Let’s talk about Anxiety – part 2

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In post 1, we went over anxiety and how we can take steps to help ourselves overcome this disorder naturally. De-cluttering our lives was the first step in this 3-step process. In this post, we’ll go over the second step in treating anxiety, which is nutrition and supplements. *Please speak to a qualified healthcare practitioner before using supplements.

The research on gut health (aka your digestive system or microbiome), plays a crucial part in anxiety and stress. I’ll try to explain the scientific research in the easiest way possible so stick with me! Significant progress has been made in the last 10 years in discovering the importance of gut health and its connection to brain function. The research shows that the gut microbiota influences brain chemistry and behavior. It also shows that stress influences the composition of gut microbiota and that this communication that goes back and forth affects our stress reactivity. Alterations in gut microbiota can influence anxiety and depressive-like behaviors and neuroscientists are basically really excited to see how these findings will affect mental health in the future. Not only anxiety and depression have been linked to the brain/gut connection, but so has Autism and the spectrum.

Our microbiome is easily damaged by eating processed foods, highly acidic foods, sugar, pharmaceutical drugs, antibiotics, chemicals and toxins. Gut microbiota influences Serotonin and Dopamine production, two extremely important bodily functions! More than 90% of the body’s Serotonin is in the gut and it’s the “feel good” neurotransmitter and helps us have feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Just taking probiotics regularly has been shown to have a therapeutic effect on anxiety and depression symptoms.

So, how can you start healing your gut? Take probiotics regularly (preferably not from a dairy source – it will say on the bottle). Eating fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, dairy-free yogurt and miso are also helpful. Start eating real, whole foods regularly, including a lot of vegetables and cut out the refined sugar. Whole foods just means eating food as close to its natural state as possible. Next, drink lots of water and limit alcohol since alcohol is hard for our bodies to process and it contains a lot of sugar.

Changing eating habits can be extremely challenging for people and it can take a lot of self-control. Hire a health coach if you feel you are the type of person who needs more support in this area. This person will help you incorporate healthy foods and find easy ways to prepare them. Your taste buds will take a few weeks to adjust to your new diet but I promise it will change your life and once your taste buds change, you actually won’t find yourself craving those old, unhealthy foods anymore.

Supplements that may be helpful in dealing with anxiety are: Ashwaganda, Fish Oil or plant-derived DHA for my vegan friends, B Complex, 5-HTP, L-Theanine, Maca powder. *Please do your own research and speak with a qualified healthcare practitioner, like a naturopathic doctor, before using supplements.

Drinks and Teas I like are: Kava Tea, Magnesium Calm drink, Valerian tea, Chamomile + Lavender tea.

Essential Oils that are good for anxiety: Lavender and Roman Chamomile. Please be sure you are using pure essential oils.

Stay tuned for part 3, which will address overcoming anxiety and stress through mindset and mindfulness.

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Let’s talk about Anxiety – part 1

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Anxiety is that thing that you hear people talking about but that nobody really seems to understand, unless you’ve had it. People also tend to talk about as if it’s just some emotion like laughing or crying, yet it’s not and it affects 40 million adults in the U.S. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable but only around 36% of those who suffer receive treatment and those treatments usually involve medication which can cause other horrible issues besides anxiety.

Instead, we need to be treating the root of this serious disorder called anxiety and mindfulness can help.

As someone who previously suffered with this sometimes debilitating disorder, I think it’s important that we have these conversations openly. Anxiety causes people to feel extremely alone, scared and it’s not just something you can turn off. You can go from feeling normal to downright crazy in 1 second flat. It can also cause panic attacks, which is a whole other issue in and of itself. It involves hormones, emotions, chemicals and every system in the body.

Treating anxiety isn’t easy but it starts with taking a look inward. We need to be looking at our lives from a holistic or whole perspective, meaning how everything inter-relates. Is our financial situation causing us to be stress out? Are we eating differently now that we are stressed? Is our family life and relationships affected? Is our job affected? All of these things interplay and affect one another.

The next step is figuring out where to make cuts. If you want to overcome anxiety naturally, you have to make cuts. Where can we delete things from our lives? Is our schedule jam packed with “stuff” to do? Do our kids really need 8 million activities? Do we need to say yes to everything we get invited to? Do we really need to be staying late at work to just finish those emails? And, who says we need to be doing and being all of these things, hmm? And who says we need to do them without help? Does someone or something on TV or social media say we need to be doing these things? Are we stuck in the comparison game? Are we desperately trying to keep up with Mr & Mrs. Jones?

De-cluttering is one of the best things for anxiety. This simply means cutting unnecessary things out of our lives. Seriously, give it a try and you’ll be amazed at how you feel and how much more productive you can be. Start with your closet. Take everything out and start looking at each item and start downsizing (the KonMari method is my favorite way to do this). Next, go through each room in your house and do the same thing with your “stuff”. Get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy and that you don’t love or need. Next, stop spending money on things that don’t matter. Be mindful when you’re shopping and start to only purchase things you need (with the occasional want thrown in for fun). You’ll start to see some major changes, but you’ll really start to feel these changes too.

Keeping a tidy home, with less clutter, will start to allow you to feel less cluttered in your own mind, it’s just how it works. You’ll feel lighter and happier, I promise. Same goes for work and working smarter, not harder. Prioritize your 3 most important tasks as early in the day as possible and then structure your day in a way that allows maximum productivity, (I recommend the book Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy).

In part 2 of this article, we’ll talk about nutrition and supplements for anxiety. Start with de-cluttering and then come back for part 2.