I’m not sure what age it was when I started to realize my parents are usually right and maybe have more wisdom than I realized. Maybe early 20s? It definitely wasn’t my teen years 😉 Well, I was kindly reminded of this again recently.
Adam and I decided we were going to start looking for a place to move to in North Vancouver about 6 months ago. We are also getting married in September, which you probably know. My parents’ kind, but unsolicited advice was to ‘be careful we’re not stressed and exhausted by the wedding’ because moving and doing renovations and planning a wedding can be hectic and a LOT more work than you think.
Reeeeelax, I thought. We can do it and we’ll be fine! Well, turns out it’s a lot to take on all at once haha! While it isn’t causing anxiety for us, it has added a bit of stress to our lives.
From a coaching perspective, I’ve also been noticing more and more people soliciting advice on anxiety, so thought I would focus on that today!
I think the worst advice for someone with anxiety is to say, just calm down. You can’t “just calm down”. Like with any problem, without knowing the source, it’s hard to know how to fix it.
Of course, there are the obvious sources, like:
The thing is, there are also some other sources that are not so commonly talked about that can make dealing with the above MUCH harder, and can be at the root of anxiety:
While drinking may initially calm your anxiety, it’s almost always followed by a not so great feeling the next day. Even small amounts of alcohol will release estrogen in the body, increase cortisol (a stress hormone) and reduce leptin levels (the hormone that makes you feel satiated and full). While the excess estrogen leads to difficulty losing weight (guys and girls), the excess cortisol interrupts sleep and and can cause waking up in the night.
When you consume foods that you are sensitive to, it creates a mild fight or flight stress response in the body. This amplifies over the long term through eating these foods multiple times a day or week, and can really contribute to anxiety. The tough part about this is that you might not necessarily feel it right away. IgG sensitivities, which is what we’re talking about, can take up to 4 days to present. You can test for your food sensitivities, like I talked about here, or you can simply try an elimination diet.
As a follow up to food sensitivities, sugar is a big one to reduce if you are feeling anxious. I’ve got 15 tips to eat less sugar here.
Similar to alcohol, you might know this one, but I want to remind you again. Caffeine is proven to be linked to anxiety and depression. Caffeine triggers a response of various hormones, including adrenaline and norepinephrine, both of which are great if you’re actually in an emergency situation. Chances are though, your daily cup of joe is not actually being drunk in a true emergency, and so may be worsening anxiety.
My recommendation would be to start with alcohol, sugar and caffeine. If you don’t see an improvement, move towards food sensitivity investigation and cortisol. There may also be nutrient deficiencies, like magnesium, at play too.
Sometimes, symptoms you’re feeling, like anxiety, can be the result of nutrient deficiencies. A hugely common one is magnesium. Adding a simple magnesium supplement like 600mg of Thorne Magnesium Citramate in the evenings before bed can be very beneficial. Furthermore, if your anxiety has been prolonged, you may need increased doses of the B vitamins and vitamin C.
To get you through the bouts of anxiety, there are short term herbs you can try too. If you are on medications, you would need to consult with a healthcare practitioner prior to starting these.
I can’t stress the benefits of speaking to a professional who is not your partner and not your friend. Often times this is covered on your benefits package too! If nothing else, it helps you know you’re not alone in what you’re dealing with and gives you some practical tools to change your thought behaviour.