Throughout the world, many people find themselves dealing with anxiety. This condition can cause someone to experience excessive sweating, stomach pain, shortness of breath, and a tingling sensation throughout the body. Here are three ways to reduce feelings of anxiousness.
Mood, Attitude and the Chemical effects on the body
It seems that everyone knows the things they should be doing to help them feel good, or at least better than they are currently feeling. Things like getting adequate sleep, fresh air, exercise, lots of clean water, and plenty of organic vegetables.
Unfortunately there are times we don’t feel good enough to do these things, and sadly, the vast majority of the adult population do not get all these healthy tasks or experiences accomplished on a daily basis.
Yet, there is always work to do in our current hustle and bustle technology driven society. When the body has not had proper nourishment and mood is less than favorable, it gets hard to do that work. Though it may eventually get done, it will typically take much longer to accomplish and becomes more of an arduous process than it should be.
You may have experienced this during a bout of depression or periods of high stress. There are tons of things on the to do list, but the tasks at hand seem overwhelming and take much longer to perform, if we can even get to them at all. The final product during these times rarely reaches its full potential.
One thing to recognize here is that attitude and mood in stressful situations, are not the same thing. Attitude can be defined as our general outlook about a situation, being relatively under our own control and resistant to negative factors outside of one’s control. In essence our attitude is a conscious choice that we make about a situation or individual.
Mood, on the other hand, is much more malleable and can fluctuate vastly from day to day or hour to hour depending on the current state of our lives. Though our mood can range from happy and content to depressed and anxious in the span of a day, our attitude towards a situation can hold strong throughout these fluctuations.
There is definitely an interplay here, where attitude influences one’s mood throughout various situations, yet one’s mood in a situation will influence the attitude held towards that situation. Eventually it comes back around, when the mood that influenced the formation of an attitude, now affects mood when the same situation is presented again.
It seems that mood, or emotional states, have a much more profound effect on the mind and body. Emotions are well known to alter signals and communication throughout the brain, and can cause major changes in our bodily functions. Our physical health also plays a crucial role in mental health. Science has continually confirmed that processes such as chronic inflammation, imbalanced gut microbiomes, heavy metal toxicities, and hormonal imbalances have major effects on our mood and overall levels of happiness.
So when a good mood is present, individuals may find themselves crushing projects and enjoying work, maybe even finding time to do all the little things known to help build the foundations of our health and wellbeing. Through this, more positive cycles and patterns can take hold, creating a positive feedback loop, which in turn creates more positivity, and elevates mood even further.
But why is it, exactly, that our mood can affect our mental performance so profoundly?
Well in humans at least, emotions appear to play critical roles in accurate judgement and in how the brain is accurately regulating thoughts and other mental processes such as attention, memory, and motivation. This has led psychologists to largely believe that the process of decision-making takes place largely in the unconscious mind which is heavily influenced by our mood. (Wegner et al., 2002).
Mood essentially acts as a traffic light for cognitive function and decision making processes.
When performing mental tasks with a positive mood, it gives our brain the green light to open up its pathways and allow for increased cognitive and relational processes, allowing us to work more efficiently and effectively. In contrast, negative moods inhibit these types of processes (think red light) leading our minds to rely on perceptual and stimulus specific processing.
This means when we are in a good mood, our mind is open and the flow of communication is unrestricted, and while we are in a bad mood our brain literally shuts off these pathways and defaults to the simplest and most rudimentary mental processing pathways.
Simply put, a good mood allows for top down efficient processing, while bad moods lead to bottom up inefficient processing.
The idea is that positive moods confer value on one’s current thoughts and inclinations, giving them the drive and ability to perform well on tasks. By contrast negative moods may inhibit this tendency if experienced as task difficulty or as negative feedback about the adequacy of current expectations.
What does this all mean?
Well, If you find yourself in a good mood, get to work! Chances are the project that has been dredging on or the problem that seemed unsolvable, may not seem as daunting and you’ll be able to think about them in new and constructive ways.
In other words, if you’re feeling low or moody while trying to get some work done, no matter how determined or what your attitude about that work is, your creativity and final product will suffer.
How do you keep that good mood around then?
There are a number of quick easy things that can quickly boost mood:
- Hydrate - bad moods, headaches, cravings, and stress can all stem from something as simple as being dehydrated. Western society is chronically dehydrated and often enough the water quality is subpar. Find a local source of spring water or make sure to get some purified water and then add some minerals to it. You should be drinking half your bodyweight in ounces every day!
Essential oils - uplifting scents such as ylang ylang, rosemary, lavender, jasmine, sandalwood, chamomile can all help relieve some tension and bring a calm relaxed mood into the day. Put them in a diffuser or rub some on your temples, inner wrists, and neck.16.5% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (7.7 million people).
- Deep breaths - deep slow breaths have consistently been used as a quick hack to lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, and relieve stress. In turn, exhaling and releasing the things that are weighing you down allows for a calming effect to support a better mood.
