Today we are talking about 5 simple ways to manage your anxiety. Anxiety has many symptoms including insomnia, sweating, heart palpitations, difficulty concentrating, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, difficulty remaining calm, and shortness of breath.
The emotional processing area of the brain, the limbic system, includes the hippocampus and amygdala. Both the overall size and the ability of the hippocampus to grow new nerve cells is related to the ability to manage stress and bounce back from stressful situations. The amygdala is a more primal brain structure, giving rise to the fear responses we know so well: increased heart rate, startle response, freezing in social situations, and even ulcers.
Neurotransmitters, the compounds that signal different nervous system actions, are also responsible for our ability to manage anxiety. GABA, serotonin, and dopamine are examples of neurotransmitters that influence mood, anxiety, and the ability to handle stressful situations.
Other contributing factors include genes, like COMT and Monoamine oxidase-A, the food you eat, the people you interact with, learned emotional reactions and stress management, family history, the type of movement you implement into your day, your ability to breath, and your exposure to chemicals and toxins
So what do you have control over if you experience chronic anxiety?
- Take some deep belly breathes. This helps stimulate your vagus nerve, taking you out of “fight or flight”/anxious mode, and putting your nervous system into “rest and digest”/calm mode.
- Try GABA – although the ability for GABA to cross the blood brain barrier is not well known, as little as 100mg daily has been shown to have calming effects in the brain. L-theanine, an extract from green tea, can also support GABA production.
- Do you have an activity you love? Do you have an outdoor activity that you love? Studies show that spending time outdoors moving your body (a walk, a run, a bike ride), help calm the brain and decrease worrying.
- Add a calming ritual to your day. Forming new habits like meditation, spending 10-20 minutes breathing in the mornings and evenings, and journaling allows for the programming of calm in your day.
- Add more whole foods into your diet: dark green leafy vegetables, lean and clean protein sources, healthy fats; and avoid refined sugars, starchy foods, gluten, food dyes, processed foods with chemicals (especially MSG), and caffeine. Eat to support a calm nervous system and balanced blood sugar.
If you experience chronic anxiety and have difficulty managing it, talk to your naturopathic doctor or seek a psychologist who practices Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Hi, I’m Dr. Jenny Schmidt-White. My practice focuses on family health and wellness, healthy aging for men and women and optimizing fertility & hormone function. I work with you, within realistic and sustainable parameters, to find the root cause of dysfunction in your body and address it.