Fear of flying

Hey folks, hope you had a great weekend and all set to face the new Monday. I talk a lot about self help, anxiety and phobias, today let’s discuss about Fear of flying.

Fear of flying is also a phobia. The common medium of flying is aeroplane, so let’s talk about fear of traveling by aeroplane.

Actually it is a combination of two phobias, some people fear flying in an aeroplane because they are scared of heights, on the other hand, some people are afraid of being stuck in closed place.

The fear of height is known as acrophobia and fear of being enclosed in a place like an aeroplane with no ability to exit for a set period of time is known as claustrophobia.

The cause behind the fear of flying in an aeroplane maybe a traumatic experience onboard which has caused you a panic attack, occasionally witnessing plane crash on TV or any bad experience after flight, for example you traveled to meet a person who told you that you are fired or you traveled to meet your girlfriend and she told you she wanted to break up.

How to deal with this ??

All phobias arise from extreme sensitization in a particular situation, gradually this brings anxiety and we start to avoid that situation, we are rewarded by not experiencing that anxiety when we avoid that situation, the more we avoid the more it becomes formidable. So the best and first step is Desensitization.

  • First, educate yourself about how planes operate. For example, it’s helpful to know that if an engine fails, the plane can continue to fly.
  • If you are claustrophobic, choose a window seat.
  • Have another person to go with you for the first few flights and talk to you, distract you.
  • On the day of flight, give yourself enough time, do not hurry.
  • Make your first few flights not more than an hour.

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Herb that helps reducing anxiety

Hey folks, hope all of you are doing well. I talk a lot about anxiety, phobias, self-help, today’s article is about some herbs that helps reduce anxiety and depression.

Ayurveda, as you know, is about ancient Indian medicines, or more precisely herbs. The Atharva Veda, which is one of the Vedas, talks about ayurveda. In ayurveda, there are herbs for almost every disease.

I would like to share three most effective herbs that I personally used for different reasons.

Gotu Kola (Centella asciatica) :

Gotu kola also known as Centella, Thankuni pata in my native language (Bengali) is an amazing herb, used in ayurveda and traditional pacific medicine. It helps in revitalizing weak nervous system, has mildly relaxing effects. Studies have shown that using Centella asciatica reduce anxiety. Apart from this, it is very useful in reducing stomach problems such constipation, poor digestive power, very helpful in dysentry.

Ashwagandha ( Withania Somnifera) :

Ashwagandha is classified as a rasayana in ayurveda, it is used as a nerve tonic, enhances mental and physical performance, in various western countries it is used in various nervous system disorders. Research has shown it has anti-stress effects.

Brahmi (Bacopa Monniera) :

Almost every Indian mother knows Brahmi, when I was in school, my mother used to bring Brahmi tonic, it enhances memory, apart from this it has remarkable effects in reducing anxiety.

All these herbs are available in tonic and tablet form.

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I feel anxious in parties !!!!

Hola Amigos!! Hope all of you are doing well. I talk a lot about phobias and mental health, today’s article is also about a very common phobia, Social Anxiety Disorder.

Do you feel uncomfortable while doing a presentation in front of your boss and colleagues or in front of your fellow students in your university, or going to a party, bar, club seems like a punishment for you ? If so, then it is a phobia,known as Social anxiety disorder or social phobia.

Social phobia is probably the most common phobia, it involves the fear of embarrassment and humiliation when we are exposed to a group of people or in a situation when we have to perform.

Sometimes it is worse, some people try to avoid social gatherings, parties, clubs, presentations, on the other hand some others manage performing in front of others although the anxiety is there. The cause behind this phobia is very simple, people who are suffering from social anxiety disorder are more concerned and afraid of other people’s perceptions. A person having this phobia thinks of what if he or she is caught in such an act which will make them an object of laugh for others. Their concern is that they will do or say something that will cause others to judge them as being anxious, weak, poor and stupid.

Social phobia is more common in people who speak in front of others, for example singers, performers, people whose job needs to make presentations or students who speaks in front of class. Some of the most common symptoms of social phobia are sweating, increased heart rate, trembling, hiding from others or sitting in a corner to escape others etc.

How to deal with this ???

There are many treatments for social phobia, for example medication, cognitive therapy, relaxation, but I think the most effective way to remove social phobia, that has also helped me doing presentations during my university years, is exposure to the situation in which we feel anxious.

