Why would I be writing about fueling your anxiety? Wouldn’t it be wiser if we were talking about how not to fuel it? Well, if you can begin to understand the things that contribute to and make your anxiety feel worse, then we have something that we can do about that. These following behaviors are the ones that most commonly fuel anxiety:
- what you eat: sugar,
- what you drink: caffeine
- other substances such as nicotine
- and how you sleep: the consistency of those sleeping patterns.
Lets break this down further and take a look at sugar. Now, there are so much sugar in our diets that a lot of times this can go undetected, but in a nutshell, think about any processed foods that you might have eaten, the sugar that you add to your coffee, the sugar that you add to your baked goods, and even things like fruit and fruit juices, high amounts of sugar.
Caffeine, I don’t think I need to get too heavily into this one. A lot of people drink a lot of coffee, tea or colas. It’s one of the number one consumed beverages. Nicotine, whether it’s a patch, whether it’s chew, whether it’s gum, whether it’s an actual cigarette, this amplifies and speeds up the body. And finally, if you’re not getting enough sleep, I’m sure that there have been times in your past where you did not get enough sleep and it affected your day and increased your level of anxiety.
Now remember, I’m saying your level of anxiety because even the average person with absolutely no major challenges or stressors problems deals with, on a scale of zero to 10, zero being no anxiety, ten being just too much, falls somewhere between two and three. But with caffeine and sugar and not enough sleep and nicotine, you often amplify this effect and it’ll feel like a five or six.
Also remember that a lot of these sensations are often mistaken as anxiety or even the precursor to a panic attack. While can’t control the external variables, the life challenges and stressors especially if they were random (and no – it is not possible to account for all variables since there are just too many of them), but we can control what it is that we’re taking into our bodies, how much we’re actually sleeping, and move to thrive with anxiety by controlling those things that we can.
So how do we do this? I suggest that you pick up a digital tracker, something you can put right on your cellphone, something like the program Lose It! or any of the other trackers that are out there, which allow you to track for water, for sleep, and allow you to break down into the foods that you’re eating so you can see the amount of sugar that you’re actually getting. Some of these programs also have caffeine trackers as well.
I know that on my Samsung, there is a program and it allows me to track all kinds of things, so in this day and age, it’s really easy to come up with a way to gather data on what you are actually responsible for when it comes to increasing the level of anxiety that you have.
If you don’t want to do digital, you can always track this information by writing it down. You can just use hashtags, you can use little sticky notes, and keep track of what time you got up, what time you went to bed, and begin to form at least four to five days of data so that you can see exactly how much sugar and nicotine and other substances, caffeine, and sleep that you’re getting and begin to make adjustments. Data is the key to mitigating or decreasing these affects and modifying your behaviors. And remember, a lot of times these things are giving you bodily sensations that mimic or feel like anxiety.
So, in summary, if we were to keep track of all this information, it would allow us to see our patterns and then do something about behaviors that we can have control over and all which effect our level of anxiety and to bring it down to that two or three mentioned above. This would allow us to be able to not only survive the day, but to be able to thrive with anxiety.