As you’re stepping into the new year, let’s check-in…
How are you feeling?
Are you already feeling overwhelmed? Are you feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax?
Do you often experience a sense of dread, or fear the worst?
Or that sinking feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down?
Feeling Anxious is common but what’s alarming is how common Anxiety disorders are becoming – so let’s Unpack Anxiety and discover what tools we can make use of to disarm Anxiety and Nourish our Nervous Systems.
It is perfectly natural and even healthy to experience times of anxiety. Anxiety triggers a normal reaction to danger or a threat; when we feel pressured or are facing a challenging situation. Our nervous system moves into “fight or flight” mode, activating the sympathetic nervous system, triggering an acute stress response preparing us to fight or flee. This means we will have heightened awareness, be on the alert, ready to act and respond quickly. Your heart rate increases, and you may start to (perspire). Short-term anxiety arises and then dissipates once the thing that has worried you is over. Because it has been resolved, the body moves easily between “fight or flight” mode into “rest and recover ” mode. This is what happens with a well-balanced, healthy nervous system.
Long-term anxiety is a different story. If anxiety is so great that it is negatively impacting your everyday life and especially if it is ongoing then this may be defined as an anxiety disorder. Here the body may be stuck or trapped in “fight or flight” mode, unable to switch off and relax. Physiologically, this puts a huge strain on our nervous system and our adrenal glands, which are important as they help to modulate our stress response, especially the release of adrenaline and cortisol.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is an example of a situation that for many people sustained and heightened anxiety. Mental health challenges like prolonged mental fatigue and anxiety are on the rise and since this situation is ongoing, it’s vital to know how to best manage feelings of anxiety
Another contributor to your anxiety could be an imbalance of cortisol. Cortisol is secreted by your adrenal glands as a normal part of the stress response. It is often misunderstood and is essential to your health. Levels increase in response to stress and also follow a strong circadian rhythm – cortisol is usually at its highest first thing in the morning to help you ‘get up and go’, declines throughout the day and is at its lowest later in the evening to help you relax before sleep. There are associations between anxiety disorders and disruptions to this natural cortisol rhythm. It is often suggested that high cortisol levels and an altered circadian rhythm may contribute to anxiety disorders.
Here are my Top 10 Approaches to disarm Anxiety.
1. Blood Sugar Stability For Anxiety
Balanced blood sugar levels are also key to stabilising your mind, mood and energy levels. Ensure your meals and any snacks all contain good quality protein and fats. Check out this article for a comprehensive read on how to balance your blood sugar
2. Engage In Stress Management Techniques Like Deep Breathing;
When we talk about deep breathing for anxiety, mouth breathing is not ideal. It can increase stress, anxiety, allergies, asthma, sleep apnea, bad breath, gum inflammation, and tooth decay. Nasal breathing, on the other hand, is an extremely helpful, easy technique. It can improve relaxation, reduce stress, improve circulation, and support restorative sleep. Being mindful of your breathing and practising proper nasal breathing throughout the day is critical for your health and well-being.
Nasal breathing and mindful breathing can turn on the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce the fight or flight response. If your body detects nasal breathing and slower, deeper, more mindful breathing, it will note that you are safe and increase the relaxation response.
Focus on deep, slow breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Slow your breathing down. Focus on it, deep breathe continuously for as long as needed to help bring about calm.
3. Eat An Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Reinforce Omega-3.
These fatty acids are important to support mental health and our nervous system. EPA and DHA are the two most important omega-3 fatty acids, and it is EPA that is especially important when dealing with anxiety. Enjoy more fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines) Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts,) Edamame, Beans, Hemp seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Tofu, Spinach
4. Avoid False Forms Of Energy Boosters
Avoid foods that cause common sensitivities, excessive amounts of alcohol, sugar, caffeine, processed foods. High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels. If energy drinks or coffee make you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you ingest. B Complex vitamins are extremely important for our nervous system and our ability to handle stress. Good Vitamin B levels help you feel calmer and grounded, whilst helping with memory, concentration and focus, as well as energy levels.
5. Make Hydrating A Habit.
Being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you’ve got a busy schedule and you fail to notice that you feel thirsty. when you know yourself and your routine, make drinking water a ritual, if you spend time in the car, or as soon as you arrive into the office, or even better, first thing in the morning, drink a big glass of water starts the day hydrated and kickstarts your bodies functions
6. Eat A Variety Of Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods
The more colourful the better! not only will a more diverse diet support your overall health, but it also helps to reduce our stress hormones. Challenge Yourself to The Diet Diversity Challenge Starting Today
7. Take In More Magnesium – The Master Mineral For Anxiety.
Taking steps to optimize magnesium is an important part of any protocol designed to improve mood, regulate sleep, balance stress and support a balanced sense of calm and wellbeing. Magnesium is known as “nature’s tranquiliser”, as it helps to calm and relax muscles and the nervous system. It does over 600 different functions in the body, so we need adequate amounts daily so that we don’t become deficient. Magnesium is found in high amounts in whole grains and leafy green vegetables, Consider taking a magnesium supplement daily or appreciate a long magnesium-rich Epsom salts bath. For a good infusion of magnesium, indulge in the tasty benefits of dark chocolate to help Lower your cortisol levels. Get charged on a Cacao Ceremony for the most incredible soul-quenching, mindset rejuvenating practice that leaves unbelievable satisfied and anxiety-free.
8. Do A “Brain Dump”!
Enjoy life, have fun, and laugh. The cortisol-lowering benefits of laughter are more potent when you laugh with others. Get together with friends and family, play a laughter-inducing game (Apples-to-Apples, Pictionary, Pie Face) or watch a funny movie. Enjoy your hobbies, take walks or partake in activities that get you outdoors. Journaling is another helpful way of getting things off your mind, writing down the things causing you anxiety on paper helps your physical health.
9. Sunshine Soothes An Anxious Mind
Healthy sun exposure provides healthy UV rays that stimulate vitamin D production and reduce the stress response. This will help to cool down the anxiety loop and increase feelings of peace and relaxation. Vitamin D is also key for improving neurogenesis or the development of new neurons which helps us overcome anxiety and depression. The best food sources of vitamin D are egg yolks, fatty fish, liver, and grass-fed cheese and butter.
10. Support Your Mitochondria
Mitochondria are tiny organelles that sit within our cells, and we now know they are even more than ‘powerhouses’; they are the ‘ultimate orchestrators of our cellular health’. Mitochondria perform multiple vital cellular functions that are crucial to health overall.
- Glutathione is often termed ‘the master antioxidant and supporting robust levels of this vital compound is an important part of mitochondrial protection. It’s important therefore to include protein-rich foods in the diet. Clean, grass-fed whey protein may aid in supplying the ingredients for glutathione production.
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine can be used as a supplement to supply the body with cysteine.
- Selenium is another key mineral for glutathione production and alpha-lipoic acid regenerates and increases glutathione in the body.
- Increase BDNF Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in neuronal survival and growth and may also help to improve the efficiency of mitochondria, assist in making new mitochondria and help to protect mitochondria against oxidative damage. Regular exercise, Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating) and cognitive stimulation may all help to increase BDNF.
- Fast becoming known as a wonder compound, resveratrol shows great promise for mitochondrial protection. Resveratrol is found in grapes, wine, grape juice, blueberries, cocoa and peanuts.
- CoQ10 is a fat-soluble, vitamin-like substance that has long been known as an energy support nutrient – and for good reason – CoQ10 carries the high energy electrons through the ETC and is an important intra-mitochondrial antioxidant too.