Most people think of anxiety as a panic attack. However, anxiety often manifests in much subtler ways.
Anxiety can be as subtle as feelings of overwhelm, disorganization, procrastination, irritability, frustration and anger, inability to sleep– or a little less subtle and show up as compulsive worry or irrational and paranoid thoughts – or in more extreme cases it can look like obsessive compulsive behavior, ticks, ADD and ADHD — and even more exaggerated as a racing heart, shortness of breath, and tightness in your chest.
However what most people and even your conventionally trained health care providers don’t understand is that much of what we call anxiety…. are actually symptoms of undiagnosed physical imbalances that can be corrected and eliminated thus resolving some of these symptom entirely.
Anxiety isn’t always bad, actually a certain level of anxiety can be helpful. It helps us stay alert and aware during stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. However, for those suffering from an anxiety disorder, this constant state of hyper- awareness and or worry can become debilitating.
If you experience anxiety, you’re not alone. Almost 20% of the United States population — 40 million adults — are affected from anxiety disorders. Although, there are many medications that can help you manage your symptoms, in long run you becoming dependent on something that can never heal your anxiety isn’t a sustainable solution.
Can you imagine what it would feel like to have your anxiety vanish?
Can you imagine what your day would feel like if your anxiety was permanently balanced?
I want you to know it’s possible for you to eliminate your anxiety even if you have been told or believe “This is who I am, I’ve always been anxious.”
This is where I wanted to share some of the most powerful shifts you can make to ultimately heal your anxiety from the inside out for good. But first, let me give you a little insight into how anxiety might show up for you and what the consequences of heightened, chronic states of “stress” have on your body and brain.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety:
Physical Symptoms –
- Tense neck and shoulders
- Muscle or back tension
- Racing heart rate
- Sweaty palms
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling like you can’t breath or your chest is tight
- Sleep problems
- Feeling wired
- Stiffness in the body
- Poor digestion
Physical symptoms are signs that the nervous system, which is directly influenced by what’s going on in our mind, is under stress, and you’ve fallen out of a state of peace. In general, if you are suffering from any of these physical symptoms or any chronic disease, you could say you have anxiety.
Behaviors Symptoms –
- Easily distracted and disorganized
- Cannot start or complete tasks
- Compulsive behavior – repeated hand-washing, compulsively twisting your hair, repeatedly tapping your foot on the ground when seated, i.e., nervous ticks
- Obsessive, intrusive thoughts – constantly worrying about staying clean, or about your body size, what to wear, what will happen in the future or has happened in the past.
- Procrastination or avoidance because of overwhelm
- Compulsively seeking distractions – electronics, video games, social media, swiping on our phone.
- Compulsively seeking too soothe oneself with substances – marijuana, alcohol, smoking
When anxiety becomes chronic
Anxiety is both a symptom of stress and a form of stress which activates your body’s stress response resulting in the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are designed to give you a quick boost of energy, they put you in that fight-or-flight mode.
When this state becomes chronic your cortisol levels remain elevated and over time, chronically high cortisol levels, create hormonal imbalances, wear down your gut, decrease your immunity, increases your blood pressure and belly fat, drive sugar cravings, raise insulin levels –and shunt blood flow into the fear centers of the brain. Decreased blood flow to essential portions of the brain.We lose our executive function, short term memory formation and rational thought processing.
Five Anxiety Hacks to heal your anxiety from the inside out:
1) Check your Thyroid
This one is a big one, especially if you’ve suffered predominantly from physical symptoms of anxiety. I have repeatedly found working with a large number of mental health clients that panic attacks are very often driven by imbalanced thyroid hormones.
I know, you’re thinking to yourself. I’ve had my thyroid checked and I’ve been told “I’m fine.”
The truth is, comprehensive thyroid testing is rarely completed and many MD’s don’t have the expertise to interpret what each of the top 9 thyroid markers indicate.
Most of you have had, at the very least, your TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone) tested and if it is below 1, this can indicate you have subclinical hyperthyroidism. A reading like this can lead to physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, tightness in your chest, shortness of breath, and insomnia, that gets labeled as a “panic attack” or “anxiety” when in fact you are experiencing hyperthyroid symptoms.
TSH levels can wax and wane from high to low, especially in the earlier stages of Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune of thyroid). The majority of hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s.
If you are experiencing anxiety or other thyroid related symptoms even though your TSH levels are “normal”, you will want to measure it again and run a more comprehensive set of tests on your thyroid. Check out my blog on this topic here.
If your doctor will not order this for you, you can order “Thyroid Panel Complete + Thyroid Antibodies“ from this link and contact us so we can help you interpret the results. Some doctors are willing to order the tests but they may not know how to interpret the results
2) Skip the Caffeine and other Stimulants
The side-effects of coffee: nervousness, restlessness, trouble sleeping, fast heart rate, digestive problems, are very similar to the symptoms of anxiety. Why would you add gasoline to an already out of control fire? If you’re already suffering from anxiety, coffee or caffeine can often make your symptoms worse by increasing levels of circulating stress hormones.
In practice I see my clients who suffer from anxiety-like symptoms improve cognitively and energetically almost immediately when they give up caffeine. They think clearer and don’t suffer from that dip in energy in the late afternoon hours and their anxiety improves.
Use natural energy alternatives such as:
- MUD\WTR® – a coffee alternative made with organic ingredients celebrated by cultures young and old for their health and performance benefits. With a fraction of the caffeine found in coffee, you get focus, energy and immunity without the jitters.
- Arbonne Fizz Sticks – Fizz sticks deliver the natural replacement for the morning coffee you need to help you make it through the day.
- Jing Soda tinctures – Jing Soda® is made with all organic fruit and plant concentrates and infused with immune-supporting super herbs that nurture and replenish your life energy.
