In Canada, statistics show that 1 in 10 people 18 or older report living with a mood or anxiety disorder. For many people, it can be quite debilitating and affect daily life.
Anxiety isn’t necessarily present all the time, it can be situational, triggered by certain situations or events. It’s also unique to the person experiencing the symptoms and can present as heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, mind racing, clammy palms, panic attacks, nervous stomach or butterflies, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, irritability, and so many more symptoms.
I may be wrong, but I think it’s impossible to go through life without feeling anxiety as it can simply be feeling nervous before a big event. This situational anxiety is something we can recover from quickly and is a normal part of being human. Anxiety becomes debilitating when it affects our day-to-day life, with symptoms showing up out of nowhere.
Working through anxiety does take courage and commitment. Facing anxiety provoking situations is not easy. As a person with anxiety, I try to push myself to face these situations. When I get up face to face with the situation, I always wonder it seemed like such a great idea at the time, think of not showing up, and then talk myself into just doing it anyways. It’s not easy, but so far, I’ve always come out alive! There are a few things I find very helpful in managing anxiety, and even taking it away completely.
Here are another few things I find helpful:
Diet: Avoiding anxiety causing foods such as sugar, processed foods, and refined flour. Having a balanced meal that keeps blood sugar balanced is key. A blood sugar crash can bring on an anxiety attack.
Gut flora balance: The gut-brain connection is very real with anxiety. Certain strains of probiotics (L. rhamnosus being one of these), removing foods that cause inflammation and disrupt gut flora, having adequate fiber.
Neurotransmitter support: We must consider any neurotransmitters that are out of balance. With anxiety, it’s usually Serotonin and/or Gaba, so these need to be supported. Using herbs or amino acids can be very helpful.
Magnesium: Magnesium deficiency is rampant and aggravates anxiety. Magnesium is essential for hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body, as well as neurotransmitter formation. Magnesium bisglycinate, which is magnesium combined with glycine, is especially helpful as glycine is a calming amino acid. I usually recommend this be taken at bedtime.
B vitamins: Especially vitamins B6 and B12. These support neurotransmitter formation and are an essential piece to managing anxiety.
Botanical medicine: Lavender, St John’s Wort, Kava, Lemon balm, Oat grass, Motherwort and Passionflower are all wonderful plants to calm anxiety. Taking regularly, they can be quite helpful in keeping anxiety away. They can be taking in capsule, tincture or tea form.
Lifestyle: Exercise, meditation, yoga, a gratitude and adequate sleep have all been shown to be key parts of treating anxiety and living a life free from anxiety.
When treating anxiety, it’s important to remember that a multifaceted approach is needed. Supplements don’t replace a healthy diet, exercise a balanced lifestyle and cognitive therapy. They also won’t correct any difficult situation that is anxiety provoking. However, supplements, when used correctly, do provide the relief needed in order to make the dietary changes and to help any therapy progress more effectively.
If I can make one suggestion, is to start with one thing, whether that is a dietary change, exercise or a supplement. Commit to that one thing and see how far you get. Then gradually add other components until you are living life on your terms, and not on the terms of your anxiety.