Anxiety is becoming more and more commonly seen in not only adults but also children and teenagers these days. According to the study, Epidemiology of anxiety disorders in the 21st century , 33.7% of adults will experience anxiety in their lifetime. Anxiety can be different for everyone as there are different forms and different scales of anxiety as well. Some people can function with anxiety and some people cannot function without heavy treatment for their anxiety. It appears that the rate of anxiety continues to increase as we continue to evolve and gain unlimited access to knowledge and information at our fingertips. As humans, we were not meant to have such extreme information abundance available to us at all times and it can be sensory overload for a lot of us and our mind and body will start to shut down if it feels "threatened" by so much stimulation.
We stimulate our mind and body more than ever today. We stimulate our fight or flight mode from daily rituals that we might not even be aware of and it can drain our overall energy and happiness pretty quickly if we are not careful to take care of ourselves and replenish our energy and rest bucket. Our fight or flight mode is part of our sympathetic nervous system which is often stimulated when our body feels threatened and will kick start our mind and body into survival mode which in turn can cause the release of unwanted mechanisms that we actually do not need at that time. Too many of us are stuck in the fight or flight mode and can't seem to turn it off. If you feel like you are often in the fight or flight boat, the first thing you want to do is find out what is triggering your anxiety by identifying the stimulants in your life.
The most common stimulants are things that might be a daily part of your routine and don't seem to be harmful to you at all but long term use can wear on the mind and body and cause adrenal fatigue and anxiety and can downward spiral very quickly. For those of you who are unfamiliar, adrenal fatigue is when your adrenal glands (they sit on top of your kidneys) are over worked and are producing an excessive amount of cortisol (the stress hormone that heightens anxiety). If you find that you are incorporating these stimulants in your life and have been experiencing anxiety, it might be time that you start to make a new plan and remove these stimulants from your life temporarily or even for good to help ease your mind and body and bring it back into balance.
Raises cortisol levels and directly stimulates our adrenal glands to turn on the "fight or flight" mode
Wears and tears on our mental health and physical health. Increases cortisol and inflammation and decreases our happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine. Long term stress manifests many different diseases because our body starts to feel unsafe and attacks itself. It can increase growth of bad bacteria in our gut that cause chaos and increase depression and anxiety.
A common mistake. It increases cortisol and drives anxiety and eventually leads to a massive burn out such as adrenal fatigue or bad gut bacterial overgrowth.
4. Over exercising
Increases stimulation of the adrenal glands and cortisol levels. This can also lead to a massive burn out. Our body will go into survival mode and start to shut down in order to conserve energy if it feels threatened by over exercising.
5. Under eating
The same mechanisms will occur with under eating as with over exercising. If we do not eat enough, our body will start to feel threatened and unsafe and begin to shut down.
6. Too much screen time
Too much screen time will directly increase our cortisol levels and prevent us from producing melatonin at night which helps us to relax and fall asleep. Too much screen time can also lead to lack of creativity and decrease our sense of self worth and happiness by spending too much time on social media comparing ourselves to others.
7. Too much processed food and sugar
Processed food and sugar can increase growth of bad bacteria in our gut which sends a signal to our brain saying that our body is not safe and we are in danger. Bad bacteria will thrive on processed food and sugar and drive anxiety through the roof and can interrupt sleep and energy levels.
8. Lack of socialization
We need socialization to help create healthy bonds and relationships and in turn increase our happy hormones like oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. These hormones are triggered when we are in love, with friends and family and spend time in meaningful conversation. If we do not socialize regularly and often we may begin to feel lonely and depressed.
9. Negative thoughts
Negative thoughts cause negative actions and will bring negative things into your life. The more negative you are, the more negativity you will attract. Be aware of how you act around yourself and others! This also includes your self talk.
10. Uncontrolled thoughts
An uncontrolled mind is a dangerous and destructive mind. The mind can create an entirely made up reality that doesn't even exist by being stuck in the future or the past and never really being present. Don't run away with your thoughts and get stuck in your head because it will only remove you from the present moment and you will end up down a rabbit hole of anxiety and depression.
These 10 points are the most common stimulants that can lead to anxiety and adrenal fatigue if we are not careful to recognize them and eliminate them from our life. The good new is, these 10 things are easily able to get under your control and decrease your risk of developing or worsening your anxiety. Now that you can recognize 10 subtle yet dangerous stimulants that can lead to anxiety, the biggest question is, how do you eliminate these things from your life and turn them around into positive things? If you being to incorporate these 10 things into your life now, you will start to feel more at ease, happy and possibly even rid your anxiety for good
1. Switch to tea
The caffiene content of tea can be much lower than that of coffee and might not spike your anxiety as much by taking a smaller beating on the adrenals. If you can cut caffeine all together, that will decrease your feelings of anxiousness even more! Herbal teas are my go-to. I occasionally will have matcha in the morning which is a green tea powder.
