Top 5 things to do in 2020 to deal with Anxiety
Remember when a mere 7.5 months ago we rang in the new year all excited for the next one to begin? Everyone I spoke to said that 2019 was a rough year and 2020 was finally going to be the start of a new era. Goals were set, excitement was pumping, and we were off.
Then 2020 happened and most of us wish for 2019 to come back around. Why? Not that you need to be reminded, but for records sake here is a short list: Coronavirus COVID-19. Riots and Protests. All lives matter, Black Lives Matter. Politics, economy roller coaster, unemployment, and business havoc. Voices everywhere shouting what to do or believe or think.
We are experiencing super high anxious levels unlike ever before. According to the CDC, almost every age category has DOUBLED in feelings or experiencing anxiety versus the same time last year.
You know the term trigger happy? It seems that lately that takes on a different meaning when everyone is getting upset, offended, triggered, or angry about anything and everything.
Is this you? Are you experiencing more anxiety? More anger? More negativity? Is this the life or experience you wanted? Most people I ask this question to say no.
As an empath and a person who genuinely cares for others, I wanted to create a list of the Top Ten things I would recommend to do to deal with anxiety in 2020.
I do not claim to have all the answers, I just know what has helped me, my family, and my clients that I want to pass on to you.
What I ask for from whomever may be reading this, is to read with an open mind and give what I say just the chance of being something helpful. All I ask for is 10 min when you hold back the judgements of what I will say and give it room to maybe help your life. After 10 min you can go back to your ways, just give it a chance is all I ask.
With all of the Top Ten items listed, do not get overwhelmed. Just choose one that resonates the most with you and try it for one day and then add one more thing the next day. One step at a time works amazing. No stress ok?
Also, please note that you experience a lot of negative emotions, it is totally ok and healthy to feel them. For more help with that, go to my blog post on the Power of Negative and Positive emotions.
These are in no particular order, but some have major impact on your life. With that being said, let's rock n roll.
Usually when someone says Nutrition, the picture above is exactly what I think of. Some may love salads, but I personally cannot stand them. So when I speak of nutrition, please know I understand. Let's talk more about what anyone can do. Even if you take one of the nutritional tips below and just add ONE thing that you consume, it will help. Tips like...
Foods rich in magnesium such as leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains may help a person feel calmer.
Dietary zinc found in cashews, beef and egg yolks, may be linked to lower anxiety.
A diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids may help reduce anxiety. Fatty fish such as salmon, nuts and seeds such as walnuts and ground flaxseed, and canola oil and olive oil are good sources.
B vitamins found in avocado, almonds and fortified whole grains are thought to help the release of serotonin and dopamine for a "feel good" effect.
Foods high in antioxidants may help ease the symptoms of anxiety disorders as well. This includes dried beans such as pinto, black and red kidney beans, fruits such as apples, sweet cherries and plums, nuts such as walnuts and pecans, and vegetables such as artichokes, kale, spinach, beets and broccoli.
Spices such as turmeric (containing curcumin) and ginger may also be of benefit.
Rhodiola-In another study in 118 people with stress-related burnout, taking 400 mg of rhodiola extract daily for 12 weeks improved associated symptoms, including anxiety, exhaustion, and irritability (4Trusted Source). Rhodiola is well tolerated and has a strong safety profile
Valerian Root-Read my blog with a full review of the amazing benefits of Valerian root. Get on Amazon or go to your nearest Walgreens or CVC to grab some.
Ashwagandha-A review of five studies examining the effects of ashwagandha on anxiety and stress observed that those who supplemented with ashwagandha extract scored better on tests measuring levels of stress, anxiety, and fatigue (23Trusted Source).
L-theanine- This is an amino acid most commonly found in tea leaves. It has been studied for its ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress without exerting sedative effects. A review of 21 studies involving nearly 68,000 people found that drinking green tea was associated with reduced anxiety and improvements in memory and attention.
B-Complex Vitamins-These vitamins play an important role in metabolism by transforming the food you eat into usable energy. B vitamins are also essential for heart and brain health. Food sources of B vitamins include grains, meats, legumes, eggs, dairy products, and leafy greens. Interestingly, high doses of B vitamins have been suggested to improve symptoms of stress, such as mood and energy levels, by lowering blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine.High levels of homocysteine are associated with stress and an increased risk of several conditions, including heart disease, dementia, and colorectal cancer. In one 12-week study in 60 people with work-related stress, those taking one of two forms of a vitamin B complex supplement experienced less work-related stress symptoms, including depression, anger, and fatigue, compared with those in the placebo group.
