I just wrote a blog post about my experiences with anxiety.
I am also in the middle of writing a guide to managing stress and anxiety. (Cool, right?!) It’s about time one of us paleo bloggers does it. The need is certainly great enough.
Stress – and, in particular, anxiety – are topic that are near and dear to my heart. I have been besieged by both of these problems throughout the course of my young life. They have at a time or two–literally–almost killed me. So I care very, very, very deeply about helping any of you who may need it overcome these life changing hardships.
It will probably be another few months before I get around to publishing the book, perhaps in the spring. In the meantime, I want to help as much as I can. So today I’m going to share with you my own favorite resources for managing anxiety.
Neither of these resources cured me of my problem. Nonetheless, they made it manageable while I had it. They taught me that I was the one that was truly in control. They helped me let go of my fear. They taught me how to breathe deeply, to stop panicking, and to have faith that I was going to get better some day. (For a bit on how stressed I was, see my posts on drugs and anxiety and adrenal recovery.)
That faith was perilously tested at times, but I managed to hang onto it. (Because what else are you going to do?)
These are my favorite resources for anxiety:
1) The Anxiety and Phobia Handbook, by Edmund J. Bourne, PhD
(Available on Amazon @ here.)
This book was actually recommended to me, when I was a patient of hers, by the brilliant paleo psychiatrist, Dr Emily Deans. It did for me exactly what she intended: it taught me everything I needed to know about managing anxiety. I learned how panic attacks happen, the fact that anxiety would never kill me nor necessarily be bad for my health, and how I could do certain practices (like deep breathing or holding my nose closed) to help sooth my rapidly beating heart.
The book is full of different techniques for managing anxiety. It asks questinos about your fears, and it helps you figure out where your anxiety is coming from and what to do about it. This book has now been published in several different editions and has been purchased by more than a million people. Psychologists everywhere rely heavily on this book. It is, no questions asked, the definitive practical guide to managing anxiety.
It is important to note when dealing with anxiety that there are many different forms. There are generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, specific phobias, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other anxiety-related issues. Personally, I simultaneously experienced both generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. Honestly, even though the panic attacks sound like the worse option of the two, they’re not. Generalized anxiety was relentless. At least the panic attacks only happened occasionally. Suffering from both at the same time was like running a marathon that once every couple of miles dropped bricks on my head.
Anyway. Each type of anxiety is discussed in this book. Doing, as the dust jacket says, “helping you develop a full arsenal of skills for quieting worried thoughts and putting yourself back in control.” Cool.
This new edition has been thoroughly updated with the latest anxiety research and medications. Each worksheet in this book helps you learn the skills like challenging negative self-talk and mistaken beliefs, using imagery and real-life desensitization, making lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise changes, acceptance and commitment therapy, and panic-attack skills you need to manage your anxiety.
This kick ass book is, again, available on Amazon here.
2) The Calm Clinic
Accessible @ Calmclinic.com.
The last resource I recommended, the anxiety workbook, is an excellent physical book. It’s a workbook. It takes you step by step through its pages by empowering you with knowledge, tests, and skills.
The Calm Clinic, on the other hand, is a website. You navigate it all your own, click through links on your own needs, and have a more self-directed experience. It provides bountiful audio and video resources as well.
In my experience, the best way to deal with anxiety is to use both of these resources–the Bourne book was well as the clinic — as they offer such different types of media and assistance.
When I found the Calm Clinic, I was bowled over by surprise. I had no idea that no one would get me so well. More than any resource that I found, this one made me feel like I was being led by the hand by people who had been there and learned the ropes. It was truly remarkable.
Here is an excerpt from the “about” page, for example, discussing the director Ryan’s journey:
Ryan Rivera’s life was on pause for over 7 years after he suffered from what he liked to call the “complete package.” From panic attacks, severe anxiety, agoraphobia, social anxiety, and some of the most unbearable physical symptoms (headaches, neck pain, tension, diarrhea, and heart palpitations), Ryan Rivera found that his life was an intense day to day struggle.
After attempting and failing with dozens of different types of anxiety treatments, including anxiety medications and therapeutic practices, he reached a tipping point where he decided he was going to commit to making his life better and overcoming these emotional problems.
Ryan soon found that he was able to make huge leaps towards eliminating his anxiety and living a fulfilling life. His successes inspired him to provide resources to help others that are also suffering from severe anxiety, and show them that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Calm Clinic was founded on the idea that knowledge is power, and Ryan continues to dedicate himself towards providing information designed to help others permanently overcome their anxiety issues while bringing greater awareness to what it’s like to live with constant anxiety.
In terms of resources, the website is full of both breadth and depth. It provides information on all the different types of anxiety, how to tell if you have it and how severe it is, and what to do about it.
In fact, one of my favorite resources was an “anxiety test” I took that helped teach me about my own problems, where the first section is dedicated to “finding if your anxiety is in normal ranges.”
Which you can find here.
And finally – for some examples – here are the links available in the website’s sidebar (I have to remove the links here but you can access them at the site):
Learn about anxiety disorder…
- Anxiety (GAD)
- Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety
- Anxiety Treatment Options
- What Causes Anxiety?
- Anxiety Drugs & Medications
- Different Anxiety Types
- Panic Disorder
- Panic Attack Symptoms
- Panic Causes
Where to start?
- Anxiety Help Options – Start Here
- Can’t Take it Anymore? Read This!
- How to Cope With Anxiety
- Eliminate Stimulants
- 5 Destructive Anxiety Habits
Advanced Things to Try
- Anxiety Relaxation Techniques
- Anxiety Breathing Techniques
- Desensitization Techniques
- How to Manage Your Anxiety
- Diet Considerations for Anxiety
- Improve Your Internal Dialogue
- Visualization Techniques For Anxiety
- Natural & Herbal Anxiety Remedies
- What are Anxiety Attacks?
- Stress Anxiety
- What are Panic Attacks?
- Anxiety & Depression
- Anxiety & IBS
- How to Discontinue Anxiety Medication
- Dealing With Specific Fears & Thoughts
- Public Speaking Anxiety
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Anxiety or Social Phobia
So go check it out. I promise I’m not making any money on the clinic. None of these authors or editors know I am linking to them. I am simply sharing with you the few starting points I benefited from while dealing with my own anxiety.
These two resources are mostly psychological in nature. (The Bourne book unfortunately does give standard nutritional advice). There is a whole other aspect to stress and anxiety, however. Your body matters. My own anxiety was caused by a drug I took – spironolactone – which over-spared potassium in my kindeys, caused an electrolyte imbalance that gave me heart palpitations, and upregulated angiotensin II levels, which stimulates the nervous system.
Tthe most common causes of anxiety on a physiological level–broadly speaking–are inflammation, poor gut flora health, and certain nutrient deficiencies. Paleo is excellent for mental health. There are specific ways to eat within a paleo template that might be particularly helpful for some people, but nonetheless eating natural foods is an excellent place to start.
My forthcoming book will talk about physiological components of anxiety. But that’s ages away.
In the meantime take a look at these guides that helped save my sanity. 🙂