January 20, 2017

Stressed? Anxious? L-Theanine in green tea is a top-notch health drink

Help the body stay calm, focused, and decrease stress

L-theanine may sound unfamiliar, but there’s a good chance you have consumed it before. For example, in the last cup of green tea you drank.

l-theanine-for-calmResearchers are studying L-theanine, a type of amino acid, and its beneficial effects for those suffering from anxiety, stress, poor brain health, and sleep disorders.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the potential benefits of taking L-theanine for your anxiety.

L-theanine is an amino acid that stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin. These are neurotransmitters responsible for boosting mood and enhancing memory, thus helping with improved concentration. Not only that, these chemicals fight depression, stabilize moods, and calm you down. Looking for increased clarity during the holidays? Since green tea is a great source of L-theanine, you might want to try green tea to help achieve that calming effect.

L-Theanine for Stress and Anxiety

L-theanine is proven to help you relax without sedating you.[1] This is important when you want to relieve stress without going to sleep. Also, L-theanine is non-addictive and carries none of the nasty side-effects of Xanax or Klonopin, pharmaceutical copycats of L-theanine.[2]

Recommended dose is 50–200 mg for therapeutic benefits.

L-Theanine for Brain

l-theanine-for-stress-and-anxietyDr. Anna Nobre at the esteemed Oxford University conducted brain scans before and after a single 50 mg dose of L-theanine.[3]

As you can see, L-theanine caused the subjects’ brains to go from dull to bright with the key memory and focus centers of the brain lighting up and becoming active. “These data indicate that L-theanine, at realistic dietary levels, has a significant effect on the general state of mental alertness or arousal.”[4]

Just think of what you could accomplish with a brighter, more active brain!

L-Theanine for Better Sleep

Whether you hurt too much, worry too much, or your leg sometimes has a mind of its own, certain nutrients can help you keep these common problems from stealing your slumber. For starters, if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, you’ll want to take one of my favorite calming nutrients: L-theanine.

Researchers in Japan found that subjects were able to achieve pre-sleep relaxation with L-theanine. That’s because L-theanine raises levels of serotonin and GABA in your brain. This allows it to boost alpha waves in your brain and promote relaxation.

Relaxation is a very important precursor to being able to fall asleep. The researchers also concluded that L-theanine enabled participants in the study to obtain a better night’s sleep. They woke up feeling refreshed and fully rested.[5]

A total of 400 mg, 200 mg of L-theanine in the morning and 200 mg again in the afternoon, was found to significantly improve sleep quality. [6]

l-theanine-supplement-reviewThe best part about L-theanine is that you can often feel a difference in a matter of minutes, not days or weeks. Have a cup of green tea to feel less anxious… you don’t have to leave your desk to feel its calming effects.

Safe L-Theanine Products

L-theanine is a supplement worth trying. It’s inexpensive, you can find it anywhere, and it works quickly. The following L-theanine supplements have been tested for quality, purity, contamination and solvability. All are approved and safe for consumption:

  • Bluebonnet L-Theanine 150 mg
  • Country Life® L-Theanine 200 mg
  • GNC L-Theanine 200 mg
  • Jarrow Formulas® L-Theanine 200 mg
  • LifeExtension® L-Theanine 100 mg
  • NOW® L-Theanine Double Strength 200 mg
  • Puritan’s Pride® L-Theanine 100 mg
  • Solgar® L-Theanine 150 mg
  • Source Naturals® L-Theanine 200 mg
  • Swanson Ultra® Suntheanine 200 mg
  • Thorne Research Theanine 200 mg
  • TwinLab® L-Theanine Dots – Natural Tangerine Flavor 50 mg

Naturalists would recommend drinking tea over taking supplements for a number of reasons. Primarily, tea contains more than 200 bioactive compounds. Also, the body is able to assimilate L-theanine more rapidly in liquid form (tea).

The tea with the highest levels of L-theanine depends less on the tea and more on the leaves. Young tea buds contain the highest concentration of L-theanine. But use only organic whole-leaf green tea. Oolong is the variety highest in L-theanine. In general, high quality green tea is described as “delicate,” or “sweet.” Sweetness is attributed to amino acids, especially L-theanine. Put another way, tea that tastes sweet and fresh will be L-theanine rich.

how-to-choose-l-theanine-rich-green-teaSteeping leaves for a minute or two extra will ensure you’re getting the most L-theanine you can in each cup of green tea. But leave out milk or cream as it lowers L-theanine content.

Whether taken as a supplement or in cups of green tea, L-theanine is safe and helps many people reduce stress and anxiety. Research shows that L-theanine induces relaxed thinking states, reduces your fight-or flight response to stressful events and helps protect the mind from stress-linked thinking and memory deficits.

Research shows that L-theanine induces relaxed thinking states, reduces your fight-or flight response to stressful events and helps protect the mind from stress-linked thinking and memory deficits.

L-theanine, the amino acid in tea, may be just what you need to feel less anxious, more alert, and get a good night’s sleep.

 

Anxiety takes a major toll on your mind and body—the right breathing techniques can be majorly therapeutic. And if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your mental health is seriously important, and deserves attention and care.

 

 

 

Sources:
[1] Examine.com, “Theanine,” nd., https://examine.com/supplements/theanine/.
[2] Sean Russell, “How to Use L-Theanine to Crush Anxiety Naturally,” MenImprovement.com, August 3, 2013, http://www.menprovement.com/l-theanine-bye-bye-anxiety/.
[3] PubMed, “L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state,” 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328.
[4] PubMed.
[5] Terri Mitchell, “Theanine,” Life Extension Magazine, January 2006, http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2006/1/report_theanine/page-01.
[6] http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/16/4/348.pdf.

What It Is Like to Live With Anxiety

How to Remain Calm in Life

By Dr. Saunders, M.D.

Sheri can hardly function in life because of a gripping fear of everything.  She lives in an apartment above the businesses in the center of town, but hasn’t left her apartment in over five years.  Everything is brought to her.  She shops online and on the Home Shopping Network.

A trip to her house is a trip indeed!  Boxes she has purchased remain unopened, stacked four feet high around the whole apartment.  There is a trail only six inches wide leading from the front door to the bed and from the bed to the bathroom and kitchen.  She tried to leave her apartment a year ago. But only made it to the front steps before she got a panic attack and had to run back inside.

When anxiety becomes a problemPanic is a type of severe anxiety from a sudden release of adrenal (stress) hormones.  Short or long-term stress produces large amounts of these hormones, causing severe anxiety. When this surge of stress hormones hit the body, people feel like they are going to die.

In a typical hospital emergency department, patients with severe anxiety often display symptoms of: chest pain, palpitations, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and a fear of imminent death.  They get blood tests, EKGs, X-rays, and even cardiac catheters to determine if they are having a heart attack.  The symptoms of anxiety often mimic a heart attack.  But more than 80% of the time there is no sign of heart trouble. Many people are told, “It’s just a panic attack.”

Living with Anxiety

While panic attacks are the extreme, and happen to some people, anxiety is very common. In fact everyone feels anxiety at some point, like fear or trepidation.

  • Needles often provoke anxiety, such as before a vaccination or blood draw.
  • Others feel anxiety before a test, interview, or court case.
  • Most get anxious at the thought of public speaking. They get a dry mouth, sweaty palms, cold hands and feet, and palpitations of the heart.
  • Even professional speakers, businessmen, or giving speeches or presentations experience anxiety.

