Anxiety and My Seizure Disorder

The world today is a much busier, fast-paced place to live and work in.  People all around us may have to cope with varying amounts of stress and anxiety almost daily.  Stress and anxiety can be found in most places and situations—you or your co-workers discuss stress and anxiety that is a result of your job, or maybe a situation in your personal life is causing you to be stressed out, or maybe a health concern is causing you or a loved one excessive worry and stress.  Whatever the situation may be, we all need to learn what the effects of living with too much stress, anxiety, or worry can do to our health—both mentally and physically.  I have had to learn this lesson the hard way.

I had my first grand mal seizure when I was 17 years old.  I had gone through a stressful situation the night before,  I was still upset over the situation, but thought no more of it until the following afternoon when my brother and I had an argument (albeit a playful one) about whose turn it was to feed the dog.  During this argument, I started seeing black dots before my eyes.  I remember grasping the bridge of my nose with my right index finger and thumb…and the next thing I remember is hearing my mom screaming my name hysterically while shaking my left arm.  It took me a few minutes to realize that I was lying on the floor.  I was totally drained…I was so weak that I could not even open my eyes at first.  I had no idea what had happened, but my whole family thought that I was dead.  After I regained consciousness and got enough strength back to open my eyes and ask what had happened, my mom told me that I had fallen to the floor with my eyes rolled into my  head and began convulsing and gasping for breath.  She said that at one point I arched my back and stopped breathing altogether.  I stopped breathing until I turned blue, and then suddenly relaxed my back, gasped for breath, and got very still.  I had what is known as a grand mal seizure.

My mother took me to the ER to be examined.  I was admitted to the hospital, and spent a week in the stroke unit undergoing every test imaginable.  The results of all these tests?  No definitive reason about why I had the seizure.  Although I found out I was not epileptic, the doctors could not find a reason for my sudden seizure.  The only thing that they thought could have caused it was the stressful night I had the night before the seizure, combined with the argument I was having with my brother at the time.  They said that even though the argument was playful in nature, it combined with the stress of the night before could have triggered the grand mal event.  I believe their diagnosis, because every time I have had a seizure, it has been after a particularly stressful event in my life.

Long story short—I tried different seizure medicines, but had side effects such as rashes, severe dizziness and nausea, distorted vision, etc.  In the end, the doctor told me to practice stress reducing techniques in order to lessen the chance of having a seizure.  I have used techniques such as breathing exercises, stretching, and meditation to help me lower my stress levels.  I often “turn the other cheek” in order to avoid drama and stress. The doctor gave me that advice 28 years ago, and up until 2 years ago, I had been seizure free.  Within the past 2 years I have dealt with lingering illnesses and deaths in the family, and I began to have seizures again.  My doctor prescribed me anxiety medication to help me better deal with the stress of losing loved ones.  It has been a tremendous help to me, and I finally have control over my seizures.  They no longer control me.

5 Tips to Boost Your Energy Level for Work

Everyone that I know of has the same problem that I do about work. I get bored of the monotony, I don’t get enough rest the night before, and I can’t focus on work.  I just keep watching the clock drag slowly by as I pray that I can stay awake long enough to get home and crawl into bed. I had no energy at all.

I didn’t always have those days, and usually even on those days when I knew it was going to be bad and I sloshed my way through enough coffee to stop a bull elephant’s heart, it was and still is hard to break the cycle of the long habit of copious amounts of caffeine and sugar to get through those highs and lows of the day. I don’t know about you, but by the time that caffeine and sugar high roller coaster is over I feel like I have been put through the wringer and I am praying for someone else to put me out of my misery.

Now, I don’t have to worry about that because of changing a few things that I eat and drink. Looking back, I am personally shocked that I had enough energy to even make that much coffee each day.  Following the tips below will help you boost your energy levels, and will help you get through the work day without feeling drained and tired.

Here are 5 tips on boosting your energy levels to get through the workday:

  1. Vitamin C: Increased levels of Vitamin C (about 400 milligrams) help increase energy. Most people’s daily intake is around 100 milligrams or less. You can find vitamin C in an 8-oz glass of Orange Juice (82miligrams). Half a cup of strawberries has about 42 milligrams. Half a cup of broccoli contains about 58 milligrams.
  2. Iron: Iron is essential for women to help increase energy. During your menstrual cycle, you can lose a lot of iron. Small iron deficiencies can leave you feeling depleted and not having the energy for work. Add iron to your diet by eating a half cup of quick cream of wheat or oatmeal for breakfast, which provides you with 5 milligrams of iron. Red meats is another good way to add more iron to your diet—only a 3 oz. serving would be a good recommended portion.  The recommended daily intake is 18 milligrams.
  3. Eat several small meals a day. This keeps you your blood sugar stabilized, which in turn will keep you having energy at work all day.
  4. Keep you proteins and carbs balanced. Don’t run to the vending machine and get a packet of donuts when you feel that crash coming, eat some crackers and peanut butter instead. I like the low fat string cheese with some crackers, or some low fat low sugar yogurt.
  5. B vitamins: Increases energy. I personally like the Crystal Lite energy drink mixes because you get a little caffeine, but the B vitamins in the drink help to keep that boost going that you started with the caffeine. The packets say to use a 16oz bottle of water, but I use a 1 liter bottle because it dilutes the mix down more and helps me to drink more water throughout the day to flush the toxins out of my body, which in turns helps to boost my energy levels that much more.

Try one or a few of these little tricks and tell me what you think in the comments below.

