Monthly Archives: March 2010

Don’t Panic!

Anxiety – it lurks in the shadows and used to be something that no one admitted to. But many of us have fallen prey to it at some stage or another.

I remember when I had my first panic attack about a decade ago. I was on my way to work when my heart started to beat furiously. Then I lost my vision. I thought I was dying and grabbed at some poor commuter to help me off the train. After a couple of minutes, my vision returned but I felt like a freak. It scared the hell out of me.

Since then, I’ve equipped myself to deal better with my anxiety issues. I’ve also learned that I’m not alone. Panic Anxiety Disorder Association Inc. (PADA) reports that 12% of Australians will experience anxiety and panic disorders at some point in their lives.

Physical symptoms of anxiety and panic include muscle tightness, heart palpitations, chest tightness/pain, dizziness, numbness, tingling and panic attacks.

When I first experienced acute anxiety and panic, my doctor only offered me sedatives or anti-depressants. Fortunately, there now are numerous natural alternatives that treat the cause rather than the symptoms.

First, as always, look at your diet and lifestyle. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables with a little meat and fish. Foods containing L-Tryptophan, such as turkey, help the body to relax. Relaxation exercises and meditation also play an important part in healing, as does talking with a qualified therapist.

Bach Flower Remedies aid in relieving a variety of emotional disorders. St John’s Wort, Valerian and Omega 3 are said to relieve depression and maintain emotional balance, but consult a naturopath first. Anxiety can sometimes be the result of an iodine deficiency and it’s recommended that anyone suffering from anxiety and panic symptoms have their thyroid checked.

Deep breathing is the body’s natural defence against anxiety. Try this breathing exerciseYoga, acupuncture, holistic kinesiology and Bowen Therapy are also great ways to alleviate panic and anxiety.

When it comes to anxiety, the most important thing is not to suffer in silence. Get some expert advice and don’t let panic get the better of you.

Now check out part two of this article, Revisiting anxiety and kicking panic’s butt.

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Sitting Pretty?

In my day job as a copywriter/editor, I spend most of the time sitting in front of a computer. Now as I’m eight months pregnant, and my bottom has been steadily increasing in size for some time now, I’m not so worried about the weight implications of my sedentary work culture. But consider the time us desk-bound folk spend sitting still at work, as well as while commuting, and the butt time really adds up – apparently the typical office worker is sedentary for 75 per cent of their working day. That can’t be good.

Many of us try and do a bit of exercise a few times a week, but after a busy day, most of us will just want to collapse in front of the TV. According to a study by researchers including Dr David Dunstan from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute earlier this year, four or more hours a day of television increases your  risk of death from heart disease by 80 per cent, and risk of death from all causes by 46 per cent compared with people that watch just two hours a day.

All up, including telly time, we could be sitting still for up to 15 hours a day.

So, apart from changing careers and cutting down on TV time, what can we do about it? Try the following methods to help you get off your ass:

  • Stand up when using the phone.
  • Move your rubbish bin/printer further away from your desk.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Walk over to talk to a colleague instead of sending an email.
  • Getting up to move around for few minutes or so every hour.
  • At home, do a bit of ironing whilst watching TV.

An attitude of gratitude

Looking back on some of my posts recently, I’ve noticed a pattern: I like having a good whinge. Sadly, I often focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right. Like most people, when asked what I truly want, I’d say that I just want to be “happy”. But what does this really mean and how can we make it happen?

Have a good think about what would make you happy – more cash, a new job, car or relationship? Your ‘wants’ might sound a bit superficial but keep digging and think about how you want to feel. It might be that your ‘wants’ actually represent increased feelings of freedom, self-confidence or love, and that’s what would make you happier.

A few months ago, I got into the habit of writing a daily gratitude list, something I’m going to start up again. Some of the things on my list were as small as a text from a friend, a coffee made by my favourite barista or a home-cooked meal. Some were bigger, like good health, my loving husband, my wonderful family. Some days your list might be ridiculously long; other days it might be a struggle to come up with two or three things. It doesn’t matter – as long as what’s on the list contributes to your happiness.

Getting into the habit of writing down and acknowledging what you’re grateful for will make you feel good. Even if you’re having a bad day, you can always think of a couple of things to go on the list and putting pen to paper will help you put things in perspective, release the day and put you in an ‘attitude of gratitude’ mindset. And, at the risk of sounding a bit ‘New-Thought’ preachy, like really does attracts like. You’ll find the more you’re thankful for, the more of the good stuff you’ll get.

Beating the Monday blues

It’s Monday again and I’ve got that sinking feeling. I’m tired and grumpy and the week’s barely begun. Thing is, everyone around me seems to be feeling the same…

Well apparently a study by Flinders University has discovered a cure for the Monday morning blues – stop sleeping in at the weekend.

Apparently our lazy Saturday and Sunday lie-ins, a must for most of us who need to catch up on sleep lost during the week, are messing with our body clocks.

The research team tested the theory by tracking 16 people over a weekend, asking them to go to bed a little later than they would on a weeknight, but sleeping in for an extra two hours.

By comparing saliva samples and hormone tests, the team found participants’ body clocks had been delayed by 45 minutes, making them much sleepier than usual the next day. This was because the subjects’ circadian rhythms – which determine patterns of alertness and tiredness – had been disturbed, creating an effect similar to jet lag.

By mid-week, most of us manage to get back on track but then we start staying up later, getting into ‘sleep debt’ again and perpetuating the cycle.

See my posts on the chi cycle, jet lag and insomnia for some handy hints on beating tiredness and sleep deprivation. Happy Monday!