The worst effect of an anxiety attack is on the brain. It causes disorganized thinking and poor memory, making it harder to present material.  One speaker noted after many years of public speaking that the “butterflies” in his stomach didn’t go away; they just flew in formation.[1]

Anxiety with a threat of loss is normal. Situations that cause anxiety are common to all people.

The purpose of anxiety is to warn us of danger. A message of fear sends a signal to the adrenal glands that there is an emergency. We then release hormones from the adrenal glands such as adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol (cortisone) to help us get out of danger.

These stress hormones:

  • Increase our blood sugar and heart rate for quick energy.
  • Suppress our immune system and other “unnecessary” functions to protect our body.
  • Create a multitude of effects on the brain, including a sense of fear, danger, imminent death or foreboding, as well as loss of memory.

Their overall effect is an increase in circulation and energy to certain body systems and a downshift of less important ones into maintenance mode. In this way, the fight or flight response prepares the body for extreme action.

When there is danger our body doesn’t need to function at capacity. We just need to get out of danger!

However, even when there is no danger present, the adrenal glands release the stress hormones causing all the same symptoms.  This emergency response causes physical symptoms that many people misinterpret as a heart attack or other serious physical conditions. Misinterpreting these symptoms can cause anxiety and the fear response to continue.

Sheri would feel panic just from walking outside her door.  She had no control over the release of hormones or how she felt; it just happened.  She tried taking medications of all kinds, and received counseling, but nothing seemed to help at all.  She was stuck.

The ways we categorize anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is constant worry or fear.
  • Panic Disorder refers to those who get sudden panic attacks, feel out of control, or sense impending doom.
  • Social Phobia feels like continually being embarrassed in public.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is when fearful thoughts take control of one’s actions. People then “have to” do things to relieve the anxiety.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) refers to those who have had major trauma that brings on chronic anxiety.

Anxiety becomes a problem when:

  • You feel anxious most/all of the time for more than 6 months
  • Your level of anxiety is excessive and intense
  • Your anxiety is uncontrollable and disrupts your job, relationships, sleep and social life
  • Your behavior changes due to your level of anxiety – this could be anything from drinking lots of tea, finding it hard to breathe, not being able to leave the house, or performing repetitive rituals, such as counting to 10 before you do something

Generally, anxiety is not considered abnormal unless it affects the normal functioning of the person, such as their ability to work, play, interact with others, or sleep, and has been present more than six months. And, of course, there are levels of anxiety – mild to severe.

Symptoms of anxiety may include one or more of the following:

  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Shortness of breath, or unable to fill the lungs completely
  • Jumpiness and feeling on edge
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swallowing problems, like a lump in the throat
  • Stomach problems and difficulty digesting food
  • Headaches of all types
  • Sleep problems of all types
  • Palpitations of the heart
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Cold sweats
  • Frequent urination
  • Bad moods
  • Eating, drinking or smoking more than usual

Mainstream Medical Treatment for Anxiety

Since the beginning of time people have used alcohol to relieve anxiety.  Doctors call it “the drug of choice” for all types of anxiety and panic because people who have anxiety drink it. And those who have more anxiety, drink more.

  • For some, it works so well they become “addicted” to alcohol. If they stop drinking, then they feel lots of anxiety.
  • Others only use alcohol for occasional anxiety, or in the evening to relax after a stressful day at work.
  • Some try to use it to sleep, but it disturbs sleep.

While it’s effective for anxiety, the side effects of alcohol can be devastating, as most of us know.

Standard medical treatment to relieve anxiety includes medications that stimulate the receptors in the brain that induce calm.

Most anxiety drugs, such as the benzodiazepines, work on the GABA receptors.  Stimulating these receptors in the brain suppresses anxiety. Because GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, it slows down the brain function in certain areas. It works immediately, but for only a few hours. However, tolerance to its effects is easily developed. These medications, like Valium and similar drugs, work in much the same way as alcohol to numb anxiety.

Valium was a godsend for many.  In the 1960s they called it “mother’s little helper.” Valium allowed moms to be calm and relaxed with the children – without alcohol!  Doctors originally believed it was not addictive, and only caused some drowsiness. However, this is not the case.  Over time, people become tolerant to the level of stimulation provided by the drug and needed more.

When benzodiazepine treatment is stopped abruptly, patients may develop withdrawal symptoms.  Some benzodiazepines, like Valium, can even cause seizures from withdrawal.

Now, the benzodiazepines have become standard fare for all types of anxiety. I had a patient who found that a benzodiazepine worked so well she carried one pill around for over a year, “just in case” she got a panic attack. It helped her to relax, knowing that relief was available if she absolutely had to use it. She never did, and now doesn’t need it at all.

Other medical treatments that might help include antidepressants for anxiety. Most of these work on the serotonin receptors, which have a relaxing effect.  This makes sense on a chemical level. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter that has an effect on multiple brain functions, including anxiety.

Others work on dopamine or norepinephrine receptors as well, such as the “major tranquilizers” or antipsychotic drugs.  The use of these for anxiety is becoming much more common.  Some people with anxiety prefer opiates like morphine, codeine, and the like.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to anxiety. People have different reasons for being anxious and display different anxiety symptoms, and therefore need different types of medications to relieve anxiety.

The primary problem with most of the medications used for anxiety is the same as with alcohol – they suppress all feeling and create numbness.  Using drugs to resolve feelings is always a gamble. This is especially true when people have anxiety because they report they “don’t feel anything.”   Some, of course, prefer to live this way. But many would like to try another way.

Determine the Cause of Anxiety

Medications may relieve anxiety symptoms for a short time. But they don’t take care of the problem, or address the cause of anxiety. The key to successfully treating anxiety is to find the cause(s) and remove them. There are many causes of anxiety:

  • many faces of anxietyExcessive stress, or change
  • Adrenal tumors
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Hypothalamic tumors
  • Hormone imbalances (such as low progesterone)
  • Ectopic adrenal production
  • Medication side-effects
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides
  • Nutrient deficiencies like B-vitamins, minerals, or amino acids
  • Thought disorders
  • Loss of foundation, or shock such as a sudden illness, loss of a loved-one, or accident

Once you find the cause of the problem, you can begin to change it at the roots, not just for temporary relief of anxiety symptoms. In looking at the list, it becomes apparent that this is no simple task. Some may require the help of a professional.

To end anxiety, follow the general recommendations and try each of the specific supplement and herb recommendations one at a time. 

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Foods to Calm and Lower Anxiety

Controlling Gut Behavior

by Amanda Box, N.D.

We have all felt it at some point in our lives. The feeling that paralyzes us sends us into a cold sweat and lends our heart to beat at the speed of light. Anxiety is fear incarnate. It originates from our worries, our fear of failure or simply believing worst is bound to happen.

I personally battle with anxiety. I loathe the awful sense of powerlessness that anxiety brings. But it is a battle over the mind and one that isn’t always easily won!

Releasing negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones can overcome anxiety. One important way to do this is processing through thoughts and fears on paper and with a friend or counselor.

However, what you put into your body can also affect the intensity of your anxiety. Though much of anxiety originates from thoughts and mindset, a healthy body is important for a healthy mind! Our mind, body and spirit are interconnected. So keeping all three aspects healthy is imperative for overcoming anxiety.

Food affects our mood. Particular foods create calm, while other foods produce anxiety. The key to overcoming afflicting anxiety just may be a diet that enhances a sense of peace and a calm mind.

Below are two lists of foods. The first is the list of foods to avoid that promote anxiety. These foods stimulate the nervous system or increase stress hormone production like cortisol. If you battle anxiety, then totally eliminate these foods from your diet to feel your best.

