ANXIETYS BITCH BLOG
The beast loves to make you feel like you are on the edge of a cliff with rocks breaking away at your feet. You feel like you are on the edge of the world and there is nowhere to go. Whether it be suffering from hot flushes, chronic worrying or struggling to breathe and panic attacks, this is our body’s way of telling us it is stuck in “fight-or-flight” mode! I often refer to the "fight or flight" mode as it is the one constant in my life. There are multiple people who feel anxious on a daily basis, and they simply put this down to having hectic work schedules or busy lives. Perhaps it is or they too, are being chased by the beast.
Apart from external factors, it is possible to reduce anxiety by simply changing the foods that you eat. Eating wholesome foods will aid your body to respond efficiently and help with weight issues. Eating the right foods will help to balance your entire body including your nervous system, which plays a large role in feelings of anxiousness. Certain foods can act as triggers for stress and anxiety, just like eating others can help to calm you down. For many people, they do not realise this end up eating the wrong foods to deal with their anxiety. I will give you the bad news first.
Foods To Avoid
I don't drink coffee but I guzzle bold tea as if my life depends on it. I have trained myself to limit my intake to only two cups a day. I do allow myself an extra cup once in a while. If you NEED your morning coffee and really can't function until you have slurped down ( and are already dreaming of your next one) this may be taking a toll on your mood. I would never tell another human to stop drinking their beloved dark roasted bean in a cup, but if you are drinking if excessively, you should limit yourself. Any kind of caffeinated substance will cause heart palpitations, shaking, and my favourite, your sleep pattern. You add all those side effects into the beasts blender and your anxiety will increase. Many don't experience any of those symptoms straight away but they could still affect your body hours later.Without knowing it, many people also have a caffeine sensitivity, so that cup of coffee could be doing more harm than good. Perhaps try decaffeinated coffee for your second cup.
Manufactured food additives have been used for many years to boost the appearance and flavour of our food, but not many people realise just how bad they are for you. The ones that could trigger anxiety the most are:
Aspartame - Also known as Sweetener (951), aspartame is used to substitute sugar in a number of products, from “sugar-free” soft drinks to gums and other similar type sweeteners. Researchers have found a relationship between regular consumption of aspartame with a number of health conditions as well as anxiety.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) - HFCS is an extremely refined sweetener that can be found in most processed foods, particularly in North America. HFCS is very high in calories and, like aspartame is considered a contributing factor to a number of illnesses. not to mention weight gain.
MSG - A flavour enhancer in soups, dressings, snacks foods and frozen foods, and has amino acid. MSG is an excitotoxin which over excites cells to the point of damage. Regular consumption is known to trigger depression, headaches and fatigue. Many restaurants will advertise on their menu such as a Chinese restaurant, NO MSG. I ate Chinese recently and that was the first thing I noticed on the menu.
Food Dyes - Food dyes are often added to pop, salad dressings, fruit juices and cheese., yes, cheese. Some food dyes, particularly Red #40 & Yellow #5, can agitate a normal nervous system function, which may increase symptoms of anxiety. If you already suffer from anxiety, try to avoid these as much as possible. I know, but cheese.
Salty food diets will increase blood pressure which forces your pumper to work harder. When this happens, your body releases stress hormone adrenaline which clears the way to tension and edginess. Chips! Pretzels! Crackers! For those who eat something salty before bed, instead of calming your body down you could be forcing it to work harder. While you are cooking at home, use spices or herbs to add that extra flavour to your food where you would normally use salt. Avoid purchasing pre-flavoured meats if you can. If you are dining out most dishes already have a large amount of salt added so put down that shaker. I only buy sea salt now if I have the need to salt up my food dish. Not a huge difference in sodium levels but you would use less to flavour food.
As with salt, you should avoid foods that contain refined sugars. I love my sugar. I love it in my tea as much as I love the caffeine. Cutting down is the key.Typically after eating sugar, you will have a burst of energy and then your blood levels will drop. The high then the low. This will not only will leave you feeling sluggish but may also make you feel anxious. When your blood sugar levels are irregular and drop from high to low constantly, the hormones adrenalin and cortisol are released, which can cause anxiety and panic. Headaches are a common side effect for me while this happens. If you are like me and want that sweet taste because you feel you are starving, don't do it! You may not only be messing up your energy levels but it could leave you feeling irritable for the next few hours. Not a good mix if you have already had a long day filled with deadlines at work or screaming children at home.
When I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed, sometimes I really want fast food. Perhaps you are feeling edgy and depressed as you find yourself driving the nearest drive-thru restaurant. Turn that car around to save yourself. Indulging in that big, juicy burger may satisfy you for a few minutes, but the effects it has on your body will continue many hours later. I am not saying that you have to grab a salad every time but try to opt for some lean protein instead.It will not only have a positive effect on you but will also keep you feeling fuller for longer. Being your bodies guard is a full-time job.
