1 in 5 Canadians will deal with a mental health issue by time they are 40.
5% of Canadians suffer from anxiety
8% suffer from major depression
63% of people say they suffer from stress
Both stress and anxiety are on the rise with COVID-19 and there are predictions for much higher depression rates as a result.
I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember. As a little girl my grandmother bought me “worry dolls” to put under my pillow at night and take away my worries. At times it has been debilitating and at other times it is just silent in the background waiting to emerge. I know I am not alone in this struggle so thought I would share my top 10 tips on how best to manage anxiety.
- Sleep – Getting enough good quality sleep is key to managing anxiety. When we aren’t getting enough quality sleep we can’t show up as our best selves, and the anxiety becomes harder to manage when exhausted. Keeping yourself on a schedule where you go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, including weekends. Many people get insomnia with their anxiety, if that’s the case this component of sleep routine and sleeping in a dark, quiet room is essential.
- Regular Exercise – Exercise has been shown time and time again to help with anxiety and stress. It has proven to be an amazing outlet for me personally. I feel so much better when I move my body. Daily movement is key – jogging, weight lifting, classes. Whatever you like best. Keep in mind that certain more intense types of exercise ie) marathon training or strenuous exercise like cross-fit actually raises your cortisol levels. Cortisol is your stress hormone, so if you are suffering from anxiety you will want to avoid this type of exercise.
- Get outside – Being in nature is so good for our souls. If you are feeling anxious and can get outside for a walk you will notice that you will often start to feel better. Focus on what you see, hear, smell and touch – it is very grounding and brings you out of your head and into the present moment.
- Breathing techniques – If you feel yourself getting anxious try a breathing exercise. One I love is slowly breathing in for a count of 4, holding that breathe for a count of 4, and then slowly letting it go for a count of 4. Repeat. You should find that your system starts to slow down almost immediately as you reset your nervous system.
- Avoid dietary triggers – Caffeine and alcohol are common triggers that should be avoided or at least minimized. It is also worth exploring whether there are other foods/beverages that affect you individually. I highly recommend doing an elimination diet with people I work with and then we work through a reintroduction to see if certain foods are exasperating symptoms. For me personally, food has a huge impact on my anxiety.
- Journalling – Sitting down with a journal and just free writing can be very therapeutic. Doing this for 5 minutes a day can have a great impact on your life. Write whatever comes to mind with no editing or judgement – it really helps get your emotions out and perhaps help you uncover what might be causing the anxiety at that time.
- Meditation – This has always been hard for me, but I keep trying to find what works fro me. When I do it regularly I do find there to be a great impact on my overall stress levels. I need support when I meditate and am currently trying out the Headspace app and finding it very easy to do consistently and like the format of it.
- Essential Oils – I started using DoTerra essential oils about a year ago now. The impact they have had on many areas of my life have been profound. I now have oils that I reach to if I feel anxiety creeping in. One of my favourites is Copaiba, a drop on the roof of my mouth a few times a day has really helped.
- Supplements – There are many great supplements out there specifically formulated to help anxiety and recommendations are made based on the individual patient. Some general recommendations that help anxiety are B-complex vitamins, probiotics, omega-3s, and magnesium biglysinate.
- Daily joy – Finding activities that are truly for you that take you out of your head are going to help so much. Make a list of 10 things that bring you joy, they can be very simple like having a cup of coffee, walk with your spouse, reading a book, yoga class. Commit to doing 2-3 things off your list each day. Increasing joy in your daily life will help reduce the anxiety.
I hope that you find some of these to be useful. There is no quick fix to anxiety, but hopefully you can start implementing some of these tools in your daily life to help when it all becomes too much. If you have any specific questions I would love to hear from you so please reach out!
Allison Madigan, Holistic Nutritionist
Allison graduated from Queen’s University with a BAH in Economics and started a career in the marketing world. Nutrition and wellness were always at the forefront of her thoughts. After 15 years in the industry she decided that it was time to follow her passion and go back to school. She took a leap of faith, resigned from work, enrolled at the Edison Institute of Nutrition and hasn’t looked back. She has been working in the field for 2 years now and loving it.
She has a strong belief in the power of food and proper nutrition to keep us healthy and prevent disease. Her mission is to empower people to make healthy and mindful decisions for themselves to achieve their optimal health and wellness.
Allison has a keep interest in hormone balance, food sensitivities, stress and digestive health. She works with her clients to formulate a plan that will work for them. Her plans will include diet modifications, lifestyle and supplements suggestions as well as some mindset work.