The second is a list of foods that help ease anxiety. These foods contain nutrients that promote a calm mind and help lower stress levels in the body. Make them a regular part of your diet and they will keep you calm and lower your anxiety.

4 Foods to Avoid for Anxiety

1. Caffeine

This is by far the most obvious food on the list to avoid. Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant and can cause physical manifestations of anxiety, even if anxious thoughts aren’t present. It speeds the heart rate and can lead to an over-excited jittery feeling that exacerbates or creates anxiety. Some people do well with just a small amount of caffeine in the morning. However, eliminating it all together is best for calming the mind and body.

2. Sugar

When I refer to sugar, I am not just referring to white sugar. I am referring to all things that encompass sugar: fruit juice, corn syrup and honey, etc. All these sugary foods can negatively affect the body.   They spike blood sugar levels which, in turn, flood your body with cortisol, a stress hormone. When cortisol levels are high, you can feel on edge and anxious. Therefore, steer clear of sugary drinks and desserts. Instead, opt for natural sweeteners that do not affect the blood sugar such as stevia.

3. Processed Foods

Processed foods included already made meals like boxed foods and fast foods. These foods contain a plethora of ingredients that are nearly unpronounceable. This abundance of fake food is not tolerated well by your body. Chemicals from the artificial preservatives and other ingredients can aggravate the brain by exciting neurotransmitters. This creates a sense of anxiousness and overstimulation. Many of the artificial ingredients are additive as well. Your body begins to crave these processed foods and you become anxious if you’re not able to eat them. The best way to avoid processed foods is to choose foods as close to their natural state as possible and cook your meals from scratch.

Also, read labels. If you see ingredients that sound more like chemicals than food, but it back on the shelf and buy something healthier!

4. Alcohol

Many people drink alcohol to help calm their nerves. However, alcohol can backfire. It can cause an even higher level of anxiety the following day.

  • Alcohol depresses the body.
  • That depression can carry through to the following day.
  • Depression feeds anxiousness.

The short term fix that alcohol creates can also be addictive, creating a cycle of anxiety and more depression.

Foods to Eat to Calm Anxiety

Pumpkin Seeds

Green pumpkin seeds are high in zinc. Studies have found that anxiety is linked to a zinc copper imbalance. Too much copper and not enough zinc in your body can cause anxiety. Just a small handful a day of pumpkin seeds provides a daily dose of zinc! Pumpkin seeds provide a healthy balance that offers relief for people suffering from anxiety.

Fatty Fish

Fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon and sardines can increase EPA levels in the brain. EPA is the primary anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid for the brain. High levels of EPA are correlated to a calmer mood and lessened anxiety. Essentially, EPA will make you happier and better able to handle stress. If you don’t consume large amounts of fish, then purified fish oil supplements can increase your EPA.

dark chocolate can reduce stress and anxietyDark chocolate

In a study of chocolate’s health benefits, eating 40 grams of dark chocolate (74% cocoa) every day for two weeks significantly reduced stress hormone levels. Those tested also noted feeling less anxious after eating the chocolate. This is likely due to cocoas flavonol content. Flavonols are a subclass of flavonoids, natural chemicals found in plants, fruits and vegetables that repair cellular damage. Flavonoids are antioxidants so they help to lower stress and inflammation throughout the body.

Turkey

Turkey is high in amino acid l-tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps you feel calm. Tryptophan found in protein like turkey has been found in studies to lower anxiety levels!

Full-fat yogurt or kefir

The majority (95%!) of serotonin, your feel good neurotransmitter that keeps you happy and calm, is produced in the gut. Therefore it is important to eat foods that help maintain proper intestinal balance.

To cultivate proper bacterial balance in the gut, go no further than your refrigerator! Naturally elevate your mood and reverse anxiety with fermented foods. The bacteria in fermented foods create an environment suitable for proper serotonin production. Fermented foods like kefir and yogurt contain probiotics that restore your gut health. Since gut microbes may influence your behavior, this is proof that fermented foods make us happier!

Tea (chamomile and green tea)

Each of these teas has anxiety reducing benefits.

The effect of chamomile is to soothe and calm the nervous system. When feeling anxious, drink chamomile to relax. Studies showed drinking chamomile tea lowered anxiety in 2 weeks! Best of all, chamomile comes without the nasty side effects of traditional anxiety and depression medications.

Green tea contains amino acid l-theanine, which has a soothing, calming effect on people who drink it. L-Theanine stimulates production of brain waves known as alpha waves. Alpha waves indicate a person is relaxed. L-Theanine also increases the levels of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These two neurotransmitters directly affect a person’s mood and help induce a sense of calm and relaxation.

So, alleviate your mood and feel better by drinking quality green tea!

eggs induce relaxation and promote sleepEggs

Eggs contain copious amounts of choline, needed for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is essentially the opposite of adrenaline. It induces a state of relaxation and promotes sleep. Farm raised cage free eggs are the best choice. They are fresher and have higher levels of nutrients. Eggs just may give you a new reason to come out of any depressing anxiety phase!

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are low in calories, and high in many nutrients, including magnesium. Magnesium is a natural nervous system relaxant. A lack of magnesium can cause electrical changes in your brain.

Most diets are deficient in magnesium, and stress causes our bodies to deplete this important mineral. This is why getting enough magnesium in your diet while you’re stressed is so important. This essential mineral is key to relaxation and a lowered sense of anxiety. Nutrition just may trump any other form of self-help anxiety methods!

The Gut-Brain Connection

As mentioned earlier, our gut and our brain have an intimate connection. Many refer to the gut as the second brain, and for good reason! Our enteric nervous system is the name of the nervous system that resides in our gastrointestinal tract and enables us to “feel” the inner world of our gut and its contents. It is equipped with its own reflexes and senses to control gut behavior.

Our central nervous system, which is located in our brain and spinal column, is connected through the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain stem down to the abdomen.

It is through the vagus nerve that gut bacteria transmit information to the brain. Thus, the nerves in our gut probably influence a big part of our emotions.

Also, the gut produces more serotonin in the gut than it does in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps us to feel good and it produces a sense of calm. This gut-brain connection applies to anxiety levels as well.

Dr. Kirsten Tillish, a lead author in a study of gut bacteria and anxiety stated, “Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut.”

All of this makes creating a healthy gut environment key to overcoming anxiety. I believe there are 3 keys to creating a healthy gut.

1. Probiotics

Supplementation with a daily multi-strain probiotic is important in creating a healthy bacterial environment in the gut. Fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha are also great to add into your daily diet to boost healthy bacteria.

2. Prebiotics

Prebiotics are dietary fibers that act as food for good bacteria. This allows the healthy bacteria to multiply. Some foods containing prebiotics include:

  • Chicory Root
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Jerusalem artichoke

3. Going Gluten Free

More and more research is pointing out that gluten intolerance and diseases such as Celiac, can cause anxiety and depression. Shockingly, as much as 80% of the population is thought to have some degree of gluten sensitivity!

Lectins contained in gluten can cause intestinal inflammation and permeability of the intestinal walls allowing toxic microbes to pass through the gut, into the bloodstream and to the brain causing anxiety! Some even believe that gluten itself can cause anxiety. Dr. Rodney Ford, a New Zealand-based pediatrician and author of The Gluten Syndrome, believes that gluten harms your nervous system directly and produces symptoms such as anxiety.

Going gluten free takes a firm commitment and cannot be done partially. I’ve been gluten free for nearly a year now and have no plans to go back. It has changed the health of my gut and my mind dramatically and has been worth the sacrifice. Honestly, with the rise of gluten free alternatives, I haven’t had to sacrifice much. Nearly every gluten product now has a tasty gluten free version.

