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!

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.

Can Testosterone Be Used to Treat Depression?

When my partner casually mentioned to me the other night that he’d heard of instances where testosterone has been used, successfully, to treat depression, my ears perked up.

Depression is a pretty sneaky demon. Did you know: scientists haven’t actually yet nailed down why people get depressed.

I’ve always been one to believe that depression is multi-causational. I’m not of the opinion that any one thing causes depression. I’ve come to think of it like this: depression is really just your body’s way of screaming “SOMETHING IS WRONG!”

What if for some people that ‘thing’ happens to be low testosterone?

Once you realize how low testosterone can effect a person, you realize how reasonable an idea this idea really is. In fact, one of the main symptoms of of low testosterone is depressed mood, and some other symptoms that could look like, well, depression.

 

Take a look:

Symptoms of (1)

 

What I was really interested in finding after our conversation was some anecdotal evidence. That’s when I came across this article by Jon Nelson documenting his journey with depression, which (spoiler alert) lead him to begin taking testosterone illegally to treat it. And guess what? It’s worked for him.

Anecdotal evidence aside, where is the science at? One study on middle aged men, with similar depression and testosterone levels, showed that between a control and treatment group, the treatment group showed significant improvement in their depressive symptoms.

Another meta-analysis aimed to compile evidence from controlled clinical trials to analyze the effect that introducing testosterone to the body could have on mood. The meta-analysis concluded that exogenous testosterone helped improve symptoms of depression in men, especially so when the depression was mild but long lasting, rather than severe and acute.

Evidence on this subject is really lacking for women – possibly because introducing testosterone into a women’s body can have more potentially life-altering side effects. It could also be because the subject of low testosterone being a potential player in depression is still a new subject. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Now, I’m not advocating by any means that any of you should begin taking testosterone, legally or illegally, to treat your depression. However, this is another really valid avenue to explore with your doctor if you’ve been struggling with depression and have yet to find answers.

You deserve those answers – exhaust all options – and as always, advocate for yourself!

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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!

Copy of Anxiety Workbook

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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When Anxiety is Your Normal

When anxiety is your normal, you don’t really know you have anxiety. It’s just life as you know it.

Growing up, I never thought I had anxiety. I thought I was just ‘uptight’. I described myself as ’emotional’. I never felt like I had control, but I constantly sought it. However, it never crossed my mind that I had anxiety.

Even as my anxiety worsened, and I began to worry about losing people I love and thinking about death a lot, I never reasoned that it was anxiety. I just knew I would never be the same.

Truth be told, I didn’t really know what anxiety was, or what it looked like, for the longest time. It was just my normal, and I lived it. I think a lot of people with anxiety can relate to this. When you don’t know any other reality, it can be hard to tease apart whether or not you have anxiety.

Are you an anxious person, or are you just stressed? It can be difficult to tell the difference, as both are unpleasant and negative emotions.

Is it STRESS or is it ANXIETY-

 

Readers with anxiety, I have a question for you: When you first started experiencing anxiety, did you know what it was?

 

Thanks for sharing!

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August Update (& Exciting News!)

I know it’s not the best habit ever to look at my phone first thing every morning, but for the past couple of weeks when I open my eyes I grab my phone, click on my email, and see if I have any news from the school. You see, I’m still waiting to hear if I graduated from my program at CSNN.

Everybody has been so encouraging and telling me “of course you passed!”. I believe them, but I need confirmation! Only then will I breathe a sigh of relief.

It’s as if I’m stuck in some sort of limbo – on one hand I’m ready to take off running with my business – I have all the enthusiasm, all the passion – all the ambition! I have projects I’m working on and I’m so ready. for. this. On the other hand, I can’t yet move forward, because not only have I gotten that pass or fail news yet, but I can’t practice until after my graduation.

Although the situation isn’t completely ideal, it’s okay. It finally gave me the time I needed to launch my first product. Finally released today on Instagram: the #anxietywarrior tank!

 

This tank top started as an idea about 9 months ago, out of my passion for increasing awareness about mental health issues and to end the stigma around them. Anxiety specifically because well, if you’re new here, I live with it. And like many of you, I was tired of hiding it, for fear of what other’s might think of me. I know now that anxiety has made me what I am, and as cheesy as it sounds it has made me a better person – it’s defined who I am today.

