Before you go and make yourself a nice hot drink and settle into some relaxing reading, maybe you should have a quick gander at this.
Cutting caffeine out of my diet played a major part in reducing my anxiety.
At work I used to regularly drink 7-8 cups of coffee a day. I’d drink (what I thought was a relaxing evening hot drink) up until 8pm, and wondered why I struggled to get to sleep at night.
Next day deadlines, paying the bills, and whizzing thoughts caused by stress were also a major culprit in sleepless nights, but an evening coffee certainly didn’t help.
I don’t confess to be a Dietician, but we all know caffeine is a stimulant. Anxiety doesn’t work well with stimulants - they fuel it.
So, doesn’t common sense tell you to cut it out of your diet?
You’d like to think so, but when I suggest looking for an alternative to their strong cup of coffee in the morning, most people look at me as though I’ve asked them to give up Christmas.
Things won’t change unless you change them.
It’s a very straightforward suggestion, but if you’re not willing to make a change how can you ever give yourself the best chance of recovery?
It may be that you’ve been drinking coffee for many years and that’s just how it is – there’s something about a hot drink that water just can’t compete with, especially when at work, so I appreciate that.
However, don’t allow your conditioning to dictate what you do going forward. Something as simple as getting in the habit of buying a decaf alternative can be a life changer.
BEWARE OF THE TEA!
I’ve used coffee as an example because it’s best known for it’s caffeine content, but let’s not forget about the 165 million cups of tea consumed a day in the UK alone.
It’s widely known that tea has more caffeine in it than coffee. This isn’t technically true because it depends on different factors including how long it’s brewed, but the fact remains it has caffeine in it and therefore should also be put in the category ‘look for alternative’.
And don’t be fooled in thinking Green Tea doesn’t have caffeine in it like I was! The great news is, however, you can get a decaf alternative, and therefore continue to enjoy all the heath benefits Green Tea offers.
BIG TIP: Camomile is also a great alternative as it contains a natural sedative – making it an ideal evening drink to help you relax and fall to sleep, or at times you’re feeling particularly anxious.
Personally, I think Camomile tastes fine, but to a lot of people it takes a bit of getting used to. There are lots of different flavour options on the market, so before you spit it out never to drink it again, give them a go.
Other stuff to look out for containing caffeine:
Damn it! I hear you say. I know, it looks like a list of all the good stuff, but make an effort to cut caffeine out of your diet, even gradually, and you’ll feel a difference.
Medication including Pain Killers and Diet Pills also contain caffeine, so while you’re getting rid of the headache or shedding the pounds, you might feel anxiety levels rise. Again, there is always a decaffeinated option available.
So, to recap – get in the habit of buying decaf, and avoid caffeine wherever possible.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that manifests itself through repetitive thoughts, creating a need to act on compulsions. Compulsions can include repeated cleaning, showering, washing hands, counting, arranging, checking door locks, switches, cookers, refusal to touch other people or objects, and eating foods in a specific order.
OCD thoughts and images are generally distressing and difficult to control, and tend to get worse over time. A lot of people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are aware that their thoughts are senseless and unrealistic, but find it difficult to stop them. OCD can significantly interfere with your life, with compulsions sometimes taking hours to complete.
What causes OCD?Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be the result of a number of anxiety disorders. It’s the anxiety caused by OCD that makes you have an urgent need to perform a particular routine or ritual.
These compulsions are performed to prevent the thoughts coming back and make them disappear. However, these thoughts tend to come back, and the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) cycle begins again.
How common is OCD?It is estimated 1-3% of adults suffer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and around 5% of children and teenagers.
How to overcome OCDI found that my symptoms of OCD became worse as my anxiety grew, with rituals becoming more frequent and demanding over time. Checking switches and locks developed into avoiding certain numbers and performing tasks, until OCD was implanted in my daily life and routine.
If you suffer from OCD as part of your anxiety it’s important you recognise the symptoms of OCD, especially if they’re getting in the way of you leading a free and healthy life. It’s very easy to allow OCD rituals to become part of your routine, but you shouldn’t just accept them - you should act to deal with them.
The key to your recovery and happiness is freedom, which means not feeling forced to do something or think something you don’t want to.
