I've been getting very nervous easily and often feel anxious throughout the day. I never had anxiety issues before Paleo, but now my body has become more sensitive to things including "stressors" in my life. Has anyone else experienced something like this? Does anyone have an suggestions? I feel like my anxiety is releasing a lot of unwanted cortisol and that's just a big no no. Please help. Thank you!
People often go low carb on paleo. Gluconeogenesis is mediated by cortisol, which can lead to an anxious feeling.
If you are low carb, you can try:
Adding safe starches (sweet potato, potato, rice, plantains) a la Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet.
Upping fat intake (eggs are great for me, coconut oil in a stepwise fashion to test sensitivity, cream/butter depending on body comp goals and sensitivities)
Some advocate 5-HTP and magnesium. I'd do the latter before the former. Magnesium chloride foot soaks are quite relaxing. Magnesium glycinate also provides glycine (glycine is a precursor to GABA).
If you're not low carb, 2 and 3 might still be effective.
Other ideas outside of diet:
More walking and yoga to upregulate GABA.
Belly breathing (Wikipedia or google if not familiar). Stimulates the vagus nerve and consequently parasympathetic activity.
Mindfulness. Get out of your head and observe the world around you.
I feel stress as well (mainly financial--managing a small business is a bitch sometimes) but I have become much better at processing it and not letting it run my life. It's more mind over matter than anything.
"Lord, help me to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those I have to kill."
My advice is to spend some time outdoors (weather permitting), play with your pets, laugh and eat well.
Going very low carb can do that. So if you're feeling stress, add in a small amount of carbs. Maybe 1/4 cup of sweet potato.
You can also try Tulsi tea (aka Holy Basil) which is an adaptogen. Other stuff like meditation and getting enough sleep, etc. will help.
By becoming more sensitive to diet (more aware, more conscious, more discerning), it follows that your expanded sentience would extend to what you call "stressors." Bear in mind that "stressors" (challenging stimuli) are inevitable, while "stress" (your response to same) is optional; that is, the response is up to us, significantly, based on our "stress management capacity and skill."
Faced with the same or similar stressors, some individuals become more resilient from the challenge, while others become less so. There are many possible variables, but assume that we're talking about a demographic of persons who are alike in many key respects: nutrition, exercise, scores on psychological assessments, careers, and so forth.
There's a lot of good work out there on this. I highly recommend Mihály Csíkszentmihályi's seminal book Flow. Nutshell: when our skills/capacities are adequate to the challenges we face, we're in the groove. When our skills/capacities actually surpass our life challenges, we tend to be bored. Conversely, when the opposite is true — when life's challenges go beyond what we're equipped to handle, we feel "stressed."
I recommend lessening negative stress wherever possible: get dialed in vis-a-vis nutrition, exercise, and sleep; consider meditation and self-relaxation practices. Make optimism a habit. Beyond this, take up "positive" challenges that cause your reach to extend beyond your grasp. There are all kinds of self-actualizing ways one can take on "big" ventures that ask a lot of us, but also give us a lot in return.
And though I don't care to mount an argument for it in this venue at this moment, there's not a doubt in my mind that much self reported "anxiety" and "panic" (as in the widely reported "attacks" of same) should be understood in developmental terms. Midlife "crisis" is a time when the strategies of the first half of life, are no longer successful to the challenges of the second half of life. This applies not only to the 35-55 age range; it can apply to the transition, for instance, from adolescence to young adulthood. Or the transition from work to retirement. The "self" thinks it's got life "figured out," which it did, until now, when something new is required. Many, many, too many people are resorting to psychotropic medication to suppress the symptoms. Tragic.
As for the Paleo connection — well, it's simply a fact that cultures throughout history, and prehistory, used rites of passage and ceremonies of initiation to mark and celebrate and expedite life transitions.
Are you LC (low carb) or VLC (very low carb)? Like 50g a day or less? I found that low a level made me bonkers with anxiety. I added a bit more carbs (still low-carb), and it got easier. Everyone's different, of course, and that was just my deal, but it's worth looking at. :)
My anxiety has generally gone down but I attribute that to blood sugar stabilization. If I personally feel anxious, I can usually pin it to sugar of some sort, like eating a lot of fruit without enough fat.
I have noticed that I startle easily (though I always have, but I seem more sensitive now), am more sensitive to smells (OMG perfume be damned), and less tolerant of crowds and bright artificial light. I like shopping less and crave being out in nature more. Overall, I see it as a plus (except the startling thing - I'd like to work on that).
Agree with all suggestions. Are you getting much exercise? -- you didn't say in your post. If not, you should look at it, and find some way to get some activity in. Yoga's good, but you may want to balance it with some short, high-intensity activities. Good luck! -- breathe and relax.
Just wanted to say you're not alone. Paleo helped with the type of anxiety I had before Paleo, but introduced a new kind. I'm actually more laid back in general, but have acute periods of moodiness and short temper. For example, I used to freak out the night before a plane trip or during party prep, but now it's no big deal and I don't sweat the small stuff. But some days...it's like I can feel my internal weather and know that it's not a good day for significant challenges. It's more skittery feeling, or amped.
Yes, upping carbs. I'm at a good weight, so I don't worry about amounts. Also seems to help with sleep quality.
Yoga and mindfulness. On those bad weather days, this is priceless. One of my favorite yoga teacher quotes, "Drop the story." Mindfulness will help you recognize when it's an issue and help prevent you from making the problem worse. Deep breathing.
Take care of yourself. For me, sometimes I just need an hour or two away from my toddler. Go to a café, for a walk, a jog, whatever helps reset your head space.
I recently had a pretty big spike in my stress level about 2 months ago. When my doc suggested anti-anxiety meds, I remembered this blog post which I had skimmed just a couple of weeks prior: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/15-ways-to-fight-stress/. All good tips, but I picked up some L-Theanine and Phosphatidyl Serine and am so glad I did. They helped relieve a ton of body tension that was making me very short of breath, to where it actually hurt to inhale completely. No anxiety meds - and breathing happily now. I hope you find a solution that works for you!
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