can have unwanted side effects. It is best to be informed but at the same time not overwhelm yourself if you are on medications. Just because it says it may have a side effect does not mean you will end up having that symptom.
Remedies that can be beneficiaL
Magnesium is important for so many enzymatic pathways in the body and is essential for healthy hormones, muscles, heart health, nervous system support, respiratory system and the kidneys. Magnesium deficiency can lead to weakness, fatigue, anxiety, low mood, hyper-excitability, headaches, muscle twitches, poor appetite, dizziness and low stress tolerance.
Zinc helps to support our immune system as well as our brain chemistry
Herbs such as Withania, Skullcap, Passionflower, Magnolia are all amazing herbs to help calm the system down often acting on the GABA receptors, those calming neurotransmitters. When anxiety leads to fatigue often people reach for the energy producing herbs but adaptogen and calming herbs are most beneficial and the energy will improve as the nervous system calms down.
Iron deficiency can often lead to anxiety and it is best to get a blood test through the doctor to see if this may be an issue for you.
B Vitamins are essential for healthy energy production, the formation of brain chemicals and good quality vitamins are essential for health.
Digestive enzymes & Probiotics are important for a healthy digestive system and gut microbiome. If you are not digesting your food efficiently this can lead to food intolerances and and immune response as well as poor neurotransmitter production as a high percentage of our brain chemicals are made in the gut.
Flower essences and essential oils contain the energy of the flowers or plants that they are extracted from. They work on the energetic of the cells of the body to help with both physical and mental imbalances.
Essential Oils can be used with yoga, breath work, meditation or in every day life. Many oils may be helpful with anxiety such as Bergamot, Vetiver, Lavender, Ylang Ylang and even our simple citrus oils such as Lemon and Orange can be very up lifting.
Therapy will be different for every one. For some people it will be with a counsellor or psychologist where there are many ways to help with coping mechanisms whether it is EFT, CBT, NLP etc.
Just talking to someone that is on the outside of your situation and getting some guidance or coping strategies can be very helpful.
Exercise can be therapy. I have a wonderful friend that says Yoga saved her and finds it so good for her soul. Running can be meditative and while running you can often work through problems at the same time. Also knowing you can run a distance at the same time as breathing and your heart doesn't give out you know there is nothing generally wrong with either of these body systems even though in the middle of an anxiety attack you think there may be.
I know an awesome group of women that thrive and help each other at a local gym. The support network along with regular exercise has helped them immensely.
It may be therapeutic for you to have a fun night our with your closest friends. If it is too much for you to go out due to social anxiety ask them over to your house to watch a funny movie together. Not everyone wants a crazy night out at a bar and they may appreciate the offer.
Anxiety is different for every person and help is out there in many forms. Often it can take trying a few different things before you find the right solution for you.
In health and happiness