Five Triggers for Anxiety (That Your Doctor Might Not Tell You About)

What’s Behind Your Anxiety?

If you struggle with anxiety or depression, you know it affects your entire life. It affects how you move (or don’t move), your concentration, your ability to sleep, your interactions with others, even your bathroom habits. Because anxiety is on the rise, and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, I want to share some little-known triggers for anxiety that you may not be hearing about from anyone else!

Like everything I share, remember that your body’s response to food or internal/external stressors is individual to YOU. What is a trigger for one person might not be a trigger for you. Being aware of how your unique body responds to this world is only something you can determine.

Five triggers for your anxiety that your doctor might not tell you about: 

  1. Artificial sweeteners and dyes – not only do they disrupt nervous system function, but sucralose decreases beneficial gut bacteria and aspartame increases anxiety and depression (just another reason to lay off the Diet Coke). Sweeteners can also negatively impact blood sugar – which can increase panic attacks! Food dyes may trigger “mind-storms,” which are issues with the brain’s wiring or electrical activity. No bueno!
  2. Too much screen time – blue light from screens can suppress the hormone melatonin which is needed for restful sleep. Screens can also disrupt the calming neurotransmitter Gaba, along with serotonin – the happy one.
  3. Magnesium deficiency – magnesium calms your nervous system and prevents the creation of excess cortisol, the stress hormone. Some call it “nature’s Xanax.” It’s needed for just about every process in the body. It’s found in nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens, but it’s also an inexpensive supplement! Two of my favorite formulations are the Plexus one, here, or Nutritional Frontiers, here.
  4. Excess caffeine – a little is fine, but too much can stimulate the fight or flight response and trigger racing thoughts, or even panic attacks. Some people metabolize it slower than others, so keep that in mind when you have your afternoon coffee or tea break – your mind might be racing at 1 am!
  5. Stored trauma that hasn’t been addressed – trauma can keep our bodies in that constant fight or flight state, which can lead to poor sleep, inability to concentrate, and panic attacks. Fortunately, there are a wide range of trauma therapies, and many mind-body strategies available to help your body unlock trauma and heal! EMDR and EFT (tapping) are two of the most popular. The wellness center I work with has some amazing trauma therapists and resources here.

Honorable mention:
Blood sugar issues: when we’re riding that blood sugar roller coaster it can cause all sorts of poor mental health symptoms. Limit sugar consumption to limit the swing. Consume plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, brain-boosting fats and quality protein with each meal. Many times we fail to fill up on necessary nutrients so we stay hungry, reaching for quick fix glucose fuel and perpetuating the cycle of brain fog and hunger.

Poor digestion: If you can’t digest protein, you can’t make the neurotransmitters needed for mental health. Period. You know that old saying, “you are what you eat?” It’s not true. It should be, “You are what you are able to digest.” When we can’t create serotonin from our food nutrients, we can’t access melatonin either, which affects mood AND sleep. Taking digestive enzymes and working on gut health can help, something I love helping people with!

The next round of Feast 2 Fast, an online coaching group that pairs science-based nutrition principles with timeless spiritual truth to reset your mind, body, and soul starts May 3. Join the wait list here.

How to Get Organized and Get Rid of Clutter

Spring cleaning doesn’t just help with the physical clutter, there are mental health benefits as well. In this episode of the podcast, professional organizer Dana Hentschel of Arranging Joy shares her passion for organizing and how we can create spaces in our homes that reduce clutter and bring us joy!

Download here or find and listen wherever you get podcasts!

Key Topics:

  • Creating a warm environment for the home
  • Understanding the emotional attachment to our things
  • Creating systems that work – How to de-clutter in an ongoing way
  • How to stay organized with minimal steps
  • Dana’s 3 L system
  • How to find the time to make it work
  • Finding organizational systems that kids will follow through with

Learn more about Dana at her website here, or follow her Instagram for ongoing tips at @arrangingjoy.

*Get a FREE $75 credit to upgrade your job post on Indeed at indeed.com/spark.

A Glimpse into the Mental Illness Memory Vault

“Sometimes I feel like being me takes up too much energy.” – me, 20 years ago.

