According to the Mental Health Foundation 2016 report, one third of all people with a mental health problems have sought no professional help at all.
By 2030 the Mental Health Network estimates that there will be 2 million more people in the UK with mental health problems. The stigma around mental health is slowly starting to loosen it's grip, but the fact remains that over the course of our lifetime, most of us will experience some form of mental health challenge (I know I certainly have). This is the norm, not the exception.
Access to services, from waiting periods, to financial costs, and often the type of help offered can stop people from seeking the help that they need. So when I learned about the iAM Project I was excited to be a part of something that makes a difference at grass-roots level.
The iAM Project has been up since July 2019, but it's been years in the making, and was established by my childhood friend Mark Donald. We've had some amazing times together over the past 27 years, and also some tough ones. We've faced our own challenges and have supported each other through them. You'll learn more about over time, to give you a better understanding of where we're coming from.
Physical activity has always played a key part in keeping us grounded. We know the benefits. The science is there to support it, and we wanted to share that with you, alongside the vast other mental hygiene tools and methods we've picked up over the years.
The iAM Project events have gotten off to a great start already, all of which are free to attend, but require booking. The feedback so far has been fantastic.
As an Ambassador I'll be delivering powerful information on how to support yourself when facing a mental health challenge, how to improve your quality of life, and also Coaching on exclusive iAM Projects which you can attend at no cost to you.
If you want to learn more, please do check out the website, then head on over to instagram and give them a follow.
Remember, better quality of life and good health is your birth right.
Your body. Your Mind. Your Rules.
Attachment to the outcome is what often makes people quit their journey. When faced with challenges, changing life circumstances, or a dip in commitment, with the fear of failure lurking ahead, they simply throw the towel in and give up. We then come up with a really good reason to justify our actions.
Listen, we've all done it at some point in our lives. You've done it, I've certainly done it in the past, until I learnt a better way.
Now what I am about to say will probably piss a lot of people off (and I'm ok with that).
The truth is that you can't control the outcome. So stop thinking you can.
Read that bit again.
Does that mean that you'll never achieve what you want? Am I saying that there is not point in having goals or even trying? Of course I'm not saying that, but here is what I am saying.
You can't always control the outcome, there are often far too many variables involved (from other peoples actions, to changing circumstances) but you can control your behaviour and thus influence the outcome, and thus making your desired outcome more probable. It's a concept I share with my coaching clients to help them achieve deep, consistent change. Let me give you an example.
What I want you to notice is that behaviour goals are specific action steps that you commit to take on a regular basis, that can lead to the outcome you want.
Keep this in mind, behaviour goals are small manageable tasks that are within your control. They are things that you can do right now, or in the near future. Most importantly they are things you can do consistently and regularly.
Below is a tool that you can use, it was inspired by a similar model by Precision Nutrition that I use with Nutrition Coaching clients to help them stay on track, and achieve success.
Jot this model down some where you will see it on a regular basis (maybe in your journal or diary).
In the first circle write down the outcome that you want to achieve, ask yourself "What is my desired goal?". Then in each of the circles write down 1 - 2 action steps that you will do to push you in the direction of your desired outcome. These are your behaviour goals. Notice how each circle feeds into the other, with your daily tasks connecting to your overall desired outcome.
Here are some top tips.
I'll leave you with this,
Cultivate only the habits that you are willing should master you.
A deep sense of persistent worry or fear that can overwhelm us, make us feel powerless, want to run away and hide, or have us shut down. These are just some of the feelings that travel with anxiety.
Fear is a normal short-term response to stress. Anxiety can be characterised as a disproportionate response to a situation that's persistent even when the stressor is removed. This sensation can also arise for no apparent reason. It can be mild or severe. What many people do not also realise, is that anxiety can be specific to a situation or trigger, or general.
With General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) people feel anxious most days about a wide variety of situations or issues.
Stress (specifically, distress) can be a causative factor in anxiety attacks, and can result in various hormonal and metabolic imbalances. Anxiety can develop after trauma, such as abuse, divorce, abandonment, injury or car accident to name but a few.
