anxiety

Reduce Your Anxiety With This Simple Strategy

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Before you do anything else, try this!

Have you ever paid attention to the correlation between your anxiety, and your appetite?

Fact: Hunger INCREASES anxiety. And so does caffeine!

If you want to get a head start on managing your anxiety for the day, considering trying to eat something before that first cup of coffee, and definitely don’t skip breakfast altogether.

So many people I know, particularly mothers, don’t eat breakfast; and the reason is: “I’m too busy!” Well I’m here to tell you that YOU are worth prioritizing. When you don’t make time for yourself and your basic needs, you’re not the only one who suffers - your family does too. Your basic needs need to be met (ie. hunger), in order to set yourself up for tackling symptoms of anxiety, anger, rage, and anything else that comes your way.

When you take the time for yourself, you are better equipped to handle the stressors of motherhood, it really is that simple. Once your basic needs have been met, you open up the ability for managing the residual symptoms of your anxiety, and maybe even further exploration of what is at the root of it, to lead you towards long-term healing.

Alongside from starting your day with ensuring that your basic need of satisfying hunger has been met, the other times that you notice your anxiety amping up please check in with yourself and consider when the last time you ate was. A simple tool for decreasing symptoms of anxiety is making sure you are getting enough to eat.

Blood Sugar Levels

Blood Sugar Levels

Guest Contribution from Laurel Berube, Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant:

The age old "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" is very true, particularly for those that experience any symptoms of peri-natal mood or anxiety disorders.

Blood sugar is one of the aspects that affects our brain and moods. It has the ability to keep us level headed clear thinking and happiness. Or it can swing your moods, make you angry, irritable and physically lightheaded or ill feeling.

Stable blood sugar means it does not swing from high to low throughout the day. You won't get bursts of energy and then a crash. Cravings are less so you won't be reaching for those unhealthy foods.

This image shows you what happens to your blood sugar throughout the day. We eat, we get a surge, it drops, we eat, repeat.
What would that look like if you took one of those meals out? The drop would be far greater leaving you exhausted and irritable. Skipping breakfast starts the day off really low!

Our brain needs carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to function properly. Eating a healthy breakfast can seem like a huge task, but without it, your brain is starving for the nutrients it needs.

Whatever you eat in the morning, make it healthy and make it fast. Those mornings can zip by so fast and all we make time for is a coffee or tea and by the time we wonder why we are so cranky it's 2 hours later and haven't eaten anything. It's also likely that you haven't even had a drink of water. Before you even drink that coffee, drink a large glass of water and have something to eat.

- Laurel Berube, CHNC

www.laurelberube.ca

What more information on how to eat to help your moods? Sign up for Laurel Berube, CHNC newsletter & Get a FREE 3 Day Energy Boosting Meal Plan for Moms.

Disclosure: This is ONE strategy to help you decrease your anxiety, and you will likely need to use other tools and support to be able to manage your anxiety completely. To read more about exploring the root of anxiety, read: Dear Anxiety, I Want to Break Up With You.

Is This a topic you want to explore further? Join us for our Mini-Retreat for Mothers all about Managing Anxiety!

JEN REDDISH IS A REGISTERED MASTER THERAPEUTIC COUNSELLOR IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. JEN HOLDS WORKSHOPS, RETREATS, GROUPS & INDIVIDUAL THERAPY SESSIONS ON TOPICS PERTAINING TO MOTHERHOOD, BODY IMAGE, & THE PERI-NATAL PERIOD.

Dear Anxiety: I Want to Break Up With You.

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“Dear Anxiety,  

I want to break up with you. 

Our relationship feels toxic, because of everything you do.

I don’t want to live with you anymore. Why won’t you go away?

I don’t want to feel you anymore, and I really don’t want you to stay.

You make things way too hard for me, you always bring me down.

Sometimes I feel paralyzed by the overwhelm that you cause me, it feels like I’m going to drown.

Sometimes you creep in slowly and I don’t even notice that you’re there,

Until you are ruling over every move I make and I start feeling like your puppeteer.

Other times you storm in so fast, I feel instantly afraid,

Afraid of you and the damage that will cascade.

I’m sick of this and I want to say goodbye.

But I can’t seem to get rid of you no matter how hard I try.

Even when I catch my breath and start to calm myself down,

I know it won’t be long until I start to feel rundown.

Even the times when I’m feeling great, I know that you are still there,

And then before I know it, I feel like I am running out of air.

You seem to always be waiting for me, do you think I’m just a pushover?

There you are waiting to catch me off-guard, waiting to take over.

Anxiety, can’t you see it’s no wonder I don’t want you.

But if you’re not going anywhere, what am I going to do? “

ANXIETY:

“Don’t you know I’m trying to help? I’m here to give you guidance.

