What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal part of life. This feeling derives from our primal fight or flight reflex, biologically developed to keep us safe in times of danger. It must be remembered, that at times anxiety and stress can become so severe that it affects daily life.
The physical manifestations are:
- Chest pain
- Stomach pain
- Increased blood pressure
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Trouble concentrating
Anxiety can be useful at times.
Positive anxiety and stress is helpful under certain circumstances. For some, stressing about school or work helps with test and athletic performance. The pressure you feel may encourage hard work to advance your goals. Feeling anxious spurs some people to make positive changes in life. Having successful coping mechanisms, encourages compassion and empathy with others who face a similar struggle. Lastly, anxiety helps keep you safe, as you may be less likely to engage in risky behavior like texting while driving.
What Causes Anxiety?
When faced with danger or perceived danger, the hormone adrenaline is released from our adrenal glands, this causes the heart to beat faster and a rise in blood pressure. This response happens for reasons including:
- Smoking – Nicotine, a main component of cigarettes, encourages your body to release the hormone adrenaline.
- Medical conditions – Multiple Illnesses are linked to anxiety. These include heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, respiratory disorders, dehydration, drug misuse, withdrawal from alcohol and certain medications, chronic pain and rare adrenal gland tumors.
- Heredity – The younger a person is when anxiety is displayed the more likely genetics are involved. Additional research about genetics and its role in anxiety is necessary.
- Substance use
Habits that Increase Anxiety.
While anxiety is a normal part of life, certain personal habits may worsen it. These habits include:
- Poor sleep – Sleep is compromised due to worry and fear interfering with the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Excessive alcohol use – Drinking excessively or to close to bedtime interferes with REM sleep.
- Dietary choices – Eating foods high in sugar, both natural and artificial, spikes and then drops blood sugar levels. This leads to anxious feelings. Choosing highly processed foods like cakes, cookies and other snacks increase inflammation. Studies are ongoing about the link between inflammation and our well being.
- Sedentary lifestyle
Natural Aids to Help Reduce Anxiety
From the list above you are able to see that beginning to treatment starts with personal habit changes. Making these changes are stepping stones, adjacent to medical treatments if necessary.
- Improve your sleep hygiene – Sleep in a cool, dark room, and go to sleep at the same time every night. Discover the 4-7-8 breathing technique, this aids with relaxation. Do not eat within 3 hours of bedtime. Cut back on screen usage in the evening. Finally, stretch and meditate before bed.
- Limit alcohol use to 1 drink per evening if at all.
- Limit highly processed, sugary foods and gluten. Begin by sticking to whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Choose good sources of protein including organic meats and fatty fish. For a treat choose dark chocolate, chamomile tea, and yogurt.
- Cut back on caffeine – Slowly reduce your caffeine intake to lessen withdrawal side effects. Interestingly, withdrawal side effects from caffeine mimic the feelings of anxiety.
- Exercise – The best type of exercise is the type of exercise that you enjoy and will do. Consequently, walking, running, yoga, swimming or weight lifting, etc. You should start slow to build your habit. Aim for 15 -30 minutes per day rather than be a weekend warrior and risk injury. Find an exercise buddy, this alone helps in two ways, first, you get your exercise and second, the social component helps battle stress and anxiety.
- Time management strategies – Useful tools to help you from feeling overwhelmed when you have many competing demands on you and your time.
- Spend time with animals – By all means, spend time Petting your dog or cat. This is known to reduce stress.
- Stop smoking – As previously noted before nicotine promotes the release of adrenaline. Quitting smoking is an especially healthy decision.
Treatments for Anxiety.
Treatment is available and can take many avenues, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a common talk therapy. This type of therapy quickly focuses on specific challenges and as a result leads to developing effective coping mechanisms.
- Complementary health techniques such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga.
- Anti-anxiety medications, can help in the short and long term.
Supplements can help.
Supplementation along with other methods of treatment are helpful for people dealing with anxiety. Consult with a doctor or other medical professional to ensure that you don’t have any drug interactions or side effects. Supplements that aid with the treatment of anxiety include:
- Magnesium – Plays a role in the body’s stress response. High doses of Magnesium may cause stomach upset, so it’s best to start with a lower dose of 100 milligrams and do not exceed 350 milligrams without a doctor’s recommendation. Magnesium interacts negatively with certain medications. Fortunately, magnesium is found in many foods, such as whole grains, spinach, dark chocolate, black beans, quinoa and nuts.
- Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D3 is often found to be deficient in people with anxiety. Supplementing with this vitamin is beneficial considering most adults fall short of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D3. You can get Vitamin D3 from sun exposure, fatty fish, and high quality supplements.
- B Complex vitamins – most people can get sufficient B vitamins from nutritious food sources, although people who follow vegan and vegetarian diets should supplement with B complex vitamins.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Found in fatty fish, and flax seed. Omega 3 Fatty Acids are important for brain health, it cannot be produced by the body. If you take prescription blood thinners you should seek advice from a doctor before taking Omega 3 supplements.
- Vitamin C- Studies have shown that people low on Vitamin C, who receive supplementation, report improved moods. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables.
Alternative Therapies for Anxiety
Seek out alternative therapies for anxiety.
- Chiropractic adjustments align the spine, and increase mobility and improves nerve function
- Massage therapy
- Dr. Cushing’s AllerCease™ technique helps neutralize neurotransmitters and other emotions and sensitivities to ease anxiety symptoms.
In conclusion, anxiety is a normal part of life, although some patients find it becomes overwhelming on a daily basis. You do not have to suffer with anxiety taking control of your life. Treatment options are available, take the first step to speak with a trusted medical professional or a loved one and figure out which therapy or treatment or combination will work best for you.
Read Dr. Cushing’s biography