Anxiety Guide: 7 Steps Promoting Mental Breakthrough
“Our bodies are our gardens- our wills are our gardeners.” William Shakespeare
Do you feel in control of your mental health? Sometimes when people are having various anxiety symptoms such as panic attacks or intense fear they assume that it is literally all in their head. It is important to remember that what happens in the rest of the body does affect mental health.
Discipline is the key that unlocks mental health breakthrough. When we discipline our will to be the gardener of our bodies, what follows is optimized mental health. Too often when people or family members are having these types of mental health issues they are not getting any real answers and do not have the core underlying issues of their problems addressed. In this blog I want to focus on defining anxiety and focus on seven steps that will help us have a healthy mind that functions at optimal levels.
Anxiety is Natural.
Did you know anxiety is natural? The surprising answer is yes. Not only does every human currently on Planet Earth have a measure of anxiety; it is completely natural to feel anxious!
Anxiety is a natural response to life experiences and risk factors. Life is stressful, and it is perfectly natural to react with feelings of intense fear. There are times when stress gives us the edge we need to succeed, and there are times when stress gets the better of us. This is the rhythm of life, stress is a note we are all expected to hold. Anxiety is a big deal. We believe it is important for you to have the facts.
The Anatomy of Anxiety: Disorder Characterized
An anxiety disorder is a cyclical cycle composed of Three Components:
- Feeling- Anxiety triggers our “flight-or-fight” response. The fight-or-flight response is our body’s natural way to protect us from danger by priming us for action. When our fight-or-flight response is activated, enhanced alertness causes heavy breathing and an overall feeling of intense fear.
- Doing- People with anxious behaviors try their best to avoid their specific trigger. Avoidance defines the escape mechanism anxiety recipients use to escape their trigger. If crowded movie theaters cause anxiety, the individual will use an escape mechanism (like feeling ill) to get out of going. These escape mechanisms evolve into behaviors used to prevent the trigger. Exposure therapy can greatly help in this area.
- Thinking- Anxiety is deeply personal. Clinical trials show people with anxiety often having unrealistic and extreme thoughts triggered by their specific phobia. When a person thinks, “I will get fired if my presentation is not absolutely perfect,” they are demonstrating disproportionate worry. There is clear overestimation of the unrealistic consequences accompanied with an underestimation in their ability.
Understanding Anxiety in Adults (18 and Older)
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, yet many do not receive treatment or exposure therapy. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADA) published a study reporting, “18% of adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder. Only 37% of those adults are actively receiving treatment.” The facts from clinical trials on Adults suffering with an Anxiety disorder are disclosed below.
“Percentage of U.S. Adults 18 and Older with Mental or Addictive Disorder”
|General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)||3.1% (6.8 million adults)|
|Panic Disorder (PD)||2.7% (6 million adults)|
|Social Anxiety Disorder||6.8% (15 million adults)|
|Specific Phobias||8.7% (19 million adults)|
|Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD)||1% (2.2 million adults)|
|Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)||3.5% (7.7 million adults)|
|Major Depressive Disorder||6.7% (16.1 million adults)|
|Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)||1.5% (3.3 million adults)|
Disturbing Trends in Children: Following the Anxiety Trail
Evidence suggests anxiety is trending in children, per this study from the National Institute of Mental Health reporting, “7% of children ages 4-17 have an Anxiety disorder, making anxiety the most prevalent mental health disorder among children in clinical trials.” The breakdown is included below:
“Prevalence Rates of Mental or Addictive Disorders in Children Ages 4-17”
|Substance Use Disorder||1 %|
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety is caused by a stress source. Whether the stress source is real or imagined, internal or external; individualized stress sources materialize into intense fear. From late bills to personal feelings of inadequacy, practically anything can cause us to feel anxious. Anxiety disorders have a complicated causal network, per a recent study; anxiety has causal roots in the following networks:
- Genetics- Research per the National Institute of Mental Health shows that anxiety runs in the family
- Brain Chemistry- The same research shows that worry is not a tendency, rather it is a personality type predisposing the person to be naturally anxious
- Environmental Factors- Personal relationships, overloads of work from school and/or work, and unstable finances are environmental factors contributing to developing anxiety.