Grounding - take your shoes off and go find a good soft patch of dirt or grass, beach walks may be preferable if you are near a coast line. Getting our feet on the ground allows our body to discharge built up electrical charges, literally letting go of pent up energy that has been building up.
Stretch - dropping into your body and out of your mind is one of the best ways to break a funk. It may not seem the slightest bit appealing to move or do some stretching, but what I can guarantee is that as soon as you do get moving, you won’t want to stop until you’ve worked through that funk and refresh your energy.
- Herbal medicine - there are tons of herbs with potent psychological and physiological effects. This means we can rapidly and safely affect the way we are feeling with naturally occurring substances that have been used for thousands of years. Here are a few of our favorite herbs that quickly boost mood:
Here are some more long term strategies to raise our baseline mood:
- Sleep - Getting 7+ hours is important. Getting a great sleep is THE most important factor for our mental wellbeing. Our society is chronically sleep deprived which leads to increased inflammation, decreased cognition, brain fog, burnout, and, you guessed it, a depressed mood. Avoiding blue light a couple hours before bed time, going to sleep at a consistent time, and having a clean, dark, slightly cool room will lay the foundation for a solid night of sleep.
Diet - Our gut has at least twice as many serotonin receptors as the rest of our nervous system. This means that eating a crummy diet high in processed sugars and unhealthy fats leads to having an imbalanced gut microbiome. Also, eating foods that don’t agree with our body leads to inflammation throughout the gut. Serotonin receptors then stop functioning properly and the gut begins to digest and process nutrients in a much slower and inefficient manner. Stick to foods that aren’t found in a package and make sure to get tons of organic vegetables in your diet paired with healthy fats and conservative amounts of plant protein.
Herbal medicine - yes, you are having deja vu! We had to include herbal medicine twice as there are potent herbs that have profound effects with long term use.Lion’s mane - best used for extended periods of time, it can also improve cognitive function and reduce anxiety in the short term. Over the course of using Lion’s mane it can begin to stimulate natural nerve growth factors in the nervous system to help rebuild burnout pathways and nourish the parts of the brain that may be suffering and decrease inflammation through the nervous system.Reishi - another potent mushroom with astounding qualities. Used long term it helps build up the immune system, balance our cholesterol, and decrease anxiety/depression associated with a number of medical conditions. New science is also showing it has promise as an anti-cancer agent.Skullcap - Native Americans prized skullcap for its powerful medicinal properties. It has been shown to treat neuropathic (nerve) pain, infections, inflammatory conditions, and of course anxiety. It is known as a nervous system trophorestorative, which means that it protects our nerves and helps repair the parts of the nervous system that may be faltering.
Most of the tips and tricks we mentioned above are very DIY and take commitment, consistency, and dedication for them to become truly powerful tools in our lives. As for the herbs, we decided to get the hard part out of the way and combine them all with medicinal mushrooms, vitamins, and amino acids in our Day & Night formulas.
The herbs in the Day and Night formulas are micronized and standardized to their highest potency for clinically based dosing. By providing a quick boost in mood, work can seem a bit less daunting and there can be an opening for healthy habits and routines to take hold. With long term benefits, these herbs build up resilience to stress and nourish the nervous system leading to increased energy, better sleep, and a clear and happy mind.
Just remember, the next time you find yourself in a good mood, don’t go out to a party with your friends or take the day off by relaxing and taking it easy. Give yourself a chance to do some high quality work or knock out a project that’s been lingering. You will likely find yourself in a much better mood afterwards with no work to do. If you do find that you are once again in a less than favorable mood, grab some herbs, get outside, and move your body.
Sometimes though, it’s enough to bring awareness to a situation that is negatively affecting our mood and wellbeing for us to find our balance again.
- Clore, G. L., & Palmer, J. (2009). Affective guidance of intelligent agents: How emotion controls cognition. Cognitive systems research, 10(1), 21-30.Mathers, C. D., & Loncar, D. (2006). Projections of global mortality and burden of disease from 2002 to 2030. PLoS medicine, 3(11), e442.
Finding Your Flow & Discovering Your Best Self
If you often find yourself reaching for that third or fourth cup of coffee before the clock hits noon, frequently craving a nice snooze right after lunch, or find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night, then you may have an out of balance circadian rhythm to thank.
Our Circadian Rhythm is defined as “a biological process that most organisms follow through a 24-hour cycle of wakefulness and sleepiness.” The highest levels of action, focus, and productivity require the equal opposite of restfulness, calm, and restoration; the yin and the yang. The human body picks up cues from the earth’s natural light, or lack thereof. During the day, the sun signals to the body that it is time to wake up. During the night, when the sun goes down, the body is signaled to sleep. So, if you find yourself struggling to make it past the afternoons, or unable to fall asleep most nights, then it may be time to take a look at what could be throwing off your circadian rhythm.
