In my last post, we dived into how to have more energy by simple and effective techniques to sync your circadian rhythm (hint, sleep is huge factor for energy). Now we're turning our focus to our brain. And how it's connected to anxiety. I'm sure you've heard of leaky-gut, well, when you have low energy, anxiety, brain-fog, depression and fatigue, you probably have a leaky-brain. It's all connected! If you have any of these symptoms, your brain is not functioning properly. So you can't blame locking yourself out on getting older!
I, personally, have experience with anxiety and panic-attacks. I didn't know what they were at first. The first one I recognized as a panic-attack happened as an adult (but I'm sure I had them as a child too). A dark enclosed space triggered the attack (I was camping in a tent). I woke in a panic, like I couldn't breathe. Hot and bothered (not in a good way), I had to get outside into some moonlight. My heart-rate was racing and I was out of breath. Some people think they are having a heart-attack. Follow-up attacks have typically been while sleeping (my bedroom is dark as a cave) and I'll throw off the covers and have to turn on all the lights to calm down. (I'm also a vivid dreamer, some dreams, I think, cause the anxiety. I'm pretty sure there is a connection.)
Point blank, they suck.
I hope you have not experienced panic attacks, but if you have anxiety (it can manifest in different ways for everyone), the root of the problem is brain immflamation and dysfunction.
Brain inflammation, leaking blood-brain barrier and dysfunction are ruling your world if you suffer from anxiety, low energy, brain-fog (not thinking clearly and forgetting things easily), depression and fatigue.
But don't fret, you can heal your brain and get rid of anxiety! So what causes "leaky-brain"?
1. Disrupted circadian rhythms.
2. Exposure to toxins, like heavy metals, BPA, glyphosate and pesticides, indoor air pollutants like air fresheners and candles, fluoride (in water and toothpaste), food additives, mold and over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
3. Inflammatory diet. The standard American diet (SAD) wrecks havoc on not only your gut, but your brain as well.
4. Low vagal tone. The vagus nerve is a critical nerve for getting out of stress mode and into rest and relaxation mode. Symptoms include aniexty, negative emotional states, racing thoughts/having a hard time "turning the brain off", digestive problems, frequent urination, high cortisol levels, limited capacity for orgasm, blood sugar and blood pressure issues, and anxiety disorders like OCD.
5. Blood sugar balance and regulation. Symptoms of low blood sugar are irritability, low energy levels, light-headedness and/or jitters if you haven't eaten or in-between meals, dependency on coffee for energy, craving sweets between meals, eating for energy, poor memory, and waking up between 2-4 a.m.
Symptoms of high-blood sugar are getting tired after eating, constant hunger, excess body fat (especially around the waist), general fatigue, constant cravings (even after eating what you crave), need for sweets, frequent urination, aches and pains, difficulty falling asleep, high fasting blood glucose test.
7. Caffeine. Dependency on caffeine causes a dysfunction in the brain neurotransmitters, telling your brain not to work until you have your coffee.
So how do we fix these thing?
Here are some easy and natural ways to heal your brain and get rid of anxiety (that are mostly free):
1. Optimize blood sugar levels by reducing sugar and refined grains, prioritizing protein, healthy fat and vegetables at every meal.
2. Sync your circadian rhythms. See previous article.
3. Be mindful of caffeine. Use it wisely. And not too much. Use it for 1-2 days, then take 1-2 days off.
4. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet rich in blueberries, pomegranate, omega-3's, curcumin, turmeric, broccoli sprouts and green tea.
5. Increase vagal tone by singing, humming, gargling, mediating, laughing, deep slow breathing, massage, foam rolling and sun exposure.
6. Reduce brain inflammation by re-charging rituals, like meditation, yoga and sauna.
7. Heal your gut with spore probiotics, bone broth and by chewing slowly and a lot more than you do now.
Here's a quick morning routine you can implement every day to reduce anxiety and heal your brain:
Step 1: 5-min breathing practice. Here's a video to guide you.
Step 2: 5-10 minute foam rolling routine. Follow along with this video. (Also great at the end of the day to help with sleep.)
Step 3: Sing or hum your favorite song on your way to work. Your kids will love this one!
To make it habit, do this routine before the day gets going. Pretty soon, you won't have to think about it and you'll be enjoying it so much, you won't even mind waking up a bit earlier to do it.
Do you struggle with anxiety? If so, what has helped you?