What you probably didn't realise is that the Mental Health Foundation 2016 report indicated there were over 8.2 million cases of anxiety reported the UK and that number is set to rise. Anxiety can be the the main symptom in conditions such as panic disorders, phobias, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and even depression.
But what are the symptoms?
Symptoms of Anxiety
Symptoms can vary for each individual, here are some of the common symptoms of anxiety
So how can we best deal with anxiety? Most people will need an integrated approach to deal with their anxiety. By tackling it from different angles, chances are that you will find a right way for you.
Nutritional Management & Clinical Considerations
Nutrition may not be the be the only tool in your box to tackle anxiety, but beyond the standard advice of "eat healthily" there is a wealth of scientific literature that supports specific nutritional protocol. These findings are based on the potential biochemical mechanisms of anxiety. Let's explore these together.
Neurotransmitters - are chemicals which essentially help pass messages from one nerve to another, which target other specific neurons, cells, muscles or glands. Neurotransmitter dysregulation is thought to be a contributing factor to anxiety.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the main calming and inhibitory neurotransmitter that balances the excitatory action of Glutamate released during the stress response (Glutamate is an amino acid and the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain).
GABA also acts on two other important hormones in the stress response, namely Corticotropin Releasing Factor (CRF) and AdrenoCorticotropic Hormone (ACTH) secretion. It has the ability to modulate excess adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine, it also influences seratonin levels. So what does all this actually mean in real terms? Well, GABA is associated with feelings of relaxation and happiness, while low levels are associated with anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Methylation - is a metabolic cycle that is important for neurotransmitter synthesis. Impaired methylation can result in elevated homocysteine, a by product which has neurotoxic properties.
Gut Dysfunction - this includes allergies, intolerances, inflammation, and the state of your gut lining (intenstinal permeability), may also be a contributing factor, as digestive problems are strongly associated with anxiety.
Nutrient Deficiencies - low levels of B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium and zinc have been linked to anxiety.
So what does this look like for our nutrition? What can we do on a day to day practical level?
Taurine - is a potent activator of GABA receptors.
L-Tryptophan - is a precursor for seratonin and melatonin, so can potentially help modulate cycles of sleep and awakefullness. 
L-Theanine - Blocks binding of glutamic acid to receptors and reduces stress response. , .
Lemon Balm - (also known and common balm, or balm mint) is part of the mint family, but has a lemon fragrance. It inhibits GABA transaminase, which breaks down GABA. It helps to reduce anxiety, stress and insomnia.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus - There are many different strains of gut bacteria. Lactobacillus rhamnosus may help to modulate the stress response and anxiety. It prevents bad bacteria from colonizing, and encourages the growth of healthy gut bacteria. 
Every Day Nutrition
Antioxidants - Anxiety is associated with low levels of antioxidants. Vitamins A, C & E have been shown to alleviate symptoms, and so too has selenium. 
B-Vitamins support energy and homocysteine metabolism, stress control and neurotransmitter synthesis. 
Zinc - is a co-factor in methylation, and synaptic transmission (communication between nerves). 
Essential Fatty Acids - have been shown to reduce anxiety and lower cortisol. 
Magnesium - Has been shown to improve sleep patterns, and HPA Axis over activity. Chronic stimulation of the HPA (Hypthalmic - Pituitary -Adrenal) Axis can contribute to ongoing anxiety symptoms. 
Getting foods abundant with these key nutrients, or careful supplementation could prove beneficial.
The ability to catch the signs of anxiety as they arise, or identifying triggers is a powerful step in being able to deal with it. Self regulation is about being able to recognise, and use this information to put your self care plan in action.
Get in Touch With You
This could writing down what anxiety feels like for you, the direct sensations you experience within your body (making a mental note too), now some of you reading this may already know, but see if there is any other sensations you can add to the list.
For those of you that are unsure, I invite you to ask yourself "How do I know when I don't have anxiety?" write down those answers. This will enable you to contrast and get a sense for when you do experience anxiety.
