Sleep Routine for Anxiety

There are many different factors in your life that can contribute to your anxiety. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it means that these factors can be leveraged as tools to support your mental health. A couple of major influences on your anxiety levels include lack of sleep duration or lack of quality sleep. Each of these factors can have a great impact on your mental health.  A sleep routine catered to your needs can make a big difference in your mental health.

What is a Sleep Routine?

Perhaps the idea of a sleep routine is foreign to you, so let’s start with the basics. A sleep routine is a routine you practice every night before you sleep. This could last any length of time that works for you. Some people have a 15 minute sleep routine, whereas others have one that takes 2 hours. It’s all about creating a sequence of activities that suits you.

What are the Benefits of a Sleep Routine?

Falling Asleep

There is so much that a sleep routine can offer, especially for those struggling with anxiety. Firstly, a sleep routine can help you fall asleep. Falling asleep is so difficult for some people, as this time of day tends to remove distractions and can leave you with your own racing thoughts. By setting a predetermined sequence of events, you can teach your body to expect sleep once the routine is complete. Of course, this can take some time. But if you struggle with getting to sleep, it’s totally worth it.

Duration of Sleep

Let’s face it: there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done! But it can be tough to settle in when you feel like your to-do list is piling up. This is another good reason to start a sleep routine. A big part of the routine is having a set time at which the routine begins. This allows you to stay consistent with your bedtime.

Not only that, but creating a consistent flow of sleep duration (when you go to sleep and get up) will allow you to sleep better throughout the night. Again, this call comes back to creating expectations. Your body will know when it is time to sleep, and eventually how long it can expect to sleep by repeating the same pattern.

Quality of Sleep

Giving yourself time and space to wind down at the end of the night can enhance the quality of your sleep too. Slowly bringing yourself to a state of relaxation can influence the quality of your sleep. Plus, if a part of your sleep routine includes managing some things that will help you in the morning (such as choosing your outfit or packing your lunch), this can impact your stress and cortisol levels, which in turn influences your sleep.

Sleep Routine Ideas

Your sleep routine should be as unique as you are. It’s important to add in elements that help you wind down, reduce stress, and create a sense of routine. Here are some ideas of what you can implement:

  • Herbal, non-caffeinated tea
  • Bath or shower
  • Reading
  • Essential Oils
  • Dim lights
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Skincare
  • Breathing exercises
  • Colouring
  • Stretching
  • Journaling
  • Light a candle
  • Relaxing music

Having a sleep routine can influence your mental health and your anxiety in a positive way. It can help you feel more prepared so that you worry less and relax easier. It does require a little bit of conscious decision making and consistency, but it’s so worth it for the benefit it can bring.

Sleep well!

What To Do After a Panic Attack

Anxiety is a unique experience and can vary from one individual to the next. Some people experience anxiety daily, other people have more intermittent anxiety. Some people get anxious about certain situations (social situations, for example). Other people have seemingly no reason to be anxious at all, but experience it anyways. Some people experience panic attacks, and other people with anxiety do not.

Panic attacks are described as the sudden onset of intense fear that builds and reaches a peak. On average, symptoms last about 10 minutes. Symptoms include:

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fear of losing control
  • Chest pains, shortness of breath
  • Derealization (feeling as though the experience is not real)
  • Depersonalization (feeling detached from oneself)
  • Fear of dying
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Dizziness

Having a panic attack is a very terrifying experience. They can happen at any time, whether the individual is currently in an anxious state or not.

There have been a lot of preventative measures for anxiety shared on this blog, but this post focuses more specifically on what to do once the panic attack has already happened.

Because lets face it: you can take your supplements, eat your healthy food, exercise, and take great care of yourself – but despite that, panic attacks still happen.

Here are 4 things you can do after a panic attack for comfort and self care. These tips cant undo what you’ve been through, but are intended to help you get through the “coming down” phases that often follows a panic attack.

Get Cozy

Utilizing physical comfort after an anxiety attack can help invite in a state of relaxation. This can help you come down from the attack in a safe, comfortable space.

This might mean getting into your pajamas and crawling into bed, or grabbing a blanket and getting comfortable on the couch. If you have a weighted blanket, this would be the perfect time to use it.

Weighted blankets utilize a technique referred to as deep touch pressure therapy. Is has been shown that pressure on the body can trigger a release of serotonin. A release of serotonin can help you feel more calm and peaceful.

