The Four Common Mistakes Women Make That Increase Anxiety
Did you know there are four common mistakes women make that can increase their anxiety?
When you are working to relieve anxiety, removing or reducing these four things will build a solid foundation for recovery.
Mistake #1: Drinking caffeine.
Because anxiety can prevent a restful nights sleep, its easy to get caught up in
a caffeine-induced anxiety cycle. A client came to see me for anxiety and insomnia. She was sleeping three to four hours per night and had severe fatigue from sleep deprivation. To combat drowsiness the next day, she drank several cups of coffee in the morning, then tea and diet cokes through the afternoon and evening. As this had become a habit, she wasn’t even aware that caffeine was part of the problem. Reluctantly, she cut back on all caffeine, allowing herself to have one cup of coffee in the morning. After learning relaxation and sleep techniques in just two weeks time, she was amazed that she could sleep soundly for six to eight hours every night. She also felt a renewed sense of peace and calm returning.
Solution: Cut back the caffeine slowly, with the end goal of discontinuing all caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is an addictive drug and causes withdrawal symptoms if reduced too quickly, headaches being the most common of these. If you find it impossible to do without caffeine entirely, limit to a maximum of two cups per day early in the morning.
Mistake #2: Drinking alcohol to reduce anxiety or to improve sleep.
No matter what you read about the health benefits of alcohol, it is an addictive drug, highly toxic to the body. It can kill brain cells, impede digestion, and cause the liver to over-function. Even though many people use alcohol to help them sleep, alcohol actually interferes with REM sleep, the deep restful sleep that restores your mind and body. In other words, you may be asleep but your body is not fully resting. The more you rely on alcohol to relax, the less likely you will be to use more natural coping skills in the future.
Solution: For occasional sleeplessness I like to take melatonin, a natural hormone. It is recommended that you use it on occasion as regular use may decrease its natural production.
Natural Calm and Calms Forte are other natural options that have no dangerous side effects and can be purchased at Whole Foods or your local health food store. You may also ask about calming teas, Bach Flower Remedies, and other natural products for the relief of tension and anxiety. (Consult with your doctor before taking natural supplements.)
Mistake #3: Not fueling your body with the things it needs to run well.
Another client was suffering from severe anxiety and had almost given up hope. During her initial assessment, she admitted she never ate breakfast and lunch was from a vending machine or fast food restaurant. She was advised to drink more water, eat breakfast, and begin to add healthy fruits and vegetables to her diet. When she returned for her next visit two weeks later, she looked and felt like a different person. These results made her even more willing to give her body what it needed.
Not eating well is like putting water in your car’s gas tank expecting it to run well. Her situation is a common recipe for anxiety. Not eating breakfast and maintaining a diet high in sugar and junk foods can cause anxiety, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. Blood sugar problems and inadequate nutrition are common contributors to anxiety.
Solution: Learn about your body’s nutritional needs: the importance of eating breakfast to avoid low blood sugar, eating fruits and vegetables to be healthy, happy and free of anxiety. Find an encouragement partner that also wants to eat well and improve their nutrition and set goals to motivate each other.
Mistake #4: Lack of exercise.
Our bodies were designed for movement in order to remain healthy. Research shows that exercise releases “happy” hormones in the body and helps excrete toxins. Your brain also needs physical exercise to function optimally.
Solution: Discover the best form of exercise for you, keeping in mind the best exercise is the one you will actually do. Commit to regular exercise, even if it is 10 minutes per day. *Note: Always consult your physician before changing your diet or starting an exercise program.
Our culture has conditioned us to believe the cure for anxiety is something outside of ourselves. When we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by fear, it is easy to forget about the basic needs of our body. When we forget to care for ourselves, the body will remind us by displaying symptoms such as anxiety. A first step in breaking this cycle is to make sure you are caring for and nurturing your body. An assessment to find the more personal causes specific to your anxiety, helps insure treatment success. It may not always be easy, but overcoming anxiety is possible!