- Parental Modeling- This study shows that parents who avoid “fearful situations” will increase anxious tendencies in their children’s behavioral complex. Additional Parental Modeling behaviors shown to trigger anxiety include over-protectiveness and excessive reassurance.
- Traumatic Life Events- The death of a loved one, being bitten by a dog, academic shortcomings, and being bullied are traumatizing events which can create anxiety.
Understanding the Symptoms (And Not-Needed Gestures)
Many people suffering from an anxiety disorder describe their condition like quicksand; the harder they struggle to escape, the deeper they sink. People with no experience of anxiety can say insensitive things, we have included our Top 5 Insensitive Things to Make an Anxious Person Feel Worse.
- “Just have confidence”
- “It’s all in your head”
- “Why can’t you cheer up?”
- “Get some guts”
- “Life is too short to be sad”
Anxiety is difficult, and often scary. People lacking experience do not understand it is not easy to find the courage to face life when it feels like you are buried alive by your thoughts and self-doubt. When you find yourself in that quicksand moment, remember; worried thoughts are “notoriously inaccurate.”
The Mayo Clinic covers the 10 dominant symptoms of Anxiety. These symptoms include:
- Extreme nervousness
- Intense Fear
- Exaggerated reflex reaction
- A sense of impending danger or panic
- Increased heart rate
- Poor Concentration
- Hyperventilation (Breathing rapidly)
- Increased Panic Attack
- Having the urge to avoid anxiety triggers (includes social settings and specific phobias)
The 8 Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)- Arguably the most well-known disorder of the list, PTSD is the reaction to a traumatic event. People with PTSD report “reexperiencing” the traumatic event through dreams and situations like the initial event. Behaviors includes numbness, avoidance of social settings and increased aggression.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)- Recipient behavior is categorized by obsessive/repetitive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD)- Behaviors manifest in a concern that “bad things” will happen to the recipient. This disorder can be caused by separation from a care provider.
- Social Phobia- Defined by a fear of poor social performance in medium to large group settings.
- Panic Disorder- Behaviors include a fear of losing control
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)- Recipients experience uncontrollable worry covering multiple areas of life. GAD recipients will worry about the quality of their education, where they will work, how their health will last in the future, and if they will stay in touch with their families.
- Selective Mutism- Encompasses both a fear and failure to speak in medium to large social settings. Recipients worry whether their opinions will contribute to the collective conversation.
- Specific Phobia- Fear of specific social situations and objects.
“Good Anxiety?” The Answer Below…
What is your first thought when you think about anxiety? We commonly (and wrongly) attach negative connotations to anxiety. Contrary to popular opinion, anxiety is completely natural. Every human on Planet Earth experiences some degree of worry, uneasiness or fear when feeling threatened. Anxiety gives us the tools to both identify a possibly dangerous situation and the tools to escape should that situation materialize as life-threatening. We need anxiety to survive. The next time you avoid disease-carrying rats or proclaiming your unwavering love for a careless lover, you can thank your anxiety. Anxiety only becomes problematic only when it becomes severe. Per this study, children and adults use anxiety to improve performance throughout different tasks based upon arousal. The Yerkes-Dodson curve (below) helps illustrate this concept.
Anxiety and Physical Performance: A Strange Relationship
The Yerkes-Dodson curve, developed by psychologists RM Yerkes and JD Dodson, suggests physical performance increases with arousal. Think of it like this. If you have three cups of coffee, you will hit your peak performance. If you have too much coffee, your performance will suffer.
The strange relationship between anxiety and physical performance, proven by the Yerkes-Dodson chart, is that performance does not gradually increase in response to anxiety. Rather, there is a certain point where performance will spike then decline.
When Anxiety Becomes Problematic: The Six Signs to Watch For
As we learned from the Yerkes-Dodson curve, there is a point where a high level of anxiety lends to psychological impairments. These impairments manifest in two general forms: misinterpreting threats and extreme responses. Problematic anxiety can manifest in the following:
- Failure in School
- Difficulty relating to peers
- Contributing to family dysfunction
- Limited career opportunities
- Substance misuse
- Acute depression
7 Steps to Mental Breakthrough
Step One: Optimize Nutrition
The first thing that needs to happen is a change in one’s diet. This needs to be a lifestyle change that is long term and not a brief “fad diet.” There is nothing wrong with the Atkins Diet or a Juice Cleanse, however, these diets are not designed to be long term solutions. You need a diet you can trust for longevity. You want to create time in your year for one or two Colon Cleanses to purge your system of heavy metals, but you need a diet you can trust for the remainder of your year.