Use Positive Self-Talk

It is common for those dealing with anxiety to be overwhelmed with negative self-talk, and this can be especially detrimental during of after a panic attack.

Getting down on yourself because you’ve had a panic attack can lead to shame. This shame can lead to sadness and guilt, which can lead to anxiety. This can trigger the cycle to start again.

It’s important to remind yourself that having a panic attack does not make you any less of a person. You are worthy and you matter, and you deserve to feel good again, and you will.

You are only human – and you are doing the best you can.

Reach out for Support

If you have a safe person who can empathize with your anxiety and panic, you can reach out to them after a panic attack for support. Sometimes, the most powerful tool we have anxiety a panic attack is a small reminder that we are not alone.

You may be able to reach out to someone where you are. If not, perhaps there is a trusted friend or family member you could text or call. You could also consider calling a crisis or support line, if you need to.

You should never have to feel like you are alone in this. In fact, 1.5-4% of the general population experiences panic attacks. This percentage may be small, but considering there are 579 million people in North America alone, that means that at least 8,685,000 people are going through what you are going through – and again, that’s just in North America. You are not alone.

Drink Tea

Like getting cozy, drinking tea provides warmth, comfort, and an avenue of self-care after a panic attack. But the benefit to drinking tea is actually two-fold.

Many of the herbs and other ingredients used in tea are helpful in managing anxiety. For example, chamomile is helpful in promoting relaxation. Holy Basil is another great one, known as an adaptogen which can help regulate cortisol levels. Ashwaghanda is another adaptogen that helps with cortisol. These can be found at most health food stores and steeped.

By drinking tea, not only will you be promoting relaxation externally with the practice of making and drinking it, but the properties of the ingredients can help regulate your stress and anxiety from the inside-out.

I know firsthand just how difficult a panic attack can be to go through. Never forget that there is light on the other side. You can help yourself by utilizing these methods to help you recover.

It’s always tough in the moment, but you will come out of it and be okay again.

See the 5 Best Supplements for Anxiety

Can Leaky Gut Cause Anxiety?

Do you have leaky gut? A lot of people turn to asking this question when they begin having seemingly “weird” symptoms for which they have no explanation. And actually, that makes sense, as leaky gut can explain some pretty mysterious health issues. It can also contribute to mood issues, including anxiety.

If you’re dealing with anxiety or depression, it may be worth looking into leaky gut – it could be impacting your mental health.

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What is Leaky Gut?

Leaky gut is also known as increased intestinal permeability. It means that the intestinal wall has become porous or permeable, allowing bacteria, waste, and undigested food particles to pass through into the blood stream.

But how does this happen? Some foods – especially the very processed, refined, inflammatory foods, irritate the intestinal wall. When this irritation goes on for long enough, the lining of the intestine becomes spongy and penetrable.

This same effect is seen with gut dysbiosis (when the gut microbiome goes out of balance – not enough good or more bad than good bacteria is present). Interestingly, some studies have even linked gluten to intestinal permeability – however it is important to note that these were not human studies, and these results were never replicated in human trials.

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What are the Symptoms of Leaky Gut?

Increased intestinal permeability can present with all sorts of symptoms including:

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, and bloating
  • Fatigue (in some cases extreme)
  • Pain and inflammation
  • Lack of attention, brain fog

How can you Heal a Leaky Gut?

If you suspect that you have a leaky gut, it’s worth investing the time into fixing. Here are some tips to help you get that leaky gut patched up.

Say Farewell to Refined, Processed Foods!

Highly refined, processed foods are really tough on your digestion. Our bodies don’t recognize this type of food, due to how much it’s been altered from it’s natural form. On top of that, they are usually high in sugar, which promotes the growth of bad bacteria. This type of food also typically lacks in fibre, which can promote constipation. Normally these foods are okay in moderation, but if you have leaky gut I recommend steering totally clear until you’re feeling better – at least 8 weeks.

Increase Collagen Intake

Collagen is actually a protein – a very efficient amino-acid builder. Collagen is found in your eyes, bones, skin, organs, and inside your digestive tract. It builds and maintains a healthy gut barrier!

Naturally protein-rich foods are higher in collagen. Bone broth is another great source. Nuts, seeds, beans, and soy are all high in the top 3 amino acids that make up the collagen protein. If you’re plant-based, pair them together to ensure you’re getting enough so that your body can make it’s own collagen.