Are there person, places, situations or things that trigger your anxiety? Now this doesn't mean that you'll automatically avoid these things. Just that you can now make a conscious decision whether or not you want to expose yourself to these triggers, and if you do, put a plan in place to minimise the effects. Never stay where you are not comfortable and does not serve you. You have every right to leave situations or people.
Habit & Ritual
As part of our self care there are often things that we already do that help us to feel better within ourselves. This can be anything from daily meditation, breath work, seeing a therapist, eating healthy most of the week, massages, meeting up with friends, keeping a diary, writing, or regular exercise, whatever it is for you, jot that down. This is all part of your self care plan.
As part of my own mental hygiene I keep track of the things I do, and notice if parts of my self care habits and rituals start to slip. There is a strong chance that if I don't put these things into practice my mental wellbeing will take a hit.
You can use a diary to track things, I use a combination of a journal and also Today I Did It Right workbook/ diary which I think is brilliant, but decide for yourself.
Anxiety is something that can have a devastating impact on our lives if we let it, but it doesn't need to stop you from living a full and vibrant life if you want to. There will be challenges, and while they may seem overwhelming at the time, they can often be reduced and managed better with the right comprehensive approach, that is a good fit for you.
I know that anxiety comes and it goes, it's like a hurricane that leaves a mess in it's wake. But if you are looking for a Coach to work alongside you and your therapist, who can help you improve your wellbeing, your nutrition, your training and emotional mastery, book in some time with me for a Complimentary Coaching Call to see how I can help you.
 Jia et al. Taurine is a potent activator of extrasynaptic GABA receptors in the thalamus. Journal of Neuroscience. 2008; 28 (1): 106-15. 22
 Schaechter, Wurtman. Serotonin release varies with brain tryptophan levels. Brain Research. 1990; 532 (1-2): 203–10.
 Kimura et al. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biological Psychology. 2007; 74 (1): 39- 45.
 Unno et al. Anti-stress effect of theanine on students during pharmacy practice: positive correlation among salivary α-amylase activity, trait anxiety and subjective stress. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. 2013; 111: 128-35.
 Cases et al. Pilot trial of Melissa officinalis L. leaf in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild to moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2011; 4 (3): 211-18.
 Bravo et al. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behaviour and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2011; 108 (38): 16050-55.
 Alramadhan et al. Dietary and botanical anxiolytics. Medical Science Monitor. 2012; 18 (4): RA40-RA48.
 Bottigilieri et al. Homocysteine, folate, methylation, and monoamine metabolism in depression. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. 2000; 69 (2): 228-32. 28
 Cope, Levenson. Role of zinc in the development and treatment of mood disorders. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2010; 13 (6), 685-89.
 Yehuda et al. Mixture of essential fatty acids lowers test anxiety. Nutritional Neuroscience, 2005; 8 (4): 265-67.
 Held et al. Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2002; 35 (4): 135-43.
The truth of the matter is that many of us struggle to make change stick.
For whatever reason, no matter how much we may want to change, after an initial burst of action we hit a brick wall and all our efforts come to a crashing halt - but it doesn't have to be that way.
As a Nutrition Coach, I understand that most focus on the technical aspect of nutrition, and fail to appreciate that what is really needed is behaviour change. This is true for many areas of life that we wish to make change stick, not just nutrition.
It's not what you know, but what you apply on a consistent basis that matters, and that's where the 5 steps to deep sustainable change come in, a simple but profound concept that I learned as a Precision Nutrition Coach, and one that I share with all participants on my coaching programs. So what are the 5 steps?
On a scale of 1 -10 how confident are you that you can do this every day for two weeks?
Break bigger things down into their component parts (also know as "chunking down"
Start with "thing 1" then do "thing 2" then "thing 3" and so on. We can often skip steps in a hurry to "achieve success" and in doing so can make our success less likely.
Leveraging strengths to address the thing that is in the way right now.
Including friends or family to hold you accountable, mentorship or hire a Coach you can trust and feel meets your needs. You can now book a complimentary coaching call with me to figure how I can help you achieve sustainable change too.