3) Don’t let your blood sugar crash
Whenever I’m working with someone who is dealing with mood issues, my first priority is to check their blood sugar. Spikes in blood sugar, either too high or too low, can cause dramatic alterations in mood. This used to happen to me — I’d get hangry, really grumpy and had a difficult time concentrating, if I skipped a meal. I had no idea it was because of low blood sugar.
Now that my blood sugar is balanced, I can go long periods between meals and I remain stable energetically and emotionally, whew!
Here are some signs that you’re blood sugar may be imbalanced and driving your anxiety and even ADHD symptoms.
Blood Sugar Deregulation
- You experience a dip in energy or want to take a nap especially after high carb meals.
- You need something sweet after-following meals
- You become “Hangry” if you go to long without a snack or meal.
- You need to eat frequently
- You feel confused, irritable, spacey, angry, shaky, or have difficulty concentrating especially with too much time between meals.
- Poor sleep especially waking up between 2-4am
If you experience any/all of these symptoms your mental health may get a huge boost simply by improving your blood sugar regulation. Check out my blog on simple tips and tricks to help.
4) Check your Digestive Health and Microbiome.
Research is showing us that what we would normally think of as brain-related disorders — anxiety, depression, memory and focus – have much more to do with what’s going on in our gut than in the brain. Or rather, what is going on in the gut is what is influencing the brain.
The gut microbiome influences our health in many ways. I’d be hard pressed to find a chronic health condition that doesn’t involve the gut. This is why I always work on the gut even if someone isn’t complaining of digestive symptoms.
Here’s just a few ways the gut might interfere with your brain and body.
- We just talked about thyroid- did you know that 20% of your Thyroid hormone gets covered by your gut microbiome? Your sluggish or overactive thyroid may actually be caused by unhealthy digestion.
- 90% of serotonin ( your happy, calming neurotransmitter) is manufactured in your gut. If you digestion isn’t optimized you may be struggling with mental health challenges and just need to improve your digestion.
- 90% of melatonin, your natural sleep aid, is also produced in your digestive tract not your brain. Obviously, there’s a strong connection between increased anxiety and poor sleep.
- Did you know that if you have elevated levels of clostridia it blocks your body’s ability to convert dopamine into norepinephrine? This is a big one that i see often. Here’s a fascinating article about high levels of Clostridia bacteria and yeast and how it can interfere and cause serious neuropsychiatric symptoms.
- Did you know that there’s a link between constipation and elevated estrogen in the body as well as an increased risk of breast cancer? I’ll will discuss the impact estrogen and progesterone balance have on anxiety in another blog.
When your gut health and microbiome are not optimized so many mechanisms in the body can become compromised resulting in mood and cognitive issues.
A healthy microbiome doesn’t start in your colon. It starts with a balanced stomach and small intestine that can digest and absorb the amazing foods you are feeding yourself.
Make sure you have adequate stomach acid. If you feel like red meat sits in your stomach like a rock, if burp and belch all the time, if struggle with acid reflux, are on a antacid, or struggle with chronic constipation- there a very good chance you have low stomach acid.
If you suspect you have digestive system issues you can work with a Functional or Integrative health provider to do some functional lab tests such as the GI Map to help identify what might be contributing to your symptoms.
5) Check for Nutrient Deficiencies
Poor digestive health means poor absorption. So even if you are eating a “healthy diet” you might not be digesting your food well enough to extract the nutrient from the food and if your gut lining is compromised you may not be absorbing the nutrient from the food.
Furthermore, our industrial farming practices include genetically modifying our food and using herbicides and pesticides, causing our soil to become depleted of essential minerals needed for important biological functions. “Essential” means our body doesn’t make them and so we need to get them from our environment.
Modern man is overfed but undernourished.
Without these important nutrients, bodily proteins, which are responsible for all of the functions in our body, cannot do their job, hence we don’t feel well.
Dietary intake of Mg has been shown to be insufficient in sixty-eight percent of Americans  .
Magnesium (Mg) is an essential mineral required by over 300 biochemical reactions required to maintain homeostasis . The biological functions of Mg are broad and include the production of nucleic acids, energy production, insulin release, muscle contraction and nervous system regulation.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency symptoms:
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- weakness and fatigue
- pins and needles
- muscle spasms and/or shakiness
- anxiety or hyper-excitability
Our stress pathways require magnesium. So the idea is that if we are chronically stressed and these pathways are active we are burning through a lot of Mg. But if two-thirds of us are also deficient in Mg to begin with — well– you can see why we feel anxious!
To illustrate this point, one research study measured urinary excretion of Mg in college students before and after college exams. They found that the excretion of magnesium via urine was higher after the stress of the test.
There are a number of ways in which you can replete your body’s magnesium.
- Consume foods high in Magnesium – Pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, cashews..
- Although the evidence isn’t that strong, Epson Salt Baths are a great way to get some magnesium each night and induce relaxation. Look for a product that is 100% magnesium sulfate
- Magnesium supplements. There are a number of different forms of magnesium. Magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, magnesium L-threonate, and magnesium glycinate. While magnesium oxide has the highest amount of elemental magnesium it is not that well absorbed. Magnesium L-threonate is the only form that has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Research demonstrates that elevating brain magnesium through supplementation with magnesium L-threonate may be useful in supporting cognitive abilities and decreasing common age-related memory decline.*
Magnesium -Magnesium threonate helps to relax muscles especially if you feel tense during the day and/or before bed. 300-400mg is a good amount to start with. May cause loose stools.
If you have gut issues, I suggest using a gel or lotion for better absorption.
Looking for insight as to what might be driving your anxiety? Book an Initial Consultation with me here.