My love of wine, vodka, gin and beer is strong.If burgers aren’t really your thing but sitting down to relax after a stressful day with a glass of wine in hand is - your anxiety may not thank you for it! I know when I should have a drink and when I should not but it took years for me to trust my body. If you are not able to do so, only have a small glass, not a small bottle. Alcohol is a depressant and interferes with the production and use of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood. Alcohol also significantly hinders your metabolism.Having that glass of red before bed could potentially alter your blood sugar levels and hydration, which may lead to a restless rather than restful sleep. If you use alcohol as a way to wind down after a long day, try replacing it with yoga or meditation - even taking a hot bath! I fully understand your struggle with this one as I said in a previous blog, I sometimes have a glass of wine to help me sleep too.
Foods To Eat
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
I know it sounds more like something you should avoid, but these are the good fats found in food. Salmon, tuna, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and egg whites are a few examples of foods that are high in O3FA. There have been many studies that have shown that there is a direct link between anxiety and low blood levels of O3FA. Facts support such findings as there are lower rates of anxiety and depression in countries that have high fish consumption. Your brain cell membranes are made partly of O3FA ( DHA). If Omega3 decreases in the body and the brain it will make it harder for serotonin to pass through your cell membranes.
If you are like me and need that warmth of a cup of tea in the morning especially in our Canadian weather, try a herbal tea. There is so many on the market now so you can find one that suits your taste buds. Chamomile tea has been used for centuries to help calm the body and mind. This tea can also help at bedtime for a less restless night. Peppermint tea gives you an overall calming as has a relaxing effect on your body. It is also a natural muscle relaxant so it will help with those tense muscles from a long stressful day. You should avoid it if you are pregnant as it enhances the risk of miscarriage. Green tea is another go to for me as the polyphenol in it helps combat stress and anxiety. Just be careful of how much you drink as most green tea has amounts of caffeine, so opt for the decaffeinated versions. It's adaptogenic in nature so it can keep you alert yet calm.
Brown rice and whole grain bread are examples of healthy complex carbs that are full of magnesium. When your magnesium levels are low, you can experience added anxiety and stress. You need to eat foods that contain good amounts of this mineral such as leafy green vegetables, think kale or swiss chard. These types of food are natures chill pill and can be used in numerous recipes, even in a smoothie. Nuts, beans ( pinto, black, red, soy or kidney), soy milk and sweet potatoes are stock full of the mother natures chill pill. If I am feeling anxious and shaky, I will make carrot, apple, cucumber and kale juice in my juicer. Sometimes, I will make a quick smoothie with strawberries,avacado, kale and soy milk. I do what it takes. Complex carbs contain the amino acid tryptophan which helps your body convert serotonin. Have a turkey sandwich with kale on whole wheat bread for you next lunch instead of that bologna with cheese that has been sitting in the vending machine since 1984. The best part you will stay fuller longer and have more energy.
I am not personally a fan of eating blueberries "raw", I prefer them in a smoothie or better yet, a muffin. Apparently, there is a mass of people who love them which is good as they are considered a superfood. Rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins, all beneficial for relieving stress and anxiety. Citrus fruits are another easy fruit to grab on the go and will benefit you and your mood! I love most fruits and will always use them in baking, my juicer and for smoothies. They are easy to eat on the run so instead of that bag of chips, grab a freaking banana!
As with all things in life, we know what is good for us and what we should avoid or not indulge in yet we do. I have been keeping a record of what I eat and drink each day through an app called Lifesum. It is easy to use as you can even scan your food with your phone. On days that my anxiety is really high, I look back at what I consumed that day. I now know what I need to cut out of my diet or at the very least limit. Simply eating good food alone may not decrease anxiety for everyone but it can certainly help be a part of the solution for some people. So if you are having an overwhelming week and are feeling stressed out, try eliminating some of those naughty foods from your diet. If anything, they will give you more energy and help you to think more clearly.
beThe title may mislead you to think I am running a contest and if so, sorry, you are out of luck. I am not just a single Mama, I am an only parent. Many parents choose this lifestyle by single parent adoption, sperm bank ,etc, and some even seek it out. I however got slammed into this position the day their father died of cancer. I did not apply for this position as clearly the pay sucks and the hours are endless with no vacation time, I mean NO vacation time. It has been the hardest and occasionally, the most rewarding job that I have ever had. I struggled when they were younger as I was scared shitless about any decision I would make for them. Now I struggle letting them make any decision about their life themselves, still scared shitless. So basically, I have been scared shitless for about 15 years.
