Everyone at some point in their lives has felt anxious, and there are times when this anxiety is beneficial, we need a certain amount in order to survive. Anxiety can warn us of potential danger and negative events. When you feel anxious your body becomes aroused, you become more focused, muscle tension increases, your heart rate increases, your body becomes physically ready to deal with the threat. However when anxiety becomes out of control and you frequently feel anxious it can do harm to your health.
Anxiety is fear of a future threat, we are all afraid of something; an upcoming exam or public speaking; evolution has wired us so that if we are in danger we can recognise it before it becomes life threatening, however often we create fears and our physical response is the same yet these fears are more emotional, based on repetitive thought patterns effecting our ability to cope with life.
What Causes Anxiety?
There are many possible reasons why some people are more anxious than others and that their anxiety creates health problems, these are:
- Childhood trauma
- Thyroid disorders
- Hormonal imbalance, especially for women during perimenopause and menopause
- Dysbiosis (unhealthy gut microbiome)
- Psychological factors, learnt behaviours and from past experience
- Family history, whether learnt behaviour or genetic
Symptoms of Excess Anxiety
- Substance abuse
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Digestive or bowel problems such as irritable bowel syndrome
- Excessive worry
- Poor quality of life
Natural Approaches to Anxiety
- Improvements to nutrition – often being deficient in essential nutrients can lead to anxiety due to lack of neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA
- Lifestyle changes – good sleep, routine, social interaction and reducing caffeine and alcohol
- Relaxation and mindfulness techniques – numerous studies now show that these practices are of extreme benefit to improving anxiety
- Exercise – increases endorphins and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is very beneficial for improving mood
- Herbal medicines
Mindfulness, just 10 min a day
Improving your anxiety requires daily commitment to implementing changes to your lifestyle, diet, finding time each day to be mindful and rest your nervous system and depending on the extent of your anxiety possibly taking a herbal medicine or other medication.