Anxiety...what you can do.
Hey Hey Diva friends!!!
I want to share a very personal story with you today. I have struggled with anxiety for YEARS. In fact, it started when I developed OCD in my early teens. I would have to take multiple showers, wash my hands to the point of bleeding and touch nobs with kleenex. It wasn't pretty....
THANKFULLY I have really grown out of that (although you'll still see me with wipes and hand sanitizer when I fly I mean...HELLO)....but periodically the anxiety monster rears it's ugly head in my life and in 2015 I had 2 weeks of crippling anxiety accompanied by insomnia, fear, non stop crying and....well....it was bad.
Since then I've worked double time on getting healthier, listening to my body and understanding why and how this happens. More importantly, my ears perk up anytime I hear about something that can be connected, exacerbate, help or prevent anxiety. I've learned a lot and now feel like I have the tools I need.
So today I wanted to share a few things that I've noticed affect my anxiety and several things that actually help keep it at bay.
1) Gut Health is KEY
The #1 thing I've noticed is that it directly correlates to my gut health! For example if I eat a food I'm sensitive to I'm more likely to have some mild anxiety the next few days.
WOW. This seems so unrelated right? How can our BRAIN and our GUT be connected? Well, without getting all nerdy on you, many of your neurotransmitters ( you know the things that make you happy, calm and feel good) are regulated in your gut! If there is inflammation or damage whether from mental, emotional or physical stress (like food sensitivities) that can lead to negative signals being sent and disruptions to the normal balance of the body and brain.
Essentially, your body says "I'm stressed from these outside factors!" and tells your brain to react accordingly. What's really devastating is that we always think the brain is OUR fault. While there are lots of studies that talk about neuroplasticity and the ability we have to TRAIN our brains to think positively (valid and VERY helpful by the way), if you struggle from chronic anxiety and your thoughts feel as if they aren't your own, that may be due to something going on in your gut.
Resources for dealing with anxiety, learning how to think more positively etc...
This could be anything from parasites, bacteria, inflammation, food sensitivities etc....this should be encouraging to you because there is a solution and it doesn't involve you taking anti-depressants the rest of your life (the only thing my Doc could recommend by the way!)
Quick story to drive this point home. A young girl named Alyssa began hallucinating - scary stuff for anyone but especially a child! The medical community wanted to treat her with anti-psychotic drugs for the rest of her life. Luckily her parents took her to Dr. Jess Armine a functional medicine doc who has done extensive work with neurotransmitters, mood disorders and reversing chronic illness.
He was able to dig deeper into the root cause of WHY these hallucinations began and found several areas of gut dysbiosis, inflammation and bacterial imbalance in Alyssa. Once stressors like food sensitivities were removed, the bad bugs were killed and her body was supported and rebalanced, Alyssa returned to normal. She grew up avoiding the foods she wasn't sensitive to, became an honor student and never had to be on medication to maintain her health.
THIS is why I became an FDN. I want to help YOU dig deeper into the root cause of your health issues and together we can build your body back up. It knows what it needs to do, we just need to get rid of anything hindering it from getting the job done!
While almost everything falls under point #1, you might have great gut health and still be sensitive to caffeine. Some people are fast metabolizers and some are slow. Caffeine has a really long half life which means it stays circulating in your body for many hours after consumed. This is why it's normally encouraged to stick to 1 black cup of coffee before noon.
If you struggle from anxiety however there may be a period of time where you need to eliminate it all together. Caffeine stimulates your adrenal glands which are already working overtime when under stress. The last thing you want to do when your body is pumping out cortisol is to throw an external stimulant onto the fire!
If you have struggled for a long time with chronic anxiety I would eliminate it 100% for several months. If you find that you are only sensitive occasionally, then I would check to see if it corresponds with your monthly cycle. You may notice you are more sensitive to caffeine when you're ovulating.
It's your liver's job to filter out the excess hormones being produced during this part of your cycle and it's also the liver's job to eliminate the caffeine efficiently. If both are happening at the same time you may notice a heightened sensitivity and want to back off the coffee. Personally I have noticed that my energy is elevated from the higher levels of hormones anyway and coffee isn't necessary during that time.
3) Poor Sleep
There are sooooo many benefits to getting a good night of sleep. But it isn't just about the number of hours you spend in bed, it's about the quality of deep sleep you get each night. People do vary on the number of hours that make them feel most rested, but I find that people who deal with chronic stress in their life typically need more sleep than others.
Prioritizing it and making it a non-negotiable is key. Part of the reason sleep is so important is because it's when your body processes information and heals itself. If your brain doesn't have time to process then when you wake up you are less likely to view things in a state of reality. I mean, lets be completely unscientific here - when you are sleepy EVERYTHING seems worse am I right?! :)
Don't feel bad about going to bed early, sleeping in and honestly - if you have chronic stress and lack of sleep I'd encourage you to take a self care weekend where you sleep as much as you possible can for at least 3 days! Let your body reset, rejuvenate and heal.
WHAT CAN I DO NOW?
1) Get Tested
If you think that you may have some food sensitivities or gut imbalance of any kind, find out for sure! My job is to work with you to uncover the hidden stressors in your life that are causing metabolic chaos and breakdown in your body.
Through functional lab testing I'm able to help you discover what's really going on, come up with a personalize protocol just for you and help you return back to health for good! I take a functional whole life approach meaning I don't medicate - I educate. I will work with you on nutrition, stress reduction, appropriate supplementation and more based on your personal test results.
Not sure this is for you? Email me: TheTinyFitDiva@Gmail.com to set up a free 30 minute discovery call where we can talk about what's available and right for you.
2) Eliminate known stressors
This might sound obvious but often we resist making changes we know are good for us. Cut out the processed foods, eliminate carbonation, sodas, and sugary drinks. Cut caffeine for a period of time and give your gut a chance to heal itself!
I might sound like a hard ass, but this step is non-negotiable if you want to achieve long term health! Your gut is called the second brain but really it's the FIRST. If it's not functioning properly then neither will your actual brain....
I you even have and inkling that a certain food is bothering you, eliminate it for a minimum of 1 month. If you feel better AWESOME! If you can't tell a difference bring it back in and monitor how you feel each time.
3) Intelligent Supplementation
Don't go crazy with supplementation without supervision. However there are a few supplements that are generally safe and helpful. L Theanine, Vitamin C, and a good probiotic and are a great place to start with anxiety.
L Theanin is a great tool to take "as needed" when you feel some day-to-day anxiety popping up. Vitamin C has about a million benefits (including helping your liver) and is extremely difficult to overdose on. A good probiotic helps balance your good gut bacteria - I would recommend rotating brands every few months to get different strains.
I hope this helps!
If you are really ready to get YOUR gut back on track then consider joining my 8 week gut health program Get Gutsy with Me starting January 15th!!! We are going to go in depth with information on healing your gut and you will have access to recipes, shopping lists, tips, and support through the process!
Each participant will have the option to upgrade their 8 weeks with gut testing and discounted coaching from me which would include a personalized protocol based on the test results.
Don't let this go on another year! NOW is the time to take back your health.
Disclaimer: This is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Do not go off medication without talking to your doctor. Consult with your doctor before making any changes in an existing protocol.