Eat More Probiotic-rich Foods

Probiotics are healthy bacteria, and this bacteria is essential to a healthy gut! A healthy microbiome (balance of bacteria in the gut) is essential not just for the intestinal wall itself, but it also influences metabolism, immune function, mood, nutrient absorption, and more.

Although the underlying mechanisms are still being uncovered, scientists know that if you want to have a healthy, strong gut lining, healthy bacteria is key. An easy way to add more healthy bacteria to the gut is eating probiotic foods. Examples are things like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kombucha, raw apple cider vinegar, miso, fermented vegetables, and sourdough.

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Aside from the foods you can use to heal your gut, there is another tool you want to keep in mind as well: consistency. It’s important to stay consistent with your gut-healthy habits – if you waffle and waiver, it may prolong the healing process!

Leaky gut can’t cause anxiety, but it can be a contributing factor. Just remember: having a healthy gut has been shown to promote better mental health – whether you have intestinal permeability or not. You don’t have to wait until leaky gut becomes an issue – you can also be proactive. Limit refined foods, up your collagen intake, and enjoy probiotic rich foods regularly for a strong, healthy gut.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30340384

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27339216

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5964481/

https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(01)90326-9/fulltext#s0135

5 Best Supplements for Anxiety

Two things we know a lot about here at SSW: supplements and anxiety. Finally, it’s time to combine the two into one epic blog post. Anxiety is a monster that needs to be managed, so in this case the supplements are… the manager? The assistant manager? Okay, that makes their job sound way less cool than it is.

What’s great about adding supplements to your wellness routine is that it is a preventative way to support your mental health. This could result in less anxiety and panic attacks over time.

Keep reading because in this article we are going to let you know, with the most updated information possible, what the best supplements for anxiety are.

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B-Vitamins

B-vitamins are really important for both energy production and supporting the central nervous system on a cellular level (1). Supporting brain function of course in turn supports one’s ability to deal with stress, think clearly, and problem solve, thereby aiding in ones ability to deal with anxiety. However it doesn’t just stop there – studies have actually been shown that supplementing b-vitamins is helpful in improving mood. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) has been used to treat patients with anxiety with promising results (2). That being said, b-vitamins compete for absorption so it’s best to take a good quality complex in which all b-vitamins can be taken and absorbed.

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Adaptogens

We’ve talked about adaptogens and anxiety here before, so naturally it’s made the list for the 5 best supplements for anxiety. Adaptogens are substances which help to regulate cortisol – common examples are maca, ashwagandha, and matcha (3). Balancing cortisol is important for keeping stress under control, thereby aiding in ones ability to deal with anxiety.

The bonus here is that many adaptogenic substances also have a host of other benefits. Some are great anti-inflammatories, while others are useful in boosting energy (3). Talk to a professional if you are unsure which one will be right for you. Most adaptogens are sold in pill and powder form. The powder forms are easily mixed into elixirs and smoothies.

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D is something that our bodies are able to synthesize in sunlight. But if you’re confined to the indoors for most of the day, or you happen to live in a climate that doesn’t get very much sun, you might want to look into supplementing with vitamin D, because over time these particular situations could lead to a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is important in maintaining the health of the immune, cardiovascular, brain, and nervous systems (4). Because vitamin D is so vital to brain health, it makes sense that a deficiency could lead to mood instability. Various studies have been done on both animal and human subjects supporting that supplementing with vitamin D can lead to decreased levels of anxiety (5,6,7).

Always buy a vitamin D supplement that is suspended in oil (liquid or capsule), as vitamin D is fat soluble.

probiotics

Probiotics

The biggest revelation in mental health recently has been the impact that your gut can have on your mood. That’s right: gut health and mental health are linked much more than ever previously thought (8). This is where probiotics come in, as probiotics are helpful in cultivating proper gut health.

Probiotics contain healthy bacteria needed by the gut to function optimally. Gut health can be compromised when the bad bacteria out weighs the good. Compromising your gut health could result in having compromised mental health (9). Although this area of research is relatively new, the positive effects of probiotics towards minimizing anxiety are promising (10). Probiotics are sold in capsule form and should be stored in the refrigerator for longevity. Most health food stores will also keep their probiotic stock in a fridge.

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Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for the body. It is a cofactor in hundreds of different processes in the body. One thing that makes it really valuable in terms of anxiety is it’s capacity to help with muscle relaxation. It is also important in the role it plays regulating the HPA-axis. A deficiency in magnesium does have a relationship with increased anxiety (11).