Most of these can be found in your local Walgreens, CVC, or Walmart Pharmacy. Most companies have good ingredients, but some are more potent or have higher quality ingredients. Make sure you check your label and consult with your doctor/medical professional.
Now on to our next one....
I am serious, as soon as you get done with your day or reading this post UNPLUG. What I mean is give yourself PERMISSION to not look at social media, the news, watch movies, play video games, text, call, video chat, etc. Disconnect from EVERYTHING electronic for at least 15 minutes. Why? A few reasons such as:
Blue light exposure-Studies have shown that blue light affects your health, vision, and ability to sleep soundly. FYI, blue light comes from screens of any kind.
Humans need balance in life and depth. Too much depth or exposure in any area can make life lopsided, so being plugged in all the time is not healthy. So giving yourself a chance to be in solitude and disconnected is what is needed. For some experiencing anxiety I know that can be scary and you use electronics to distract yourself, so how about doing something else NOT electric by yourself? Read, art, play music, put a puzzle together, do a model train or legos, meditate, do a service project or work in the yard or ANYTHING else besides being plugged in.
FOMO-Fear of missing out. There are several fears that drive anxiety, this is one of them. We fear missing out on something, the latest episode of a show to talk to friends about, the latest news, the latest scandal, the latest.... fill in the blank. Ever find yourself feeling this way? Recognize it and give yourself permission to not worry about what you are missing for at least 30 minutes.
FONBE-Fear of not being enough. This is also called comparing yourself. Did you know our youth are experiencing way higher anxiety as a result of social media? Seeing other people's supposedly ideal life, the influencers and their cars or amazing vacations, all of the cool things that everyone else is doing. Maybe you have felt that too? Unplug and focus on the here and now. Life is more enjoyable when you can be grateful and enjoy what is right in front of you.
These are only a few, I could write a whole post about this, but you get the point. As an FYI, you can read more about grounding and breathing while you unplug on my blog post about the subject. I wanted to extend this @BrandonBurchard challenge to you with unplugging. See if you can do it for one week and see what difference it makes:
I know that some of you reading this are thinking... "Ya sleep would be nice" Sleepless nights cause anxiety and anxiety causes sleepless nights. This means you probably need some help getting some shut eye. Besides the above list of supplements and herbs to assist you, here are a few items to help:
Bedding-This may seem quite obvious, but sometimes our restlessness come from being quite uncomfortable. Get a mattress topper, or a new mattress or better pillow or find something that will work better for you if you are not comfortable. Some people do not like sleeping just because it is not a pleasant experience. Remove those obstacles and make sleeping something you look forward to.
Weighted Blanket-You can read more in depth in a past blog post of mine, however in summary, having weight on you while you sleep using a weighted blanket can help calm down the nervous system. I have several people very close to me who have used it and seen a huge difference.
Valerian Root or Melatonin- Both of these are very helpful to help calm the nerves and assist in helping you get to sleep at a decent time.
No Screen time-Mentioned before, try to NOT look at a screen 1-2 hours before bed to help your mind relax.
Limit Caffeine/Stimulants-Just like how there are supplements and herbs you can take to help you relax, pay attention to the foods or items you have that may be amping you up. Caffeine, tea, coffee, foods that are greasy and give you heart burn. Just stay away from these foods and best to eat your last meal before 8 PM.
Meditation-To help you relax there are thousands of helpful meditations to help your mind be at ease, I created a powerful guided meditation you can download for free.
White noise-If this is new to you, White noise is just a subtle sound that takes away the silence and also acts as a trigger for your mind to tell your body it is time to sleep. Something like a fan, humidifier, recorded rain sounds, gentle 8 hour music videos on youtube. Having a sound like this will help you stay asleep and mask any other sounds during the night. The point is to find something you can use every night and have the ability to take with you when you travel.
Aromas/smells-If any of you have read any of my other posts you know that I am a singer so I use a humidifier every night because where I live is super dry. I also use this for white noise purposes and recently started to use some essential oils for another sense to help me relax. Some people like peppermint, others like bubble gum, there are some scents that help trigger relaxing feelings like Lavender, however the point is to use another sense of the body to build a trigger and help you and your body relax nightly.