I need you to consider what it would be like if you were to give me a chance.

You keep trying to get rid of me and figure out if you can be stronger.

But each time that you push me away I have no choice but to push back harder.

Our relationship feels toxic because you won’t acknowledge why I’m here.

As long as you keep doing this, I’m going to stay near.

I really wish you’d start to see - I’m not going anywhere…

If only you would lean in towards me, listen to what I have to share.

You need to start to realize that I’m here because I care.

I think that you would learn a lot and I could help you to get stronger.

I really wish you knew that when you acknowledge me, I actually get smaller!

Of course I’m always here for you, waiting to step in,

I do this when I see you need me, when your resources are running thin.

Don’t you know I’m here to warn you? To remind you to slow down?

I think that if you could learn from me, you might not feel so rundown.

To get what you are really seeking, you don’t have to look very far.

All you really need to do is look within, to the essence of who you are.

In the meantime while all you’re doing is trying to run,

I won’t be going anywhere unless one day my job is done.

So please stop trying to break up with me, you’re really just wasting your time.

I won’t be going anywhere until you’re no longer mine.“

- Sincerely, Anxiety.

This letter to & response from Anxiety  was written to demonstrate how paralyzing the fight with anxiety can be, and how important it is to understand what purpose your anxiety is serving in order for you to find healing.

All of our emotions are wise messengers and powerful things can happen when we LEAN IN to our emotions rather than pushing them away.

Understanding our emotions is so important to be able to manage our emotions effectively and not get overwhelmed by them. Although…. sometimes our emotions are so powerful that the idea of this can feel overwhelming itself! Exploring your emotions more deeply needs to be done cautiously so that it feels manageable and doesn’t make your anxiety worse!

The first step towards managing anxiety is to learn tools to prevent the intensity from becoming debilitating. You can find my three favourite strategies here. Once you become skilled at decreasing the intensity of your anxiety is when you can begin the journey towards exploring the root of it more deeply to expand your awareness and allow opportunity for long term healing.

Getting support from a counsellor experienced in anxiety can be an extremely useful support for anyone struggling with this. There are also many other approaches to managing anxiety that can be useful either alongside counselling. Each individual experiences anxiety (and all emotions!) differently and it is important that you choose a treatment path that feels right for you.

-Jen Reddish, RTC, MTC, The Essence of You Counselling

Is This a topic you want to explore further? Join us for our Mini-Retreat for Mothers all about Managing Anxiety!

JEN REDDISH IS A REGISTERED MASTER THERAPEUTIC COUNSELLOR IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. JEN HOLDS WORKSHOPS, RETREATS, GROUPS & INDIVIDUAL THERAPY SESSIONS ON TOPICS PERTAINING TO MOTHERHOOD, BODY IMAGE, & THE PERI-NATAL PERIOD.

My 3 Favourite Strategies for Managing Anxiety:

ANXIETY

I work with the majority of my clients to manage their [varying degrees of] anxiety. I thought I'd share some of my favourite anxiety management strategies that I have learned over the past seven years in my career as a counsellor.

Some common presenting symptoms of anxiety are: short of breath, racing heart, shaking/trembling hands, sweating, difficulty concentrating or focusing, feeling lightheaded, feeling restless or on edge, difficulty sleeping, worrying and racing thoughts. Do any of these sound familiar? READ ON!

The below strategies can be applied for something small like feeling a little nervous to something bigger like a panic attack.

1) Literally GROUND yourself. Plant both of your feet flat on the ground, push them gently and allow yourself to feel the weight of your body resting on your feet. Not enough? Try alternating your weight from one foot to the other, or from your toes to your feet, and back again to both feet firmly on the ground.

2) Belly breathing. When you are anxious, you are usually taking short, shallow breaths. Belly breathing brings your energy down, deep into your body, which can help alleviate your anxiety - when you are anxious, almost all of your energy is way up in your head. First, notice your breath. Is it shallow? With your next breath, bring it deeper into your body, and your next breath deeper again, until you are breathing all the way into your belly or lower back. Continue until you notice your symptoms of anxiety easing up.

3) Connect to all 5 senses. Name 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can physically feel (eg: your clothes against your body, your breath moving in and out of your nose/mouth), 3 things that you can hear, 2 things that you can smell, 1 thing that you can taste.

All of these can be used together! Start with grounding your feet on the ground, move into belly breathing, and then connect to all 5 senses. What I like about these strategies is that they bring your focus and energy into your body and they connect you to the here-and-now. Anxiety is often linked to fear of something that has happened in the past or fear of something in the future, so doing anything to bring your focus and awareness into the present moment can be helpful.

Another strategy to consider: get a reality check around what you are feeling anxious about, or check in with yourself if you need to be thinking about whatever is causing the anxiety in that moment. Give yourself permission to come back to it when you are adequately supported to deal with what came up.

