If you're an old friend, you probably know that my anxiety began when I was in elementary school. I was prone to anxiety from the get go. Whether I was worried about my dad being gone for the weekend, tornados, house fires or quicksand (yes, I was afraid I would die in quicksand....) there was always a laundry list of worries that ran laps in my head. As I hit middle school and the hormones kicked in, those anxious thoughts and feelings drastically increased. Enter my first panic attack and my first round of obsessive and compulsive thoughts that stayed front and center in my brain from the time I woke up until the time I could finally go to sleep at night.
If I was having fun, anxiety was still under the surface. If I was tired, watch out! If I was hormonal, run for your life and take my life with you. It was a cycle of panic, fear, or the expectation of both to return any minute. Through high school, college, and well into my adult life I continued to build a bank of bad anxiety habits in the effort to keep me sane and "safe". I was neither.
I can only assume that if you are reading this you are experiencing anxiety or you love someone who experiences anxiety. After all, women are more likely than men to deal with anxiety disorders and nearly 20% of American adults live with anxiety disorders. That's 66.5 MILLION people running around feeling just as lousy as us! This is one time when we really can be sure that misery loves company. What's even scarier, 44% of women who live with other women have their periods at the same time due to cycle syncing and if anxiety is involved... God bless the men of the house.
As if wanting to eat every piece of chocolate and bread in sight then snot cry while watching sappy commercials isn't enough, let's talk about how anxiety rolls in when your hormones are bouncing around. Are you feeling me already? Whether it's your teen daughter, your mother, or you, hormones are both a blessing and curse and they absolutely can and do influence anxiety; especially if you are already prone to anxious thoughts and feelings.
The more studies done on anxiety, the more doctors and scientists are discovering a tight correlation between hormones and anxiety in both men and women. While we might have already noticed spikes in anxiety during puberty, PMS, pregnancy and menopause, science is finally catching up to something that I learned a long time ago while sitting in my high school French class trying not to melt down. What I didn't know and you also may not know is that it's not just sex-hormones and serotonin that influence your mental health.
Let's talk about sex and biology first.
Ladies, you have estrogen and a little testosterone. Gentlemen, you have testosterone and a little estrogen. Estrogen calms the fear response in women and if you're paying attention, you might notice that you're more calm and relaxed at certain points in your menstrual cycle. Guys, testosterone has been shown to curb social anxiety, avoidant and submissive behavior, and yes, you also have a weird hormone cycle thing that we aren't going to talk about in this blog. As you age or go through growth spurts, etc., the levels of these hormones in your body rise and fall. Rising sex-hormones make us feel good. They give us energy and boobs and body hair. BUT, when those hormones drop... say when you're about to start your period, you're postpartum, you enter menopause, or you're simply aging, you get tired, weepy, saggy, and stressed. All of these anxiety producing hormone shifts combine with the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and then guess what happens.
We're in fight or flight. Cue the headaches, the achy joints, the rapid heart rate, weight gain, trouble sleeping, racing thoughts... all because of cortisol and adrenaline buddying up with low estrogen and testosterone. Nothing like a triple whammy, am I right? The more anxious you become, the more your body creates cortisol and adrenaline to help you cope and the more you experience symptoms.
Of course, there are other reasons that people feel anxious. Serotonin production, trauma, thyroid issues and a predisposition to anxiety can all play a role in your level of anxiety as well. When it comes to hormones, there are some simple steps you can take to boost your testosterone and oxytocin levels. Yes, these are simple things but they do require breaking habits. (Good thing I have a course for that coming up!) If you're ready to get started taking steps now to form new habits, start working these new lifestyle choices into your routine.
Eat a balanced diet full of whole foods.
Exercise 3-5 times a week.
Find ways to destress through art, music, cooking, reading, etc.
Be sure you are getting enough sleep.
Take vitamins, especially Vitamin D, B complex, and Magnesium
Be generous to others.
Cuddle and hug more.
Be a good listener.
Meditate, pray, or practice mindfulness daily.
Get outside in nature everyday.
And of course, when you're ready, be sure you get on the waiting list for Break the Anxiety Habit. You can learn all about this incredible digital course right HERE. This course has everything you need to get started breaking your anxious habits that keep you stuck in the cycle of anxiety so you can create new, powerful habits using the tools I use myself everyday that have given me the life I never thought I could live. Not only do I incorporate the of the habits I've listed above but I also give you the tools and resources to keep you focused on change and challenge you with weekly action steps and coaching so you're never going it alone.
Did I mention how freaking pumped I am for this course to drop on April 16th because I TOTALLY AM! You're going to love it and feel amazing once you've broken the anxious habits that aren't serving you and build new, powerful habits that open doors to the things you've been dying to do. Registration will open soon so be sure you're on the waiting list. As soon as registration opens, you'll receive an email reminding you to sign up right away. (Spots are limited and you'll have advance notice 😉)
My friend, I hope you know how powerful you are. I hope you can see through the fuzzy head and the fear to envision a life and a future where anxiety isn't holding you back. I hope you start taking steps today to change your habits and calm your anxiety because YOU are an amazing creation and the world needs your awesomeness.
Remember. One tiny step after another. Keep stepping. I am cheering for you!