At The Fittest, we talk about mental health a lot because we believe that mental health IS physical health. People are suffering. They’re suffering from a severe lack of metabolic wellness as a result of modern diets, conveniences, and lifestyles, and that manifests itself in minor and major symptoms that include mental health issues.
Let’s talk about anxiety. Anxiety was already a big problem, but when we pile on the COVID stuff, a sliding economy, record global inflation and other financial insecurity, political division of the highest order, threats of nuclear war, social media’s influence over our children, and a host of other crazy things happening in 2022, and it’s easy to see why diagnosed anxiety has seen a 25% increase in just the past 3 years. It's probably no surprise that we believe masking the symptoms of anxiety is a bad idea. Especially when you use mind-numbing drugs like benzodiazepines which are accompanied by serious side effects that include an increase of suicide. This is especially true when there are easy levers one can pull that can make anxiety, both chronic and situational, more manageable.
So what can we do to lessen anxiety?
Here are 11 ways:
- Plan. The old adage that one who fails to plan plans to fail could not be more true. At The Fittest, we go old school. We all use bound planners in order to manage our lives and plan even the finest parts of our day, every day. No exceptions. For you this could include:
- Financial planning. Finances are often a source of anxiety and knowing where you stand in that department and enacting and exacting a plan based on the current state of affairs and income is a surefire way to lessen the uncertainty that often causes anxiety to worsen. Having no plan of attack will ensure that your worries continue. So get in that planner and as fathers of a certain era say: “make sure your goes into’s are greater than your goes outta’s.” If they’re not, make necessary changes.
- Meal planning. With nutrition being a huge part of brain health, you don’t want to find yourself at 4:30pm wondering what you’re going to eat for dinner. That will result in disaster as you find something quick that is always less healthy and measurably more expensive. It’s a great idea to create a shopping list for a predetermined number of meals and follow through with actually preparing those meals.
- Workouts: Knowing what you’re going to do in the gym each day takes the pressure off figuring out how to maximize your productivity. Use our programming as a resource.
- Work tasks: This one is self explanatory, but even in the work from home era, time management is something many people lack without proper planning.
- Use social media as a source of information rather than a source of validation. Social media can be a great resource for information about the things that interest you. It can be a great way to market yourself or your business. It can be a great tool for staying connected with friends and family that are not in close proximity, but… it can also be an anxiety provoking waste of time. Using social media to engage in political arguments with people you don’t know personally whose minds will never change is a loop from which there is no benefit. Using social media to seek validation on your own worth from a self-chosen gaggle of yes-men is a dangerous game to play. These people (notice we didn't say friends) will easily turn on you when they discover you don't share their opinion regarding fashion, politics, music etc. If these people are your source of self-worth, you will eventually lose that game and will see your self-esteem plummet.
- Eat a proper nose-to-tail, horns-to-hooves, bones-to-blood diet rich in healthy brain fueling nutrients like DHA, Vitamins, A, E, K2, D3, B12, and amino acids creatine, choline, and carnitine, all of which can only be derived in proper abundance by eating meat and organs. We’ve talked about the importance of proper nutrition when it comes to mental health, here and here. Your brain uses A LOT of calories and needs to be properly fed.
- Get adequate sleep. That whole entrepreneurial sentiment about sleeping when you’re dead, burning the midnight oil and the candle at both ends to achieve some modicum of someone else’s measure of success is a misguided, productivity killing, surefire way to kick your brain into anxiety mode full force. Sleep, especially quality restorative slow wave sleep, is where your body and brain heal, become rejuvenated for the next day, and it is where the majority of your growth hormone is produced. Without quality sleep, you will not fall into a proper circadian rhythm and many of your body’s systems and your brain will not be able to function optimally. When your brain is not optimized and doesn’t get adequate time to rest and heal, anxiety is often one of the first symptoms. Read our comprehensive list of tools to help you dominate your sleep.
- Engage in regular blood-burning workouts. Getting regular muscle and cardiovascular stimuli does more than give you physical strength, endurance, and an aesthetically pleasing body. It also helps regulate your hormone production and optimization, aids in circadian rhythm, facilitates proper production and release of dopamine, adenosine, and serotonin, initiates higher production of nitric oxide and funnels it to the brain, and helps bring oxygenated blood to the brain, all of which help optimize brain function, elevate mood, and relieve anxiety.
- Shield yourself from modern dangers, especially phytoestrogens and chemicals. There is an interesting relationship between exposure to off-gassing materials, phytoestrogen-laden clothing, linoleic acid rich topicals, etc., and your mood stability. Introducing these poisons into your lungs and putting them on your skin can drastically affect how your lungs and endocrine systems perform. When your lungs are unable to pump enough clean oxygen to the brain and when your pancreas cannot adequately perform the task of releasing hormones, insulin, glucagon, and digestive enzymes, then your brain cannot possibly be properly fed. Your brain is the nutritional priority and when it doesn’t get fed, neither does the body. This can result in anxiety and other mental health maladies.
- Connect to the earth. Connect to the earth. We talk about this a lot because it is often overlooked. Getting your bare feet connected to the ground, ideally in the early morning before your day becomes hectic, allows you to absorb the slight negative charge of the earth. Consider that every cell in your body is bioelectric in nature and your brain performs numerous electrical functions every second of every day. With this in mind it is easy to understand why getting electrically optimized is essential to your health.
- Get cold. Getting cold, aside from being anti inflammatory, also aids in the production of important mood stabilizing and memory enhancing neurotransmitters like dopamine. This is why after getting cold people tend to feel elated for a period. So take cold showers, get outside without a shirt, dunk your face in cold water, or get in the cold plunge if you’re a pro. This is another underutilized lever.
- Get sun. Getting sun at regular intervals every day, through the eyes, on the face, and on the skin, is a HUGE and EEEASY lever to pull when it comes to alleviating anxiety for a multitude of reasons. It helps regulate the circadian rhythm we talked about when we suggested getting proper sleep. It allows for the synthesis of cholesterol you’re getting in your nose to tail diet into vitamin D, which regulates calcium and phosphorus, a key component of a strong immune system and strong, resilient brain. So get outside early and often to get full spectrum sun as well as high in the sky intense midday sun.
- Fight for the things that matter to you. There is no better way to alleviate situational anxiety in an acute fashion than to face whatever the situation is and emerge victorious. Standing up to challenges and fighting that battle until it is won will give you the sense of satisfaction and relief that cannot come without a hard fought triumph.
- And finally, bond with a tribe of people that can understand you, hold you accountable, be a sounding board, call you out when you mess up, congratulate you and celebrate your wins. Having deep connections with true family and friends is another HUGE lever to pull. Loneliness is anxiety provoking and detrimental to your physical health and well being. Deep connections with trusted people who are there for you without condition, however, is invaluable.
Every human being on this planet has and will face moments of anxiety, but with the proper tools in the toolkit, it does not need to be a crippling condition that requires damaging medical intervention and reliance on prescribed substances designed to make you dull and tuned out while your problems pile up rather than go away.
We can help:
For ways to integrate these steps into your life, email our performance experts. They’re anxiously awaiting (pun intended).