Tag Archives: anxiety

Conflict in Relationships

img_5156Any type of stress, anxiety, anger, or conflict makes my pulling worse. It is a self-soothing behavior that helps me calm down and often dissociate from my feelings. Over the past few years, I have been working to use helpful strategies that help me relax without pulling my hair (which only leaves me feeling worse in the end).
As a high stress person, I have suffered with anxiety for most of my life. It still plagues me at times, but I have learned strategies to calm my mind and body. Taking a quick break from the situation, praying, practicing deep breathing, and trying to find a more positive outlook are some simple tools that have helped me.

If I catch myself being negative or getting stressed out, I try to take a step back and look at the situation objectively. In the past, I would catastrophize my situation. Now, I can identify those feelings and look for the truth.

  • Are my concerns based on truth?
  • Can I do anything about this?
  • Is there a more positive outlook I can strive for?
  •  If the worst case senario does play out, is it really that bad?

Beyond my stress and anxiety is anger that can cause relationship problems. The following article presents 3 ways to create conflict (and therein, 3 ways to avoid it). I know I am guilty of these and am making it a priority to avoid them. Reducing conflicts in our relationships, greatly increases our overall well-being.

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Three Sure Ways to Create Conflict

By Rick Warren

“Any fool can start arguments; the honorable thing is to stay out of them” (Proverbs 20:3 TEV).

Wise people are peacemakers, not troublemakers. Wise people don’t carry a chip on their shoulder. They’re not always looking for a fight, and they don’t intentionally antagonize other people.

The fact is, if you’re around anybody for any length of time, you’ll figure out what that person does that irritates you, and you file that information in the back of your mind as a tool to use when you get in an argument. It becomes a personal “weapon of mass destruction”! When you get in an argument, and that person says something that hurts, offends, or slights you in any way, then you pull out the big gun. You push the hot button. And it works every time!

You know what the Bible calls that? Foolishness! You’re not getting any closer to the resolution. You’re not helping the relationship. In fact, you’re hurting it. It is not wise.

Proverbs 20:3 says, “Any fool can start arguments; the honorable thing is to stay out of them” (TEV).


We all use tools, tricks of the trade, and skills in relationships that are actually counter productive. They’re hurtful, they’re harmful, and they don’t get you what you want out of relationships. In fact, they get you the exact opposite behavior. But when we lack wisdom, we use them anyway.

There are many of these tools, but here are just a few:

1. Comparing. Never compare your wife, your husband, your kids, your boss, or anybody else, because everybody’s unique. Comparing antagonizes anger.

2. Condemning. When you start laying on the guilt in a relationship, all you’re going to do is get the exact opposite of what you expect. It doesn’t work. It’s foolish.

3. Contradicting. William James, the famous psychologist said, “Wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook.” There’s some stuff you just need to overlook.


The Bible says in Proverbs 14:29, “A wise man controls his temper. He knows that anger causes mistakes” (TLB). Have you ever said or done anything stupid out of anger? Yes? Because when you get angry, your intelligence goes out the window. When you get angry, you say and do foolish things that are actually self-defeating.

Did you ever think about the fact that there is only one letter difference between “anger” and “danger”? When you get angry, you are in dangerous territory. You are about to hurt others — and yourself — with your own anger.

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The Benefits of Breathing

When anxiety hits or something bad happens, you’ve all been told to “take a deep breathe”, or “just breathe”.  Purposeful breathing seems to have wide reaching benefits for mental and physical well being.

When my anxiety was at its worst and I was having panic attacks almost daily, my therapist explained the benefits of deep breathing. I was skeptical at best. How was something as simple as breathing going to make any difference, after all I breathed all day long.

I agreed to try the deep breathing because it wouldn’t hurt. I was shocked to find it actually helped.The more I did it, the more I grew to view it as a coping skill.

The most profound difference in my anxiety and panic attacks came from ‘simple’ strategies: walk away, count to 10, and deep breathing. I continue incorporating these strategies into my life even now that my anxiety is much milder and my panic attacks are for the most part gone.  

Being a research junky, I wanted to know why something as simple as breathing was so helpful. I also looked into different breathing exercises.

Here are a few articles I found most informative and helpful:

 The Art of Living Blog: Benefits of Deep Breathing and How to Breathe

Harvard Health Publications: Relaxtion Techniques: Breath Control Help Quell Errant Stress Response

13 Health Benefits of Deep Breathing

NPR: Just Breathe: Body has a Built in Stress Reliever

 

High Doses of EPA for Depression, Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder

I have been researching the use of omega 3’s in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.  The current studies agree that high doses of EPA work well to treat mood disorders.  DHA is another omega 3 and works better for cognition and fetal/infant development.  Studies show that supplementing with only EPA or higher doses of EPA than DHA work best for mood disorder.

I just had a baby and have been taking 1 gram of DHA throughout my pregnancy. I will continue this dose until I am done breatfeeding.  I have also been taking 500 mg of EPA.   Now I am increasing my EPA dose to 2 grams.  I am hoping this will help with postpartum depression, which I had badly with my 3 previous children. I will keep you posted as to my progress with this increase.  Here is some helpful information about EPA for depression, suggested doses, and relevant studies.