A good place to start is to increase whole foods and healthy fats in your diet. It is very important to get rid of processed foods as well. Read every label to make sure you are avoiding things like trans-fats, high fructose corn syrup and other unhealthy additives that are in many things today in the average supermarket. It is common for supermarkets today to have organic sections in their stores. Know the foods you need and do not need so you can be efficient at grocery shopping.
Building your own healthy diet is not an easy task. You should start by deciding which foods you will not allow in your diet. Introducing bread or dairy is your decision; you should begin by eliminating the foods you believe do not work with your system.
Here is an example of a long-term diet plan for mental breakthrough:
Egg Toast (275 Calories)
- 2 Slices Whole Wheat (Toasted)
- 1 Large Egg
- 2 Egg Whites
- ¼ Low Fat Cottage Cheese
- ½ Medium Sized Avocado
- Salt and Pepper
- Side Note: Can be Served with Strawberries (3-5 in season strawberries)
- Toast your toast to your preference
- Mash Avocado in a medium size bowl
- Coat a small pan with non-stick cooking spray
- Once pan is medium-hot, combine the egg and egg whites with cottage cheese
- Cook until eggs are scrambled
- Season with salt & pepper and let cool
- If you want more flavor, drizzle a little siracha or rooster sauce
Recipe Credit: https://bit.ly/2NTVEIs
Mid-Morning Snack (63 Calories)
- ¾ Cup of Blueberries
Chickpea & Veggie Salad (319 Calories)
- 2 Cups Mixed Greens
- 3/4 cup veggies of your choice (try cucumbers and tomatoes)
- 2/3 Cup Chickpeas rinsed
- 1 Tbsp. Almonds Chopped
- Optional Dressing: Use 1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and freshly ground pepper
- Mix Together. Do not store in plastic container, glass is preferable if you are packing to go.
- Add optional dressing if desired.
Recipe Credit: https://bit.ly/2wkqL7Y
Late Afternoon Snack (62 calories)
- 1 Large Orange
Chicken, Avocado & Red Pepper Pizza (399 Calories)
- 1 Large Flatbread or Naan
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- ½ Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (Pounded to ½ Inch Thickness + Salt and Pepper to taste)
- 2-3 Slices Cooked Bacon Chopped
- ½ Avocado (Sliced or Diced)
- ½ Red Pepper, Diced
- 1 Tablespoon Packed Cilantro Leaves (Roughly Chopped)
- ½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
- ¼ Cup Ranch Dressing
- 1 Teaspoon Chipotle Seasoning
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Season chicken with salt and pepper
- Cook the chicken in pan with medium heat. Allow chicken is cook all the way through. Dice chicken to ensure it is thoroughly cooked.
- Brush the flatbread with olive oil
- Sprinkle flatbread with shredded cheese
- Top flatbread with diced chicken. Add red peppers and chopped bacon.
- Place flatbread on a lightly oiled sheet of foil.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted
- While flatbread is baking, whisk together ranch dressing and chipotle seasoning with the red pepper flakes
- When flatbread is finished, drizzle the homemade chipotle dressing and serve hot.
- If you do not have the time to make the chipotle dressing, any brand of store-bought chipotle sauce will work.
Recipe Credit: https://bit.ly/2NoTAev
Dessert (Every Healthy Diet Needs Dessert)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge (83 calories)
- ½ cup softened virgin coconut oil
- 2 scoops chocolate protein powder
- ½ cup salted creamy peanut butter
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 drops liquid Stevia
- Fill muffin pan with 24 liners; put to the side
- Blend all ingredients together in a food processor, blend until smooth
- Pour 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each muffin liner
- Refrigerate muffin pan for 1 hour or until fudge firms
- When firm, serve
Recipe Credit: https://bit.ly/2Np4sZU
Total Calorie Count- 1,201
Omega-3 and Your Brain
Our cell membranes, and much of our brain, are made up of fatty acids. It is important that we get omegas and other fatty acids in our diet. Omega 3’s provide nutrition to the brain which can be helpful for mood and bipolar issues.