How we breathe tells our body if we are safe or in danger. If we are holding our breath, breating fast and shallow than we are telling our body to fight or flight. If we Take several long, deep breaths into the belly each morning or when we feel stressed, this will activate the "Rest and digest" nervous system or our parasympathetic system. To help slow down your breathing, try only breathing through your left nostril for 5 breaths and see how you feel after!
3. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries is key to giving yourself a break and flipping that fight or flight switch to off. When work is over, work is OVER. Avoid bringing work home and continuing to talk about your bad day and don't work around the clock because you are not a robot and you will burn out. Set boundaries for when you come home to unwind and take care of yourself and do something you enjoy.
4. Allow yourself to rest and recover
Rest and recover gives your adrenals and your mind a break from the non-stop go, go, go. Again, we are not a robot and we cannot keep up with working out 7 days a week or doing that really intense HITT workout every day for 2 hours a day. We only really need 30-60 minutes of light to moderate exercise per day and that can include walking! Give yourself a break and rest when your body asks you to rest and actually listen to it. Stop pushing yourself.
5. Eat enough
When we fuel our body with the right amount of calories and nutrients, we are telling our body that it is safe and in a place of abundance and can thrive. We will feel more at ease, have more energy and be happier when we are fully fed and nourished. Our happy hormones like dopamine are released when we eat enough food as well so make time to sit and enjoy your breakfast, lunch dinner and snacks and prevent skipping meals and eating in the car on the go.
6. Use blue blockers
I'm wearing mine right now. Blue blocker are blue light blocking glasses that help to prevent our cortisol from being elevated and allow our body to begin producing melatonin to help us start out sleep cycle. I got my glasses from Defender Shield. Too much blue light will prevent the melatonin production so we need to wear these glasses after the sun goes down if we are staring at a screen late a night or watching TV before bed, which isn't advise to do so very often. Instead, read a book or write down your thoughts from the day.
7. Use herbs and oils
Herbs and oils will be your best friend when combating anxiety. The best herbs to take each day are adaptogenic herbs that help calm the adrenals and lower feelings of anxiousness. Adaptogens include ashwaganda, maca, holy basil, rhodiola rosea, cordyceps and so much more. I use an adaptogenic blend from Quicksilver called their "Nanomojo"
CBD oil is an amazing oil to use when combating anxiety. It is derived from the hemp plants and increases feelings of calm and relaxation by increasing the communication between our neurotransmitters and promoting more serotonin production. I personally use a 50mg dose of CBD per ml from Lazarus Naturals based out of Vermont.
8. Spend time with those who matter
Ditch the toxic people in your life who are bringing you down and spreading negative vibes and only surround yourself with people who you can connect with and bring you happiness. This may mean cutting a few ties with those who you may have grown out of but that is okay. Know that you are always growing and people will come and go in and out of your life but you can be thankful for the lessons learned and memories it has brought you. Spend quality connecting, talking, laughing, playing games and enjoying each others company.
9. Journal and be grateful
Journaling is a very effective strategy for decreasing anxiety and stress because it gives your mind thought and outlet to be released and allows the weight of heavy thoughts to be taken off your shoulders and placed out in the world on to a piece of paper in your journal. Keep a journal and write in it when you feel stuck, sad, lonely, afraid or even when you are happy and want to share it. Be grateful for what you have and list down 5 things every day if you can and reflect on them.
10. Meditate and be present
Meditation is an amazing tool to help us focus on being present and enjoying the present moment. I use the app called Headspace to help guide me through meditation. There very minimal stress and anxiety in the present moment because nothing is actually happening in the present. We only perceive what is yet to happen in the future and get lost in thinking about what has already happened in the past. However, neither the past or the future matter because they don't exist. Being present is the best way to truly be happy and enjoy the precious time that you have been given. Once you become present, you will feel enlightened.
Now that you have been given the tools to help identify your stimulants and what you can use to combat them, the next and final step is to put this into action. It won't happen over night because it takes time to change and form a habit so work on it slowly because you want to make sure that it is a change that can be maintained to have long term success. Start by picking one stimulant that you are ready to change and focus on the steps that you are willing to take in order to change it and set your goals for the end of the month. If you being to make little changes each day, you will be amazed at how good you will feel at the end of the month!
If you are experiencing anxiety or adrenal fatigue, I have been there. I am currently working on incorporating all 10 of these steps into my life to help ease my anxiety and adrenal fatigue and let me tell you... I literally feel like a new person since I started meditating, doing yoga, having a night time wind down routine, spending time with only people who lift me up and giving myself breaks from work. It's a little reminder that regardless of how much people emphasize the "hustle" and "work harder" its really not maintainable or healthy. We are not robots. We need time to unwind, relax, re-energize and fill our happy buckets and sometimes that just means saying no to plans or staying in and reading that book or watching that movie you always wanted to see! Your goal for the next month, or even the next week is to focus more on YOU and your health. Ready? Go.