"Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You're strong. You've got this. Take it day by day."
~ Karen Salmansohn (notsalmon.com)
Anxiety is increasing, or is it that we are now talking about it more so we have more awareness of how many people are experiencing it?
It has been found that there is a higher prevalence of anxiety in woman than men across all anxiety disorders (1). As a woman, you are probably not surprised by this. We tend to take on too much, worry more than is needed about things that haven't, and probably won't, happen and then we try to put on a strong face rather than asking for help.
Unfortunately, this is because many women feel shame in speaking up about how they are feeling and this continues to exacerbate the feelings they are experiencing, rather than reaching out for help and support (1).
It can come from them having tried to voice it in the past but they were quickly shot-down about. it being 'silly' and not real.
If someone hasn't ever experienced anxiety, they can find it hard to empathise with you.
This goes for any type of 'internal' condition, which are usually mental health related, and which is why it has carried a stigma for so long.
It's time to stop hiding how we feel so we can start to defuse its power, start self-healing and feel safe in asking for help.
Is anxiety the same for everyone?
Anxiety can feel different for each person; where in the body they feel it, how the mind responds, what may trigger it and what length of time it may take for it to subside (if ever).
When you do go to a GP or Health Practitioner they will diagnose you under a group of anxiety disorders or phobias that match your experiences:
generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
social anxiety disorder (SAD)
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
However, what isn't on that list is the significant role of female reproductive hormones and how they influence anxiety (1), our gut health and microbiome diversity, and what your nutrition intake looks like.
In consultation there are many areas that need to be investigated to bring about a treatment protocol that is right for each person, these include and are not limited to:
Hormone health - reproductive, adrenal, digestive
Liver health - intake of alcohol, long-term medications, OCP
Digestive health - gut microbes and diet intake play a huge role
Eating style - a processed diet will increase symptoms, whereas a higher plant based diet will improve symptoms
Sleep health / insomnia
Family history - are you living with someone who (also) experiences anxiety
Your history - how long has it been happening, what is the significant defining moment when it all started to change
Stress - work, life, relationships - and how it is managed
A significant life event
A persons self-worth and confidence in self
Boundary health (or lack there of)
Feeling supported (or not)
Being able to ask for help
Being able to receive help
Reoccurring thoughts around the past or fear of the future
Social and community relationships
Decision making ability
Comfort level is social situations
When anxiety is at its worst you probably feel like you are in a perpetual loop of thoughts, patterns and behaviours that make you feel pretty shitty, separated and alone.
We can increase anxiety symptoms
The thing about keeping those thoughts inside is that the fight or flight response in the body starts to make everything you are feeling become more hyper - your awareness of your anxiety, your never ending thoughts that keep you awake at night, your perfectionism tendencies increase and then...
Your gut symptoms get worse.
You start to avoid certain friends and social situations.
This lead you to shut-down more so you start turning to behaviours that feel safe and yet, it doesn't get better...
There is something that happens to the overwhelm and anxiety when we speak it out loud: it becomes 'power-less'.
Sure, at first the heart races and you panic and worry about what the other person will think, but when it is out, it is out and *exhale* you are safe.
You didn't die and that thing that had been holding you hostage has lost its power, the charge has been defused.
You reclaim your power when you name it, because now you can start to walk through it, accept help and be more open to other solutions.
Let's take a little journey through what anxiety can look like, what might be causing it, and some simple tips you can start to apply at home to take back a little control.
Anxiety appears as:
over-thinking: mind always switched on, in a thought loop, unable to relax or take action
people pleasing: putting others needs first even when we don't want to or feel depleted
overwhelm: that leads to avoidance, increased fear states and worry so the only choice is to pacify (with alcohol/drugs, TV or some other 'switch-off' mode)
not being able to say no and leaving ourselves burnt-out and over-committed
filling our schedule up so that we have very little time for ourselves
issues with sleep: disrupted, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, waking too early
being perfectionist and then holding yourself back from doing anything new for fear of being a 'failure'
avoiding social situations
nervous tendencies, like nail biting, hair twirling / pulling
decision fatigue / inability to make a decision
struggling to handle changes with ease
Do any of these sound familiar? Are you ready to make some changes?
We live in a society that encourages consumption, and because of this onslaught of information, social media and daily life we can find it difficult to get on top of our anxiety levels.
Therefore I am going to invite you to do the opposite for the next week!
Your challenge if you choose to accept it is, instead of being passive (consumption), I am inviting you to take action and be curious about being creative instead.
Action and creativity are the opposite of being passive, i.e consuming.
If we are consuming content all day we are leaving very little time to explore who we are, what we can create and even who we want to be and where we want to go (in our life) next.
The reason that taking action (being creative) can have an impact on your anxiety is because taking action builds up our confidence in ourselves, but even more so, taking daily consistent action proves we are worthy and that we can trust our own word.
But what can I do?
Here are some ideas that might inspire creative action:
Turn off the TV at night and read an inspiring book instead
Draw or do some kind of art
Set yourself a topic to research
Take 24-hours off ALL social media
Set a limit on your social media intake
Only follow accounts that encourage and inspire you
Get creative in the kitchen - instead of rushing a 'fast' dinner take the time to make something nourishing and then eat it at the table without distractions (easy to do if the TV is turned off)
Turn on your favourite music and dance like no one is watching
Write - anything!
Play with your kids
Have a board game night - something interactive
Learn something new
Get creative with something crafty
Take action on that 'thing' you have wanted to do for ages
The list really is endless, but what it really comes down to you is YOU.
What is that burning thing inside you that your anxiety is telling you? What can you take action on that will make you feel proud, give you a sense of purpose and remind you that you are more than your anxiety and you are worthy of MORE!
I love hearing your wins and A-HA moments, so please do come and share these in the comments below or tag me on social media with any of your amazing action-taking-creative-moments here: @carissacrosdale
If you haven't already signed up to my free 5-day anxiety reset, Chaos to Calm, you can get that here
And if you are ready to dive deeper and work with me with an individualised Naturopathic Coaching 3-month package, you can book in to talk to me with a free 15-minute Discovery Call here