Workplace Anxiety Tips That Do Not Cost a Dime

We all feel anxious at one time or another and many times our jobs contribute to, or even increase, our anxiety levels.  Some reasons for having high levels of workplace anxiety can include additional responsibilities being given to us at work, lack of job satisfaction, worries about the recession, lack of a feeling of job security…and the list goes on.  While a little stress in our lives is a normal thing, excessive stress and anxiety can cause health issues and can hinder our job performance.

Here are a few things that I do throughout the day to break the anxiety, depression, and overeating cycle.  How can we better manage our workplace stress and our eating habits in order to become healthier in both mind and body?  There are several steps we can take to help reduce workplace stress that will also help to curb our desire to numb ourselves through comfort eating.

Help control your stress levels by performing the following actions during your work day:

  1. Take a breather. Get up from your station, cube or where ever you are at and walk. If you are a cube rat like myself and can get up whenever you want, take a lap around your area or go outside. If you do not have that much freedom, then go to the bathroom, water cooler, or find a reason to walk to the copier or whatever apparatus you can walk to and just walk quickly and get your heart pumping. When you move swiftly at work, or with exercise, it your body releases serotonin in your brain and helps to make you feel more relaxed and happy.
  2. Perform stretching and meditation exercises in the morning before you go to work.  Meditation can help reduce stress levels, calm ones nerves, and can help you get prepared for the workday ahead.  Stretching exercises can also help by getting your body ready to keep up the hectic pace at work, and can also help relax the body and mind.
  3. Accept that no one is perfect, and that your boss does not expect perfection—he just expects your best efforts.  Learning and growing from your mistakes is all that you can do.  Set personal goals and standards, and take pride in yourself when you meet or exceed those goals.
  4. Reduce or eliminate your caffeine intake.  Caffeine gives you a burst of energy, but excessive amounts of caffeine can contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress. I use those drink mixes for your water that give you a little caffeine and B vitamins. So see, I didn’t completely eliminate caffeine, I just cut down. Everything doesn’t always have to happen at once.  Baby steps!
  5. Talk to a co-worker or supervisor when you feel overwhelmed or stressed.  Oftentimes just vocalizing our stressors and fears helps to reduce the level of stress we are feeling.  “Getting it off your chest” is a good way to calm ourselves down and refocus our minds.
  6. Laugh!  They say that laughter is the best medicine for the soul.  Exchange funny stories with a co-worker or watch a funny video to relieve tension and reduce stress.

All of these actions are things I do on a daily basis to help with stresses from work and it is what has worked for me for the last 11 years as I have worked in the high stress level of the corporate world.  I don’t always do them all perfectly, nor do I perform every action every day, but I have found that just doing some of the above named actions will help give you that push you need to get through the day. Try just doing one of these during your work day and see what works for you.

Please let me know if there are other things that you do to help relieve stress and anxiety at work or if any of these tips I have used helps in any way.

6 Steps to Stop Excessive Overeating Because of Anxiety at Work

Excessive anxiety can lead to skipping regular meals, snacking from the vending machines at work, and comfort eating, all of which can lead to weight gain.

It’s a vicious cycle—you get stressed, you eat a whole bag of Doritos—or two—you start to put on weight because you don’t feel like exercising, you get more stressed because you are getting fat, you eat some more, etc.  I know, because I am currently in this situation.  I am a chronic comfort food eater.  Food makes me feel safe, and it calms my troubled emotions.  That is, until I realize that I’ve eaten three Snicker’s bars, four slices of pizza, a slice of cake, and two large glasses of soda.  Then, I panic and start chastising myself for eating so much—which makes me feel more anxious and depressed.  Then all I want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep for 14 hours.

Have you noticed that I didn’t mention exercising?  That is because I didn’t exercise—I loathed the concept of having to run and sweat and hurt in order to lose weight.  That is why I became an unhealthy, obese 40-something woman.  I have begun to exercise a little more regularly, and I have been somewhat surprised to find that when I do exercise, I feel much better emotionally.  I believe it is because exercise releases endorphins that make you feel better.  I know that I do feel much better after a good workout and I have lost a few pounds to boot!

Help control your eating habits by following these steps:

  1. Do not skip Meals: When you skip meals, your body thinks there is a food shortage, and begins to store fat instead of burn it.  Always eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have healthy snacks between meals to keep your body in the “burn fat” mode.
  2. Drink Plenty of Water:  Dehydration can often times be mistaken for hunger.  That is why it is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day.  Drinking at least 64 oz. of water a day helps reduce hunger cravings, improves the quality of your skin, and helps flush the toxins from your body.  Drinking a glass of water before each meal can also help reduce the amount of food you eat, and it is also an easy way to control food intake.
  3. Eat Breakfast:  Starting your day with a healthy breakfast helps provide the fuel your body needs to jumpstart your metabolism and allow you to work at your peak level.  Eating breakfast also helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable, and prevents you from becoming so hungry that you cannot concentrate at work and also prevents you from overeating at lunchtime as well.
  4. Avoid the vending machines:  Bringing healthy snacks from home will help you ignore the call of the vending machine when you get hungry.  Eating a healthy snack of a piece of fruit, yogurt, or carrots between breakfast and lunch will help you keep your blood sugar at normal levels and will reduce hunger pangs as well.
  5. Eat a healthy lunch and dinner:  Taking time out to eat lunch and dinner will keep your metabolism going, and will keep your body from thinking it is starving.
  6. MOVE: Although the word “exercise” is distasteful to some, adding a little movement into your daily routine will help your body burn calories and will actually give you more energy as well.  Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to a coworker’s office instead of emailing or calling them, or even walking around the perimeter of your workplace parking lot will get your circulation going, increase your heart rate, and help burn calories that would otherwise be stored as fat.