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  • Writer's pictureLori Goodsell

Do You Control Anxiety or is it Controlling You?

As a life long anxious person, this has always been a big topic in my book. Control of anxiety is a hot topic. A better solution might not be to “control anxiety”. Finding relief from your anxiety may be easier if you embrace it or accept it. While that probably sounds pretty touchy feely, let me explain. So you wake up at 4:30 in the morning, you have a huge knot in your stomach, you can’t get back to sleep and all you can think of are the potential problems your day has coming at you.

Sound familiar? You aren’t the only one. Instead of running from your anxiety, trying to get rid of that stomach ache and frantically trying to get it under control, has it ever occurred to you just to notice it? It’s a lot easier to say “my stomach hurts, that is just my anxiety” than to fight it and battle it at 4:30 in the morning.  Usually the fight causes even more anxiety.

If you can use your anxiety to your advantage versus try to control anxiety, you will have a lot more success. Try asking yourself what your biggest fear is and one thing you can do today to make a difference. Trying to come up with a 15 point game plan to change the situation only results in overwhelm or shut down for me. My strategy is to simply think of one thing and do it.

There are also strategies you can use to prevent anxiety or at least keep it at a lower level. During the height of a Minnesota winter this isn’t the most popular strategy but it does work. Exercise outdoors. Even a simple walk around the block on your lunch break will leave you feeling so much better. My strategy is to go on a quick walk over lunch and exercise after work. It provides a nice transition between home and work and is a great way to control anxiety by tiring out my body and mind at the end of the day.

There are also several dietary changes you can make to help control anxiety and keep it at bay. If your stomach pain is what tells you that you are anxious, pay attention to how what you eat makes your stomach feel. Just as your anxiety can cause stomach pain; stomach pain can cause anxiety. For example if you wake up in the morning and have three cups of coffee and turn your stomach into a flaming painful volcano, it is going to make you feel as if you are anxious when you simply have an angry stomach. Drink less of it, have less stomach pain, don’t trigger your anxiety. Simple as that. Fried foods are also instant stomach pain triggers for me. Gluten and it expanding overnight in your belly can also cause a lot of stomach pain and anxiety. Decreasing my gluten has also very much decreased my anxiety. I'm pretty sure most of what I was attributing to anxiety was a gluten sensitivity.

I would also recommend helping yourself stabilize your moods by stabilizing your blood sugar. What does that mean? Eat less sugar, have less mood swings, worry less about why you are so moody. It sounds so simple. Controlling anxiety isn’t simple but it is possible to manage it and work around it and let yourself rest.

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