In 2001, I started documenting my journey with what we then called “manic depressive illness,” after being unable to return to college with my friends due to my instability and frequent med changes. I forgot about the following journal pages, but they are so telling. I struggled with intense lows, wanting to leave this earth and end my pain, then I would experience shooting and soaring highs where I wanted to conquer every goal in a day.

Here are some of the entries:

8/27/01: “All I want to do is cry. I haven’t told my friends that I’m not coming back this quarter… What kind of trick are you playing on me, God? What lesson am I going to learn from this?

9/5/01: “Sometimes I really do wonder if I should just end it all. I really do. Even when I’m stable, taking my 600 mg of Lithium, 100 mg of Topomax, and 25 mg and counting down of Zoloft (I’m hopeful that one day soon I’ll end this vicious charade with Zoloft).

What good am I doing here? What help am I to myself? Honestly? Why must I keep keeping on? Isn’t it ironic that the most inspiring thing I heard the other day came from the stupidest move, Joe Dirt. The main character, who lives a life of utter hopelessness, keeps quoting, ‘Life is a garden – dig it!’ I thought, that’s pretty inspiring. Unfortunately, I feel like any garden I’d be digging would only end up looking like weeds.

Continue reading “A Glimpse into the Mental Illness Memory Vault”

Changing the Conversation on Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a tricky subject. While on one hand, there seems to be a greater awareness of what it is and how to find support, it still carries a bit of a stigma and there are many misconceptions. For that reason, I don’t approach the topic lightly. Like all mental health issues, there is no one size fits all cause OR solution.

Walker Ladd, Ph.D. has been a thought leader in the field of maternal mental health for nearly two decades. Her writing and research challenge paradigms of motherhood and mental illness, using women’s stories to reveal the hidden truths and extraordinary dimensions of the lived experience of motherhood.

Continue reading “Changing the Conversation on Postpartum Depression”

How Stress Makes You Close-Minded

Brain health truth bomb: When I am living under chronic stress, in “fight or flight,” I am physiologically incapable of accepting other perspectives and showing empathy. My brain can’t make sense of new information, especially information that is contrary to what I believe is necessary for my survival.

This is becoming more and more apparent to me, this year especially. I typically love welcoming other perspectives and opinions, which is the reason I will interview anyone and everyone on my podcast, no matter what side they are on for any issue.

So when I’m feeling triggered by something someone says, it’s a sign to me that I am not carefully self-regulating or taking care of myself the way I need to.  I have to do a self check-in.

Continue reading “How Stress Makes You Close-Minded”

Looking Beyond One-Size-Fits-All Solutions for Our Health

Is science ever settled? How can we continue to be our own health advocates, look beyond the one-size-fits-all solutions, and find what is helpful for our unique bodies? There are so many different opinions, so how do we know what to do that’s right for our health?

If you’ve listened to my podcast, you know that I like to keep an open mind, and I am willing to have discussions that you won’t hear from many popular news outlets or even other podcasts. Why? Well, I never learned anything from only listening to people I agree with. In fact, I’ve found that some of my most teachable moments came when I stepped into the hard places, the places most would prefer not to dip their toes into. I am constantly on a quest to learn more – and if that means stirring up some controversy, that’s fine with me!

Del Bigtree is an Emmy-winning producer who is raising awareness for body autonomy and medical freedom. His internet news show, The Highwire, is the fastest growing program in the natural health arena. His non-profit, the Informed Consent Action Network, or ICAN, is leading worldwide investigations into drug and vaccine fraud that have already resulted in multiple winning lawsuits against US Government agencies Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, CDC and FDA.

In this conversation, we dig into some controversial topics in order to better understand all sides of the growing conversation on medical risk and medical freedom. Download here or listen wherever you get podcasts!

Topics include: the pro/anti vaccine debate, the history of informed consent, the importance of being able to make choices for your own body, lawsuits that ICAN is involved with, chronic disease rates in kids, and how we can arm ourselves with knowledge moving forward.

Watch Del’s news show by clicking here.

Check out the current lawsuits and information on his nonprofit organization by clicking here.

Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Nachos

Guys. I just stumbled upon something amazing. Do you ever get the craving for buffalo sauce or is that just me? Lately I have been OBSESSED with Primal Kitchens Buffalo sauce, AND I found a vegan ranch that is creamy and delicious with NO soybean or canola oil. (Can you tell by the capital letters how excited I am???)

I should also add that I am – once again – off of gluten and dairy. Why? A few reasons. One, I feel better. Two, my skin has been acting up and these are the two main culprits for many skin issues. Three, I really don’t need to offer an explanation for why I decide to eat the way I do, so move along with your judgment. Haha. I say that in a spicy way because about a year and a half ago I started following a bunch of “food freedom” nutritionists, dietitians, and influencers in hopes that I would gain a better understanding of how intuitive eating could work in my life – so that I am not held down by diet culture and its nonsensical food rules.

What I discovered is that in allowing myself unconditional permission to eat anything and everything, my mental and physical health started suffering, and turns out – my INTUITION about gluten and dairy and sugar was right – I don’t do well with those guys. So… if by listening to my body’s cues and leaving those things out of my diet means I’m just falling prey to the evil snares of “diet culture,” then the whole food freedom movement is just as judgmental and apt to finger-pointing as the “diet culture” they are so against. You can’t promote food freedom and eating intuitively for YOUR BODY, then tell someone they’re doing it wrong.

Ugh. Double standards and hypocrisy make me LOSE MY MIND. And there is so much of it happening today, I’m surprised I’m sane enough to be typing this out. As one of my good friends in the wellness world says, “eyes on your own plate.” YOU get to decide what is best for you, not matter what anyone else thinks about it.

Oh – am I supposed to be sharing a recipe? Apologies. I’ll stop ranting in CAPITAL LETTERS now.

Here we go…

Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Nachos

Continue reading “Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Nachos”

Authentic Conversations and Communication in Marriage and Beyond

Can we truly have authentic conversations in today’s world? How can we navigate the ups and downs of relationships stress in a healthy way? How can we speak to one another in a way that is respectful and also gets heard?

Cathy Krafve is the host of Fireside Talk Radio and the author of two books, Marriage Conversations and The Well: The Art of Drawing Out Authentic Conversation.

In this episode of the Sparking Wholeness podcast, Cathy shares about her books and what she has learned about communication in marriage, friendships, parenting, social media, and more!

Continue reading “Authentic Conversations and Communication in Marriage and Beyond”

What’s the Big Deal About Inflammation?

Inflammation is a word getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. Many health experts consider it a major cause for chronic illness, and it is threatening all of our health right now. Understanding inflammation, how to manage it, and addressing root causes is more important than ever!

Dr. Mark Sherwood is an ex-professional baseball player and 24-year retired veteran of the Tulsa Police Department who now is a Naturopathic Doctor on a mission to help others achieve wellness. He and his wife, Dr. Michele L. Neil-Sherwood, have a successful medical practice, the Functional Medical Institute, along with a number of books and a television and radio program.

Continue reading “What’s the Big Deal About Inflammation?”

Feast 2 Fast Lent Round

The Lent round of Feast 2 Fast, starting February 17, is open for registration!

Typically, Feast 2 Fast is 4 weeks long, as we systematically use a pattern of feasting and fasting to increase metabolic flexibility and restore nutrient density. The Lent round is six and a half weeks long. We start with a brief sugar detox and incorporate a weekly superfast. We are encouraging each other to give up a food/practice/poor habit for the duration of Lent, while also adding in a divine activity to level up the spiritual focus and become more mindful and purposeful in who we are.

We are simplifying our lives to focus on what truly matters, and I hope you will join us! For more information or to sign up, click here.

  • No calorie counting.
  • No logging macros.
  • No mandatory workouts.
  • No shakes or supplements.

In this program, we use intermittent fasting in a way that works for YOUR unique body. We introduce real food carbs, whole food carbs, and my favorite – heck yeah carbs – which not only encourages metabolic flexibility, it encourages a healthy mindset toward food as well!

Weekly Zoom meetings are available for those wanting more individualized support, but they aren’t mandatory. You get to go at your own pace and use what components work best for you!

Sign up here.