How to Curb Anxiety

Most people are unaware that anxiety amongst the general population is rising at an alarming pace. The World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that by the year 2050, one-third of the global population will suffer from anxiety or depression.

What is going on here? There is an epidemic on the horizon yet the discussion around “why” anxiety is happening in the first place doesn’t seem to be taking place.

There are many different reasons for why you develop anxiety, however the most important thing to remember is that anxiety is a symptom of a dysfunction in the body. There are many common triggers, things you may be consuming everyday, that may be strongly contributing to pushing your body into a state of anxiety.

1)    Caffeine

Waking up with a morning cup of coffee can be a nice way to start the day, improve cognition, or get the most out of your workout but you can get too much of a good thing. The connection is so strong between caffeine and anxiety that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), used by doctors and health practitioners to make diagnosis, has recently added caffeine as a strong contributor to anxiety and anxiety-type symptoms. If you’re a habitual coffee drinker and experience regular bouts of anxiety, you’ll likely see significant benefit from cutting out the caffeine.  If you only experience occasional periods of anxiety, simply back off the coffee until you feel back to 100%.

2)    Alcohol

Having a drink or two after work during the week, or indulging in late nights of drinking on the weekends is such a strong part of the social fabric for some people that they often don’t make the connection between alcohol consumption and anxiety. (Check out this recent post at MindBodyGreen).

When you consume too much alcohol, or for some people any alcohol at all, it can disrupt your ability to get into deep, regenerative sleep. This means that when you’re burning the candle at both ends during the week, your late nights out on the weekends mean you don’t “build the candle back up”. Over time, this leads to fatigue and anxiety type symptoms. Try eliminating alcohol for 2-4 weeks, you may be surprised how profound the improvement will be in mood and energy levels.

3)    WIFI

Constant connectivity can be very important for work productivity or staying connected with friends via social media. However, if you spend too much time “connected”, especially before bedtime, it can leave your body stuck in the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system stress mode and inhibit your capacity to rest, recovery, and rejuvenate at night. Many clients admit they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, which means you’re limiting your precious rebuilding time during deep sleep. To help activate your parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system before bed, put your laptop and phone away one hour before bed. Try dimming the lights in your room to help calm the body, reading something for pleasure to quiet the mind, and adding some herbal teas (rooibos, chamomile) to relax the nervous system.

Start to explore how your environment and what you eat impact your mood. Try these three tips and you’ll likely experience significant relief from your symptoms. If you think you need more support, contact your local naturopath or functional medical doctor.

Yours in health,

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CSCS