Exercise-Anxiety is pent up energy that sometimes has no where to go and needs an outlet. Walking, running, lifting weights, playing sports, or any physical exercise helps the body get energy out and sleep at nights... more on exercise in the next section.
That should give you a good list to help you relax and sleep.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine People who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise may see a difference in sleep quality that same night. “It’s generally not going to take months or years to see a benefit,” says Gamaldo. “And patients don’t need to feel like they have to train for the Boston Marathon to become a better sleeper.” Moreover, while many studies focus on aerobic activity and sleep, Gamaldo says picking an exercise you like will help you stick with it. For example, power lifting or an active yoga class can elevate your heart rate, helping to create the biological processes in the brain and body that contribute to better quality sleep, she says. “We really want to encourage people to exercise, just be mindful of timing and whether it seems to affect your ability to get optimal sleep quality,” she says.
Like I mentioned above, anxiety is energy pent up inside, exercise is a way to get the energy out. It is always good to find exercise that you enjoy and look forward to. In my opinion, if you do not look forward on some level to exercising, you are doing it wrong.
Find something that you like to do. My example is racquetball. Running on a treadmill gets me bored fast and i find myself not pushing as much as I could. However, when I play racquetball, its game on and I have a blast while running my patootie off.
Now that we are under quarantine, I am not able to play as much so I find other activities that do not require a gym, like flag football, or solo sports like the batting cage, roller skating/blading, longboarding, building a snowman, anything!
Point is to find something you enjoy.
If you have not worked out or exercised in a while, do not stress, all you have to do is find something you can do for at least 10 minutes to build your confidence and gain momentum in your favor and slowly work up to 30 minutes. Go for a walk around the neighborhood, walk up and down your stairs or someone's stairs, do burpees, jumping jacks, pushups, yoga or look up on Youtube easy exercises that only take 10 minutes you can do at home.
The acronym RAIN, first coined about 20 years ago by Michele McDonald, is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness. It has four steps:
Recognize what is going on
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is
Investigate with kindness
Recognizing means consciously acknowledging, in any given moment, the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are affecting us. Like awakening from a dream, the first step out of the trance of unworthiness is simply to recognize that we are stuck, subject to painfully constricting beliefs, emotions, and physical sensations. Common signs of the trance include a critical inner voice, feelings of shame or fear, the squeeze of anxiety or the weight of depression in the body.
What you resist persists. Allowing means letting the thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations we have recognized simply be there. Typically when we have an unpleasant experience, we react in one of three ways: by piling on the judgment; by numbing ourselves to our feelings; or by focusing our attention elsewhere. For example, we might have the sinking, shameful feeling of having been too harsh in correcting our child. But rather than allowing that feeling, we might blame our partner for not doing his or her part, worry about something completely different, or decide it’s time for a nap. We’re resisting the rawness and unpleasantness of the feeling by withdrawing from the present moment.
INVESTIGATE WITH KINDNESS
Investigating means calling on our natural curiosity—the desire to know truth—and directing a more focused attention to our present experience. Simply pausing to ask, what is happening inside me?, can initiate recognition, but investigation adds a more active and pointed kind of inquiry. You might ask yourself: What most wants attention? How am I experiencing this in my body? Or What am I believing? What does this feeling want from me? You might notice hollowness or shakiness, then discover a sense of unworthiness and shame masked by those feelings. Unless you bring them into awareness, your unconscious beliefs and emotions will control your experience and perpetuate your identification with a limited, deficient self.
NURTURE/NATURAL LOVING AWARENESS
This last step it is important to ask the question, "What does this feeling need?" There is a part of yourself bringing up anxiety, it is asking to be heard, so listen...
To Nurture means to love, listen, and give what someone is needing. Nurturing emotional relationships are the most crucial primary foundation for both intellectual and social growth. At the most basic level, relationships foster warmth, intimacy, and pleasure; furnish security, physical safety, and protection from illness and injury; and supply basic needs for nutrition and housing.
Question is... what nurturing does that part of you need? Safety? Understanding? Security? Care? Validation? Listen and give to yourself what you need.
There you have it. Remember, to just pick ONE of these areas and try ONE thing ONE day at a time. A lot of people get overwhelmed because they try to take on too much at a time. Be Patient with yourself and see which of these has the biggest effect. Let me know how it goes, share this with a friend, and remember, YOU GOT THIS!