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.
Stop for a moment.
As you're reading this I want you to think about what do you truly value?
Let me also ask you, why?
What kind of person do you want to be?
What do you want for your health, for your body, your quality of life?
Are you living those values?
Chances are, like many of us, probably not as well as you'd like..
This is normal
The first step is to identify what you want, and your "why" , the next step is to acknowledge the gap between where we are now, and where we want to be.
A powerful question I often ask myself is "Who do I need to be for me?" What kind of qualities do I need to embody, and kind of actions do I need to take.
When we don't do what we believe, or sense in our gut to be "right", we don't feel good, and our bodies show it. A little piece of us can die inside.
Knowing what is important to us and why, gives us purpose and clarity. Either way our body keeps the score.
On Saturday 20th April I was at Trojan's gym in Bristol for the Southern Area qualifiers for Britain's Natural Strongest Man 2019.
Last year I tore my bicep on the Atlas Stones and had to pull out.
The top 3 spots in the < 105kg category go through to the finals.
This year I didn't qualify.
Here's the run down of my performance in the BNSM comp.
Not the result I wanted and made some costly mistakes. Simply didn't perform to par on the day, and know what I need to do to correct it.
Regardless, I had fun at the competition, and only came away with minor injuries. It was a strong field of ten athletes in the 105kg category and we were often separated by only 1 rep or a second or two.
I was asked, do I know where I came in the competition? I do not, and for me it doesn't matter. Simply because my objective for the competition was to not get injured and to qualify.
I needed a top 3 spot, which I did not achieve, therefore to me, my place is irrelevant.
I could make up a story as to why I didn't perform or "how close I was" but the reality is whether I got 4th place, 8th place or 10th place it doesn't change the fact that I did not achieve my objective. I failed to achieve what I set out to do.
Objectively, I failed. Am I disappointed in my performance? Yes. Does it feel great? No it doesn't. I've occasionally got that icky feeling in the pit of my stomach; a coarse blend of shame, disappointment, regret - and I'm ok with that.
Now I know what you are thinking, and many of you will try to put a positive spin on it. There is no need to - because there is not a negative spin in it.
I appreciated all the comments on social media of support, and the well meaning comments attempting to lift my spirits. What I did notice was that at no time did anyone actually ask me how I was with the situation. This got me thinking....
Have we really become so fragile that we cannot handle or admit to failure or disappointment?
Not every cloud has a sliver lining - and that's ok.
Sometime things go great - and that's ok . Sometimes things go shit - and that's ok too. I responded to one of the comments that, "I'm not that fragile that I need to graffiti everything with a silver outline."
I'm built from sturdy stuff.
I think as a culture we need to step away from being positive about everything (falsely) and be able to sit with, and handle the uncomfortable, icky stuff. To be able to lean into failure, not wallow in it, but to be able to allow ourselves to experience the uncomfortable stuff. To grow from it.
In my opinion this is what builds resilience. Success is success. Failure is failure. Lets not confuse the two, but learn from it.
As I tell all those that I Coach, you are not your performance.
Just because you put in a great performance, doesn't suddenly make you a wonderful human being (ask Lance Armstrong) and just because you put in a sub-par performance doesn't make you less worthy.
We need to be able to experience and express our emotions in a healthy way, without trying to correct them, and objectively take feedback from our performance so that we can improve, if we so choose.
The morning after my competition I got up around 6am to watch A Call To Courage by Brene Brown on Netflix (which I highly recommend). In it she spoke about that there are those who live life in the stands, and those who live life in the arena.
The people in the stands are those who criticise and judge others from a place of safety, not having to expose themselves, while there are those who live life in the arena, who live life fully and dare greatly. But to dare greatly you must allow yourself to be vulnerable, and to do this means that you will fail.
Not that you risk failure, but that inevitably you will fail at some point and that's ok.
When we don't acknowledge the icky, or the uncomfortable within ourselves or others, while simply attempting to spray paint it with a silver lining, we invalidate our experience, as if we are not allowed, or shouldn't be experiencing this (cue the internal war and suffering).
This may very well be a short term strategy, but it's certainly not a long term solution.
You can spray paint a steaming pile of shit with silver, top it with sprinkles and stick a candle in it - that don't make it birthday cake.
Not every story has a moral.
Not every cloud has a silver lining.
Resilience is built from struggle.