Anxiety: what it is & what to do
How are you feeling? Okay, or maybe anxious? Maybe you know someone who’s feeling anxious?
This week we’ll look at what anxiety is, what causes it and some things you can do to help.
Anxiety can manifest in many ways: you can feel nervous, restless or tense, weak or tired, or unable to concentrate on other things.
You may experience sweating or trembling, gut issues, tightness in the chest, trouble breathing and problems with sleeping.
You might even feel a sense of impending panic, doom or danger.
It’s unpleasant to feel anxious, so why do we?
Think of it as a safety mechanism: if something scares you, your body leaps into flight or fight mode – but sometimes it’s best to remain still and alert rather than running or shouting.
That’s what anxiety does: it makes you still, watchful, quiet and focused on the situation in hand so you can work out what the threat is and how to respond.
It’s when anxiety shifts from an acute to a chronic state (where you keep imagining dangerous scenarios), that things can start going wrong.
Causes of chronic anxiety include unresolved trauma, stress from illness or a bad life event, ongoing stress, hormonal imbalances and changes, other mental health disorders, alcohol and drug abuse and withdrawal, some medical conditions, some medications, nutritional deficiencies, and some foods.
Help anxiety with nutrition
Avoid refined carbohydrates (biscuits, sweets, cakes, crackers, etc), food additives, preservatives, artificial colourings, alcohol, fried foods and transfats – valuable nutrients are used to process them and clearing up the damage they cause.
Caffeine can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.
Eat meals that are processed as little as possible and nutritionally dense. Foods that help the gut, such as fermented vegetables, in turn, benefit mental health.
Whether you eat meat or not, include vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries, legumes, very dark chocolate, herbs and species.
Beverage-wise, try kombucha and green tea.
Supplements that help include vitamins B and D, tryptophan, tyrosine, GABA and glutamine. It’s also worth trying out probiotics.
Other things to help
1. Switch off wifi 4/5G and see if there is a difference; some are sensitive to these
2. Ask your doctor if your meds could be causing anxiety
3. Share your concerns with friends and professionals; you are not a burden and it will help
4. Do regular ‘square breathing*’, singing, walking
5. Try hypnotherapy, which can help heal trauma and alleviate anxiety.
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This was my 400-word piece in the Jersey Evening Post, 11 November 2020.
I mention 400 words as sometimes it may appear if I’m not including everything. This is correct but it’s because there isn’t enough room.
If you’d like to know more, do:
- breathe in for the count of 4
- hold for 4
- exhale for 4
- hold for 4
- repeat 1-3 times