Sufficient levels of magnesium has been shown to result in stabilized anxiety symptoms in multiple trials (12). The unfortunate part is that dietary intake of magnesium is typically poor in western culture. That’s where supplements come in. Because calcium and magnesium often work together in the body, they are often sold together in supplement form. You can find them in pill and also powder forms.

 

There are all kinds of avenues to explore when it comes to treating your anxiety, and supplementation is one avenue worth delving into. Not only is the science there to support it, but it also adds another aspect to a well-rounded mental-health wellness routine.

Are you using any supplements to support your mental health? We love hearing your two cents in the comments. 

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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, naturopath, or pharmacist. As a CHNC I am only qualified to work with food. Even though these supplements have been scientifically backed by research for use,  you should take these suggestions to your health professional before adding them to your wellness routine. 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772032/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3046018/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php
  5. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19390211.2017.1334736
  6. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.721.8885&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29082262
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27793225
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30026389
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25470391
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390811003054
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452159/

Can CBD Oil Cure Anxiety?

Anxiety confession: the first time I had a panic attack was when I got high on marijuana for the first time.

Panic attacks as a result of using brain altering substances, like drugs, happen often – mostly in those predisposed to anxiety and panic already. What happens is the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) binds to cannaboid 1 receptors, leading to the feeling of being high. It is this simple receptor connection that stimulates panic and anxiety symptoms in some individuals.

So it may then seem counterintuitive to go back to the cannabis plant to look for a cure for the very thing it can induce – but stick with me here. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a whole different compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD is actually thought to balance the plant by counteracting the THC. Specifically, CBD does this by inducing a sense of calm and relaxation. Given it’s effects, studies are being done on if CBD can help those with an anxiety-related disorder.

The research on the subject is new, but promising. A 2017 review concluded that “the studies assessed clearly suggest an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD in both animal models and healthy volunteers”. Although evidence is still being gathered, researchers do believe that CBD may prove useful in treating anxiety disorders.

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CBD is taken in oil form because it is fat soluble and can be administered in a couple of different ways:

  • Capsules
  • Concentrates
  • Vapes
  • Topicals
  • Sprays
  • Tinctures

 

There is also no short of anecdotal evidence. I have a friend, Mara, who uses CBD oil concentrate every morning. “It’s changed my life”, she said confidently. “I take it every morning. It has completely eliminated my physical symptoms of anxiety.” She used to wake up sweating with anxiety, but her mornings are totally different now.

I am quite open about my anxiety and what I use to treat it, so my conversation with Mara wasn’t the first time I had talked openly with others about the benefits of CBD oil for anxiety. I’ve had it recommended to me dozens of times – but this was before I fully understood the differences between THC and CBD, so I admit I was initially skeptical.

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But with those gaps now filled in and the academic and anecdotal research compiled, I’m left feeling intrigued.

There are pros and cons to taking CBD oil as a treatment for anxiety:

PROS:

  • Academic research supporting it’s efficacy to treat anxiety
  • A natural compound
  • Multiple ways to administer
  • Potential to reduce anxiety significantly

CONS: 

  • Many researchers agree that more studies are required on the subject
  • Illegal in some countries/ states (not in Canada however!)
  • Can be expensive

Do I think CBD is a cure for anxiety?

Well, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a cure for anxiety – only ways to manage it. But I think CBD is a great option in terms of how to do that.

The things we use to help our anxiety and manage it’s symptoms are tools. The more tools we have, the better resourced we are. The better resourced we are, the more we are simply equipped to handle life. Especially for those still struggling with anxiety often, CBD oil could provide a bit of relief. It is my belief that as time goes on, more research will come out in support of CBD oil as a treatment for anxiety.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – have you tried CBD oil? Do you use it for anxiety? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Friendly reminder: make sure you do your research and consult a professional or two before you begin taking anything new to treat your anxiety. 

 

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Bhattacharyya, Sagnik et al. “Acute Induction of Anxiety in Humans by Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Related to Amygdalar Cannabinoid-1 (CB1) Receptors.” Scientific Reports 7 (2017): 15025. PMC. Web. 9 May 2018.

Blessing, Esther M. et al. “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics 12.4 (2015): 825–836. PMC. Web. 9 May 2018.