Incorporating these 3 keys will create a healthy “second brain” and lower your anxiety levels. You’ll truly be amazed at how powerful the gut-brain connection is once you begin to make changes to your diet!

Below are two recipes to get you on the road to lowered anxiety and a healthy gut. The first is a salmon recipe. This incorporates the omega 3s from fatty fish and prebiotics such as garlic. Serve this with a healthy serving of asparagus on the side for even more prebiotic power. This recipe is also gluten-free!

garlic salmon with asparagusGarlic Salmon with Asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb wild caught salmon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp cold organic butter, cubed
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the lemon juice and minced garlic; allow the lemon juice to reduce to 1 tablespoon. Add in 1 tablespoon of butter, remove pan from heat and swirl so the butter starts to melt. Place back on the heat for a few seconds, removed and continue to swirl until butter completely melts. Repeat with second tablespoon of butter. When butter is completely melted, remove sauce from stove.
  3. Place the salmon filet in a piece of foil large enough to fold over and seal. Using a brush or spoon, brush the salmon with the garlic butter sauce. Season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Cover with foil so that all sides are properly closed so the sauce does not leak.
  4. Bake the salmon for 12-14 minutes or until firm. Open the foil and allow the fish to broil under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, keeping an eye on it so the fish does not burn. Remove from oven, top with parsley. Serve with a side of steamed asparagus.

This next recipe incorporates the mood lifting power of dark chocolate with zinc rich pumpkin seeds. Though only two ingredients, these little bites can calm a sweet tooth as well as calm the mind.

dark chocolate pumpkin seed bites Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Bites

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp of dark chocolate (at least 74% cocoa content)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds (raw or roasted)

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate in the microwave for 20 seconds. Heat for 10 second intervals, making sure to stir in between.
  2. On a piece of wax paper drip chocolate from a spoon and make 8 even circles around the size of a quarter.
  3. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds into the chocolate and slightly press down.
  4. Let dry for around an hour or place in the fridge for even faster results.

Remember, what you eat can have a huge influence on the levels of anxiety you’re feeling. Don’t rely on simply medications any longer! Take your health into your hands and begin eating in a way that lowers your anxiety. I have personally experienced the power of food choices on my anxiety and I encourage you to as well!

 

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Amanda Box, N.D.Amanda Box is a Traditional Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salmon recipe adapted from littlespicejar.com

5 Steps to Lower Your Anxiety Now

How to Balance Hormones and Calm the Mind

by Amanda Box, N.D.

You can feel it rising. Like water it begins to pool around your feet. Then it slowly rises up your body until you are fully submerged, unable to breathe, drowning in your own fears.

This is how I describe my experience with anxiety. It is a feeling that I am too familiar with and one that many of you have suffered as well. Many people face regular bouts of anxiety that can profoundly affect their lives. They may be unable to work or have healthy social lives. For others, anxiety may be brought on by high pressure situations such as taking a test.

how I describe my anxietyWhatever the case may be, one thing’s for certain. Anxiety is absolutely paralyzing! It keeps us from experiencing the joys of our life, sets us up to fail and minimizes our greatest potentials.

The good news? You can beat anxiety in 5 steps! You can cut the chains that bind you and set yourself free for a life full of positivity and success!

There can be many underlying factors behind anxiety. Traumatic life events such a death of a loved one or financial problems can trigger anxiety in people who formerly led a happy productive life! This stress induced anxiety can snowball and disrupt the body to the point that hormonal changes and body imbalances begin to occur. Once specific hormones such as cortisol are out of balance, it is much like throwing gasoline on a fire. The frequency and strength of anxiety begins to increase and take over a person’s life.

Many people also struggle with anxiety, but because the symptoms don’t manifest in the more obvious ways such as irrational fears or impending doom, they don’t realize that anxiety is the culprit behind their health problems. When we stuff our feelings and don’t let them out, the built up stress can lead to anxiety which manifests in ways such as:

  • Tachycardia
  • Digestive issues
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sleep disorders

These symptoms often resolve themselves once the underlying stress and anxiety is properly addressed. Stress itself is the cause of 75-90% of all disease! It is imperative to address and relieve stress in order to live a healthy long life!

The Role of Cortisol with Anxiety

Addressing the root cause and imbalance behind anxiety can calm the mind and body to bring true relief from symptoms. One of the most common body imbalances that occurs with anxiety has to do with cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress as part of the fight-or-flight reaction.

Often referred to as our stress hormone, cortisol is responsible for three major functions that keep our body in balance during times of stress:

  • Raising blood sugar
  • Increasing blood pressure
  • Regulating inflammation

Cortisol and anxiety have a cyclical relationship. When you experience anxiety, which is a form of stress, you automatically release cortisol. However, having excess cortisol in the body can cause anxiety and contribute to anxiety attacks! Your cortisol imbalance may have caused your anxiety, but your anxiety may also have caused your cortisol imbalance.

When cortisol levels build up in the blood, your mind and body are profoundly affected. If you struggle with anxiety, I’m sure those symptoms sound very familiar!

  • High levels of cortisol can lead to a nervous stomach, jitters, feelings of panic, and even paranoia.
  • High levels of cortisol also suppress the production of serotonin, which leads to feelings of loss of hope and depression.

Failing to manage stress in your life will lead to increased cortisol production and ultimately cause anxiety.

most common symptoms of high cortisol levelsCortisol is typically released in a regular, timed fashion or rhythm that repeats daily. In a healthy person, cortisol is highest in the morning helping us to wake up and be alert and energetic. It begins to taper off throughout the day and by evening melatonin is released which helps us to sleep.

When anxiety sounds the alarm, our body releases cortisol and becomes ready for action. However, without an actual release of a physical flight or fight action, cortisol builds up in the blood. Over time, chronically high cortisol levels begin to negatively affect our bodies. Some of the most common symptoms of high cortisol levels include:

  • Digestive issues
  • Impaired circulation
  • Disrupted sleep/wake cycles
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Low sex drive
  • Depressed mood

Lowering Your Cortisol Levels Naturally

Bringing your cortisol down to a healthy, balanced level is key in overcoming anxiety.

There are 5 steps to lower your cortisol levels that are both safe and extremely effective. Adding even one of these steps into your daily routine can make a big difference. However, incorporating all 5 of these steps will help you achieve maximum anxiety reducing results

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How to Reduce Anxiety and Stress with Meditation

Reset Your Mind and Eliminate Anxiety

by David Kekich

Taking care of your body goes a long way towards helping you cope with anxiety. The diet, exercise and supplementation routines mentioned in this issue of Home Cures That Work will better equip you to deal with the stresses placed on your body. A good diet and supplements help you cope with increased production of free radicals caused by stress. Exercise reduces stress and increases your cardiovascular ability to handle stress while increasing your antioxidant potential. Do you notice how often exercise keeps popping up? Exercise and diet are paramount. If you don’t like exercise, at least go out for regular brisk walks.

In addition, when faced with anxiety, make sure you get enough rest. Fatigue can definitely reduce your immune function and healing ability.

brain needs recovery timeBesides exercise, many physical relaxation techniques can manage the effects of your stress. A stress management relaxation technique designed by the Institute of HeartMath has raised DHEA (your master hormone) levels by 100% and reduced the stress hormone cortisol by 23% in just one month. Some of the best techniques are meditation and deep breathing. Did you ever notice how fast and shallow you breathe when you are stressed? It’s hard to breathe deeply and feel anxious or tense at the same time. Try it.