Choline is important for normal brain development as well as liver function, nerve function, muscle movement and a healthy metabolism. “Choline is a vitamin-like essential nutrient and a methyl donor involved in many physiological processes, including normal metabolism and transport of lipids, methylation reactions, and neurotransmitter synthesis.”(1)
Cholesterol is important for brain health and it is the glue between molecules. Though it has been demonized in some circles it has a vital role in health. “Cholesterol, a substance required for the normal function of cells, is present in every cell of the human body. It is also found in the bloodstream. The soft waxy substance is produced in the body and is essential to produce vitamin D, bile salts and hormones.”(2)
A person needs 30 to 40 grams of protein per meal which triggers protein synthesis. If you don’t do that you will destroy your metabolism eventually. Fiber is needed because it helps balance microbiome. Whole food carbohydrates are best. Vitamins and minerals include Folate, B6, B12, Vitamin D, Zinc, Selenium and Magnesium.
Step Two: Balance Hormones
PNEI, which stands for Psycho-Neuro-Endocrine-Immunology, is very important. Three main communication systems exist in your body. Neurotransmitters are messengers of the nervous system, hormones are messengers of the endocrine system and cytokines are messengers of the immune system. Health involves good communication as your cells talk to each other all the time. If you have issues with your hormones it will affect your brain. If someone has too much insulin from sugar and/or starch, too much cortisol and adrenaline from stress and not enough thyroid hormone function then the insulin resistance has a huge effect on the brain. You can get an insulin response test to make sure there are no issues in that area. We need 30 to 50 grams of soluble fiber. Reducing and managing stress are very important. You need the thyroid to function normally. Important nutrients for the thyroid are selenium 200 to 400 mcg and thiamine. If you have thyroid issues you should go on a whole food diet as well as getting off dairy and soy. High sugar, high refined diet, caffeine, stress, dairy and hormones in dairy and meats will hurt your hormone balance. Alcohol damages the liver which will cause imbalance in your hormones.
Step Three: Cool Off Inflammation
Anxiety, depression as well as other mental disorders involve an inflamed brain. The brain is made of mostly immune cells and high inflammation is not good. When cytokines run out of control it will cause issues. A C-reactive protein test for inflammation and gluten sensitivity can be helpful to assess your situation. Causes of inflammation include our diet, food allergens, digestive function and immune system, toxins, low grade infections, sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, and vitamin deficiency. An anti-inflammatory diet and anti-inflammatory supplements are very important.
Step Four: Fixing Your Gut
It is important to resolve leaky gut issues. We need to get rid of the things that grow bad bacteria in our GI tract. We need things that will help us grow good bacteria. We need Prebiotics and Probiotics. Nutri-Spec Immune X-Flam is a good supplement to start with as it contains both Prebiotics and Probiotics. It is important that people take Probiotic supplements or eat foods that are rich in probiotics. Herbs that are anti-microbial include oregano, rosemary and garlic. We need diverse bacteria in our gut so we should eat variety of vegetables, stalks and stems.
Step Five: Enhance Detoxification
Much of our food grown today that is treated with pesticides is causing many health issues for people. It is important that we drink healthy water that is filtered. I would suggest distilled water or reverse osmosis system for getting your water. Dr. Joe Pizzorno believes that the primary driver of chronic disease in the industrialized world is environmental toxins. It is not that nutritional deficiencies and poor choices are no longer a problem, but that we have added a toxin problem to the list and it has become a huge health risk. Never cook anything in plastic. You want fresh food and not processed. Buy organic and non-GMO food. You want to avoid farmed fish, GMO soy, and dark leafy greens which are commercially grown and have lots of pesticides. Environmental Work Group puts out a ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’ list that is very helpful. Mercury toxicity manifests with anxiety, sleep disturbances, insomnia, neuroendocrine toxin (hurt hormones) and immunosuppressant (get sick and contract serious illnesses like cancer). Mercury’s biggest sources are fish and fillings. When it comes to fish avoid the biggest ones that live a long-time such as tuna, swordfish and shark. Glutathione (GSH) is critical and it does three things: it is the most important antioxidant in our cells and mitochondria. Low levels GSH will cause cells, DNA, and mitochondria to degenerate more quickly.
