I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. As a teen I masked it with an eating disorder. In my twenties I continued to self medicate with dating and drinking to escape from the constant feelings of anxiety. As my twenties drew to a close it became clear to me that I was a skilled escape artist, I didn’t want to deal with the underlying anxiety so I kept trying to run away. At twenty-eight I made some big life changes and forced myself to deal with the underlying anxiety. I used a combination of trauma therapy, healing my gut, yoga, and group work to deal with the underlying causes of my anxiety. Rather than share my whole journey here I wanted to focus on the work I most recently did to heal my gut and the way bringing balance to my gut microbiome actually helped reduce my feeling of anxiousness.
Our gut can actually be considered the second brain. The gut makes MORE serotonin and dopamine than the brain. In order for these neurotransmitters to have their effect in the brain they have to be able to communicate with the brain and they do that through chemicals the gut makes and then they travel throughout the body and our nervous system and to our brain. So if your gut bacteria is out of balance it isn’t just going to impact your digestion, it will also impact the way you feel, your anxiety levels and your depression levels. When I learned this I set out on a mission to heal my gut and see if I could get some help with the lingering anxiety I have had since changing my relationship with food, men and alcohol.
Here are a few simple things I did over the course of the last few years.
1. I focused on simplifying my life. What does this have to do with gut bacteria? Well one way our gut is thrown out of balance is through stress. Life in the modern world is stressful. So I have tried to carve out a life for myself that looks a little different. I spent a lot of time working to build a career I could do from home. I say no to lots of stuff. I don’t watch TV and check the news once a day. I practice minimalism so I don’t have a lot of stuff around to energetically weigh me down. I only maintain close friendships that are nourishing and inspiring. There are many ways to simplify your life, it doesn’t have to look exactly like this but it will feel radical because the way most people live in our culture is very stressful. You have to find a different way.
2. I drastically reduced my sugar intake. Ok so this is an important one. I have trained as a health coach and spent almost ten years with a private health coaching practice. My clients didn’t go on diets but I encouraged all of them to give up sugar. A diet full of processed sugar will destroy the good bacteria in your gut and this leads to increased anxiety. Cutting out sugar helped me cut my anxiety in half.
3. I started taking a combination of unique strains of probiotics, prebiotics that have been show to improve mood. I’ve tried a lot of supplements overs the years. When I first started my healing journey I was deficient in a lot of key nutrients and supplements helped bring my body back into balance. Most recently I was introduced to a line of supplements that focus on mental wellness through targeted probiotics and prebiotics to heal the gut. Using these helped me see the biggest difference in my anxiety and energy levels.
Healing my gut has been the last and missing piece in my recovery. I had done a lot of good work in therapy to deal with my anxiety but I didn’t realize that I hadn’t addressed my second brain. Today I know healing is possible. I don’t live every day frozen with anxiety and for that I’m thankful.
Aubry is a mental health advocate, mother, blogger and entrepreneur. Her mission is to build community, share her story often and authentically and inspire as many people as possible to live their best life. You can follow her on Instagram and also visit her website.
If you would like to support and be part of our mission for mental wellness, please visit our store at Outta.ca.