Anxiety is something that I was always aware that many people struggle with but never actually experienced it myself on a daily basis to the point where it’s debilitating. Sure, I’ve had small amounts of social anxiety my entire life, but never to the point where it stopped me from doing something (or that a glass of wine couldn’t take down.. kidding.. kinda). The past year or so I’ve experienced the worst anxiety that I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’m talking about anxiety attacks that make you feel like your chest is closing in on itself. Anxiety attacks that no matter how hard you try to breath in, you just can’t get enough air. Anxiety attacks so bad that it feels like you just got punched in the stomach. You’re so overwhelmed to know if you need to cry or throw up, so you do nothing but sit there. My anxiety has lasted from 10 seconds,10 minutes or just a lingering feeling all day long. I’ve stayed home from work, I’ve canceled on many plans and stayed in bed all day because I had no idea what was going on. Even though I managed to get enough coping techniques down so that I was able to function, I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t gone for good. Why it would creep up at the most random times or why it was the first thing I experienced when I woke up. Do you know how awful that is, to wake up to the feeling of suffocating? If you’re reading this then I’m going to assume that you can relate. If you’re reading this and you can’t relate, I’m so happy you can’t and keep doing what you’re doing but try to have empathy for those who’ve experienced this.
As you know from reading my blogs and following me on social media I’m a firm believer that our body talks to us by showing us physical symptoms from emotional causes. In simpler terms, our body cannot speak to us with words so it speaks to us by causing a physical feeling, which is caused by a negative emotion, thought or belief pattern. My anxiety started about eight months ago, and here’s what I’ve learned since then.
Listen to your anxiety
I want you to listen to your anxiety like you listen to your best friend because your anxiety isn't bad; it’s just your body trying to tell you something. Notice if a situation, person, or thing triggers your anxiety. This could be a job, a relationship, certain noises etc. I can promise you that there will be a certain emotion you feel right before you have your anxiety attack. What I want you to do is listen. I don’t care if you’re on a bus, walking down the street or making breakfast. I want you to close your eyes, and sit for a couple seconds and ask yourself what emotion are you feeling right now? What are you scared of? This could be a fear of being late and having someone be unhappy with you, a relationship you feel insecure in, or not doing well on a test. Of course the list could go on forever but I’m sure you get the idea.
Change your fear
Once you’ve realized what your actual fear is I want you to change it. Our brains remember experiences that caused us fear or pain, or we’ve been taught to believe certain belief systems. For example, you did badly on a test and your parents got mad at you. So now every time you get a bad mark or worry about getting a bad mark on a test, your brain automatically goes back to that one experience and starts to worry. If you’ve been in a bad relationship in the past and lost trust with someone, your brain remembers that horrible feeling of being lied to, so it’s going to go back to that if anything resembles that experience.
Here’s what I want you to do; with your eyes closed tell yourself that it’s only one test and your life is not going to change because of the one test. If you have to rewrite anything it’s not the end of the world. Your worth or how smart you are is not based on any test in the world. Your life is going to be completely okay. If you’re in a relationship I really want you to sit with yourself and tell yourself that you are okay no matter what. You would be okay with or without that person (I know that’s heavy and hard to think of). You are such an incredible person and do not need another person to complete that.
It doesn’t matter what your fear is I want you to tell yourself the opposite, just as you would give advice to your best friend. Once you do this for a couple minutes every single time you experience anxiety your brain will eventually change its experience or reaction. Your brain will believe what you’re saying, because you've now taught it otherwise and showed it the truth. You are so incredibly powerful and you have the ability to change your beliefs or how you see things.
Once you’ve sat there and changed your fear into something powerful and strong I want you to breath in, feel what you’ve just told yourself and breath out the old belief. I want you to actually feel it, not just tell yourself to do it but to believe it. Do this until you feel calmer. Do this as often as you feel needed. At first this may be a couple times a day but soon it won't be. Be patient and give your body the time it needs to adjust.
Diet & Lifestyle tips
Having a good diet when you’re experiencing anxiety or depression is so important. Your body needs to be fuelled properly in order to produce the right amount of chemicals.
Don’t skip meals, or wait until you’re absolutely starving to eat because at that point your blood sugar is dropping. Once your blood sugar drops you can cause an anxiety attack, and experience symptoms like shakiness, dizziness, irregular heart beat, irritation, mood swings etc.
Have some high fat or high protein snacks on you when you don’t have time to sit and eat a full meal.
Great options: Trail mix, protein shake, avocado, apple and PB etc.
Not great options: High sugar fruits, bagel or any processed food. This will spike your blood sugar and leave you crashing later and starting the same cycle.
2. Get enough protein:
Amino acids are precursors to so many functions in your body especially when it comes to making proper amounts of hormones. We could not survive without protein. Make sure you’re having protein at each meal. This will also sustain your blood sugar so it doesn’t crash. A protein deficiency can have symptoms of the following: Being light headed, hair loss, unstable mood, nails breaking, not sleeping properly or having a hard time keeping or making lean muscle.
Great protein options: Fish, tofu, chia seeds, hemp hearts, clean protein powders, PB.
3.Work with a professional:
If you’re experiencing discomfort in your life, especially mental health, work with a professional. Even though I’m a nutritionist and a Coach I still have my own circle of professionals I work with. It’s so important to work with someone who helps you see things from a different perspective and treat you individually. It’s really hard to change things on your own. Working with a professional will teach you things you don’t know yourself and help you understand everything. I’m a firm believer that everyone needs their own coach. The benefits of having someone by your side through everything is insanely powerful and will make the journey so much faster and easier. Working with someone who doesn’t have a biased opinion is completely different than having friends or family help.
You are so powerful and you are always in charge. You got this, keep going.