Meditation doesn’t just have to be for eastern mystics. Millions of Americans practice it, because its health benefits have been proven in many different studies. It’s not an escape, as some think. Meditation is a proactive practice that can enhance your life. It’s the equivalent of giving your mind an escape valve to blow off steam.

All meditation really means is to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. This allows your mind to reset itself and stop the vicious cycle of thinking about things that stress you out.

Focus separates peak performers from average performers, possibly more than any other attribute. It also builds energy. That’s why so many high profile leaders practice meditation. Meditation is anything that brings you to the moment and keeps you there. The more you meditate and focus on the “now,” the stronger you grow physically, mentally and emotionally.

Mainstream medicine is now beginning to take notice of meditation’s effects. For example, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which is about 80% meditation, has been approved in Britain for use with people who have experienced three or more episodes of depression.

Your brain, just like your muscles, can be overworked, and it needs recovery time. Like many people who exercise, meditators in their mid-fifties tested twelve years biologically younger than non-meditators. Did you know meditation actually increases the thickness of your brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing? Here are some additional benefits:

20 reasons why meditation will reset your mind and eliminate anxietyMeditating…

  • Increases the growth of new brain cells..
  • Increases your IQ and Emotional Intelligence scores.
  • Increases your comprehension and productivity.
  • Improves your mental focus, memory and decision making.
  • Decreases stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Reduces free radicals, heart rate and biological aging.
  • Slows your breathing.
  • Improves quality of and ability to sleep.
  • Reduces your blood pressure.
  • Relaxes your muscles.
  • Reduces your risk of stroke or heart attack.
  • Gives your body time to eliminate lactic acid and other waste products.
  • Increases blood levels of DHEA.
  • Reduces anxiety and eliminates stressful thoughts.
  • Helps with clear thinking.
  • Helps with focus and concentration.
  • Reduces irritability.
  • Accelerates weight loss.
  • Reduces stress headaches.
  • Enhances overall health.

Wow! Is that incredible, or what? Review this list a few times. Let the benefits sink in. Who wouldn’t want better health, to think more clearly, to age more slowly and to be smarter?

The essence of meditation is to quiet your thoughts by focusing completely on just one thing. Unlike hypnosis, which is more of a passive experience, meditation is an active process that seeks to exclude outside distractions by concentrating all your thoughts on the subject of meditation.

In all cases, it helps if your body is relaxed. Get in a position that you can comfortably sustain for a period of time (20–30 minutes is ideal, but even five minutes helps a lot). If you choose, and if you are sufficiently supple, the lotus position may work best for you. Otherwise, sitting in a comfortable chair or lying on a bed may be equally effective.

A number of different focuses of concentration may be used. Which one you choose is a matter of personal taste. Some of these are detailed below:

  • Breathing: Focus on each breath in and out, breathing in through your nose on a count of seven, hold for a count of three, and breathe out through your mouth on a count of eight. Inhale and exhale completely, totally filling and emptying your lungs.
  • Focusing on an object: Completely focus on one object. Choose something pleasant and interesting, and then examine it in detail. Observe its color, shape, texture, etc.
  • Focus on a sound: Some people like to focus on sounds. The classic example is the Sanskrit word “Om,” meaning “perfection.”
  • Imagery: Create a mental image of a pleasant and relaxing place in your mind. Involve all your senses in the imagery: see the place, hear the sounds, smell the aromas, feel the temperature and the wind.

In all cases, keep your attention focused. If external thoughts or distractions wander in, let them drift out. If necessary, visualize attaching the thoughts to objects and then move the objects out of your attention.

I do this several times a day. To demonstrate how effective this simple technique can be, I did it last evening when I felt stress over an unpleasant task. When I started, my blood pressure was 117/75. Seven minutes later, I dropped it to 97/63. That’s simply amazing! Had I not taken my stress break, I would have eroded my health, functioning sub-par and frenzied. Instead, I reduced my anxiety and jumped back into my task with renewed energy and motivation.

This is not a one-time event. I get these results regularly. Taking several anxiety-busting breaks every day could help you avoid 80% of all medical conditions. That’s the medical profession’s conservative estimate of the toll anxiety and stress takes on you.

How often do you think what you are doing is so urgent and important that you can’t afford to take one minute off, let alone seven? Well, I’ve got news for you. The best time to take a anxiety break is when you think you don’t have the time. That’s exactly when proactive relaxation breaks are the most productive way to spend your time and reduce stress. Not only will they improve your performance, but you could avoid a nasty hospital stay, or even a premature death as a side effect.

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

David-KekichDavid Kekich (Living Healthy to 120: Anti-Aging Breakthroughs) is President/CEO of Maximum Life Foundation that focuses on aging research, a 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to curing aging-related diseases. For more information, visit: www.MaxLife.org. David contributes to our column Living Healthy to 120: Anti-Aging Breakthroughs. MaxLife is helping to make the anti-aging dream a reality with cutting edge Bio-Engineering research and products.

Breathing Your Way Out of Anxiety

Breathing Exercises to Overcome Panic Attacks

by Rob Fischer

 

Suddenly, inexplicably Shawna found herself overcome with fear. She knew she didn’t like flying, but for some reason this flight sent her over the edge. They had just taken off and were experiencing some heavy turbulence as they climbed to altitude.

Her heart raced as sweat trickled down the small of her back. She couldn’t catch her breath. Her hands trembled so much that she gripped the armrests until her knuckles turned white. She had difficulty swallowing. Momentarily, she thought she might lose consciousness…

belly breathing exercise to reduce anxietyWhat I have just described is a panic attack. When a person experiences a panic attack, their fear response is blown out of proportion to the situation in which they find themselves. Panic attacks, an intensified form of anxiety, can occur without warning. To make matters worse, once a person has had a panic attack, the fear of having another one heightens their anxiety possibly making such an attack a self-fulfilling prophecy.[1]

Anxiety, fear and panic are debilitating. They rob a person of their ability to respond to a situation rationally whether that situation is threatening or normal.

Often, when a person experiences a panic attack or acute anxiety, they feel like they can’t catch their breath. And the harder they try, the more difficult it becomes to breathe and the worse their panic attack spirals.

Dr. David Carbonell, Anxiety Coach, explains, “When you feel like you can’t catch your breath, it’s because you forgot to do something. You forgot to exhale. That’s right. Before you can take a deep breath, you have to give one away. Why? Because, when you’ve been breathing in a short, shallow manner (from your chest), if you try and take a deep inhale, you just can’t do it. All you can do is take a more labored, shallow breath from your chest.”[2]

Dr. Carbonell goes on to describe the “Belly Breathing Exercise” as a means to overcoming this common problem. Follow these guidelines to learn and master this exercise:[3]

  1. Place one hand on your belly, just above your waist and put your other hand on your chest over your breastbone. Your hands will provide you with biofeedback as you practice this exercise.
  2. “Open your mouth and gently sigh, as if someone had just told you something really annoying. As you do, let your shoulders and the muscles of your upper body relax, down, with the exhale.” Don’t completely empty your lungs, but relax the muscles of your upper body.
  3. Now close your mouth and relax for a few seconds.
  4. Keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose by pushing your belly out. When you’ve inhaled a comfortable amount of air, stop inhaling.
  5. Pause briefly for whatever length of time you find comfortable. Because you’re taking larger breaths than you’re used to, it’s important that you breathe more slowly.
  6. Now repeat steps 2 through 5, establishing a rhythm to your breathing. Click here to view a short video demonstrating this breathing technique.

