Anxiety and what to do about it.
Hello there lovely human! If you’re reading this, you’re likely looking for some relief from anxious thoughts. Anxiety is a common human emotion. Whatever you’re feeling now, or have been feeling lately, or even feel from time to time is an emotion shared by the rest of the human populace. While it’s not something we want to continue to experience, I say this to remind you that 1) you’re not alone and 2) to get out of your head that there is ‘something wrong with you’.
But, I will say our emotions are always there to teach us something. To tell us something. We experience anxiety for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it’s right before public speaking (ack! I experience that too.). Or maybe it’s when you are going to a party and you don’t know what to expect. Or maybe it’s anxiety about work. Or your health. Or maybe it’s even more frequent and pervasive than this. Maybe it’s so often you don’t even know the when or why around it. You just know it’s there.
A big part of my role as a naturopathic physician, is helping my patients to ‘relearn’ what it’s like to be in their body. We get so distracted with things outside ourselves that put us in constant motion. Checking our phone (yes, I’m guilty of this as well.) all the time. Email. Phone calls. Tasks lists. Trying to complete all the tasks and once. Plans after plans. Movies, TV shows, media, social media. It’s everywhere. Everything is pulling us outside our minds. Pulling us outside of our bodies. When we are outside of our bodies we are not in tune with ourselves and our thoughts.
We’ve forgotten how we really feel resting in our own mind. It can actually be a really pleasant place, I promise.
So, circling back, our emotions are there to teach us something. And peeling that back a bit further, in regard to anxiety, first I always consider is the anxiety purely emotional? Likely not. But this can definitely be the case. However, our emotions are consequence of our thoughts, but our thoughts are influenced by (if not a direct result of) our neurotransmitters and hormones. Which are influenced by what we eat, how we exercise, where we live, if we ever go out in the sun…..
Have I lost you? I’m sorry. I got a bit biologically metaphysical there.
What I’m trying to get at is that anxiety is influenced by all of those things. Are they all in alignment or are they part of why you’re not functioning optimally?
Furthermore, anxiety can be due to thyroid issues, hormonal imbalance, poor gut health (yes this is where we produce a large amount of neurotransmitters! Isn’t that cool?), a poor functioning HPA axis, even anemia, as well as, a variety of other health conditions.
Anxiety is the messenger that there is an imbalance and your body is not functioning optimally. All of these issues are easily assessed through a thorough patient history and comprehensive labwork.
Okay, so anxiety is a normal human emotion. It could be due to or worsened by underlying health issues. What else? What to do about it? Here's an action plan to get started-
Decide you want to do something about it. :) This seems simple enough, but really you have to want it to change because if this journey means big dietary changes, digging into your emotions & difficult memories, taking up an exercise routine, etc then it will be work. Legit work. Before anything else you have to want that happy mind, even if it feels lightyears away right now.
Find a doctor to work with you! I typically recommend licensed naturopathic physicians or functional medical doctors as they are more holistic in their approach (what makes you *you* is so many things! And all of that should be factored into your healthcare plan.). But, if you haven’t even had basic bloodwork in years, even re-establishing with your local primary care doctor and starting there is a place to start. Of course, I’d be thrilled to help you wherever you are. :) Just fill out the inquiry form and I’ll reach out.
Lower the threshold of anxiety. This can be done through a variety of ways. I typically recommend certain herbs and nutraceuticals that help improve adrenal function, normalize cortisol output, and have inhibitory neurotransmitter action on the central nervous system. I’ll make another post on my top 5 herbs & nutraceuticals for anxiety (Passion flower, Kava Kava, Theanine, Glycine, and Inositol). The purpose of these is to lower the threshold in which you get anxious, overwhelmed, etc. They do not take away the experience that triggers the anxiety (you still have to dig into that), but they allow you space to work on it and improve your mental and emotional health. There is also a time and place for medication when needed-- medicine should be integrative!
Challenge your pre-established self-limiting beliefs. This is huge. You have to do it. You have to understand the why. Sorry, it’s not fun. But nothing in life that is truly worth doing is easy. We’re not here for easy, we’re here for amazing, epic, fantastic, magical, [insert your dream life adjective here]. So, pick a book that will help, or find a great therapist that will help you get started (you can look for one on psychologytoday.com). All you have to do is start. You can also look into therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), lots of great research on this one. Literally re-framing your mindset around issues. Here is a great book.
One day at a time. One moment at a time. You can heal this mindset and shift your focus to a new one. It takes work! It took many years to get to where you are, thus, it takes sincere and concerted effort to change. But change is possible. We, as human beings, are made to handle and grow from change. You have that power within in you!
-Dr. Williams, ND
Please note that this article is for informational purposes only. Discuss any changes to your healthcare plan with your licensed physician.