Anxiety is one of the most common conditions I treat on a daily basis in my clinic. While acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are incredibly effective in treating anxiety disorders, there are some factors that cannot be ignored that just may be the major culprit causing your anxiety in the first place.
Anxiety trigger #1: Caffeine
We live in a fast-paced world, and for many of us, in order to keep up we use caffeine as a crutch. While that cup of coffee you might give you the burst of energy you are craving to get through your day, truth is it is causing your anxiety or at least making it worse. Caffeine increases cortisol (your body's major stress hormone) and it actually simulates the stress response. If you are anxious, you are living in a sympathetic nervous state (fight or flight). Caffeine increases sympathetic nervous system activity which is the opposite of what you need to treat your anxiety and help you feel calmer. If you are caffeinating because you are tired, it is likely you are suffering from adrenal fatigue (especially if you are feeling "tired and wired"). If this sounds like you, we can test your adrenal function and treat the root cause.
So if you really want to feel less anxious, cut out caffeine completely (you may have to do this gradually) - no coffee, energy drinks, caffeinated teas or sodas, or pre-workout drinks. Make the switch to caffeine-free herbal teas or teechino instead and watch your anxiety level decrease!
Anxiety trigger #2: Low electrolytes
A little know fact: when the body is low in electrolytes (sodium, calcium, potassium) it can actually trigger anxiety. Electrolytes play a big role in controlling your nervous system function and your mood; therefore, when they are lacking, it can trigger anxiety and/or depression. Electrolytes are lost through sweat and urine, and you are very likely to be deficient if you drink alcohol or are experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, fatigue, weakness, changes in blood pressure, nausea, or muscle cramping.
Avoid sugary chemical-laden sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade and increase your electrolytes by consuming coconut water with a pinch of himalayan salt or adding electrolyte packets (these are my favorite) to your water first thing in the morning or after exercising.
Anxiety trigger #3: Lack of exercise
Exercise is so important when it comes to managing stress and anxiety, and studies have shown that people who regularly exercise experience significantly less anxiety that those who are sedentary. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins (feel-good, pain-relieving chemicals). Exercise helps the brain to better cope with stress, allows you to sleep better, boosts your self-esteem, reduces fatigue, and improves congitive function. In as little as 5 minutes, exercise starts to induce anti-anxiety effects in the body.
It is important that you stick the right type of exercise when dealing with anxiety. Weight training, pilates and yoga are some of my favorite types of exercise to help manage anxiety. Stick to 30-40 minute workouts 3-5 times per week (making sure to get at least 2 rest days per week) and avoid overly strenuous activities such as HIIT workouts, as they can actually spike cortisol levels and make anxiety temporarily worse.
If you are struggling with anxiety, we can help! Schedule your free consultation here.