Trying to not screw up as a parent and having severe anxiety with a side order of agoraphobia has become my 24 hour job that oddly gives you no time off. I worry that I did not parent enough, I worry that I tried to parent too much. I worry that I gave them too much freedom, then I worry that I did not give them enough. As with any parent, single or otherwise, I love my children so much that it is hard to explain. I want them to be happy and have all the experiences that life has to offer. I ache when they are sad or sick, and beam when I know they are happy. The hard part is having no one to bounce decisions off of. I have no other teammates to help me. I have no back up plan. I actually would get jealous of my separated or divorced friends who ex took the kids on weekends. I would be jealous for about ten minutes then I know I would hate sharing them. I read about 100 parenting books while I was pregnant and when they were little. I watched every television show or talk show that had a series of parenting discussions. I bought all the magazines that specialized in parenting so why was I still so doubtful of my "skills". With all the knowledge, do you really have any idea what to expect? Every child is like a snowflake as they are all different. Every child comes with their own unique personality and challenges. I suppose the hardest part was that I had such a battle with the beast of anxiety, that everything would seem so much worse. Even the smallest issue would tear me down to tears and nausea. I know it must have been hard for my kids to not know which Mommy they were getting each day. Happy go lucky Mommy who would say lets go on an adventure today or sad quiet Mommy, who just wanted to stay inside, perhaps watch a movie. I finally snapped out of my fog after almost a year of not really leaving the house except to quickly get the kids to school. I knew that I had to push myself for my kids as they needed more of me. I ended up in the emergency room, went in by an ambulance. I had been sick with a virus and could not keep any food or water down. That was the best thing that could happen oddly as I was forced to talk about my anxiety and to face it. Even though the doctor I was unlucky to get that day, actually made me feel worse, he helped me. How you ask? I came home and called my family doctor who put me back on medication. I was on medication before I had kids but assumed I could handle life without them. I was wrong. I started the medication the day my mother died. I was too ill to go see her from my virus, so I called her and she was so happy that I was taking care of myself. I think she needed to know that I would be taking care of myself. She died a few hours later.
With the help of medication, I was able to be the parent that my kids needed me to be. I know I made so many mistakes, as any parent who is honest, will tell you. I know that I learnt from those mistakes too, as I hope my children did. I went off medication a few times since then but I will now stay on medication for the rest of my life. I am not weak for doing so. I am not healed by doing so. I am just taking control of my situation the best that I can.
Parenting young children is crazy hard but parenting teens, that takes balls. I can say now from experience, that you do survive, barely, but you do survive. My first born was more of a quiet storm who dealt with a bully issue as teen. They were more of a small group of friends type of teen with not too much drama but enough to cause stress. First born also, is very mature in her way of thinking so finding that clique of friends was a challenge. She is also very quiet and has anxiety, two things that are hard to deal with as a teen. I can honestly say, she did not give me very much grief as a parent. I survived her teen years with only a few bumps. It could be that we think a lot a like, even though she would be horrified to acknowledge this. She is truly my best friend and I am so proud of the human being she is grown into. Beautiful and smart and talented. She however does not see all that yet, but one day she will. Now, my second born. For most of his teen life, he as been the regular pain in the ass teenager. You know, the stinky messy room, the talking back and the eye rolls. The last few months however, have been the challenge I always "heard" other parents talk about. Moody, disrespectful on occasion, and lazy. I will point out that he is only lazy or tired when I need him to help me with something. I am sure many parents can relate to that! He got a nose ring, yeah no big deal but so out of character for him. He is just moody. I mean you can't say boo and he gets defensive moody. He has triggered my anxiety more in the last few months then he has since birth. I know I will survive this, can you still call it a "phase", when they are teens? I know it could be far worse as I this is all mild compared to what others go through. I think, like I said before, it is very out of character for him. Perhaps he is just trying to find his own feet as my Dad would say. I do know that he will find one of my" feet" kicking his ass if he doesn't improve his attitude. ( for any authorities reading this, I mean figuratively kicking his ass" so please don't knock on my door unless you are cute).
SO is being an only parent more of a challenge? I can only answer for myself but 50% of me says yes while the other 33% is happy that I make the decisions and the remaining 17% is glad Oprah is no longer on the airwaves. I still may end up on Dr. Phil with my kids complaining of my parenting skills or I may be sued for all the therapy costs that they are charged. I do know that my kids are growing into amazing humans and I am proud of them. I am their biggest fan. I will take any standing ovations too in the future for a job well done just give me a heads up so I am dressed. I know soon enough, I will sit in my home, with no kids living under my roof and sigh. Sigh, with relief for about ten minutes then miss the chaos of my life. I will miss the noise. The laughter. The big grocery bill, ok...no won't miss that. I will miss my babies who already are transforming into adults. I won't be solely alone as my cats will keep me busy as they are little shits. So I do have "back up" replacements to worry about! Let the fur fly!