If you tried these, I'd love to hear how they worked for you! Please leave a comment below. :)

Something to keep in mind: these are not one-size-fits-all. Every person responds differently to their triggers and to their grounding strategies. I recommend testing a few out and finding the ones that work best for YOU. For long-term management of anxiety, I recommend seeking support from a professional to help you address the underlying issues of your anxiety.

Jen is a counsellor and psychotherapist in Calgary, Alberta. If you are interested in booking a session with her or attending one of her groups or workshops, visit The Essence of You website or Contact Jen directly.

 

Selfish or Self-Care? Know The Difference.

We all know that practicing self-care is important, but do you find yourself neglecting this because you think that you are being selfish?

As mothers, mistaking the two and thinking that we are being SELFISH when all we are needing is self-care can be debilitating. When we don’t make time for ourselves, but we continue to give to others, we put ourselves at risk for exhaustion, burn-out and can easily trigger or escalate anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

Aside from childbirth, in the U.S. women are hospitalized for depression more than anything else (Karraa, Walker, 2014 – Author of “Transformed by Post-Partum Depression”). Assuming this isn’t too different in Canada, this is something important to consider. Post-Partum Depression is being spoken about more openly now, but the occurrence of it is not being reduced. Depression in mothers past the diagnosable post-partum period is so common but there is not enough support or advocacy for mothers experiencing this either.

How much of this would change if as women, we were better supported to take care of ourselves and to stand up for ourselves? Practicing self-care boosts confidence, self-esteem, and allows you to be more present for others, helping you to care for yourself and your family from a FULL cup instead of an empty one stewing in exhaustion and resentment!

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Self-care can be practiced in so many different ways, and the smallest changes and efforts often make the biggest difference. There are so many things that we’d LIKE to do but can’t do very often – like havingregular massages, a nice long soak in the bath (by yourself!), or for many of us, it can be difficult for find time for doing anything that we find peaceful or relaxing on a regular basis! Karraa (2014) discusses the following more subtle ways of practicing self-care:

“Going slow, listening to internal cues, and prioritizing ones needs and values”.

This includes being honest with yourself, communicating more honestly and authentically with others, taking time to breathe.

I've always told my clients in therapy with me who have had this selfish/self-care question: If you are making your choices by prioritizing yourself with consideration of yourself and others around you, this is self-care. It is when you hastily make a decision without any care of consideration of others that you might consider this selfish. The latter is only likely to happen if you are in survival mode, extremely burnt out and don’t have any capacity for considering anyone or anything except for your immediate needs in that moment. And in that case, you need to do whatever you can to fill yourself up and restore yourself to normalcy to be able to take care of yourself before you can consider others.

But what about when you know that your “self-care” choice is going to negatively impact another person? Does this mean that your supposed self-care choice is actually you being selfish?

If you consciously make your self-care choice and consider the other people involved, you COULD end up deciding that putting yourself first is the best option; whilst knowing that the other person will/might be negatively impacted. This is just the reality of living our lives authentically. Sometimes it works well for others and sometimes it doesn’t. But the most important thing is that we are taking care of OURSELVES! I love this quote by Fritz Perls:

“I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful. If not, it can't be helped.”

If you are worried about being selfish, or about negatively impacting another person, or being viewed negatively by another person, ask yourself this:

Will you be comprising yourself or your values by doing something on account of another person? If you carefully consider the impact of practicing self-care – whatever it may look like – and choose to put yourself first, then be proud of this. Allow yourself to enjoy the time you have given yourself and soak up this moment of divine authenticity!!

If every time we faced this dilemma we chose to put others needs/wants ahead of our own, it would be very easy to build a lot of resentment and fall into passive codependent behaviours. Don’t let yourself fall into this codependant trap, it is a breeding ground for depression and anxiety.

“When stress is so severe and she [a mother] is forced to find a solution in order to maintain control of her emotions, the depression becomes an interim state of protection” (Kleiman, Karen 2014 – Author of “Therapy and the Post-Partum Woman”).

Neglecting yourself, your emotions and your needs is never worth it in the end. It is SO imperative to put yourself first to get your needs met, yes, even as a busy mother! If you are worried about letting people down around you, then taking care of yourself is the biggest gift that you can give them. When you do find yourself putting your needs or wants aside to put others first, make sure that you are able to do this without sacrificing yourself, and that you are still finding other ways to take care of yourself and get your most important needs met.

Make time for listening to your body, checking your reality & expectations, being authentic, and for feeling your feelings! This is the kind of self-care that is going to make the most noticeable and long term impact on you and your mental health!

Jen is a counsellor and psychotherapist in Calgary, Alberta. If you are interested in booking a session with her or attending one of her groups or workshops, visit The Essence of You website or Contact Jen directly.