What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal response to stress or a dangerous situation and it’s often referred to as the “fight or flight” response. Anxiety helps you by preparing your body to either run away or fight back.
It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come and is almost always accompanied by feelings of impending doom. Related to a fear of the unknown, such as the first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous. This is mostly due to negative thinking. It is unpleasant, but used positively may motivate you to work harder and to do a better job. It is actually an evolutionary survival mechanism. It’s also the most prevalent mental health condition.
Anxiety becomes problematic when it is constant or in reaction to inappropriate circumstances, which over time can negatively affect your day-to-day life. It can affect your thoughts, behaviour and physical reactions in your body.
When does it occur?
Anxiety occurs when fight or flight is triggered daily caused by excessive worrying and when the stress response is not just switched on for an emergency. When the excessive fuel in the blood isn’t used for physical activities, the chronic anxiety and outpouring of stress hormones can have serious physical consequences. If excessive worrying and high anxiety go untreated, they can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts.
As we become anxious, we start to release stress chemicals and our body thinks we have something to be anxious over so our natural survival instinct the ‘fight or flight’ response takes place. ‘Fight’ to stay or ‘flight’ to flee from emergency. If we don’t know what to do with our problem and don’t take action to resolve the problem our emergency switch stays switched on and the adrenal glands continue to secrete adrenaline and many other hormones too, such as cortisol, adrenaline (epinephrine) and nore-adrenalin (norepinephrine). These tell the body that we have an emergency and so we continue to act automatically to overcome the so-called emergency.
Sometimes our symptoms cause us to become anxious. We may believe that we won’t get better. This blocks our energy flow which slows our healing process and delays recovery and wellbeing.
Also, anxiety creates an acid environment whereby disease can grow and so perpetuates our symptoms.
Causes of anxiety include:
- Traumatic life experiences
- Thyroid problems
- Dysfunctional serotonin
- Excessive alcohol (although one glass of red every day with a meal is great for gut health – but only red!)
- Caffeine or sugar intake
- Hormone imbalance
How we create anxiety
We create anxiety when we falsely negative message and believe the messages to be true and also when we ‘speed up’ our body by doing too much, or rush around or are constantly on the go. Adrenaline gets secreted and anxiety kicks in because the body believes there must be a real danger for it to have speeded up and there must be a real danger to be running away from. We may have trouble sleeping too because we have ‘speeded up’, are worried or anxious and we need sleep to regenerate every cell in our body.
The body will always try to reach homeostasis, but it will struggle to do so if too many things antagonise it and more and more symptoms of disease will be made if we don’t stop the antagonist root cause.
A poor diet can lead to many anxiety symptoms, including moodiness, fatigue and abnormal blood sugar levels that cause nervousness and the jitters. A poor diet can also lead to weight gain. And this can impact your body image and bring on feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt and anxiety for feeling this way.
Eating anti-inflammatory foods can be a natural remedy for anxiety because they are important for neurotransmitters synthesizing and balancing your mood and stress response. In addition, it’s also important to eat healthy fats, unrefined carbohydrates and lean protein. To improve anxiety symptoms, make sure you add vitamin B foods, magnesium rich foods, foods high in calcium and omega-3 foods to your diet.
- Wild-caught fish (like salmon, mackerel, tuna, white fish and herring)
- Grass-fed beef
- Organic chicken
- Nutritional yeast
- Yogurt or kefir
- Leafy greens (like spinach, kale, chard and collard greens)
- Fresh vegetables (like celery, bok choy, broccoli, beetroot and artichokes)
- Fresh fruits (like blueberries, pineapple, bananas and figs)
- Sea vegetables
- Healthy fats (like avocado, coconut oil and olive oil)
- Beans (such as black beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas and fava beans)
- Legumes (like lentils and peas)
- Nuts (such as walnuts, almonds and cashews)
- Seeds (including flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds)
- Unrefined grains (like farro, quinoa and barley)
- Vitamin B – liver, meat, eggs, yeast extract, nuts, cod, cheese, wholewheat, green vegetables
- Vitamin C rich foods – papaya, citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens such as kale, mustard greens, chard
- Magnesium rich foods – alfalfa, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, black-eyed peas, blackstrap molasses, brown rice, cantaloupe melon chamomile, dandelion, dulse, figs, garlic, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables, kelp, lemons, liquorice, lima beans, nuts, parsley, peaches, peppers, soybeans, tofu and whole grains
- Glutathione production – Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, radish, turnip, watercress
- GABA production – eat sulphur-rich foods broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and avocado, kale, spinach, chard, cabbage, arugula, mustard greens, egg, grass-fed beef, halibut, legumes, brown rice. Vitamins B3, B6 and B12 work in a number of enzyme reactions to help convert glutamine to GABA.
- Serotonin production is made from tryptophan, an essential amino acid abundant in fish, eggs, chicken, turkey and other meats. Iron, zinc, & vitamins B3, B6 and C.
- Dopamine, the most powerful of your stimulating neurotransmitters, is responsible for many of the “highs” you feel. The brain converts the amino acid tyrosine – found in protein – to dopamine with the help of folic acid, vitamin B6, magnesium and zinc. You’ll find extra tyrosine in almonds, avocados, dairy products, and pumpkin and sesame seeds. A related compound, tyramine, is rich in aged cheeses, such as aged cheddar and Stilton.
- Norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline) is another stimulating neurotransmitter. The brain makes it from dopamine, with the help of the mineral copper and vitamins B6 and C. Like dopamine, norepinephrine is ultimately derived from the amino acid tyrosine.
- Pre and probiotics weekly – kombucha tea or sodas, organic miso soup, organic pickles or sauerkraut, organic kefir or yogurt
- Organic green
A general rule for breathing to bring you back to a more relaxed state, is low and slow. There are many different breathing techniques that experts use for all sorts of solutions. Anything from stress to helping to cure illness.
As a starting point it is good to just become aware of your breathing. Is it shallow? Deep? Slow, fast? Is it from the chest? Tummy? A healthy person should be able to do both easily. Practising breathing awareness at some point every day is the way to start good breathing habits.
To immediately de-stress, make your exhales longer than your inhales and whilst doing so, free your mind and engage in positive affirmations whilst doing it. I always practise a deep inhale count of 7 and exhale 14, filling my lungs and belly. Do this a few times and you will instantly feel more relaxed but energised.
Never breathe through your mouth. If you do then you must practise breathing through your nose and change your habit!
Another breathing technique I use when dealing with a stressful situation is I breathe deeply and then using my hands to ‘push away’ in front of my body (either slowly or assertively), the subject of my stress. I visualise creating distance between myself and the problem knowing I can solve it better by ‘stepping back’ and breathing deeply.
Meditation music is amazing when combined with breathing practice. Plenty of free music in this category on the internet.
Nothing lasts for ever. We would love the good times to pass slowly and the bad times quickly but at this time we must find joy in everything we do.
Get rid of all the negative things that sap your energy and avoid those who spread doom and gloom. Their energy will have a bad affect in your mind and body.