Anxiety often feels like the end of the world, and we sometimes convince ourselves that it is. When experiencing poor brain health, we often point the finger at the woman in the mirror, blaming her for feeling anxious. We quickly say, “why me? Why do bad things keep happening to me?”
In my years as a practicing Naturopathic Doctor certified in Cognitive-Behavioural therapy, I’ve seen first-hand the paralyzing effects of anxiety in women. With my own experience having panic attacks, and my efforts at the Women’s Brain Health Clinic, I’ve worked with countless women who have challenged their anxious thoughts and feelings—past, present, and future.
A lot of us never learnt how to efficiently deal with anxiety. Anxiety is a powerhouse of emotion, and when oblivious to what it is and how it affects our body, we lack the knowledge to create healthy and sustainable coping mechanisms for long-term wellness.
You’re probably thinking, “okay, what now?”
In this article, you’ll learn five essential and game-changing tips to tackle your anxiety as part of the Women’s Brain Health Initiative. If you’d prefer to listen to my five tips, check out the video here.
Tip 1: Listen to Your Body
A lot of us automatically think there’s something seriously wrong with us the second we start feeling anxiety—this is not true. You are not broken.
The first step in navigating these negative and difficult emotions is by paying attention to what your body is trying to tell you.
Anxiety is a sign that your body needs support right now. Keeping a journal and taking note of when your anxiety is high, and what you had done prior to your anxious flare-up can help you pinpoint the cause for your anxiety. It is important to ask what triggered the anxiety as there is usually a pattern that shows. This pattern will reveal a common denominator which will become the focus of healing in your life.
Patterns can sometimes be difficult to identify. My work with the Hot Girl Brain Club delves deep into upbringings, traumas, and patterns that occur in daily life. Many of the courageous women have discovered connections between past and present, and as such, become increasingly aware of how to heal their pains and maintain new, effective coping mechanisms.
It is also important to think about the quality of our foods, our movement throughout the day, our relationships, and more. This is because anxiety is often pent up emotion with nowhere to go.
Anxiety does not have to be an enemy, but rather, we can learn to befriend it. Listening to our body and what our anxiety is trying to tell us can help us navigate what our body and mind needs at any given moment.
Tip 2: Good Food Calms Anxious Brains
Girl, there is a reason your doctors tell you to eat your vegetables. The quality and quantity of your food in a given day has a direct link to your brain health and mental wellbeing.
When you skip meals, and choose to eat a whole bag of chips in one sitting, you are quite literally destroying your mental health. We often think what we eat only impacts our weight, but in actuality, what we eat and how much we eat can dramatically impact our brain health. A healthy brain needs healthy fats and nutrients to function well.
Eating poorly, eating one meal a day, surviving off of coffee, poor gut flora, and dysbiosis, which is an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in your gut can all cause your anxiety, and make it that much harder to fight the harmful and debilitating thoughts in your head.
Good mental health is not just mindset work and positive affirmations, it is also taking care of your body. Simply put, without the proper foods and vegetables, your brain does not have the right tools for the happy hormones and neurotransmitters to actually work.
Part of the Hot Girl Brain Club includes an online community filled with love and support. The women within the club often share their meal plans, their recent healthy guilty pleasures, and photos of their dinner to help each other stay on track with their brain health goals. If this sounds like a community you’d like to join, shoot me a message here.
Tip 3: Step Outside of Your Head
People with anxiety chronically live inside their heads, disconnected from their bodies. We’re either stuck on the past or fixated on the future. We either replay the same horrible situation that’s already happened or worry about the worst case scenario for the future. When we live in our heads, we’re stuck in an endless loop of anxiety and uncertainty.
The body acts as an anchor for the mind, reminding it of what is actually happening in the current moment. The more present you are, the less anxious you will be.
This can also be achieved through movements that encourage feeling present such as yoga, tai chi, and even participating in muscle relaxation techniques.
For those of us stuck in an anxious state often, it’s going to be harder to achieve this. However, that is completely alright. Just because it feels impossible, doesn’t mean it is impossible. It is doable. With time and practice I now have the ability to anchor myself in the present with a few deep breaths.
Step 4: Move Your Body
If you spend all day, every single day in your bed, chances are, your brain health is going to suffer. You’ll find yourself exhausted despite doing nothing all day, and you’ll find yourself anxious and depressed.
When dealing with panic and anxiety attacks, sometimes meditation and deep breathing can actually make us feel that much worse. There are so many women that I work with who’ve expressed that meditation does nothing for them, and I tell them movement is their best friend. Using deep breathing techniques and meditation can leave us feeling helpless when it doesn’t work. This is because we often feel broken when our efforts result in failure within the actual moment.
Anxiety is pent up fear, frustration, anger, and pain. These emotions must be let go, not calmed down. Movement is the best way to release cortisol and lower stress levels. Otherwise, these feelings have nowhere to go.
Preference for physical activity will look differently for everyone and you might prefer yoga over running, or weight training over HIIT classes. Yoga is an amazing form of exercise that incorporates both movement and deep breathing. Regardless, there are many ways to exercise your body to ensure happier and healthier brain health. It is essential to find healthier ways to manage stress and anxiety that work best for your needs.
Tip 5: Find a sense of safety in the chaos.
To transform the hot moment to a cool calm moment, it’s best to find a sense of safety. Your sympathetic nervous system is telling you that it does not feel safe, but that is often restricted within your own mind. It is essential to show your body that you are currently safe.
This is why many people will carry fidget spinners, or photos of loved ones. It is to remind them that they are physically safe and that there is no imminent danger at the moment.
If you find yourself anxious at work, for example, then it might be useful to carry comfort objects with you such as a message from a loved one, or a good luck charm. I usually list all the people I know love me. Love can be such a powerful tool to manage and defeat fears. However, it is important to avoid relying on friends and family to the point of lacking independence.
The sense of safety that is most powerful comes from within, and this is caused by loving and trusting your abilities and judgment. The home that represents calm exists within you. Anxiety can turn into a huge ally in understanding your needs, wants, and abilities, and with understanding comes love. This is how your body and mind can become and feel like home.
With all that’s been said, it can feel daunting knowing how and where to start your healing journey. At the Women’s Brain Health Clinic in Ontario, I provide a free 30-minute consultation open to all clients worldwide. If you’d like to book a free assessment with me and start the five-phase Healthy Brain Blueprint Program, click here and I am certain we can work towards identifying, developing, and maintaining great brain health.