Shallow breathing contributes to anxiety and panic attacks. This practice of deliberate, deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which helps place the body at rest.

Stress is at the core of most diseases and most of us live stressful busy lives which is commonly accompanied with shallow breathing. When we breathe shallowly, the body does not receive as much oxygen as it needs and it makes our muscles constrict. You can almost feel this tightening when you are stressed or tense. With deeper breathing you can turn the switch from high alarm to low in seconds. Furthermore, breathing deeply will increase the neurochemical production in the brain and release more of the ones that elevate moods and control pain.

We don’t usually think about breathing. Breathing, like our heartbeat, digestion, glands, and many other functions of the body are regulated by the autonomic nervous system. All of these functions are performed involuntarily and without thought. Among these, only breathing can be controlled voluntarily.[4]

the healing power of the breath 2In their book, The Healing Power of the Breath, Richard P. Brown, M.D. and Patricia L. Gerbarg, M.D. explain, “By voluntarily changing the rate, depth, and pattern of breathing, we can change the messages being sent from the body’s respiratory system to the brain. Messages from the respiratory system have rapid, powerful effects on major brain centers involved in thought, emotion, and behavior.”[5]

In addition to the belly breathing exercise above, another breathing exercise is called “Coherent Breathing.” This method calls for breathing at a rate of just five breaths per minute. You can achieve this rate by inhaling while counting to five and then exhaling also counting to five.[6] Again, this establishes a pattern of slow, deliberate breathing designed to calm the body and emotions.

Therese J. Borchard, associate editor for World of Psychology, writes, “Deep breathing has become increasingly important in my recovery from depression and anxiety because I recognize that shallow breath contributes to my panic.”

I would also be remiss in not telling you about Wholetones. Wholetones is a collection of therapeutic musical tones specially designed to put you at ease and alleviate anxiety and stress. These unique melodies can help your breathing rhythms and music itself is a powerful positive stimulant. You can listen to samples of these tunes online.

As Shawna tightly gripped the armrests of her seat on the plane, she remembered her breathing techniques. With difficulty at first, she closed her eyes and began slowly and deliberately exhaling deeply while counting to five, and then inhaling through her nose also to the count of five. Miraculously, within just a few breaths, she found herself in control again.

You don’t have to wait until you have a panic attack to practice these breathing techniques. (I pray that you never have a panic attack!) We all experience fear and anxiety at times, often accompanied by that telltale shortness of breath.

Remember these breathing exercises. They can be part of a bedtime routine that promotes calmness and relaxation. This type of daily practice makes it easier to use the deep breathing technique when other situations arise. Then put them into practice when you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious and breathe your way out of anxiety!

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.

 

Sources:
[1] WebMD, “Panic Disorder,” February 11, 2014, http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-panic-disorder.
[2] David Carbonell, Ph.D. Anxiety Coach, “A Breathing Exercise to Calm Panic Attacks,” July 11, 2015, http://www.anxietycoach.com/breathingexercise.html.
[3] David Carbonell.
[4] Therese J. Borchard, “3 Deep Breathing Exercises to Reduce Anxiety,” World of Psychology, 28 January 2015, http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/07/22/reduce-your-anxiety-this-minute-3-different-types-of-deep-breathing/.
[5] Therese J. Borchard.
[6] Therese J. Borchard.

How to Take Control of Your Anxiety

An Anti-Anxiety Workout

by Rob Fischer

What works as well (or feels better) than medication for calming anxiety, but without the nasty side effects? Before I answer that question, consider some of the causes of anxiety: [1], [2]

  • Feeling out of control
  • Chronic stress with no relief
  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Stress chemicals in the blood
  • A depleted immune system
  • Inactivity
  • Poor self-esteem
  • A sense of foreboding about what might happen
  • Reduced cognitive function

10 ways exercise helps calm anxietyAt some time or another, everyone feels anxious about something. But when anxiety becomes the norm in your life, you may begin to feel like its slave. Anxiety disorders afflict about 40 million adults in the US, making it the number one psychiatric illness.[3] If you find yourself suffering from chronic anxiety, it’s time to take action and do something about it.

What is so effective against anxiety? Let me ease you into that answer…

If you’ve ever been plagued with anxiety, depression or chronic stress you know that when your mind and emotions are taxed to the limit, so is your body. Your body begins to show the signs of anxiety in a variety of ways that may include: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, a weakened immune system, sleeplessness, and a host of other physical problems.

So it’s no stretch of logic to recognize that when your body feels better, so does your mind.[4] A key solution to dealing with the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety is physical activity. Exercise can not only alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, it can literally pull you out of that dark hole and get you moving upward and forward again.

When you have anxiety or depression, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference.

10 Ways Exercise Helps Calm Anxiety

Here’s what the research is showing: [5], [6], [7]

1. Gain Confidence

Regular aerobic exercise decreases tension, improves mood, helps you sleep better, and feel better about yourself.

2. Release Feel Good Chemicals

Physical exercise stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain that make you feel good, both physically and emotionally.

3. Relieve Pain

Just like you might take an aspirin for a headache, a brisk walk or other simple exercise can provide several hours of relief.

4. Take Your Mind Off Your Worries

Exercise can help the brain cope and feel better with stress.

5. Produce Calming Effect

Aerobic exercise lowers the amount of stress chemicals in your bloodstream that lead to and worsen anxiety.

6. Cope in a Healthy Way

Exercise helps distract you from the dark thoughts that plague your mind and replaces them with positive, productive energy.

7. Shrink Anxiety

Regular physical activity offers both short-term and long-term benefits for reducing anxiety.

8. Maintain Motivation

When you find an activity that you really enjoy, participating in that activity gives you something pleasurable to look forward to.

9. Strengthen the Immune System

Exercise helps build a strong immune system that keeps you healthier both physically and emotionally.

10. Socially Rewarding

Exercise recharges your emotional batteries. If you choose to exercise with others, the social interaction adds to the benefits. If you’d rather exercise solo, you’ll find respite from stress and come back feeling renewed.

What Type of Exercise Do I Need to Ward Off Anxiety?

Exercises to ward off anxiety v2Although all forms of exercise are good for you, aerobic exercise in particular has been found to be most effective in reducing stress and anxiety.[8] Aerobic exercise gets your heart rate elevated higher than normal (but not pounding or racing); and requires you to breathe more deeply. Breathing more deeply supplies you with higher volumes of oxygen that does wonders for your health and mood.

Examples of aerobic exercise include: brisk walking, hiking, bicycling, running/jogging, rowing, swimming, dancing, and sports like basketball, racket ball, and tennis.

Tips for Getting Started

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How to Overcome Social Anxiety Disorder

How to Let Go of Your Fears

by Rob Fischer

Think of a time when you had to give a presentation, interview for a job you really wanted, went on your first date, or attended a meeting or event at which you knew no one. Chances are you experienced some level of anxiety preceding and during the experience.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the number one fear in America is public speaking. Along these lines, Mark Twain quipped, “There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars!”

Social anxiety disorder symptomsClearly, anxiety over high pressure social situations like speaking in public is a natural and normal response. However, many people experience significant anxiety in nearly all social contexts. They exhibit excessive, irrational behavior and fear in interactions with others. This form of anxiety is not normal and may constitute social anxiety disorder or social phobia.[1]

An estimated 19.2 million Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder.[2] In fact, social anxiety ranks as the third most prevalent psychological disorder in the country.[3] This condition consists of feelings of uneasiness, dread, or apprehension about social interactions. Typically, these feelings of anxiety stem from concern that one is being scrutinized and judged negatively by others—even when there’s no cause to believe this is truly the case.

