Overcoming the Amygdala Part 41
Let’s take a look at some mundane but possibly crucial tips about managing anxiety and depression, based on experience.
1. Get enough sleep.
You will probably have heard this before and read many recommendations elsewhere about how to get enough rest and how to fall asleep when you wake up with anxiety in the middle of the night and so on. Everyone is different and not every piece of advice regarding sleep (or anything else for that matter) will work universally, so you will have to experiment to see what works for you. And when a panic attack is at its height and all the amygdala’s alarms are ringing, almost all advice will be useless.
But sleep is a crucial point to address because, if the body has physically had enough rest and has had an opportunity to recharge various faculties, many of which have no direct connection to stress or any particular situation you’re facing, then your overall resilience will be much higher and you will have more stamina regardless of what happens during the day. If you’re caught in a vicious circle, in other words, of panic during the day and sleeplessness at night due to anxiety, the ‘point of entry’ into that circle is sleep: find a way of permitting your body and mind to go to sleep for as long as possible, as deeply as possible.
There are natural supplements which can assist with sleep, and routines you can establish which will help: whatever it takes, short of severe medication — which should be avoided if possible because it induces a ‘chemical’ rather than natural sleep— take action to ensure that sleep occurs.
One good night’s sleep can make a startling difference to one’s perception of reality, and can quell the amygdala almost completely.
2. Get enough nutrition.
Again, you will have heard this one. But again, it’s a vital point to consider. A body subjected to amygdalic control over an extended period ends up running on adrenalin, and that exhausts organs and leaves you feeling run down. Try to maintain a balanced diet. Again, everyone is different, but it’s important to give the body enough protein to keep vital areas strong, and enough fuel to run the engines.
One of the ways anxiety ends up pushing us into a downward spiral is through diet: we end up reaching for ‘comfort foods’ or being too tired and stressed to make proper meals. After a while, we even stop caring. What that means is that the body has even less resources to deal with whatever the situation is, and the amygdala gets even more worried about the individual’s ability to cope — so things get worse.
If you can’t manage home-cooked meals and a range of nutrients, use food supplements and vitamins as an assistance to maintaining good health.
Pretty basic stuff, I know — but without the foundations of sleep and nutrition, overcoming the amygdala becomes even harder work.