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Untangle Anxiety – 6 Tips For Busy People

Written by: Chelsea Haines, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

“Sh*t, I completely forgot to send that work email. Now it looks like I can't get even the smallest thing right. It's 7:05, and I was supposed to leave at 7:00 – maybe I can't get even the tiniest things right. My partner notices it, too... am I going to get dumped? Not if I start gyming again! Ugh, be real – when was the last time I stepped foot in the gym? What's the point if I don't eat right anyway? Why am I so constipated? No wonder I haven't been sleeping well, and with lifestyle-related diseases in my family history, I'm a ticking time bomb! Oh my gosh, I'm dying, aren't I?”

No, you aren't ‒ but you do need to untangle your anxiety. *cue a panic attack* While seemingly a little dramatic, this shame and anxiety spiral might look a little (or very) familiar to you. It might even be comforting to feel like someone just took a snapshot in your head because it means at least you're not the only crazy around here. In reality, anxiety is a VERY real part of many of our days. And for some of us, it can be debilitating. What anxiety may feel like in the body: In the body, anxiety can present itself in a multitude of ways. Here are a few of them:

  • shortness of breath

  • fluttery heart (and not in a just-met-my-crush kind of way) or heart palpitations

  • tight chest, muscle aches & body tension

  • dry mouth

  • trembling or shaking

  • sweating

  • brain fog

  • headaches

  • blockages (like constipation)

What anxiety feels like in the mind:

  • nervousness

  • dread

  • feeling fearful

  • feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down

  • paranoia (like everyone is watching or can see your anxiety)

  • overwhelm (like there's no way out)

  • feeling out of control

Sometimes it honestly feels like your only option is to hide away and never come out. Or scream until you have no voice left. But, these anxiety attacks have taught me some important lessons, and I have developed some helpful (rather than destructive) coping mechanisms along the way.

1. Stop, Inhale, Exhale, Repeat.

You feel that wave. It's swelling so high it's threatening to swallow you and everything you love about yourself whole. This is going to be the hardest but most important step in quelling that anxiety: Stop. Stop. Everything. Right. Now. Don’t talk. Not run. Or hide. Realize you were probably holding your breath. Now inhale and give a long outward sigh. Repeat this process for a minute or two. Some longer exhale breathing always helps me in these situations, and it's such an easy tool to learn, remember, and turn to: Anxiety Exhale-Focused Breathing:

  1. Inhale to a count of four.

  2. Exhale to a slow count of five.

It's that simple. It’s amazing what just a couple of minutes calming the sympathetic “fight-flight-or-freeze” nervous response and activating the parasympathetic “rest-and-digest” response can do in a moment of freak-out.

2. Sweat.


A very wise mentor of mine said: “if thinking got you to where you needed to go, you'd be there and back. You need to get out of your head and into your body.” Pick a movement-based activity you enjoy: walk, stretch, swim. It doesn't matter what it is as long as you get the heart rate up just enough to feel it. Bonus points if you manage to break a sweat. Somehow moving and sweating gives us a little perspective. It reminds us that we are alive and that everything is ultimately going to be okay.

The fastest way to realize your world is not ending is to take a scary and bold action. There is never a better time for growth and development than in a time of despair. So how about amidst this anxiety, you ask: What scares you right now? Close your eyes and see your fear in your mind's eye. You know what I'm going to say next, right? DO IT ANYWAY. Maybe it's the belief system that really needs to change. So shock your system into believing that there is always something on the other side. Happiness. Clarity. Love. Life. You will never know how far you can jump unless you take that first step. 4. Write it out.


Put it on paper. Get all out into the open, what you'd never want out in the open. It feels like we're constantly vetting our thoughts for others but sometimes even for ourselves. There's no space for that in journaling. This is your time to let it all flow out uninhibited. After you've let it all flow, you often find yourself naturally problem-solving on paper too! By working it out on paper, you can take a third-person perspective on whatever it is that your mind is trying to work out. You're often able to think outside the box because you got out of that very dark and limiting box – all by yourself. 5. Focus on healing your gut It's important to remember that not all of our anxiety stems from our heads. Poor gut health can lead to a cascade of issues in our bodies. A leaky gut often is a root cause of autoimmune disease and inflammation in the body. Too much "bad bacteria" can lead to estrogen dominance in the bloodstream. And all of those things can lead to a lack of serotonin and dopamine (the "happy feeling" neurotransmitters) that is being created and circulated in our body – as science has now shown that these hormones are actually produced in the gut and not in the head, as once perceived by early psychologists. By healing your gut, you are tapping into the world's greatest bio-hack for anxiety and overwhelm. 6. Zoom Out. Google Earth your position on the globe. I know it's weird but just do it. Zoom out. Slowly. First, see the roof of your house. Then your neighborhood. Take a moment to notice the placement of your house in relation to your neighbors. Then see your town. Acknowledge how small your living room seems when compared to your state, then compared to your country. Then see where you are on this planet and how your placement compares to the rest of the Earth. Then keep zooming out. See our Solar System. Are you getting the picture? The BIG picture? Don't sweat the small stuff...it's all small stuff,

I am always amazed at how truly the most minute things can set me off into a spiral of oblivion. When I physically see and take in how beautifully small I am in comparison to – well, everything – those small things don’t seem to be quite so life-altering. [BONUS] Little (Big) Twinkling Reminders I try to remember to do the same when I look into the night sky when there isn't too much light pollution around. There's nothing more humbling than staring up at an uncountable number of gas balls, most of which are bigger than the entire planet I live on. I stare up, and I realize some of the stars I'm looking at aren't even alive. And before I know it – I won't be either. And if this factor causing me the anxiety is not something linked to my joy, standard of living, or loved ones. I let it float away along with the realization of my own mortality. For


tomorrow I'll have forgotten and probably get stressed again. But each time, I seem to get a little better at smiling, exhaling, and not sweating the small stuff.


I hope you can add at least one of these to your toolbox of life, or at the very least, remember to keep looking at what matters in life.


In gut health and abundance,


Chelsea Haines


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit my website for more info!


 

Chelsea Haines, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Recently featured "The Gut Health Coach" by Yahoo!, Chelsea Haines has a unique way of helping high-performers heal. She doesn't claim to know best. Her mission: to remind you that YOU are the expert on your body, only you know precisely what you need, and you are not "crazy" for feeling how you feel. Her expertise stems from personally healing autoimmune disease paired with formal degrees in psychology, gut health, and mindfulness. She’s the Founder of The Gut Health Agency, where a team of health coaches & Registered Dietitians merge health coaching with clinical testing for increased patient compliance and lasting habit change ‒ a needle-moving combination not otherwise seen in the gut health space.

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