On anxiety and fear

Sometimes life is like running through the dark with scissors along a landscape of jutting rocks.

We live in a chaotic world. Our natural emotions surrounding this are anxiety and fear. They are our body’s natural reaction to change, and it usually serves to keep us stationary.

When we tell ourselves, “No, I like where I am, because it is comfortable (even though I am unhealthy)”, what we are really saying is, “I’m afraid and nervous to change”.

Anxiety and fear raise cortisol, a stress hormone that make it hard to lose weight and also puts our heart at risk. And because “busy” is cool these days, we are experiencing more anxiety, more stress, more cortisol, more jutting rocks than ever before. 

Quieting our minds and re-center ourselves several times a day can help decrease our stress hormones.

We can only control our present, and there is peace in the present. Health is in the present. Health depends on this ability to focus our minds on the present moment.

One of my favorite quotes is Pablo Picasso’s: “ I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”.  He was a fearlessly brilliant man. His greatness, I believe, was a direct result of this ability to look a challenge up and down and eschew all doubts in himself and fear of the unknown.

Change is both painful and scary. But no change was ever made without a bit of discomfort.

Here are a few ideas to help us control our anxiety and move toward our goals:

1.       Take an honest stock of your current state of mind. Recognizing negative thought patterns. Are we afraid to change anything for the better or try something that we’ve been wanting to do simply because we are afraid or anxious? Here is a self-test for anxiety that could be helpful in answering this question.

2.     Try meditation and mindfulness. Even just taking 5 minutes of our day to reflect on what we are grateful for, happy or excited about, and what parts of our health we are appreciative of can calm our wired minds and refocus our energy. Meditation has been shown to change the actual shape and function of our brains. Here is a great beginner’s guide to meditation. Also consider taking a local meditation class. Classes where we are gathered together create a powerful and positive energy.

3.       Move more. Exercise burns cortisol and increases feelings of euphoria by stimulating endorphins in our brains. A brisk walk is also a sturdy place to think and breathe. Distance runners tend to have less anxiety, because they have longs runs in which they can clear their minds of clutter and fear.

4.       Eat a diet high in plant-based foods. Food is not only energy, but it also contains a good bit of information that our bodies use to decide to be calm or be frightful. For example, large amounts of simple carbohydrate or sugar can stimulate a stress-response and inflammation. This increases natural stress hormones which can in turn increase feelings of malaise and restlessness. Eating bright colored natural foods in enough variety can help shield us from our own negative energy.

5.       Seek professional assistance. Trained minds such as psychiatrists and psychologists, social workers, and therapists have dedicated their lives to learning how to help us. We live in a mad, mad world, and there is no shame in asking for guidance. I believe in using our resources. 



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