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I’m on drugs!

To be more precise I’m on a specific drug known as caffeine. This is unusual for me as I gave up caffeine about five years ago specifically to reduce my anxiety levels. I’ve been drinking decaf ever since. I just happened to be at a place today where there was some really good quality coffee and thought I’d treat myself.

I then sat down for some meditation and realised something was happening to my body and mind. I checked my heart rate and discovered it was up from the normal 60 bpm to 85 bpm. My blood pressure was up to 150/80 from its normal 125/60. Needless to say I delayed my meditation until later as what is known as the relaxation response, a positive aspect of relaxation and stress management, was just not happening. In fact it was impossible for it to happen with that level of stimulant in my body.

This artificial stimulant increases the production of adrenaline and cortisol which in turn increases heart beat, raises blood pressure and increases sweat production. Your mind could interpret the physical symptoms and hormonal changes as stress or danger and make you feel uneasy.

So here are my top 7 anxiety busting tips:

Perhaps you might like to consider just how much caffeine you’re actually taking in and reduce or eliminate it from your diet. This could be in the form of coffee, added to soft drinks, chocolate, weight loss pills, pain relievers, energy drinks or even breath fresheners.

Meditation – which I will come back to later today once the caffeine has left my system – can create profound changes on a neurological level to help reduce anxiety. My preferred method is the non-religious Acem meditation developed in Norway by Doctors and Psychologists.

Hypnotherapy – but then I’m biased – has been helpful for many people, including myself, in reducing anxiety levels by a process of unconscious reprogramming of memories, self limiting beliefs or traumatic incidents.

Improve your nutrition – ideally reducing sugar and refined carbohydrates. The blood sugar highs and lows, created by these foods, can have a noticeable effect on mood. Try eating complex carbs and protein at each meal and healthy snacks, such as nuts, in between.

Check any medication you may be on for side effects. My history of anxiety and panic attacks was initially brought on by anti-malarial tablets. However, always discuss with your GP before changing or stopping your medication.

Physical activity – One of the major causes of anxiety is worrying about illness and health, and that dissipates when you are fit So get active and also boost positive hormones such as endorphins and serotonin in the process.

Finally, spend some quality time for yourself. If it’s your thing, get out in nature. You’re still in time for the Bluebell season!

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