25% of women suffer from stress and anxiety. Women are twice as likely as men to experience anxiety disorders. In fact, women and young adults are propelling the huge rise in the use anti-anxiety drugs.
These anti-anxiety drugs have major side effects, such as weight gain (which can make women even more anxious if they care about their appearance), sleep disturbances, slowing of mental function, sexual dysfunction, tremors, nights sweats, and IBS or stomach upset.
These drugs are also addicting, despite what the doctors tell you.
90% of all illness is stress related
If stress is affecting your health and wellbeing, and altogether throwing your life out of kilter, know that you are not alone.
This will be the first article in a series devoted to mental health, to start tackling the phenomena that is affecting the lives of millions.
I am no stranger to stress and anxiety. Since my early twenties, coping with stress, anxiety, and depression have been a struggle for me. I've managed to get to this point without going on medications, however, I would like to be able to overcome stress and anxiety once and for all, and live in freedom.
If you feel the same way, take this journey with me as we explore healthy ways of conquering stress.
One of the reasons women are so stressed nowadays is because we expect so much for ourselves. Many of us have financial burdens, parenting responsibilities, and social anxieties, that build up and up.
I think a big part of the problem is our desire to control things in our lives, we are very much goal oriented, wanting that "happily ever after" to every one of life's challenges instead of letting go and enjoying the journey, no matter how difficult and tumultuous.
And instead of focusing on what we have control over, such as what we eat, what we say, controlling our anger, being patient with the kids, being patient with ourselves, we focus on what we consider the big picture, i.e. things we have absolutely no control over.
High levels of stress leads to high levels of cortisol release
Compounded with the fact that women often eat and sleep poorly, the situation is a recipe for stress overload and adrenal burnout.
When we're stressed, our adrenal glands release tremendous amounts of a hormone called cortisol.
High levels of cortisol is linked to weight gain, low thyroid function, hormonal problems, depression, low libido, muscle and joint pain, and much more.
5 tips to Reduce Stress & Change your Mental State Right Now
1) Break the Pattern
Tony Robbins recommends something that caught me by surprise when I first read it. He explains that if you find yourself in a situation of stress or anxiety that's spiraling out of control, get up and do so something funny, crazy or silly, even if it's out of character. For example, shout, laugh out loud, scream something ridiculous even if there are other people around (perhaps not at work). This breaks the pattern in the brain, and jolts us out of a negative mental state. Do something you don't expect, just temporarily, and in the moment.
2) Get out in the Sun
Bask in the sun for a quick mood boost. Light directly affects mood.
Try to be in the Sun for 20-30 minutes a day via direct or indirect sunlight.
3) Exercise -
If your'e in a stressed state go out and take a walk. Just breathing fresh air and getting outdoors is sometimes enough to get us out of an anxious state, and all of a sudden things don't look so bleak anymore.
Plus when we return home, we have the mental clarity to tackle whatever needs to get done that day with a clear head. Aim to exercise regularly at least 5 times a week for 30 minutes each time.
4) Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins and Minerals for mood include Vitamin B6 (depleted by the use of birth control pills, lack of B6 causes irritability and PMS)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin has been used to treat depression and anxiety with much success),
Magnesium (low magnesium causes anxiety depression and muscle tension), Calcium (take along with magnesium) and
Vitamin C with bioflavonoids. Vitamin C with its bioflavonoids (found in the white pulp inside the orange peel for example) is necessary for the production of serotonin.
5) Diet to Get Your Colon Moving-
Constipation and bowel disorders can contribute to stress and depression. The connection between diet and mental health is profound. A sluggish or irritated colon causes impaired nutrient absorption and a lack of the B vitamins impacts mental health.
In fact, Studies have shown that females with IBS have very high incidence of clinical depression.
Constipation lowers our energy reserves.
High Protein Diets which are a fad nowadays contributes to the constipation problems we are seeing nowadays. The Standard American diet is a diet based on refined processed foods with white flour, sugar, and refined fats.
Only a diet full of wholegrains fruits and vegetables with natural fiber will eliminate constipation and lead to the development of a healthy colon necessary for nutrient absorption.
Aim to eat wholegrains and vegetables every day.
If you're looking for a healthy wholegrain superfood bread, check out our kamut bread below.
Being kind to our bodies leaves us feeling good about ourselves.
Binging on ice cream and potato chips because we are stressed might help lift our spirits for a few minutes, but long term, fills us with dissatisfaction and increases our stress levels.
So, if you're stressed do something kind for your body.
Prepare a healthy salad, a green juice, a fruit smoothie.
Bonus: Mushrooms- there are certain legal mushrooms that can help with stress, depression and anxiety. More about this in the upcoming weeks.