I am not broken, I am not unlovable, I am not a mistake – I am an #anxietywarrior. I’ve been through the shit… and I make it through each and every time.

 

Tony Robbins said it’s not what we have that makes us happy in life, but rather who we become. I think I’m starting to realize that. I never chased money, and possessions have never motivated me. I’m motivated by growth. And every year I wonder, who will I be next year? And right now I feel that 2016 Jen would be really proud.

On the other hand, balance is important too. It can’t be about work and growing all the time (just most of it, right). Matthew said to me on the phone yesterday that we need to spend more time together. I wasn’t sure what he meant at first, but the more we talked, we realized that we need to make more time for fun with one another. You see, we are both the ‘workaholic’ type.We see each other in the morning, we work out together, he stops by during the day to say hello, we go to sleep at the same time every night… but occupying the same space doesn’t count. We’re both so busy, and sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to pass before we realize how much we are missing each other.

So, maybe I’ll plan something fun and special for us to do in the next couple of weeks! Put away our phones, get away from any distractions, and enjoy being together. Matthew, if you’re reading this, the wheels in my head are spinning!

 

In summary, I’m moving forward through this limbo-ish stage with nothing but positivity, and I’m looking forward to more adventures with my partner this next month! If you are curious what those adventures are going to be, please add me on Instagram where I update daily!

You can also catch me on there if you are interested in purchasing a tank, available only through Instagram for a limited time!

 

Stay Strong, Babes!

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It’s YOU vs. (anxiety) YOU

We’ve all heard that saying before – ‘there is no competition – it’s YOU vs. YOU’ . For those of us with anxiety, it couldn’t be more true.

For most, “you vs. you” is a way of saying that you should just ignore the competition. The focus, after all, is on being the best version of yourself – not what someone else can do. For those of us with anxiety, it can take on a whole new meaning.

For those of us with anxiety, it can take on a whole new meaning.

It’s “you vs. you” because there are two sides of you – each one fighting the other. It’s “you vs. you” because one side of you is encouraging and optimistic, and the other side is cruel and nasty. It’s black and white; it’s good versus evil; it’s you vs. anxiety you.

Because the real you isn’t flawed, or worthless, or destined to fail – despite what anxiety you may want you to believe. I know the voice can be loud, but don’t let it win.

Keep fighting Strong Babes!

 

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Acute Fasting: Good for Anxiety?

While everyone else enjoys their down time in the outdoors, or out shopping with friends, or even just lazing about watching tv, I can usually be found on my laptop looking up new and interesting facts about anxiety. Don’t worry – I do know how to have fun. But I also enjoy finding cool new research and ideas related to mental health, and this is one of them.

Today’s post is about an article I came across stating that acute fasting may be beneficial for anxiety. I have to say, on my list of things that help anxiety, I did not suspect I would see fasting on there.

 

The authors of the article I read (cited below) concluded that acute fasting inhibits central caspase-1 (associated with neuroinflammation) activity, thereby reducing anxiety-like behaviors in rats. The acute fast was essentially a 24 hour fast, with only water being provided. Put simply, acute fasting reduces neuroinflammation, and the that decrease in inflammation seems to have an effect on anxiety behaviors.

Of course, as mentioned, this study was done on rats – not humans – so we can’t jump to too many conclusions here.

But it’s an interesting idea. In my search for more, I came across a lot of sites that supported this idea, and even people who have claimed that it’s worked for them. So what’s the connection between fasting, inflammation, and anxiety?

Fasting, when coupled with drinking enough water, may help the body detoxify by freeing up the organs from their usual digestion-related responsibilities, allowing them the time to get rid of any built up toxins. This could account for a reduction in inflammation. The reduced inflammation may also be in part because certain foods eliminated from the consumer’s diet are typically pro-inflammatory (refined, processed, sugar-laden food). In this way, the fact that these foods aren’t introduced to the body contributes to a reduction in inflammation.

Although I’m interested in seeing where the literature goes on this, I’m not sure it’s something  I would recommend. I know for myself, a central theme in my anxiety is this idea of wanting to control things, and of wanting to reach perfection in everything. Although acute fasting could be used to reduce anxiety, it could also be an outlet for it to come out as well.

What I took the most out of this was less the link between fasting and anxiety, and more the fact that reduced neuroinflammation seems to reduce anxiety symptoms.
What do you guys think? Have you or would you ever try this?

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