R U OK Day - A Nutritionist's Perspective

ARE YOU OK? A question for today and everyday xx

We never, ever know what someone else may be going through. Being kind is always the answer. It can be so easy to judge and hate on others but it is actually even easier to be kind and give love instead. 

In December last year, I lost my bestie and soul sister to suicide. I have been struck with absolute shock and devastation for the last 9 months. I am missing her so much lately. Her death has triggered my own anxiety which has helped me personally connect to the pain of this illness and how isolating it can be. My Carlz felt so alone with her struggles and she was far from alone. 

I know life on social media can look shiny and glam so I only share my struggles with the intention to help those who may be struggling and feeling alone. I am not seeking sympathy or worry from others but as always, my community has been so caring, so thank you. Instead of sympathy, I instead simply want to increase awareness for mental health and help this community understand that they do not have to manage it on their own. 

I love my life and feel so incredibly fortunate but unfortunately mental illness has nothing to do with what you have and often cannot be controlled. It can be viscous and paralysing. My anxiety completely paralysed me to the point of having to take 6 weeks off work in July and move into my mums place. Going downstairs to make a piece of toast or tea was honestly a struggle. I stayed in bed for 22 hours a day and just wanted to sleep until it would end. I have not yet shared this story with the community or pretty much anyone at all. Why? Probably because I also feel some kind of shame about it. 

I am learning fast and beginning to understand how others can relate to my experience which helps me know that there is no need for shame. My anxiety manifested as ‘intrusive thoughts syndrome’ which is horrific in its nature. Everyone’s anxiety looks different and that is something else that needs to be shared. We are all suffering to some degree and I just feel there is still far too much stigma attached to mental health illnesses. 

We have to speak about it more. We have to remove the stigma. We have to come together and support one another. No one is alone in this. 

There is help, there is support out there. Even though it feels like there isn’t. I have been able to manage it slowly (it’s taken about 4 months) and I will be sure to share what I’ve used to help ease my anxiety over time as soon as I feel strong enough.

I hope to ask this gorgeous community today and everyday “are you ok?” and remind you of this: you are loved, surrounded by support and you are NOT alone. 

I love you girls

J xxx

 

There is no better advice than going to see an expert practitioner that you can talk to face to face. Visit the R U OK day website for some amazing resources.

 

4 Tips To Assist With Anxiety

Depending on the severity, anxiety can be crippling for some. Feelings of worry, apprehension, and fear are just some of the emotions one may experience which can manifest into altered physical and mental behavior.

Feeling anxious from time to time is a normal behaviour and is a defense mechanism to help deal with unfamiliar circumstances. When this feeling becomes more frequent and severe, it can disrupt normal everyday function and can be classified as an illness. If you don’t suffer from anxiety or anxious thoughts, it can be difficult to put yourself in the shoes of someone who does. So the message here is, be kind and offer support, you never know what someone is going through. 

Try Taking Fish Oil

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are nutrients that have the ability to exert preventative and therapeutic effects on psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression. In relation to anxiety, fish oil can assist with controlling the stress response. 

Practice Yoga and Meditation

The practice of yoga is so powerful for exerting beneficial effects on the mind and central nervous system. Compared to other sports, it helps to regulate the nervous system, hormones, physiological factors and regulation of nerve impulses which can all contribute to improving symptoms of depression and other mental disorders such as anxiety. If you’re just getting into yoga and meditation, enjoy a flow 1-2x per week and then slowly increase to 3-4x per week.

Take Magnesium

Magnesium, one of our favourite minerals!  Magnesium helps regulate activity of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis in the brain and is a substrate of the stress response system. Activation of this axis, initiates an autonomic, neuroendocrine and behaviour response to manage stress, including anxiety. Being exposed to stress, reduces Magnesium levels and therefore supplementation has been shown to reduce central and peripheral hormonal responses of this system. Enjoy magnesium rich foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, kidney beans, figs, avocado, bananas, nuts, seeds and cacao.    

Try Passionflower

Passionflower is commonly used in the management of anxiety and is associated with the regulation of the GABA neurotransmitter system. As a treatment for generalised anxiety, passionflower was found to be equally as successful as oxazepam (a common anxiety medication) in managing symptoms of anxiety. 


References:

  1. Gauthier I, Nuss P. Anxiety disorders and GABA neurotransmission: a disturbance of modulation. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 2015;11:165-175.
  2. Pouteau E, Kabir-Ahmadi M, Noah L, Mazur A, Dye L, Hellhammer J et al. Superiority of magnesium and vitamin B6 over magnesium alone on severe stress in healthy adults with low magnesemia: A randomized, single-blind clinical trial. PLOS ONE. 2018;13(12):e0208454.
  3. Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi H, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H, Khani M. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. 2001;26(5):363-367.
  4. Mocci F. The effect of noise on serum and urinary magnesium and catecholamines in humans. Occupational Medicine. 2001;51(1):56-61.
  5. Su K, Shen W, Huang S. Effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids on psychiatric disorders. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000;72(5):1241-1241.
  6. Delarue J, Matzinger O, Binnert C, Schneiter P, Chioléro R, Tappy L. Fish oil prevents the adrenal activation elicited by mental stress in healthy men. Diabetes & Metabolism. 2003;29(3):289-295.