The only consequences to not performing a routine are those created by YOU.
What are the symptoms of OCD?I’ve highlighted some of the typical OCD symptoms to look out for:
Panic attacks are one of the most upsetting and uncomfortable experiences of a person's life and the cause of many anxiety disorders. Anybody that has experienced a panic attack will know how incredibly frightening and debilitating they are.
Panic attacks can come on suddenly without warning, normally starting with heart palpitations, hyperventilation, and sweating. Panic attacks usually peak within 10 minutes but can last for hours, even days, particularly if the panic attack was triggered in a situation where you feel trapped and unable to escape.
Most panic attacks subside on their own, with symptoms not causing any actual physical harm. However, the effects of a panic attack vary. First-time sufferers may call for emergency services as they fear they’re having a heart attack and about to die.
Due to the scary nature of a panic attack and its debilitating effects it can take days to recover. They make you live in constant fear of having another, particularly in places where you've experienced a panic attack previously. This built-up fear is how panic disorder leads to complete avoidance and further conditions including Agoraphobia and Depression.
What causes Panic Attacks?Every panic attack is unique to the person experiencing it, and its cause can vary greatly. Eating in a restaurant might be a happy and positive experience for one person, but could be daunting for another. It all connects with your perception (real or false) on whether you feel something is safe or dangerous.
Some people say a panic attack can come on suddenly without cause, but there is always a trigger - even unconsciously in your sleep.
How common are Panic Attacks?There is no actual estimation for how many people suffer from panic attacks. However, most people suffering from a panic disorder will experience a panic attack.
How to deal with a Panic AttackPanic attacks are psychological bullies. They take advantage of any fragile state of mind and get worse if you don’t confront them.
Imagine yourself back in the playground at school, and every day the school bully picks on you and takes your lunch money. The fear of the bully leads to avoidance and a constant worry in your life – ‘What if I have to go back to school and face the bully’.
The only way to deal with a panic attack is to treat it like a bully.
There are lots of ways to deal with a bully. Almost everyone has been bullied at some stage in their lives whether at school or work – how did you deal with it then?
Nobody said confronting a bully would be easy, but is it any harder than living in constant fear?
What are the symptoms of a Panic Attack?Panic attack physical symptoms including hyperventilation and shallow breathing upset the normal balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. This adds to your symptoms by making you feel dizzy and lightheaded, which increases your fear. This leads into a vicious cycle of fear, and will only subside once you achieve a calmer state of mind.
Symptoms of panic attacks vary but are commonly described as:
High anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways, and although most high anxiety symptoms are completely harmless and false, they can feel very scary and true.
Throughout my years of battling with high anxiety I experienced most if not all the below anxiety symptoms, completely overwhelmed by them and unclear if they were real or false. Although I gained relief when medical professionals would tell me there was nothing wrong, I also felt confused - my symptoms certainly felt very real!
Chronic Anxiety SymptomsWith symptoms ranging from headaches and dizziness to more chronic anxiety symptoms including a constant tight feeling in my chest, you can understand why high anxiety was incredibly convincing in making me believe I was seriously ill. You can also appreciate why I made the numerous and frequent visits to the Doctor (to the point I believed he was getting fed up with me) and hospital convinced I was dying.
To this date I’m amazed at the array of symptoms high anxiety can cause. It’s important you try and recognise if your symptoms are high anxiety related to enable you to gain control and stop the endless trips to the Doctor and need for constant reassurance.
Looking back now it’s clear my symptoms were all high anxiety related, but at the time it wasn’t clear, it was absolute panic – a life or death situation. That’s why I understand overcoming anxiety symptoms and believing they’re not life threatening is one of the hardest elements of dealing with high anxiety.
However, now I live my life consistently within normal levels of anxiety I can offer you absolute reassurance that not just one or two high anxiety related symptoms will disappear, ALL of them will.
Symptoms of high anxiety are most commonly described as:
High anxiety symptoms will exaggerate feelings and can lead to:
If high anxiety symptoms are allowed to progress it will affect your life in many different ways and can include:
ABOUT CARL VERNON
Carl Vernon is a best-selling author & speaker, talking and writing about all things anxiety, stress & well-being.