I was talking a couple of days ago to someone I know who had visited this blog. She asked why I have not talked about the role of medications in anxiety. The answer is that meds have not been part of my journey. I realize they are for many and help many.
What has been part of my journey is the realization of how much the chemicals I get from food and drink and how much the chemicals my body produces (hormones, enzymes, and neuro-chemicals) play a role in my anxiety. When I eat too much sugar I tend to be more anxious, perhaps because it over-fuels my brain. Wine has a somewhat calming and somewhat over-thinking/rambling thought effect on me. Not getting all my vitamins throws me off balance, and off-balance opens the door for negative thinking.
So am I saying there’s a super-diet for reducing anxiety? No. Diet is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Diet is what we eat. Each of us has an unique constitution and unique health challenges. The only universals are that fiber helps the bowels move, protein is long-burning energy, vitamins are so called because they are vital to body functions, and so on. The basic facts of nutrition science.
For me, a good diet is one that avoids my food allergens, gets as many vitamins as possible in food form, reduces sugar, and keeps fat below 45 g per day. Sugar is a big battle for me; I crave it when I am in a certain portion of my female cycle and when I am having an extended allergic reaction (the allergic cycle). When I give in to the craving, the next day my arthritis is worse (for me, it’s an inflammatory). Also as the sugar rush ends my anxiety, along with my temper, is worse. So I try to control my sugar intake. I try and sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail and try to take the role of sugar into account when I’m catching myself at negative thinking.
I don’t blame my anxiety on the sugar or lack of vitamin A or any other chemical. I simply acknowledge that the chemicals in me play a part and accept that I am a physical as well as mental and spiritual me.
What about you, gentle reader? How do the chemicals in you from food, drink, and perhaps medications, affect your mental state, your predilection to negative thoughts? Are you able to acknowledge and accept the effect? Do you attempt to avoid any foods or drinks to help with positive thinking?
This week I have been in turmoil. I am itching to do some creative writing and blog writing, yet my evenings and mornings (non-work hours) have been full of household chores and Christmas preparation. So instead of writing, I do chores and decorate and read. Reading takes less brain power and I am tired after work, so I succumb to the demon of procrastination.
Today I have a day off, so I have been doing chores and now am…well, you can see before you what type of writing I am doing. I will do this and then I will try to make myself write a story. I like writing stories but my negative thoughts are that I am no good at it, and so I fear failure at it, and so I procrastinate doing what I enjoy.
Twisted, n’est-ce pas?
As I notice it is twisted, I also notice what is really going on in my noggin. I catch myself in the negative thought and remind myself that I can only become a better story teller if I practice. My self-efficacy belief in myself as a practicer (practitioner?) is adequate to get me to buy the positive self-talk. So I might just get through the anxious procrastination going on.
Wish me luck.
And you, gentle reader, what negative thoughts inspire procrastination in you today? What positive thoughts could you replace them with?
The cure for anxiety. Yeah, that’s not a thing. I’ve been reading and searching and studying and thinking for many years now on how to cure the anxiety I feel and how to cure others. For a long time I felt superior, that I alone was connecting the dots. In the last few months, I did actually connect many of the dots for myself. And now I see that many people connect many of the dots. But no one can connect all the dots. That would require both perfection in the seeker and the reality of anxiety as disease.
You can’t cure what isn’t a disease, right?
I now think that anxiety is a preference for negative thoughts, both a negative view of the present moment and a negative prediction of the future. This negative view causes my anxious mind to fret that needs will go unmet, safety will be compromised, rules will be broken, etc. This fretting feels uncomfortable and causes me to want to control the situation by fixing, evading, planning, or some other action.
That’s not a disease. That’s just my brain going into some negative overdrive mode which feels “good” because I have lots to think about and get a neurotransmitter fix by making connections and coming to conclusions. I don’t need to cure this view preference, like one cures an infection.
I just need to:
- catch myself at having these negative thoughts (CBT is good for that),
- eat the foods that help me so I don’t mis-fuel or over-fuel the neurons or affect blood sugar mood,
- install positive self-talk in my brain to replace the negative self-talk on command,
- improve my self-efficacy beliefs so that I will believe the positive self-talk,
- have a positive view of why things happen that I share with others in my very local culture,
- and practice emotional honesty and control so I don’t feel justified in being anxious.
Simple, right? When I write it out like this, my recipe for reducing my negative thought preference sounds as difficult as turning lead to gold. Alchemy I’ve been told is possible. You can turn lead molecules to gold. It’s just cost prohibitively expensive, a lot of work for little result. This list looks like a lot of work and emotionally expensive, because my mind wants to remain anxious. I’ve built up an entire defense industry in my head so that I can continue to have these negative thoughts.
The conscious me wants to be rid of the anxiety. Hence the whole spending years working on curing it. So, now that I have a list of what works for me and have tried this and found it to work for me, I need to do the difficult. I need to try.
Yoda be darned. There is such a thing as try. And I will try and practice and make some changes in the way I think. I’ve started it already. All this blog has been speaking about me. I am sorry that I don’t know how to help you, gentle reader. There is no cure. However, perhaps some of this can apply to your own life/psyche/brain. In the weeks to come I will try to explain more fully the items on the list above. As I do, let me know what you find.
I am planning to have lunch today with one or two of my oldest friends. I am very excited at the prospect. I do not have contact with a lot of my oldest friends. Over the years I have moved and switched interest groups/hobbies, and most of my circles of acquaintance now probably don’t even know what state I live in. I’m ashamed to say I don’t do a good job at sending letters or making phone calls to keep in touch. I worry that some might find me irrelevant to their current lives or might be unwilling to talk to me any more. I know two to whom I tried to reach out did reject my letters/texts.
So I am excited about today. Also, I am pensive about the way we move around for jobs and safety. I know it’s an industrial revolution thing: to move from one’s ancestral farm to the city and to move within the city from less safe/less desirable to more safe/more desirable neighborhoods. I also know it’s damaging to the soul.
Speaking as someone who has no hometown, cherish yours. Gentle reader, I hope that you have a hometown and life-long friends. They are a blessing. Do not give them up simply because some pressure from the world prompts you to associate with new people in a new place.
Locale is the basis for culture, and culture is what allows us to navigate this world. As one thinker says, culture is how we do things around here. Don’t give up easily your sense of how things should be done. Yes, you should be aware that there are many ways to do things like dress, eat, drive, etc. You should also have a sense of what is your way and that you share that way with friends and kin. Have lunch with your friends. That is good for the soul.