We will each experience anxiety at some point; feeling anxious is a normal response in stressful or fearful situations and during times of upheaval and change. It can range from the nervous flutter of butterflies in the stomach to a full blown panic attack. Anxiety becomes problematic when it arises for no apparent reason and gets in the way of us going about our everyday life. It can rob us of valuable time, energy and peace of mind.
Anxiety can have many root causes and can itself be a symptom of another chronic health condition, or simply be due to natural life-cycle changes such as puberty, menstruation, or menopause. Anxiety can affect and be influenced by stress, sex and thyroid hormones. It is important to eat a nourishing diet with an emphasis on B vitamins, minerals and a balanced intake of essential fatty acids. Good nutrition can help to improve your mood, energy levels and sleep patterns.
Symptoms are as unique as each individual; they can be interpreted as the body’s way of communicating needs that want to be addressed. Nutrition, iridology, herbal medicine and mindfulness can support us as we work through the process of healing on physical, emotional and mental levels.
Ask for help, don’t ignore the problem.
It is important to recognise when anxiety levels escalate beyond a normal response to life’s challenges or changes. If anxiety feels so intense or overwhelming that it negatively impinges on our daily life or relationships, it is time to seek help. Prolonged severe anxiety can wreak havoc on our physical health. The earlier we get help, the sooner we can feel better. Anxiety can manifest in our physical body and affect our emotions, thoughts and behaviours. Efforts to avoid stressors that trigger anxiety tend to make things worse. Anxiety rarely goes away by itself. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe depending on the cause and level of anxiety.
- Sweating or hot flushes
- A rapid heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and digestive issues
- Muscle tension, headaches and fatigue
- Lowered immunity
Emotional and mental symptoms:
- Incessant worrying or a racing mind
- Insomnia due to an inability to switch off
- Ruminating – constantly replaying past scenarios
- Catastrophising – always imaging the worst-case scenario
- Fear of unwanted attention and self-isolation
- Avoidance of social interactions and unfamiliar situations
- Restlessness and inability to concentrate
- Loss of sense of humour
- Depression, addiction
Learn how to manage your anxiety
One of the most important things you can do is to accept yourself for who you are, and where you are at right now. Acknowledge your feelings and resist the temptation to judge yourself harshly, instead affirm that you are doing your best right now and that is good enough. We can’t berate ourselves better; self-compassion and a willingness to learn how to change our beliefs and behaviours can help in moving beyond the limitations anxiety can place on us.
What works for each of us will be different. You may need to try a few different approaches before you find one that helps you.
Self-help strategies for anxiety:
- Identify and understand your triggers and patterns
- Find someone you can trust to talk to, be it a friend, herbalist or counsellor
- Know that anxiety is a feeling and you can change it.
- Reframe negative thoughts to positive ones.
- Take action and step outside your comfort zone
- Grounding: come into your body in the here and now
- Practise relaxation techniques.
- Avoid caffeine, sugar and simple carbohydrates.
- Nourish your mind and body with nutrient dense foods.
- Top up on B vitamins
- Be patient with your progress.