The modern world’s impact on our sleep.
In our modern world, potential for sleep disruption lurks everywhere. For thousands of years, the sun was our only source of light, and humans followed a natural day-night cycle. A shift began to occur approximately 150 years ago, when electric lighting was invented. In recent years alone, our exposure to artificial light has increased significantly, with technology being the top culprit in the disruption of our sleep as the average adult spends over 11 hours a day in front of a screen; that’s up from 9 hours and 32 minutes just 4 years ago."However, light and technology have not been the sole influencers when it comes to our circadian rhythms.
Many other factors can also play a role in the quality and quantity of our sleep, such as stress, noise, lighting, stress, illness, medications, and even genetics.
How research is connecting circadian rhythm and disease.
"In recent years, research has revealed that the circadian rhythm does not solely control the sleep-wake cycles in humans, but that it affects us more deeply, down to our cells and organ systems." - NCBI
"In the last few years, research has also provided evidence that points to connections between disrupted circadian rhythms and various clinical disorders. The clinical evidence suggests that if the circadian rhythm has been disrupted in mice or men, metabolic syndrome and obesity, premature aging, diabetes, cardiac arrhythmias, immune deficiencies, hypertension and abnormal sleep cycles develop." - NCBI
A 2019 study showed the effects of circadian rhythms disturbances on health. There was an inverse relationship between cognition and sleep deprivation, a direct relationship between risk of cardiovascular injury and sleep deprivation, a direct relationship between poor mental health and sleep deprivation, and a direct relationship between poor neurological health and sleep deprivation.
Quality vs. Quantity
How much sleep do you really need? Well, the answer may not be as black and white as you thought. Aiming to get the right amount of deep sleep is the starting point. You can sleep for a full 8 hours, but that won’t necessarily be enough if you are not getting good quality sleep.
A common guideline we often hear is that we should be sleeping anywhere from 6-8 hours per night, but 6 hours or less may not be doing your internal rhythm any justice. In fact, one research study showed that chronic restriction of sleep to 6 hours or less per night yielded cognitive performance deficits that were equivalent to up to 2 nights of total sleep deprivation.
How you can support your circadian rhythm.
Drugs and supplements can only do so much for our system.
- Put away all devices before bed. Although tempting, especially in a day and age when FOMO is a real thing, scrolling through your Instagram feed or binge watching that new show on Netflix as you’re lying in bed may not be doing you any favors. Dr. Frank Lipman, founder and director of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City and the creator of Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman, says, “tech messes with [your ability to fall asleep] in a couple of ways. One is, if you stay on your gadgets at night, it’s going to be hard for you to slow down your nervous system and relax. But probably more importantly is all the blue light that’s emitted from these devices. It goes into your eyes and affects your body’s perceptions of light and dark, which upsets the rhythm.” - Dr. Franklin Lipman
Soak up the sun. Exposure to natural light is key to an aligned circadian rhythm. Double board-certified neurologist and sleep medicine specialist Dr. Brandon Peters suggests aiming for 30-45 minutes of direct sunlight exposure into your eyes. No sunglasses or sun visors. Sunscreen is optional, depending on the intensity of the sun, but keep in mind that the sunlight tends to be less intense in the morning, posing less of a risk.
- verywell health
- Stay cool. According to sleep psychologist Dr. Michelle Drerup, “typically it is suggested that the temperature in the bedroom for adults should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. Your body temperature decreases as part of the sleep initiation process, and this range of temperature is thought to actually help facilitate this decrease. It can be useful to think of the bedroom as your “cave” - it should be cool, dark, and quiet to enhance your sleep. If the bedroom becomes uncomfortably hot or cold, you are more likely to wake up, and the comfort level of the bedroom temperature especially impacts the quality of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage in which one dreams.” - cleveland clinic
- When you eat matters. We may not always be quick to connect our health and quality of sleep with what we ate that day, and more importantly when we ate, but recent research is suggesting that there is a relationship between the microbiome and the internal clock. Results from time-restricted feeding (TRF) studies suggest that restricting the time of food access may be protective against weight gain, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia.
One research study took a look at the connection between sleep, metabolism, and circadian rhythms and concluded that the circadian system is tightly tied with processes controlling sleep and metabolism. Disruptions of the internal clock or metabolism can lead to derangement of the other, consequently predisposing to metabolic disorders like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Integration of circadian homeostasis with eating patterns and the microbiota. Abbreviation: SCFA, short-chain fatty acids.
Aneu Apothecary has launched a new supplement duo to help people refine their circadian rhythm with deeper sleep and more productive days. They use a combination of bioactive vitamins, clinically studied compounds, and traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs, and medicinal mushrooms to gently deepen rest and recovery during sleep, and improve daytime energy, mood, and focus to enhance productivity. Visit aneu.com to experience these products for yourself and give yourself a fresh start, or as we like to say, begin Aneu.