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Ellen Vora Tackles False and True Anxiety
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Dr. Ellen Vora says we tend to panic when we wake up in the middle of the night. But it’s a normal physiological occurrence called meddle sleep that gives us an opportunity to pee, read or reflect on our dreams. The key is: Do it by candlelight or while wearing blue blocking glasses so as not to confuse our circadian rhythm.
   
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
 

KAREN BOSSICK

Anxiety, says Dr. Ellen Vora, is “the verb, the vibe…the pH of our age.”

More than 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety in any given year, and that’s only increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, daily mass shootings, climate change and other things that fill the news reels these days.

But, while conventional medicine tends to view anxiety as a problem from the neck up, Vora says many of its origins are rooted in the body. And this body-based anxiety is a false anxiety that can easily be treated.

“False anxiety is avoidable and preventable. We can erase it by taking better care of ourselves--by managing our blood sugar, treating inflammation, getting enough sleep, cutting down on our caffeine or alcohol, being on our phones less, wearing blue blocking lasses from sunset until bedtime and even getting exposure to bright light first thing in the morning by taking a walk outside,” she said.

Vora, author of “The Anatomy of Anxiety,” will be among the speakers at this year’s Sun Valley Wellness Festival. The 25th annual festival will be held June 10-13 at The Argyros in Ketchum and will include concerts, wellness activities and such speakers as psychedelic researcher Rick Doblin, regenerative agriculture expert Finian Makepeace and cardiologist Alejandro Junger.

Vora will speak at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 11, on “The Anatomy of Our Anxiety: A New Approach to Understanding and Managing our Fear Response.” She plans to explore the physical causes of false anxiety and examine how people can honor their true anxiety.

“Anxiety tells us that something in our bodies, our lives, our relationships, even the world, are out of balance. It’s actually vital to our wellbeing in that it helps us focus on our goals and help us recalibrate when we’re out of alignment,” she said.

Vora, a psychiatrist who trained at Columbia University, said her interest in anxiety started when she noticed that nearly every one of her patients was struggling with anxiety.

“Some had depression; some, ADHD; some, insomnia. But anxiety was a common thread. I almost get excited at the opportunity to treat it because I feel we can decrease a lot of human suffering without too much sacrifice or effort,” she said.

False anxiety is usually caused by some state of physical imbalance and it can be erased by healing the gut, eating more vegetables or keeping blood sugar stable overnight by having a spoonful of almond butter or coconut oil before one brushes his or her teeth, Vora said.

True anxiety is our inner compass alerting us to what’s not right in our lives, our communities and even the world at large. Climate change, for instance, is causing true anxiety among many people, especially younger people who seem most attuned to this issue, Vora said.

Systemic racism and mistreatment of marginalized populations can cause true anxiety. So can being in a bad relationship.

“True anxiety is not the type of anxiety we should be medicating away. It’s a nudge for us to correct something in our relationships or in society. Following our inner compass, we can recalibrate. I tell people to embrace it, honor it, listen to the message in it and take action accordingly.”

In other words, said Vora: Get out there and find ways to rebuild harmony among humans who have become hyperpolarized and are carrying a lot of judgment and resentment of each other in the wake of such things as the pandemic. Advocate for better treatment of marginalized populations.

To heal from trauma, speak up and speak the truth to give voice to what you’re feeling.

“Right now, we have so much anger and resentment towards one another. We need to bridge that divide and find a way back to a capacity for empathy and compassion. I think we always look outside of ourselves and think: Those other people need to change. That person needs to do something differently.

“The fact is the only person we can control is ourselves. If we walk through life nonviolently, if we can show compassion to others, if we take care of others rather than fight against them, that’s one way to ground ourselves and shake off the stress. I’m still somewhat optimistic that we can change.”

To learn more about the upcoming Sun Valley Wellness Festival, visit https://www.sunvalleywellness.org.

 

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