Words by Michelle Hanley
May 29th, 2017
It’s little wonder that our history of political and religious oppression, dreary climate and un-healthy drinking habits has amounted to a disproportionate amount of us suffering from anxiety and depression. In saying this we are still a nation of sweepers-under-the-carpet, laugher-offers, or cards-close-to-our-chest-keepers. We are fighting an uphill battle to combat these factors and quintessentially Irish traits to come face to face with the reality of the Irish condition. I commend anyone in Ireland to talk out about there experience of anxiety or any form of mental illness and Caroline Foran adds a lighthearted tone that instantly puts you at ease and makes you feel altogether less American about reading about it.
Not an avid self-help book reader, (I generally prefer the escapism of fantasy) I must admit it’s very reassuring to hear, as the author puts it “the understanding voice of someone who felt as crap as you do now.” Like most human beings I have experienced this crippling sensation more times then I would like to admit but despite what you might think most of the got-their-sh*t-together high-flying independent ladies out there have as well, as Caroline says “We don’t go around breathing erratically into brown paper bags for all the world to see.” So how do you manage it? Scroll down and see the top six tips we’ve taken away from this best-selling title Owning It: Your Bullsh*t-Free Guide To Living With Anxiety.
Taking control of your body: eating, sleeping and exercise
1 Eating – Caroline makes the simple point that “because I felt poorly in terms of my emotions, the temptation to dive on a bag of Peanut M&Ms was near impossible to quill.” Instead of searching for a sugar fix that release energy in a spike increasing the heart-rate, focus on low GI foods such as vermicelli rice noodles, nuts, apples, green vegetables and rye breads instead of the more processed or natural high in sugar foods. Make mates with you gut by adding fermented foods and probiotics to your diet.
2 Sleeping – Obviously avoiding stimulants, clutter and creating a bright screens ban prior to bedtime will help your sleeping patterns but in more extreme cases the temptation of medication can be strong. Instead of relying on sleeping tablets that often have a negative effect on mood and have a tendency to make the taker dependant, try asking your doctor to prescribe a course of melatonin, a natural hormone we are supposed to produce later on in the day that winds us down and prepares us for sleep. Warning, it should only be used over short periods to kickstart your natural production and get your hormonal equilibrium back in order. Other natural remedies to consider are magnesium, Vitamin D, valerian root, amino acid L-Theanine and Cherry Active. But before you stock-up make sure it’s right for you as Caroline wisely warns that taking supplements for things we don’t need can be counterproductive.
3 Exercise – This is a stress on the body that stimulates cortisol production (the counterpart to melatonin). Caroline explains “For this reason, I turned to yoga, primarily for the fact that it’s not as stressful on the body and because it actually stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, thanks to its dependancy on slow, controlled breaths.”
Ass-kicking alternative therapies to try
4 Acupuncture – Especially good for the physical symptoms of anxiety such as aches, pains and sleeplessness, acupuncture also creates chemical changes to reduce anxiety. Caroline credits Hannah O’Connell, her acupuncturists, with a large role in her journey to owning it.
5 Havening (Amygdala Depotentiation Therapy) – Whether you are feeling a little bit wobbly or completely woeful, often anxiety is a result of traumatic memories. Havening is here to help by replacing negative stressful feelings and using distraction techniques through delta waves to the brain triggered by touch.
6 Sound Therapy – If you’ve ever felt the frustration of just telling yourself to calm down with little results them this might be the one for you. Caroline uses the example of ancient cultures of the Roman Aulus Cornelius Celsus love of cymbals and Australian Aboriginals didgeridoos to illustrate the longevity of this form of meditation.
The overall lesson from this book is that consistency and patience with yourself starts with the acceptance and understanding of your condition and using coping mechanisms outlined are the key aspects to keep in mind. And, as this is the bullsh*t free guide – there are no quick fixes.
To get the whole 250 pages of advice and countless more tips including an easy to find chapter on how to deal with a panic attack in real-time head here to get your hands on your own copy, stocked in bookshops nationwide.
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