Soares, Vanessa P., and Alline C. Campos. “Evidences for the Anti-Panic Actions of Cannabidiol.” Current Neuropharmacology 15.2 (2017): 291–299. PMC. Web. 9 May 2018.

Ambition vs Agoraphobia

When I was in grade 7, we were given a project in art class that required us to choose one word that we felt best described ourselves – we had to write it on this big poster paper and make it, well, a piece of art.

I used vibrant colours, big, graffiti-esque lettering, and I wrote “AMBITION” across the page.

From a young age I knew I wanted more than just an okay life. I was going to reach for the stars,and no one was going to stop me. I was a driven, stubborn youngster with fire in my veins. Only years later would I learn the self-discipline required to allow my ambitions to shine through. That was the secret -the follow through- and I was as determined as ever before. I would be a success!

But for all my stubbornness in deciding that “no one” would stop me, I didn’t realize that one of the biggest obstacles to step in my way would be myself. Growing up, anxiety would become a battle for me – especially through my teenage years and young adulthood.

In my early twenties, I went through a difficult period in which I didn’t even want to leave my home. I didn’t leave my 500 sq foot apartment for 3 days. My sister (who is an absolute angel) came to my rescue. Although terrified, hand in hand she would take me to the doctors that day to try and get some help.

In time I realized that what I was struggling with was Agoraphobia, which is a fear and/or avoidance of any environment deemed dangerous. For me, this has always meant anywhere outside my home. It’s an anxiety disorder and is common for those who struggle with other anxiety or panic disorders. For many like me, their home becomes their “safe place”, and one becomes afraid to leave.

Any individual person who struggles with Agoraphobia will have their own individual fears and places they avoid, and in that way it is unique. Most find it easier to leave the house with a person they trust.

For me, Agoraphobia is an indication that my anxiety has reached its peak. I have dealt with it on and off over the years – the feeling creeps in slowly and suddenly I prefer the safety of my home than the uncertainty of the outside world. I feel a sense of impending doom, feeling that something bad is definitely going to happen to me if I leave.

At the same time, I beat myself up for being unable to do something so simple: step foot outside my home.

My ambition, my drive, it pulls at me too. And it pains me to think about the opportunities I may have missed, or might miss in the future, because of this agoraphobia. I can do my best to care for myself and reduce my anxiety, but I can’t plan my life around predicting when it will strike me.

My dreams are enormous and my motivation is great, but sometimes it’s like my ambition is holding one hand and my agoraphobia is holding the other, and they are both pulling at me.

I deal with the agoraphobia the same way I deal with my anxiety – by practicing good self care and being kind to myself. If I can’t leave the house that day, I can’t. If it’s too hard to do anything but watch something mindless on Netflix, it’s okay. I keep my head up and I wait for tomorrow.

And sometimes, it’s better.

 

I wake up, and that day, ambition wins.

Anxiety: How Long Does it take to Heal?

Confession: I read a lot of other people’s blog posts about anxiety.

To be honest, even though most are complete strangers, it makes me feel connected in a way I can’t find elsewhere. I feel like we all share in something – something awful, but special – something that only if you’ve lived through it could you ever understand.

Some people are just beginning their journey with anxiety, while others have been hammering away at it for years, trying to figure out how to help themselves.

This is my question: How long does it take to heal?

This is my answer: No one knows.

Some people find that one thing that really works for them. Some people search and even try what feels like hundreds of things, but nothing has quite clicked yet.

It makes me upset when I see people giving up on themselves, or being hard on themselves, all because they need more time than the next person.

Look, it took me the better part of 10 years to get the hang of this thing. Am I healed? I don’t know. I know that I’m helped, I know that I’m capable of helping myself. I know I’m more in control of that part of me than I’ve ever been. I know it feels good.

Maybe that’s the point. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be ‘better forever’, but that doesn’t exist. With anxiety there is going to be ups and downs, all we can do is learn to manage it – in however much time it takes.

How long have you been at it for?

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Looking for support?

My Anxiety Workbook is a great place to start – made specifically to help you help yourself. Click the link for additional info!

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Purchase for only 7.99 CAD

Special Announcement – New Ebook!

Today my dreams come true and I am officially releasing this Anxiety Workbook on Standing Strong Wellness. This is such a big deal for me. As someone who has been on their own journey with anxiety over the years, I know how hard it can be to find support out there.

