Anyone who has dealt with anxiety either first hand or through a loved one knows what a struggle it can be! When I listen to people talk about anxiety, I realize that there is a lot of misconceptions about the causes and what can be done to help relieve it. Often people see this as purely an “emotional” or “mental” issue. Of course it can be triggered by these things, however, it is also often caused by health imbalances in the body. Dealing with anxiety shouldn't be so hard!
Regardless, if you are experiencing anxiety, you need to find the reasons for it. Then you can take the steps necessary to treat the causes and correct any imbalances. Unfortunately, these remedies won’t work for everyone, but they will definitely help most who are struggling.
I myself have struggled with anxiety off and on throughout my life, and when I applied a few of these to myself, they worked wonders on decreasing the severity.
It’s also important to address the fact that anxiety is a normal part of human life. It is defined as
“a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”
This is something most people do (and should) experience at certain points in their life.
It becomes a problem when this feeling becomes overwhelming when a situation doesn’t justify it or it leads to panic attacks. For example, I realized I had a problem when I was feeling this way every day, without reason. I would find myself worrying constantly about things that made no sense. (I kept thinking my husband (then boyfriend) was going to suddenly die of cancer, which he had absolutely no symptoms or diagnosis of.) Granted I was a cancer nurse, so I’m sure that was influencing me as well. But I had no just cause for this constant anxiety I was feeling. It started overtaking most of my daily thoughts and was preventing me from enjoying things I normally would have.
The only way I could describe the feeling was that it felt like I was suffocating, even though I knew I was breathing fine.
Causes of anxiety
Most of the time anxiety is attributed to excessive stress. This stress can be caused by external factors such as a traumatic event, excessive stress about work, school, finances or relationships. Physical factors can also be a factor, such as nutritional deficits, excessive physical stress (overuse or trauma to the body) or a problem with brain chemistry. It can also be caused by drugs or genetics.
It can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of a person’s anxiety and fixing it certainly isn’t easy. One thing I do know, if you are experiencing general anxiety, your body is telling you something is out of whack. So how do you fix it?
Dealing with Anxiety: Avoiding Triggers that Cause Anxiety
The first step to decreasing anxiety is cutting out possible triggers. This is may seem like an obvious one, but it deserves mention. Try to avoid the things that stress you out. If there are things causing excessive stress in your life, it may be time to re-evaluate if they are worth keeping around. If it's a job you hate, it may be time to seek employment elsewhere. A toxic relationship could also be the culprit. If so, consider why you keep this person in your life, write a list of the positives and negatives. Take a hard look at your list and see if there's a way to mend the relationship or if it may be time to cut it out.
A very common (and unfortunate) trigger is caffeine. One study shows that eliminating caffeine intake alone can halt some people’s anxiety. In this study, six people quit drinking coffee and noticed a substantial decrease in their anxiety levels.
I once had a coworker tell me her first panic attack was in nursing school. She also had a habit of drinking a coke with every meal. Her doctor suggested she give up her caffeine habit. She gave it up, and her panic attacks stopped. When she tried to drink coffee after a few years her symptoms started again and she knew she had to cut it out completely.
Does my anxiety cause me to drink? Or does the drinking cause my anxiety?
Tricky questions. A lot of people will reach for a drink at the end of the day to “take the edge off” of a particularly stressful day. However, the study referenced here shows that alcohol can actually change the way your brain works. They have found that alcohol seems to damage a part of the brain that helps a person to cope with stressful situations. This means that if you have a drinking habit, now is a good time to quit and deal with your anxiety head-on.
This research is based on long-term alcohol use. So I’m sure an occasional drink would be fine, but maybe wait until your anxiety is under control.
Watch out for food sensitivities
Many people are sensitive to certain foods. Most don't even realize it. To find out food sensitivities you may want to consider an elimination diet. It sounds a bit extreme but it’s extremely valuable for anyone trying to figure out sensitivities and rid them out of their diet. Many food sensitives can be related to a damaged gut.
Common food sensitivities include dairy, gluten, peanuts, soy and nightshades. These foods can be a major cause of anxiety symptoms for people. Food dyes and chemical additives in foods can also directly affect the brain. There are many studies that suggest these can cause anxiety, ADD, hyperactivity and other psychological issues. A good resource on this book on Gut And Psychology Syndrome. I have heard many people have found this helpful.
I have read the book myself and it is loaded with good nutritional information. However, I decided it wasn’t a good fit for my family because the diet uses very high amounts of animal products. This is just something that no one in my family can get on board with.
Check out the next part: Dealing with anxiety: Natural remedies for anxiety!
Part1: Dealing with Anxiety: Avoiding Triggers (You are here)
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