  • Exposure involves gradually and incrementally facing the situations, we are phobic of. Let’s take an example of public speaking such as doing PPT presentations, you can start with speaking in front of a friend or only one person. First of all speak for one minute in front of one or two people, after doing this for a few days, add 2 to 4 people and increase the time of speaking, again after a few days increase the time and audience. It helped me a lot.
  • If your phobia is being exposed to people in social gatherings, parties, clubs, then the first thing you must know is that nobody cares about your presence or absence, how do you eat or drink, how do you dress yourself, all are busy in their own world and most probably they are also having the same phobic thoughts like you but somehow they have managed themselves. In this case learning social skills such as making eye contact, smiling, maintaining a conversation, self disclosure and active listening can make a great difference.
  • People with social phobia focus more on how they’re doing their task, they try to notice other prople’s reaction while they’re speaking in social situations, try to avoid this and focus on your task or whatever you want to say.
  • Be assertive, directly ask what you want, in a party or social gatherings, clubs etc walk straight, do not hunch over, it is a sign of surrenderness, lack of confidence.
  • Some people take alcohol to feel more confident in situations where they have to perform or expose themselves, alcohol is not the solution, on the contrary it will make you an alcoholic. So do not rely on alcohol.

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Deep relaxation through breathe controlling

Herbert Benson in 1975 described the physiological state, known as “Deep relaxation”.

Deep relaxation is a state in which our body responds exactly opposite when it experiences stress, it is marked by a drop in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, etc.

Sitting in front of TV and watching favourite shows or sleeping is one kind of relaxation but deep relaxation is something else, it is about calming down the mind and body both. There are many exercises for practicing deep relaxation. One of which, is breath control or calming the breath.

This breathe exercise can be done anywhere, whether in the office, home, bus, train or aeroplane. Whether you are sitting on a chair or the floor.

Steps :-

  • First, sit on the floor or chair, whatever you are comfortable with, if you are sitting on the floor better to sit in lotus position, if on chair then keep your feet on the floor.
  • Close your eyes, let your body be in a relaxation mode, let the stress in the muscles go away.
  • Visualize yourself sitting in a beautiful place, for example in a mountainous place, in front of a stream, the Sun is rising behind the mountains, there are flowers of different colors around you.
  • Breathe through abdomen. Inhale through the nose, while inhaling, count upto 6 in your mind. You can either count like this or inhale for 3 to 4 seconds. But be very slow while inhaling. Do not inhale very fast.
  • Hold the breathe and either count upto 6 or hold the breath for 3/4 seconds.
  • Exhale slowly while counting upto 6 or 3/4 seconds.
  • Always keep in mind, the time you take to inhale must be equal to the time for which you hold your breathe and exhale. For example if you inhale for 3 seconds, then hold your breathe for 3 seconds and exhale for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat the same cycle of inhaling – holding – exhaling your breathe for 9 times. After every 3 cycle take one normal breathe.

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Add Vitamins to subtract stress

We all are aware of how nutrient deficiency have a negative impact on our physical health, but these nutrient deficiency also impacts our mental health.

Depression and anxiety are the most common form of mental disturbance, scientific researchers have found that people suffering from anxiety and depression have deficiency of various vitamins in their bodies. The two most important vitamins, the deficiency of which can increase anxiety, stress, restlessness and irritability are i)Vitamin B ii)Vitamin C

  • Vitamin B :- Vitamin B helps in proper functioning of the nervous system. Especially B1 B2 B6 B12 deficiency causes anxiety, irritabillity, restlessness and fatigue. Vitamin B5 supports the adrenal gland, which helps us to cope up with high stress.
  • Vitamin C :- Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, increases the rate of healing from injury and infections, apart from this, Vitamin C also supports the adrenal gland.

Sources of Vitamin

Since all the eleven Vitamins works together, Vitamin B complex supplement is a good source for getting all the Vitamins. But, if you’re not comfortable with suple ments like me than you can have those Vitamin through your food. Good sources of Vitamin B12, B 6 and B 2 (Riboflavin) are meat (liver), chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, soya products, spinach, beetroot, brussel sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, whole grain and enriched cereals and bread. Some of the natural sources of Vitamin B1 are milk, oats, nuts, seeds.

