Living With Anxiety
Anxiety: that feeling of worry, nervousness and apprehension that grabs a hold of you, shakes you up and stops you in your tracks.
Anxiety is overwhelming and pervasive, leaving you frazzled, constantly over-thinking and unfocused. For some, it becomes difficult to have a normal functioning day. Anxiety can also cause sleep problems, digestive issues and much more. If you recognize some of these symptoms, you’re not alone. I see many people suffering from generalized anxiety daily.
Your mind is, at times, the biggest culprit for those anxious feelings. The truth is we don’t typically become anxious overnight. Patterns and habits can gradually increase anxiety over time, but simply willing anxiety to go away isn’t always easy. It takes time, treatment strategies and understanding triggers to slowly process and reduce anxiety.
Also, understanding your brain chemistry is very important in treating mood issues. The main chemical messenger that keeps you calm and relaxed is GABA. Naturally, low or deficient levels of GABA are associated with higher incidence of anxiety. It is the primary chemical messenger considered to be “inhibitory,” meaning it reduces and counterbalances feelings of anxiety and excitation.
How can you support your body and brain to curb anxiety?
First of all, there are many ways to help improve the amount of GABA present in your system, including supplementation of herbs like Valerian, Kava and Passionflower. They can be given in the gentle form of tea or possibly in stronger herbal extracts. Guidance from an herbalist or naturopathic doctor can help you choose an effective treatment for you.
In your diet, removal of caffeine can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Also, eating regular meals and having a normal blood sugar balance can help stave away the typical “fight or flight” stress response. Having low blood sugar levels can often mimic or trigger anxiety.
Finally, exercise (appropriate for age and general health) can be as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy in the management of generalized anxiety disorder. I hear a lot of people telling me they clear their head and remove “extra energy” from their system with a good run or a workout. These are just a few options that you can start today to help curb anxiety and feel a bit more like yourself!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Author: Dr. Josée Boyer, ND
Josée is a Naturopathic Doctor at Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre. Her clinical focus the study of interactions between the psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. She focuses on anxiety, stress, insomnia, hormone health and depression which can cause fatigue, digestive complaints, a weak immune system and pain.