By Lindsay France
Anxiety has a favorite host: females who live in North America. Are you surprised? I’m not. According to a new study published in Brain and Behavior magazine, scientists compared nearly 50 notable scientific papers on anxiety from around the world. Females and people in areas of high population showed time and again to produce higher rate of reported anxiety.
As a news anchor covering the 2016 Presidential elections, I spend my time, researching, interviewing, reporting and running after the story on deadline. I know what it’s like to struggle for a balance which keeps me calm and happy. Look at the lifestyle of our women: our apartments are stuffed with belongings, our bellies are stuffed with unhealthy food and our senses are overloaded with to do lists, social obligations, etc., etc. Does this sound like you? It sure sounds like me! Whether I am reporting from protests overseas, attending mundane press conferences here at home, or forgetting my words on air, I’ve finally carved out a plan that works for me. I call it “Inside, Outside, Upside Down.” It doesn’t just help quell anxiety, it’ll also help you build a life which keeps anxiety at bay.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts right? You can take a vacation, inherent millions, or meet the man of your dreams; none of these will make you feel better long term. Once the dust settles, anxiety and stress will creep right back in like an old habit if you don’t manage your insides. And by that I mean food.
First things first, get out a calendar and circle a 30 day span of time. This will be reserved for the kitchen. Yep I said it! Get in the kitchen. And don’t pencil in those days – use a big fat permanent marker. If you need to cancel some plans to make this work do it. You can thank me later.
Second, crack open the book It Starts With Food – you’ll learn which foods sabotage your body, encourage inflammation, feed anxiety and a whole host of other terrible things (hint: it’s not saturated fat, ok?).
Third, take those 30 days you marked on the calendar and use them for The Whole30 challenge contained in the book. Disclaimer: It’s hard. Leaving behind sugar for 30 days was hard for me. The first week I thought I’d lose it. But if you can hang in there, you learn how to really feed yourself and my God you will look and feel amazing. The best part is that afterward you will know exactly how to carry on, so when you head out to enjoy brunch or a night out, or PMS has you reaching for that ice cream, you immediately know how to get back on track without a second thought.
Keep outside stressors out. Crowds, noise, all 5 of our electronic devices, television ( I have 5 in front of my desk), traffic, just getting from work to home… it’s all a bit much. So build a sanctuary – a fortress even – against the outside world.
From the moment you open your eyes, until you lay your head on that pillow, you need your house or apartment to feel like a break from everything outside. To zero in on this, start by downsizing. Packed nightstand? Clear it off and wipe it clean. Packed closet? Downsize until your clothes fit your closet, and score points by giving your girls those old threads. Packed bathroom counter? It’s time for a purge. Throw out those extra beauty products, perfumes, tchotchkes – throw out whatever clutters your space and your line of sight. I used The Art of Tidying.
Also, use signals. In the morning, brew your coffee and light a delicious smelling candle while you shower and get ready for work. This is creating a habit, a signal that morning is enjoyable and you should enjoy it. At night, turn the lights low, turn down your bed, and hit the tub with some lavender bubble bath ( I also like to turn on Classic FM which is out of the UK – great for relaxing).
The point here is that you are showing yourself that it’s time to wind down, the day is done and that this should be enjoyed (Caesar, my English Bulldog, wants up on the bed to settle in the minute he hears bathwater running and sees the lights go down at 9pm. He just gets it, you know?) While you’re at it – get that tv out of your bedroom. If you live in a studio, shut that thing off before your nightly routine. Netflix does not make you chill.
3. UPSIDE DOWN
You have got to play. Turn your world a little upside down and have some mindless fun. And I don’t mean that you must work out. What I’m talking about requires 2 things: physical exertion and the absence of alcohol. Brunch, bar hopping and wine tasting do not count as play. Why? Because for your body, they count as work.
According to a Gallup study, we spend long hours proving ourselves as professionals: On average, 39 percent of fully employed Americans spend between 50 to more than 60 hours a week working. Are you nodding knowingly? Well if you want any sort of long term equilibrium, pull your head out of your job on the weekends and put it into something mindless and fun. Rent a speed boat with friends and hit the water. Go running in the freezing cold of winter (it’s not that bad, I find it exhilarating). Climb that big rock all your hippie friends are talking about. Just find something physical and go play. Then make it a habit.
These three habits have helped me calmly transition from one job to another, from one country of residency to the next and from one week of breaking news to yet another without losing myself. Give it a shot. I hope it helps.
Lindsay France anchors all coverage of the 2016 presidential elections for the RT America news network on her show Fishtank 2016 . She is based in Washington, D.C. Lindsay specializes in offbeat election stories and the grab for the Independent/Swing vote.
She began her career at CNN based in New York, where she assisted with the coverage of the 2004 Presidential Elections, the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the London Bombings and Hurricane Katrina. From there she moved on to projects for The History Channel and science programming for The Discovery Channel. From there she reported for KAPP-TV in the Pacific Northwest.
Lindsay was awarded the Steinbrenner Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University in 2009. She holds a degree in International Affairs from Seattle Pacific University. Lindsay is a member of the Society of Business Editors and Writers and the Society of Environmental Journalists.
Connect with Lindsay at https://twitter.com/LindsayFrance