Secondly, it plays a critical role in the liver for getting toxins out of the body. GSH binds to toxins to easily escort them out of liver through the kidneys.Adding Glutathione to your supplemental regimen should be considered because it is a powerful remover of toxins and carcinogens. You can use a handful of products to raise your Glutathione levels, but we suggest considering a suppository as it allows Glutathione to be immediately absorbed into the blood stream. We suggest VitalTox Reduced Glutathione as an ideal supplement to raise your Glutathione levels.
Thirdly, GSH is responsible for pumping mercury out of the brain through the blood brain barrier where it then can be extracted from body and the cells. Broccoli sprouts are the biggest source of GSH, but collards, kale, avocado, cabbage, turnips, mustard greens, arugula, rutabaga and watercress all contain it in high quantities as well.
Step 6: Boost Mitochondria
Mitochondria are essential energy sources that we need to function properly. We need energy and without it our bodies will experience negative side effects that can lead to slow mental function, mood disorders, and other types of dementia. Toxins, nutritional deficiencies and inflammation can all hinder the function of the mitochondria. If they wind down, many diseases can occurs. Important nutrients for our mitochondria include CoQ10, ribose, lipoic acid, NAC and carnitine. They may help with various issues like autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s as well. The brain uses the most energy and the mitochondria produces the greatest amount that is in your brain. Brain disorders are not fatal in most cases and often can be fixed. Poor cells can be replaced with healthy ones. We need to stop poisoning our cells by not doing the things that make you weak like frying foods, using toxic oils, and mercury. Inflammation comes from the mitochondria. Your body needs to convert food to energy (B2 & B3 help this process) and the mitochondria needs to function properly. Breakdowns in mitochondrial function are caused by two things which are a poor diet of too many calories and not enough nutrients and antioxidants, plus a reduced nutrient intake. Enzymes need zinc and selenium and we need omega 3 fats which make up the membrane of the mitochondria. Top mitochondrial nutrients include Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, CoQ10, NADH, D-Ribose, Magnesium, B2 – Riboflavin, B3 – Niacin and NAC.
Step 7: Treatments for Anxiety to Calm the Mind
Your mind governs your stress through your autonomic nervous system. It controls all the automatic functions in your body. It is divided into two parts: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. Chronic stress increases inflammation, anxiety, depression and damages the hippo-campus leading to memory loss, mood disorders and reduces serotonin levels. It also interferes with thyroid function and causes loss of muscle.
When nerve cells in the brain are overactive, it contributes to feelings of chronic stress and anxiety disorders. Supplementing with the amino acid GABA is a natural and safe alternative to replace positive thoughts with negative ones. The brain naturally produces GABA to stimulate communication between nerve cells. When our GABA levels are low, feelings of anxiety are amplified. We recommend raising your GABA levels with Life Vitality Ultra Bliss because it contains high quality Phenyl-Gaba which has no problem crossing the blood brain barrier. It is vital that we manage stress because we all have it. There are several practical things we can do in addition to supplementing with high quality products. When you lower inflammation, you turn off fight or flight stress. Focus on things that are going well. Keep things in perspective. Take a walk in a park (without your cell phone) and enjoy nature and some outdoor weather can be a big stress relief.
On a personal level, there is nothing more important than your mental health.
Eat right and reduce processed carbohydrates. Get plenty of exercise – which is important to help with our health – lower stress and improve our outlook on life. Nutrients we should focus on are a good multivitamin, Folate, B6, B12, Vitamin D, Zinc, Selenium and Magnesium help methylation and probiotics. You should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Do things that mentally stimulate you like playing chess, learning something new and meeting new people. Mental fitness is important as you want neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. There is always hope and never give up.
Thank you for taking the time to read Anxiety Guide: 7 Steps Promoting Mental Breakthrough
Your success is our passion. If you have any questions or contributions, please contact us via email or phone-call. We are constantly looking for new information to promote wellness – and hearing from you would make our day! Feel free to reach out to our free Health and Wellness Consultation headed by our Certified Health Consultant, Kurt LaCapruccia, D.S.S. (Diploma in Dietary Supplement Science).
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