This ebook was born of a small idea – to combine the many aspects I have found to help balance anxiety, and bring them together in one easy, simple book.  When I finally took the leap into writing it, I dove in head first. I wanted this to not just be something that the reader could read, but something they could actually use.

That’s why I’ve included colouring pages, recipes, and examples of coping strategies. This ebook will put you to work – towards improving yourself, your mindset, and becoming the person you were always meant to be – anxiety it not.

To get downloading visit the ‘Products’ page up top, or simply click here .

And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your ongoing love and support. Without the community I have found on here and on Instagram, the world would be a lot less shiny for me. I love you!

Copy of Anxiety Workbook

Download the Anxiety Workbook for $7.99

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So You Think Anxiety is Funny?

Good, me too.

When I’m not having an episode, of course.

When I’m knee deep in anxiety, it’s not funny… it’s terrifying.

But that’s not what today’s post is all about. Today, let’s keep it on the bright side.

Anxiety is funny because it means I can handle huge life changes, but I can’t keep my shit together if you grabbed the wrong coffee at Starbucks.

Anxiety is funny because it keeps me from sleeping, especially when sleeping is the one thing that can free me from being anxious… sneaky.

Anxiety is funny because if I start screaming in public or having a panic attack, people just think I am some kind of raging lunatic. I’m not a lunatic! The whole world is crashing down around me.

Anxiety is funny because it turns a beautiful, charming, outgoing woman such as myself into a homely recluse who rarely showers. I’m cute under all these sweaters, I swear.

Anxiety is funny because it’s like having a really mean best friend… a frenemy if you will. They are constantly there, they know everything about you, and they’re just awful.

 

I’m pretty sure that the secret to longevity with anxiety is not just learning how to live with it, but also learning how to laugh at it.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Adaptogens for Anxiety

Are you stressed? What a loaded question. Who isn’t these days? Especially for those of us dealing with mental health issues – I mean, isn’t stress kind of just like, par for the course?

I have anxiety – even when I’m not stressed, I stress about not stressing.

Like many of you, I do what I can to help myself. I exercise, eat well, and do my best to get a good quality sleep each night. I practice a lot of self care and kindness towards myself. And recently, I’ve added something new to my routine: adaptogens.

What are adaptogens?

‘Adaptogen’ is a term used to describe plants that help the body adapt to stress. You may have heard of a few such as ashwaganda, holy basil, rhodiola, ginseng, and maca.

The purpose of these is not particularly to address mood, or to manipulate emotions, but rather to help the body function optimally during stress. As someone who often gets the physical response of stress (thanks anxiety!) without an environmental or emotional cause, adaptogens are quickly becoming one of my most useful tools in my mental health toolbox.

Where can you get adaptogens?

Due to their increase in popularity, adaptogens have become relatively easy to find. They can be found at health food stores, and even some bigger grocery store chains. I currently use Holy Basil, Ashwaganda, and Maca – all of which I found at my local grocer. In powder form, these can easily be added to smoothies and elixirs. Sometimes I make chocolate and add my adaptogens in.

What is unique about the different adaptogens?

Holy basil has a reputation for balancing blood sugar levels and regulating cortisol. It is typically made into a tea. I enjoy it warm, but if you’re up for an alternative check out my recipe for Holy Basil Iced Tea !

Maca has been studied extensively in relation to libido, but it is also known for it’s ability to increase energy and balance hormones – like cortisol. Maca root is easily integrated into an energy ball recipe or morning smoothie.

Ashwagandha has long been highly prized in Ayervedic medicine. It helps to balance hormones, support the adrenals, and also protects the brain. One study in particular is especially intriguing. A group of participants were given dietary counseling, a multi-vitamin, deep breathing relaxation techniques, and a daily dose of ashwagandha. Not only did the participants anxiety decrease significantly, but they also decreased more than their counterparts in the psychotherapy intervention group.

Should you try adaptogens?

I do not recommend trying to treat your mental health symptoms with adaptogens alone. Mental wellness requires a holistic approach, so I encourage you to use all the tools at your disposal. If you do decide to treat your anxiety with adaptogens, check with a medical professional so you can be sure it isn’t contraindicated with any of your medications.

I have felt an increase in energy and a more balanced disposition after adding these to my wellness routine. In my personal experience, it has been rewarding incorporating them. The next adaptogen I want to try is moringa, which enhances digestion and also promotes healthy skin.

Are you guys using adaptogens? What benefits have you noticed?

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