Good natural sources of Vitamin – C are Indian gooseberry, citrus fruits, such as limes, oranges and lemons, tomatoes, potatoes, green and red peppers, kiwi fruits, strawberries, green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, fortified cereals.

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Less Coffee Less Stress

Who doesn’t like coffee or tea. A cup of hot coffee after hours of work in the office or during long night study is very much relaxing, this may give relaxation for the moment but slowly and gradually it turns into a habit, when the limit increases, the stress and anxiety also increases.

Among all the dietary factors, caffeine is most notorious. Caffeine keeps us more alert, it stimulates various systems of our body.

How Does Caffeine Increases Stress & Anxiety ??

  • Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter, important for attentiveness, emotions, sleeping, draming, arousal. Regular consumption of caffeine increases Norepinephrine level in the brain and that causes us to feel more alert and awake. Also produces physiological response similar to those we experiences when we are stressed.
  • Studies have suggested that consumption of high caffeine can increase hypertension and blood pressure for a small period of time.
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin), is an anti-stress vitamin, increased caffeine consumption deplete Vitamin B1, leads to increased stress and panic attack.

In everyday life, coffee, tea and coke are the main sources of caffeine. There are tremendous individual variation in sensitivity to caffeine. If a person is suffering from either anxiety or panic attack, it is better to drink less coffee, tea and coke. Better not to consume caffeine more than 100mg per day, i. e one or one and half a cup of coffee per day.

Caffeine content in Coffee & Tea :-

  • Coffee (instant) : 67 mg / Cup
  • Coffee (percolated) : 112 mg / Cup
  • Coffee (drip) : 148 mg / Cup
  • Tea bag / Loose Tea : 5 minute brew 48mg /Cup
  • Tea bag /Loose Tea : 1 minute brew 28mg /Cup

If you’re a hardcore coffee or tea lover like me, you will find this very difficult to give up at once. I used to drink 5 / 6 cups of coffee per day, when I tried to stop suddenly, ended up with withdrawal reactions like heavy head, fatigue, headache, depression. So it’s better to give up slowly, for example if you are drinking 5 cups of coffee or tea per day, then first try taking 4 cups for a month, next month reduce it to 3 cups and so on.

Next time when someone ask you for a cup of coffee or tea, think again before saying OKAY !!

Adopting a vegan diet helped reducing my anxiety

I used to take a lot of animal protein in the form of meat, eggs, milk, sugar etc and used to feel anxious, stressed, sometimes very lazy, but since I started to take only vegetables, it helped me a lot in managing my anxiety and stress. Are you an omnivorous like I was? Do you feel anxious and stressed?

We become what we eat,” think about this once. Our body is made of flesh, bones, a billion cells which needs nutrition to work properly. We get that nutrition /energy from our food, so our health depends on what we eat.

Study showed that people who eat less non-vegetarian foods, cheese, dairy products, takes less animal protein have less stress and anxiety. It is not necessary or even advisable to give up all sources of animal protein, but reducing the amount of intake of rich sources of animal protein like meat, cow milk, eggs etc can show beneficial and noticeable effect.

Now the question arises, how changing our diet from non-vegetarian to vegetarian can help reduce stress and anxiety?

Meat, dairy products, sugar, refined flour, poultry, eggs are all acid forming food. They may not be acidic in composition but they leave an acidic residue in our body, as a result the time taken for the food to travel through the digestive tract increases, sometimes it increases to the point where all the vitamins and minerals are not adequately mixed with blood, some vitamins are mixed some are still not absorbed, this under absorption of nutrients, vitamins, minerals add stress to our body.

Another reason is, the acidic food produces congestive products after breaking up by metabolism. This is more evident when we are already under stress and can not digest food properly. We start to feel sluggish or tired. These products add stress to the body which in turn aggravate tension and anxiety.

So, the freer our body is from the congestion of acid forming foods the more light and calm we feel.

To feel less stressed and anxious it is good to maintain an acid – alkaline balance in the body. To maintain balance between these two components we can do two things.

  • Reduce the consumption of acid forming food, some of the most common acid forming food are meat (especially red meat), dairy products like cheese, cow’s milk ( instead of consuming cow’s milk we can replace this with soy milk or rice milk), eggs, poultry, sugar, refined flour products.
  • Increase the consumption of alkaline foods, some of the most common alkaline foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grain food for example millet, brown rice, bean sprouts.