Anxiety

5 Foods That Can Make Anxiety Worse

Photo by Wu Yi

Photo by Wu Yi

Let’s just clear this up right out of the gate, the foods listed below will not give you anxiety. However, the physical response these foods cause in your body can trigger anxiety or make anxiety worse.

First, let’s explore how this can happen. I’m sure most of you have heard of the fight or flight response we get when faced with a stressful situation. Anxiety can come from us being stuck in this fight-or-flight response and we are no longer able to relax. Symptoms can include a rapid or increased heart rate, excessive sweating, increased cortisol levels, rising blood pressure and muscle tension.

Now, let’s explore how food can affect this. Anxiety is a stress response. Food can act as stimulants that gives us a stress response. So if you experience or are prone to anxiety, foods that trigger a stress response may increase your stress levels.

5 Foods that may increase anxiety

Caffeine

Coffee, energy drinks, caffeinated drinks, pre-workout and chocolate (not too mention most chocolate contains sugar, which we’ll get to later), all contain caffeine. Caffeine can increase heart rate and give you that “jittery” feeling. So if you are prone to anxiety, caffeine can make it worse. Personally, I have found that drinking coffee with a meal reduces any anxious feelings I get from caffeine.    

Sugar

Sugar in all forms such as candy, sweets, drinks, even the “fake” sugars, create a huge spike in energy and then a crash. This can make your high’s high and your lows lower. So if you are trying to stabilize your mood + energy levels, staying away from sugar can help you even you out.   

Alcohol

Initially, alcohol can make you feel good, relaxed and social. However, alcohol affects neurotransmitters in your brain such as serotonin, which are your “feel good” chemicals. After the alcohol wears off, your body + brain has to adjust to the altered levels of neurotransmitter production, leaving you feeling anxious or depressed.

Refined flour

Refined flour is very similar to sugar when it comes to energy spikes + crashes. Refined flour — such as white breads, pastas, rice, pastries, etc. — is depleted of nutrients and fiber. This means there is nothing with it to offset the sugary effects of those foods. Again, combining refined flours with meat + veggies (protein + fiber), can help decrease the sugar effects. Or try switching to a whole grain dough.    

Juice

You may be somewhat surprised to see juice on this list of “not-so-healthy” foods. But the reality is, is that juice is just plain sugar — even if it is fresh + cold pressed. When you juice a fruit or vegetable you are removing all of the fiber which helps absorb some sugar. So you are left getting a buzz and then crashing later. So next time you want to go on that juice cleanse, think about eating a more balanced diet with lots of protein + fiber.

Again, these foods won’t give you anxiety, but they certainly won’t help it if you are an anxious person.

It is also important to notice that some people are more sensitive to foods than others. So there is no need to cut all of these foods out of your life, just try to be mindful of how these anxiety-triggering are affecting you.  

7 Mood Boosting Activities To Help You Beat Those Winter Blues

Photo by:  Cara Stott

Photo by: Cara Stott

Once the busyness of the holidays slows down, and the excitement from the New Year has run dry, January becomes a cold + long month.

I live in Utah, where January seems to be the longest month of the year. It’s cold and snowy with short, dark days — and I definitely feel it affecting me. I have no energy, no inspiration and no motivation by the end of the month. It’s hard to do anything that I used to do to feel good.

So, when you are feeling down and it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, here are some tips re-energizing and lifting your spirits during the long winter months.

7 mood boosting activities to help you overcome those “winter blues”:

  1. Exercise
     

    Finding time to exercise and move might just be the best way to get you through these months. Exercising gives you energy, boosts happiness, builds confidence, and improves sleep. All of which, seem to be thrown off during the winter blues.

  2. Get Outside
     

    It is so easy to become a hermit and stay indoors — especially if you don’t ski or snowboard. But getting outside, midday when the sun is highest + brightest can drastically improve mood. Whether you go for a walk, sip coffee outside for 2 minutes, or just make a point to be aware of the sun shining down, this can all boost your mood.

  3. Morning Routine
     

    Creating a morning routine gives you a reason every morning to get out of bed and start your day. Have your morning routine be very warm + comforting. Maybe it’s sipping on coffee while you write down three things you’re grateful for. Or maybe it’s bundling up in blankets as you do a five minute meditation. Just find something that you look forward to doing every morning.

  4. Focus on the Positive
     

    It’s easy to forget what good things we do have going on in our life, when we’re feeling down. To help you focus on the positive and what good is happening, everyday write down three things you’re grateful for and three good things that happened that day.

  5. Bright Environment
     

    Because it’s so dreary outside in the winter, having a bright space to live in creates a welcoming environment. To create a bright + uplifting space replace dark colors with whites + pastels, hang up string lights around your room, invest in a happy light that simulates the sun rays, or an alarm clock that simulates the sun rising.

  6. Stay Social

    Like I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to become a hermit and stay indoors all winter long. With that being said, it is just as important to make time to visit friends. Having weekly social time helps get you out of the house and breaks up your usual schedule.  

  7. Vacation
     

    If you really feel like splurging, go on a vacation. Visiting a new place and getting out of your comfort zone can significantly increase happiness. It gets you out of your everyday routine, exposes you to many new experiences and leaves you with a changed perspective + attitude. Want to take all the stress out of planning for a vacation? Join me, Monique on an amazing yoga + adventure retreat ;)

Here are a few daily activities to help you break those winter blues. By focusing your mindset on self-care and making little changes, you will soon feel your spirits lifting.

How To Avoid Holiday Stress

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I’m sure everyone agrees, the holidays are stressful AF. We are obligated to attend party, after party. We spend time with people we normally wouldn’t see. And we often break our bank buying unnecessary presents.

By the time we get to actual Christmas Day it has been so worked up in our head that we often leave feeling disappointed — like maybe we didn’t get what we were hoping for, or the gift we gave wasn’t good enough. Or maybe there is the classic family drama that breaks out after we’ve had one too many eggnog cocktails.

Whatever the reason is, the holiday season can be draining emotionally and physically. Even though, everyone’s goal is to get through it with a smile on your face.

To help you get through these crazy times and make the most of your Christmas Day,

Here are 3 tips to having a happy Christmas:

  1. Morning (or evening) meditation — Because the holidays are so demanding we often neglect our alone, or self-care, time. We usually stop doing what makes us happy because there are so many other things that need to get done. So, the morning of Christmas (or before we go to bed on Christmas Eve) before all the chaos starts, just take 1-minute to yourself. Focus on your breathing, reminding yourself of all the positive things about Christmas. This will start your day in a calm, happy tone so you don’t feel rushed, tired or overwhelmed.

  2. Let go of expectation — Perhaps the biggest buzz kill on Christmas is expectation. We build up this day for months. We put so much planning + prepping into this day that if it’s not all perfect, it doesn’t feel good enough. But the reality is, there is always more you could have done, something bigger you could have gotten, or a better gift you could have given. So go into the day knowing that somethings will go wrong but it is OKAY.

  3. Give more than you receive — I’m sure you’ve all heard before the true gift of Christmas is giving. And as cliche as that sounds, it’s real. When we focus on what we are getting, we unintentionally fall into a scarcity mindset — always feeling like we need more, and like our last gift wasn’t good enough. But when we shift our focus on the gifts we give to other people, and how happy that made them feel, we begin to share their positivity + joy.

So, this Christmas allow things to just be, stay present in your environment, and don’t worry too much about how you think things should be.

Want tips on making 2018 your best year yet, too? Click Here to register for the FREE Zen AF Webinar.