The person is scared that they will be embarrassed, belittled, or humiliated in front of others. A person with social anxiety disorder may anticipate and stew over a planned encounter to the point of debilitating fear beforehand. This reaction can bring on a panic attack or prompt other irrational behavior.

The following examples usually evoke emotional distress for people with social anxiety disorder:[4]

  • Meeting new people
  • Being teased or criticized in public
  • Finding themselves the center of attention
  • Being watched while doing something
  • Meeting people in authority
  • Any social encounter, especially involving strangers
  • Pressure to say something with others present
  • Interpersonal relationships, whether friends or romantic

Symptoms of social anxiety may include:[5]

  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Pounding heart
  • Inability to think straight
  • Being tongue tied
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Flight
  • Insomnia

Social anxiety disorder results from distorted thinking. With this disorder, we entertain false beliefs about social situations and the negative opinions of others. Social anxiety is rooted in the fear that others are out to get us, laugh at us, or think we’re dumb, fat, ugly, or … fill in the blank. Social anxiety is emotionally draining because we’re always on our guard, always suspicious, and never relax in the presence of others.

Left untreated, social anxiety disorder can severely hinder a person’s normal daily routine—anything that involves other people.[6] This could include: riding public transportation, going to work or school, work performance, attending social activities, relating with people under any circumstances, and even leaving home.

Typically, people with social anxiety disorder recognize that their behavior is irrational. But knowing that and being able to do something about are two different things.[7] People with this disorder don’t like the way they respond toward others and wish they were different. This “knowing” often spawns feelings of guilt and inferiority, which exacerbate the problem.

The Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder

Biologically, social anxiety seems to run in the family. Whether this is genetic or learned behavior is another issue. But even if you are genetically disposed does not mean that you are consigned to a future of social anxiety.[8]

Psychologically, a person may have been bullied, made fun of in the past, or experienced some other trauma that triggered social anxiety disorder.[9] These issues too can be overcome.

Environmentally, a person may observe the negative consequences of how others are treated and respond in fear to avoid such treatment themselves. Children who are overprotected by their parents and not allowed to develop social relationships with others may not learn good social skills.[10] But it is never too late to learn!

Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

Mainstream Drug Treatments

As is so common with Americans, we frequently reach for a pill to solve our problems. And in the case of Social Anxiety Disorder there are numerous drugs on the market prescribed to treat this disorder. Ironically, many of these drugs bear side effects common to the very issue they purportedly address! Below are two examples of drugs (Zoloft and Prozac) commonly prescribed for social anxiety disorder.[11]

Zoloft – “Common side effects of Zoloft include sleepiness, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, headache, diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach, stomach pain, changes in appetite, abnormal ejaculation, impotence, decreased sex drive, difficulty having an orgasm, dry mouth, and weight loss.” [12]

Prozac – “Side effects of Prozac include nausea, upset stomach, constipation, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, drowsiness, dizziness, nervousness, heart palpitations, loss of appetite or increase in appetite, weight changes, cold symptoms (stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat), dry mouth, decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm. Some patients may experience withdrawal reactions such nausea, nervousness, and insomnia upon stopping Prozac.”[13]

Based on those side effects, one might well observe that if you didn’t have social anxiety disorder before taking those drugs, you might certainly develop it after taking them!

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

The most effective treatment currently available for social anxiety disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to “guide the person’s thoughts in a more rational direction and help the person stop avoiding social situations that once caused anxiety. It teaches people to react differently to the situations that trigger their anxiety symptoms.”[14]

A primary goal of CBT is training you to be your own therapist. In this regard, there are a number of self-guided manuals available. Many people with social anxiety disorder are making great progress by following the book, The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook: Proven Step-by-Step Techniques for Overcoming Your Fear by Martin M. Antony, Ph.D., and Richard P. Swinson, M.D.[15]

Meditation

You can also begin to transform your mind and thoughts away from anxiety by reading and meditating on Scripture. God designed us for relationship with Him and with others. You were made for relationships. By meditating on what He says about relationships and implementing those principles into our lives, we can overcome many of our social difficulties.

Also, He knows us intimately—even better than we know ourselves. In addition to that, He loves us unconditionally, so we can trust Him implicitly. Because He knows us so well and loves us so much, in the Bible He has given us instructions, examples, and encouragement on how we can interact with others in a healthy manner.

For instance, check out the following passages regarding our relationship with God and others:

  • Psalm 139:1-4, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
  • Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”
  • Romans 12:10, 16, “Be devoted to one another in love. Live in harmony with one another.”
  • Philippians 4:6-8, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”.[16]

more growth, peace, blessing and grace from GodAsk God to help you with your response toward others. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Because God has not made us timid and fearful of others, we can depend on Him to help us overcome this problem.

Whatever anxiety or discouragement we might have about our relationships there is always more growth, peace, and blessing that God’s grace can bring.

Additional Anxiety Help

Other positive steps you can take that may help you overcome social anxiety disorder include:

  1. Getting plenty of rest
  2. Eating nutritiously
  3. Exercising regularly
  4. Applying music and chroma (light) therapy.

All of these solutions are important for squelching anxiety and achieving peace and joy in your life.

When I was 12 years old, I recognized that I was painfully shy. I knew that I didn’t want to be that way. So, I asked my parents to send me away to camp for a week, knowing that it would push me out of my comfort zone. I went, not knowing another soul there!

My camp experience had the desired effect. Because no one there knew me, I started all my relationships with a clean slate. I began to relate with others—even strangers—in ways I had not formerly tried. It opened my horizons and changed me profoundly.

How about you? What steps will you take from those provided above to reach out to others and turn a phobia into a pleasure in which you’re able to truly enjoy the company of others?

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.

 

 

Sources:
[1] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder,” February 13, 2014, http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-social-anxiety-disorder.
[2] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[3] Thomas A. Richards, PhD, “What Is Social Anxiety?” Social Anxiety Institute, nd, https://socialanxietyinstitute.org/what-is-social-anxiety.
[4] Thomas A. Richards.
[5] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[6] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[7] Thomas A. Richards.
[8] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[9] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[10] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[11] Social Anxiety Support, http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/.
[12] RX List, “Zoloft Side Effects Center,” 4/2/2015, http://www.rxlist.com/zoloft-side-effects-drug-center.htm.
[13] RX List, “Prozac Side Effects Center, 4/2/2015, http://www.rxlist.com/prozac-side-effects-drug-center.htm.
[14] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[15] Andrew M. Jacobs, Psy. D, Martin M. Antony, PhD, “Social Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia,” Social Anxiety Support, nd, http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/disorder/.
[16] Philippians 4:6-8, Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The ABCs of Reducing Stress

by Rob Fischer

Asthma is a respiratory condition usually triggered by a stimulus that inflames and narrows the airways, making it difficult to breathe. As a result, one may feel out of breath, tightness in the chest, or fall into bouts of coughing or wheezing. Asthma is a threat to our physical health and well-being.

When we think of triggers that induce an asthmatic reaction, we most readily think of things like:

  • Prolonged, heavy exercise.
  • Cool, dry air; air pollution or pollen.
  • But stress is also a common trigger for asthma.[1]

Unfortunately, when stress triggers an asthma attack, stress and anxiety multiply, because an asthmatic reaction brings on additional stress and even fear or panic. This stress works against us, intensifying the constriction of airways and making it more difficult to breathe.

Thank God that we have inhalers under such circumstances to help us get our breathing back to normal. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to avoid more of the stress and anxiety altogether and eliminate those stress-induced asthmatic episodes?

