June 03, 2022

Zena is scheduled for another session with the “treat man” (trainer) this morning.  I mentioned that her inner ear has yet to fully develop which causes vertigo and vomiting in the car.  One way we deal with this is to not feed her prior to the trip to training, thinking at least there will be less to clean up after the ride.  We have found that not eating causes anxiety, and she was on a tear this morning.  Melissa needed to go into work which did not help.  We went outside hoping to distract her with play.  As I sat and drank my coffee Zena proceeded to dig holes in her section of the yard, another sign of anxiety.  We played tug with one of her toys to distract her and then went out front to get the paper.  Zena immediately took off to investigate the cul-de-sac.  I got her lease and started after her.  Luckily, Melissa arrived just as she was going down the street and this gave her a new distraction.  I put her leash on her, and we walked back to the house.  Attention seems to be the only way to alleviate her anxiety.

When I looked online, I found while everyone occasionally feels anxious, some people feel so worried or fearful that their feelings negatively affect their school, work, relationships, or home life.  Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses in the US, and it is estimated that 1 in 5 adults will be affected by an anxiety disorder every year.  These disorders range from a generalized anxiety, to panic, fears, or separation and can cause a great deal of distress, including emotional problems, sleep issues, and other physical symptoms.  Anxiety commonly runs in families, so if a close family member has an anxiety disorder, you are more likely to have anxiety.  Stressful events or a shy temperament is also associated with anxiety, and 60% of females are more likely to develop anxiety disorders than males.  While anxiety disorders can be debilitating and make life challenging, they are also the number one cause of emergency room visits each year.

One way people deal with anxiety is to eat.  However, there is a difference between eating comfort food (processed carbohydrates high in fat) and eating food that provides comfort.  Research has found seven foods that reduce anxiety.  We can replace our craving for sugar with berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and gooseberries) which are filled with Vitamin C and antioxidants.  A substitute for alcohol is tea (lavender, chamomile, and green tea) which contain antioxidants that calm your nerves.  Dark chocolate contains compounds of nutrients that make up antioxidants which will soothe you.  Dry nuts (Brazilian nuts, walnuts, and almonds) are another excellent source of antioxidants, proteins, and most importantly magnesium which help maintain the body’s neurotransmitters and supports brain functioning.  Vitamin C is a great stress reliever (oranges, limes, and grapes) and help the nerves, as do green leafy vegetables (spinach, cabbage, lettuce, and parsley).  Several varieties of fish (sardines and salmon) contain high levels of Omega-3, a fatty acid that maintains the cognitive functioning of the brain and balances hormones.  Yoghurt has an abundance of probiotics which help with anxiety and depression.  These foods not only reduce levels of anxiety but are also part of a health diet.  A win/win.

THOUGHTS:  The pandemic has had a tremendous impact on society.  In the US alone, the need to isolate led to the loss of over 22.0 million jobs, pushing the comprehensive measure of unemployment to over 20%, and the share of women working below 50%.  In terms of physical health, worldwide the pandemic has resulted in nearly 535 million cases reported and over 6.3 million deaths, and it is far from over.  This has caused a lot of anxiety.  While attention reduces the anxiety Zena feels waiting to be fed, treatment for anxiety disorders in humans is more complex.  These may include talk therapy, medication, stress-management techniques, self-care, or support groups.  Regardless of what is used, these treatment methods can reduce distress and help people learn how to effectively manage anxiety symptoms.  Paying attention to each other is not a bad idea either.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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