Anxiety is unfortunately a really common experience that many people end up having to deal with at least some point in their lives.
One thing that’s key, is we work to figure out WHY the anxiety is there. That’s something that us as Naturopathic Doctors are so focused on—not simply band-aiding an issue, but sorting out the root cause.
There can be physiologic reasons for increased anxiety and even panic attacks that need to be ruled out. These can be things like thyroid issues (hyper OR hypo), chronic pain, B12 deficiency, a history of concussions and mold exposure (to name just a few!).
Until you come to see me, here are six tips for anxiety that may help in the meantime!
Keep Your Blood Sugar Levels Balanced
This one is so important. I know that when you’re stressed out and overwhelmed or feeling nervous and anxious it can be very challenging to eat well or at all, but as much as you can manage to balance your blood sugars, it really can make a huge difference for how your mood is feeling.
Too much sugar, too many carbs, and not enough protein and fat can really mess with your blood sugar levels and may cause you to feel okay for a little bit, but then you’ll get that energy and mood crash afterward.
Aim to eat regularly, even if it’s a small amount, and try to get some protein and fat with each meal to help. Filling half of your plate with non-starchy veggies won’t hurt anything either!
Aim to Get OPTIMAL Sleep
It can definitely be a challenge to sleep well especially if you’re stressed out and anxious (and it’s so common that anxiety likes to rear its ugly head at night), but make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to get a good night’s sleep. Don’t just aim for sort of enough sleep, aim for OPTIMAL sleep. If you’re also struggling with insomnia, we can do things to support that too.
A well rested body and mind can make all the difference for how your anxiety is feeling. When you’re short on sleep, you’ll likely feel way worse.
Practice Calming Activities AHEAD of Time
Trying to calm yourself down in the middle of a panic attack is NOT the time to be doing it for the first time.
The goal is to get into the habit of being able to calm and soothe yourself on a regular basis so that your body is good at it and it comes much easier to you. That way, once you have a day or a moment of an anxiety flare, your body and mind knows the routine and that may help alleviate things before they get too bad.
Consider guided meditations, journaling, grounding into bodily sensations, walks in the woods or restorative yoga and see which one you like the best.
Practice Saying No
People pleasing and over-committing yourself are recipes for disaster, especially when it comes to anxiety. This will likely be a moment by moment practice, especially if you tend to be a “yes” person. Start with things that are little and easy and make a list of things you’d like to say no to in the future. Build up your confidence with the little things, and then take a deep breath and say no if there are things you don’t want to do!
Watch the Caffeine (and Alcohol)
For a lot of patients with anxiety, caffeine (even from green or black tea) can be too much. It’s not necessarily that you need to give it up completely, but I want you to make sure you know EXACTLY how caffeine makes you feel when you have it, versus when you don’t. You may feel great with ½ a cup but a full cup may send you over the edge. Enjoy a cup slowly if you’re going to drink it and make sure you aren’t overindulging.
The same goes for alcohol. I have a lot of patients who tend to feel anxious especially the next day after drinking even small amounts. Check in with your body to see how it affects you.
Anxiety and overwhelm can pretty quickly get to a place where you don’t know what to do anymore! I’m always here to help if you need more than the above tips. We can work on figuring out the root cause and give you some band-aids to get your anxiety feeling better as quickly as possible.