So much of what stresses us seems to be the little things that accumulate over time. Things like: financial pressures, the neighbor’s dog that barks incessantly, a lingering cold, a broken garage door opener, and rush-hour traffic all mount to generate stress, anxiety and frustration. Then often, all it takes to break the dam is something like a flat tire or a minor spat with a co-worker. Suddenly, we find ourselves under major stress triggering a nasty asthma attack.

So, how do we maintain more of an even keel and weather the storms and stresses of life?

We cannot live stress-free, but we can learn to control the effects of stress in our lives. Click to Tweet.

Our Creator has given us a very simple approach to reducing stress. In fact, it’s so simple that I call it the ABCs of stress reduction.

ABCs of Stress Reduction

1. Acknowledge that God loves you unconditionally and that He is in control.

In perhaps the most well-known verse of the Bible, John 3:16, we read, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”[2]

God loves you more than you can possibly imagine or fathom. That fact alone is extremely comforting, quieting, and de-stressing, but there’s more. Not only are you precious to Him, but He is in sovereign control of the universe.

If you have children, think back when your child was a helpless baby. You protected and provided for that child. In fact, you probably fashioned your life around that child for its safety, growth and well-being. Acknowledge that God is in control. Because He loves you, nothing can come into your life without His say-so. That’s comforting!

2. Believe that He cares for you and will meet your needs.

The Bible instructs us: “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”[3]

Jesus also encourages us with the words, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”[4]

Obviously, the Lord expects us to work hard and to seek to provide for our family.

But when we’ve done all we can, we need to believe that He will take care of us. Trust Him that He will provide. Click to Tweet.

Years ago, my wife and I experienced God’s provision in a remarkable way that has helped bolster our trust in Him. At the time, I was a full-time student and working two part-time jobs. We were married with two small children. In spite of my efforts to provide for my family, I came home from work one evening and my wife shared with me that we had nothing in the house for supper.

Payday wasn’t for another day, and we had no credit card. We were out of money and out of food. I went outside to pray, mindlessly walking around our garden as I did. I was really having a struggle with God about our situation. I was trying very hard to provide for our little family and we lived very frugally. It wouldn’t have hurt me to go without a meal, but I didn’t want to subject my wife and children to that.

It was still early spring and only a few radishes had come up. So as I continued my conversation with God, I pulled a small handful of radishes. In my prayer, I rehearsed the Scriptures I knew that talk about God’s provision for us and I was encouraged. I didn’t know how yet, but I was convinced that God would provide supper for us that evening.

Suddenly, I looked at the small bunch of radishes in my hand and asked out loud, “What can you do with radishes?” And immediately the thought entered my head, “Make cream of radish soup.” I knew that God had just answered our prayers for supper.

I excitedly ran inside and told my wife, “Honey, we’re going to have cream of radish soup for supper tonight.” She looked at me funny and said, “I’ve never heard of cream of radish soup.” To which I responded, “I haven’t either, but it might be good!”

I set about washing and slicing the radishes, making a broth from a couple of bouillon cubes and adding some dried parsley, milk and flour. I can honestly say that the soup was quite delicious and the whole family enjoyed it. Most of all, however, we were amazed and grateful for God’s gracious provision!

3. Cast all your cares on Him.

There’s a beautiful verse in 1 Peter 5:7:“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”[5] I once had a man tell me that it was arrogant to think that God would be concerned for the petty issues of our lives.

But he was wrong! The context of that verse is all about humbling ourselves before God and reminds us that He is opposed to the proud. Then God explains that one of the ways we demonstrate humility toward Him is by casting our cares on Him, because He cares for us! (See 1 Peter 5:5-7.)

Finally, let the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6-7 encourage you, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”[6]

Acknowledge that God loves you unconditionally and that He is in control.

Believe that He cares for you and will meet your needs.

And cast all your cares on Him.

Those are the simple ABCs of stress reduction and reducing your stress can improve your asthma!

From time to time, as a reminder of God’s goodness and provision, we still serve cream of radish soup. I’d like to share that recipe with you here (with a few minor modifications since that night long ago). I hope you enjoy it and I pray it serves as a reminder to you of God’s love and care for you just as it has for us.

cream of radish soupCream of Radish Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch (12) red radishes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups organic milk
  • 1/4 cup flour or 1/4 cup corn starch
  • Tablespoon butter
  • dash salt
  • dash pepper
  • dash dried basil

Directions

  • Clean and slice radishes into disks about 1/16” to 1/8” thick.
  • Bring chicken broth to a boil in a sauce pan and add sliced radishes, salt, pepper and basil. Then simmer.
  • In a shaker, combine cold milk and flour and shake until well blended. Set milk and flour aside.
  • Test radishes for being done. They should be firmly soft, not mushy.
  • When radishes are done, pour milk and flour mix into the pan, and add butter, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down to prevent it from boiling. When the broth begins to thicken the soup is done.

Guten Appetit!

Need encouragement? Share YOUR story of God’s miraculous and detailed provision!

 If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.

 

Sources:
[1] WebMD, “Stress and Asthma,” March 27, 2014, http://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/stress-asthma.
[2] Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
[3] Matthew 7:11, Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
[4] Matthew 6:25-26 (NIV).
[5] NIV.
[6] NLT.

A Smoothie That Stops Cravings

Having a “feeling light” smoothie for breakfast, snack or meal is the most important balance-restoring step for many weight loss achievers.

This smoothie is a total infusion of essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, protein and fiber.  It is a great way to cut down on food cravings, because, with super-nutrition in the smoothie, you’re actually giving your body the nutrients it needs.

Some nutrition experts say that there is often a link between overeating and the levels of key chemicals in the brain.  Food can be used as self-medication because you are low on certain brain chemicals.  Your brain has to have these chemicals to function.  Your cravings, as well as depression, irritability, anxiety and many other emotional and mental problems are signs that your brain doesn’t have enough of them.

Crave smoothie stop by flickr madlyinlovewithlifeWhen the brain is deprived of these chemicals, it sends out signals that overwhelm your willpower, triggering you to eat druglike food (usually carbohydrates) that substitute for the missing chemicals and make you feel better – for a little while.

You can easily correct these deficiencies with nutrition that boost brain chemicals like dopamine (a natural energizer), endorphine (a natural painkiller) and serotonin (a sleep promoter). This nutrition will stop your cravings, soothe your emotional and mental problems, and start you on the road to permanent weight loss. Specifically, foods high in amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are important in eliminating food cravings – so you can address all the health problems that contribute to being overweight.

Eliminate your cravings for food, as well as your depression, anxiety, irritability, obsessiveness and mental dullness by putting the following smoothie ingredients in a blender, mix and drink:

Raspberry Chocolate Delight Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein (whey, rice, or egg white)
  • 1 cup organic frozen raspberries
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 8-10 drops of stevia or 1 packet of stevia
  • 1 tsp cacao nibs or 70%-80% dark chocolate pieces

Directions:

Blend all the ingredients for 30 seconds to 1 minute, except the nibs or chocolate pieces.  Add the chocolate and pulse to blend 2 to 3 times.

In this video, I make my favorite Raspberry Chocolate Delight Smoothie and show you an excellent way to flush your body of toxins and keep it as nutritionally tuned up as possible. I am talking about ways that anyone can gently remove the harmful toxins that are slowing down their bodies to restore their health. All for mere pennies. And from the comfort of your own home! This recipe is excellent tools to support your weight loss, stop food cravings and help you avoid as many additional toxins as possible.

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