Anxiety or feeling anxious is a term that is common place today. Often you will hear people make comments such as, 'my anxiety has been so bad this week' or, 'that was really bad for my anxiety.' In fact anxiety is becoming more and more of an epidemic in the modern day world. So why is that? Why are more and more of us struggling with this problem?
Well firstly, lets think about what anxiety really is. Anxiety is actually a natural biological experience. It is part of our fight or flight response that keep us away from danger and protects us. The problem actually occurs, when we perceive too many things as a threat and the fight or flight response is therefore triggered too often. This creates a heightened state of emotion that we call anxiety.
There are many reasons we perceive too many threats in our every day life but mostly they stem from our thoughts which are a result of our belief system, our background, upbringing, our life experiences as well as our lifestyle. Each individual will have a unique relationship with anxiety and understanding your experience with anxiety is very important when you're looking to manage it.
Here are 3 things that typically make anxiety worse and may explain why more and more of us are becoming anxious...
The way we live our lives has changed dramatically, even in the last decade. Our pace of life is much faster, we are even further removed from the source and origin of our food and we live under more stress. This stressful and unhealthy way of life that is typical for most is at the root of a multitude of anxiety related problems. If our lives are hectic and unhealthy, not managed well and stressful, this is what will be reflected in our minds. Busy unattended minds means busy and unattended thoughts which means catastrophic and anxious thinking patterns. So maybe you find you always jump to the worse case scenario or worry about anything and everything that could go wrong. This is often referred to as GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) If this is you, think about your lifestyle. How much are you looking after yourself? Your body and your mind? How often do you relax? How much attention do you pay to diet, exercise, work life balance? More order in your life means more order in your mind, give it a try!
Although this is a part of lifestyle, it's worth mentioning on it's own as it plays such a huge part in high levels of anxiety. In fact I have a whole blog post on the link between food and anxiety which you can read here: Are you feeding your anxiety?
Essentially, any foods that cause a dramatic peak and drop in your blood sugar levels will encourage the release of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which are both present in panic attacks and the stress response. So if you are struggling to control anxiety, but not being mindful of what you are eating, you could actually be making your anxiety much worse. Because so much of our food is processed and we are so disconnected from any form of nourishment for the body, most of the time we don't really know what we are actually eating. Trying to eat as naturally as possible is a good place to start and a plant based diet is highly recommended for this.
There is no hiding away from the fact our environment is technology based. We live our lives through a screen of some form, of course, you are most likely reading through this on a tablet or a phone! Technology continues to be one of mans greatest advancements, but is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? Has the balance between being plugged in and unplugging been lost? Consider how much our senses are battered on a daily basis due to our constant connection to technology. There is music in our ears on our commute, there is social media scrolling over and over all day long, refreshing, liking, following. There is a constant stream of videos and TV where ever we are. It's almost like an assault on our eyes our ears and our mind as we forget to simply unplug. The desire or need to feel connected to others at all times is anxiety inducing in itself with many people suffering from anxiety whenever they are separated from their phones or tablets. Negative online posts also cause huge amounts of anxiety, particularly in adolescents. This constant stimulation of our brain that we subject ourselves to leads to our mind being over active when it should be calm, thinking when it should be resting. This heightened state of activity with constant and fast thoughts is the perfect environment for anxiety to grow, so if you feel like you brain never stops, maybe you need to first and your mind will follow suit! Unplugging for just half an hour a day and noticing your surroundings or being outside with nature is the perfect way to inviting more balance in to your technology filled world!
See what you can change up about your lifestyle, diet and environment for a better hold on your anxiety! Good luck!
Remember to click here if you would like to learn more about managing your emotions.