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Stress and anxiety

How many women out there feel as though there’s not enough time in the day to do everything they need to do?

From the moment many women wake up, it’s ‘all happening’, with a huge ‘to-do’ list in hand or on their mind everyday is ‘busy’. Mothers and singles both have deadlines to meet and tasks to fulfil that generally relate to others so, many women end up neglecting their own essential needs.

Eventually, the mind is unable to switch off and anxiety sets in.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety often mirrors the level of stress in our lives and is associated with a range of symptoms:

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Tense muscles
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Digestive issues – IBS
  • Fatigue and/or hyperactivity
  • Inability to relax
  • Feelings of fear, worry, panic
  • Moodiness, irritability

Anxiety is a signpost

Living a busy and rushed life creates a sense of urgency which triggers a stress response in the body called ‘fight or flight’. We need this fight or flight mechanism to keep us alert and safe from danger but when it’s operating ‘all-the-time’, it becomes tricky to switch-off, so the body sets off an alarm in the form of anxiety to tell us it’s out of balance.

Stress perceptions & negative thoughts

How women think and feel about ourselves affects their ability to deal with stress and anxiety appropriately.

Most women are tormented by a little voice in their head pushing them to do more, be more, give more, regardless of the anxious signs telling them they need to stop.

Hormonal ups and downs

Living in a state of ‘fight or flight’ and anxiety directly influences female hormones (oestrogen & progesterone) along with other ‘happy’ hormones (serotonin). Eventually, the body stops producing some hormones (progesterone) and over produces others (oestrogen).

This is one of the main reasons women are experiencing so much difficulty with fertility, PMS and extreme menopausal symptoms.

Digestive disturbances

Stress and anxiety weakens digestion so food allergies and nutrient deficiencies become common and, once established, can also feed the stress and anxiety cycle along with blood sugar imbalances which are a consequence of hormonal changes (insulin) that cause sugar cravings.

Underlying medical conditions

Sometimes anxiety is caused by an undiagnosed medical condition or a consequence of taking medication. So, if anxiety has started to impact on your life in a negative way it’s best to consult both your GP and natural health practitioner so they may work together to provide you with the most appropriate treatment for you.

Feeding anxiety

When we don’t listen to the signs of anxiety excessive behaviours start to develop, especially around food. Women will either forget to eat, over eat or eat foods that don’t support health. While sitting down to eat all of a sudden becomes a luxury.

Women will do what it takes to keep going and this generally includes relying on coffee and sugar to get through the day and alcohol to wind at night. But, ultimately they all feed the anxiety cycle.

Promoting balance

Promoting balance and a state of inner calm requires some simple steps:

  • Morning exercise that makes you sweat, preferably outside
  • Breathing, resting, ‘practicing’ yoga and meditation throughout the day
  • Eating consciously: slow down, sit down, chew food lots, and right portion sizes
  • Eating wholefoods rich in: lean animal protein, vegetable oils, nuts/seeds, whole grains, legumes, variety of colourful vegetables (70% of diet) and enzyme rich fruits
  • Drinking pure water – at least two litres per day
  • Sleeping restoratively, in bed by 9.30-10pm and up between 6-7am
  • Removing or at least minimising caffeine, sugar and alcohol.

Herbal medicine is brilliant for dealing with stress and anxiety. Consult your naturopath so they may prescribe the most appropriate herbs you as an individual.

Jumping off the merry-go-round

Anxiety makes us feel like we don’t have choices, but, often we do. It’s about giving yourself enough time to recognise what these choices are.

Here are some ways to create some space in your life:

  • Practicing loving kindness towards yourself first then others.
  • Be your own best friend.
  • Give yourself permission to slow down and do one thing at a time.
  • Live consciously in the present by not dwelling on the past or projecting into the future.
  • Practice gratitude for the things in your life right now, even the little things.
  • Set yourself up for success. Look at your ‘to-do’ list, prioritise the top three and plan to complete those for the day. Anything else you complete will be a bonus.

It’s also helpful to remember these wise words from The Dalai Lama, “Without inner peace, how can we make real peace?”

Don’t struggle alone. Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

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