High Doses of Omega 3 EPA and Depresion

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

GABA and Anxiety

In Julia Ross’ book, The Mood Cure, she discusses many amino acids and how that can benefit your mood.  As someone who suffers from anxiety, I was interested in her prescription of GABA for anxiety.  After reading her book I started taking GABA when my anxiety is extra high or before a situation I know will stress me out.  I take 500mg capsules. I notice decreased anxiety about 15 minutes after taking the supplement.  It makes me so calm I feel sleepy and therefore usually only take it in the evening.

GABA For Anxiety – Does It Work

Most of the substances used to relieve anxiety – alcohol, cannabis, tranquilisers – get their effect through boosting GABA in your brain. So could GABA itself be a useful supplement to stop anxiety?

In fact, many people find that a GABA supplement is the perfect natural remedy for anxiety – though like any other remedy, it does not work for everyone.

Before you decide to take a GABA supplement, you might want to learn more about GABA and even more, how different types of anxiety might respond differently to a GABA supplement.

What is GABA?

GABA – it’s full scientific name is gamma-aminobutyric acid – occurs naturally in your brain, where it functions as a neurotransmitter and helps regulate brain activity. It is also needed in other parts of your body, where its most important function is regulating muscle tone.

Unlike other neurotransmitters, GABA has an inhibitory function – it tends to slow down neuron firing. Other neurotransmitters – adrenaline, nor-adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, glutamate – have an excitatory function, i.e. they stimulate neuron firing. It’s important to remember this difference when you are deciding which is the best supplement to take for anxiety or depression.

Without enough GABA, neurons fire too easily and too often.

Too much, and you can’t get moving….

GABA is technically an amino acid, though it’s not part of any protein either in the food you eat, or in your body. You can get small amounts from food, but most of it in synthesized in your body from glutamate – something you most likely have plenty of.

Many of the medications and remedies for anxiety that are used today affect the levels of GABA and how it works in your brain.

Benzodiazepines (medications such as valium and xanax) reduce anxiety through the way they interact with the GABA receptors. (On the other hand, coffee inhibits GABA, and so can make you more anxious or buzzed up.)

How can I boost GABA naturally?

Whether or not you decide to try a GABA supplement (see below for more information about GABA supplements), you need to enhance the way GABA works in your brain.

One way to do this is by taking extra Vitamin B6, which is needed for GABA synthesis. Many GABA supplements include B6 – if not, make sure you take a separate B6 supplement.

Magnesium is also essential for GABA activity, enhancing GABA sensitivity on nerve receptors (just one of the many essential functions of magnesium In your body). Magnesium is great as a muscle relaxant, and also has a calming effect – and it’s is one of the many minerals that is generally deficient in our modern diet, which goes a long way to explaining the increased levels of anxiety we see today. Low levels of magnesium are associated with a whole range of disorders, including high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid imbalances as well as anxiety, so a magnesium supplement makes sense if you have any of these conditions.

There are other natural supplements, such as Theanine, which can be highly effective in boosting GABA activity in your brain … read more about Theanine for Anxiety here.

Will a GABA supplement help anxiety?

We know that low levels of GABA are associated with anxiety. There are many people who find that boosting GABA with a supplement definitely helps relieve anxiety, even though current medical belief is that GABA does not cross the blood-brain barrier, i.e. the GABA you take in a supplement might not be the most effective way to boost brain GABA levels. For example, this is one comment about the effectiveness of GABA:

As a pharmacist I know that in theory this stuff shouldn’t cross the blood brain barrier and have an effect. But from my personal experience, it DEFINITELY does something after I take it. I feel more calm and relaxed.

GABA side-effects and cautions

GABA is designated GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA, and there are no reports of any toxic effects from taking GABA. But there are some cautions in using it:

Keep to the recommended dose of GABA

It’s been reported that high doses can have unexpected effects – some people have found that a high dose actually increases anxiety. High doses can also result in skin flushing, or skin tingling (you probably won’t notice this at doses under 1 gm, which is what we recommend).

If your main problem is depression, try a serotonin booster instead

If you are susceptible to serious depression, be careful with GABA as it can trigger a depressive episode.

And if you’ve been diagnosed with a cyclic disorder (such as Bipolar Affective Disorder – BPAD), or you are prone to seizures (Dr Amen’s types 5 or 6) you should be especially careful about what you take (only take supplements on the advice of a qualified health professional who knows your history).

Dr Amen recommends GABA supplementation for those suffering from his Type 1 – “Pure Anxiety”. Refer to the summary on the Natural Anxiety Remedies page, to get an idea of what type of anxiety you might have.

It makes sense that if you are low in energy, mood and concentration (common issues in clinical depression) you should not be trying to boost GABA, but instead, your serotonin, dopamine and nor-adrenaline.

While GABA does tend to enhance serotonin in your brain (mostly a good thing), it also tends to reduce some other neurotransmitters (adrenaline, nor-adrenaline, dopamine).

That is helpful if the levels are too high (as is likely with anxiety), but not if you are depressed!

Denver Naturopathic Clinic has an article with more information about GABA for anxiety.

Recommendations for GABA

If you think you are low in GABA, try a GABA supplement for yourself – it’s the only way to find out if it works for you!

In his book, Dr Amen recommends a dose of 100-250 mg, 2-3 times per day. Start with a lower dose and work up – but don’t go above his recommended maximum (750 mg per day).

You can buy pure GABA on Amazon or in your local health shop. But I recommend a supplement that combines GABA with other enhancing factors such as L-Theanine, magnesium and B6 – that way you will avoid the plateau effect and get a better overall brain balancing effect.