Anxiety is a tricky fiend. It’ll sneak up on you and snatch away your joy when you least expect it. Or it lies waiting all day, just biding its time until you lay down for bed and then it starts screaming in your ear about all the ways you’ve failed, all the things you have to do, all the horrific things that could happen, all the friends who probably don’t even like you, and all the failed attempts at life you’ve had so far.
EGADS, it’s exhausting.
Take heart, my friend, we’re going to cover some common reasons anxiety strikes. Hopefully, you get something out of this. And if you don’t? That’s cool – we’re happy with trying.
With anxiety, we’re looking at a few different things.
Nutrition and Anxiety (yes, seriously...)
First off, food. Yes, seriously, food.
Your gut is legit magical. I mean, if you even knew, you’d be completely blown away by this thing (you might actually already know, in which case I’m preaching to the choir). For example, did you know that about 90% of the serotonin in your body is located in your gut. Yes, your GUT. So wild, right?!
My point is this, though. When we ingest things that cause/increase inflammation in our system or that are poison, in essence (I’m looking at you, alcohol!), then we’re potentially increasing our risk for mental health problems. I’m not saying don’t drink. I am saying to pay attention to how you feel (mentally) after you eat and drink certain things. It’s not uncommon for people to cite drinking (the day before, for example) as an antecedent to feeling extremely anxious.
Cognitions and Anxiety
This is the one that everybody already knows about (probably). The way that we think can actually increase and decrease certain feelings. Yes, our thoughts are connected to our feelings. Crazy, huh?
A simple experiment is to shut your eyes and think about a time when somebody said or did something really thoughtful for you. Just go back there for a minute and recall what that was like. And then open your eyes and notice how you feel. There are probably some vestiges of ‘good’ after thinking about that, right?
Along that same vein, close your eyes and think about the last jackass to cut you off, or that time you were wrongfully accused of something, or the last fight you had. Go back there for a minute. Then open your eyes and notice how you feel. Probably angry – at least I’m assuming angry, but it could also be frustrated, upset, or distressed.
My point is this – anxiety can be related to thoughts. So when we’re aware of how we think about things (and what we think about), we can squelch some of anxiety-as-an-effect.
Basic Needs and Anxiety
Third (and last because this is getting long), basic needs.
This sounds so silly, but is really important. You know what else impacts anxiety? Sleep, sunlight, and connection. Yes, all three.
Sleep is WAY more profound on our systems than we give it credit for. People who consistently don’t sleep enough end up dying sooner, on average, having more illness and slower recoveries, and having more mental health issues. For real. Sleep is important.
Connection and sunlight are also significant, in that we evolved to be outside (not in artificial light) and be in connection with others. When both of those are consistently disrupted, the aftermath can be mental health issues, including anxiety.
The point of this is to highlight some other factors that can be influencing your anxiety. If you know these, you can start to modify some of what you’re doing and just see what the impact is. If it’s helpful, then now you know! And if it’s not, then schedule a session and come through to see us so we can help you figure out what’s going on!