Natural Ways to Ease Anxiety
Anxiety is a mental health condition that affects around 40 million people over the age of 18 in the United States alone. In fact, there are many different disorders under the anxiety spectrum. A few examples are social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and general anxiety disorder (G.A.D.) being the most common.
Most doctors are quick to prescribe an S.S.R.I (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or even a benzodiazepine. These classes of drugs are used to treat many forms of anxiety. However, they do come with side effects and, if abused, can lead to addiction. The good news is that there are things you can do to help control anxiety naturally.
Exercise releases endorphins in the brain that can create a feeling of euphoria and help reduce stress. It's recommended that adults between the ages of 18-64 get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise per week. (You can break this down to an average of 20 minutes a day.)
You do not have to do a full cardio blast every time you workout, but you do need to get your heart rate up and break a sweat. I suggest joining a gym or investing in a treadmill. However, if finances are tight, then power walking at the mall, park or even through your neighborhood will do the trick.
Reduce Added Sugars
It's important to make sure that you're adhering to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for daily added sugar intake. The American Heart Association recommends no more than than 25 grams of added sugar daily for women and no more than 36 grams daily for men.
Consuming large amounts of added sugar increases the levels of glucose in the blood which can lead to mood changes and even make you shaky or feel nervous which, in turn, can exacerbate anxiety.
Limit Alcohol Intake
Morning hangovers usually bring throbbing head pain. They can also make you feel nauseous and light headed. These unwanted feelings create unnecessary stress on the body which can trigger or worsen anxiety. Learn what your drink limit is and stick to it.
Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine
Caffeine and nicotine are nervous system stimulants that temporarily raise blood pressure and levels of stress hormones in the body. They can give the feeling of being on edge and cause anxiety.
In fact, the last time I had a panic attack was about 30 minutes after I downed a caffeinated soda. Since then, caffeine has pretty much been off-limits for me. I might have a decaf coffee once a week, but that's it.
Note: Decaf does contain caffeine (12-13.5 mg per 16 oz serving). However, it just doesn't pack the punch that regular coffee does. If you're super sensitive to caffeine, I recommend staying away from decaf as well.
Change Your Diet
Most health professionals will tell you that a plant-based diet is by far the healthiest way to eat. Now, this doesn't mean that you have to give up meat. It simply means the majority of your diet should be filled with fruits and vegetables with the remainder being whole grains and lean, unprocessed meats.
In fact, a study conducted on 450,000 individuals who filled their diet with 70 percent plants had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease. Not only does eating a plant-based diet make you healthier, but it can also give you more energy, boost your mood, and helps you deal with stress a lot easier.
Counter Negative Thoughts
If you have chronic anxiety then you often experience ruminating, negative thoughts. Sometimes, they just don't seem to stop. So, whenever you have a negative thought replace it with a positive one. For instance, if driving gives you anxiety and you're worried about getting stuck in traffic, immediately replace that thought with a positive one. Here's an example: “It's rush hour, and I know that I'm going to encounter a traffic jam along the way. I may have to sit there a while, but I can listen to some of my favorite music while I wait for the line to start moving again.”
It may seem hard to do this at first, but practice makes perfect. Remember, for every single negative thought replace it with a positive one. If possible, carry a notebook with you and write down your positive thoughts when you do this exercise. Writing helps strengthen the thought in your mind.
Remove Toxic People
A toxic person is someone that continuously uses, berates, belittles, or lies to you. These people are negative and some are even high drama. If possible, totally disconnect from toxic people. Delete them from your social media accounts and do not interact with them. If they email or text you, simply tell them that you are sorry for the lack of contact, but you have some things going on and have to focus on yourself for now. Then end the conversation. It's best not to elaborate on your situation.
If it's someone that you cannot totally disconnect from, like a family member or co-worker, then limit your contact as necessary. Toxic people are incredibly bad for those who have anxiety.
Anxiety can be crippling and, if you let it, can control your life. Personally, these tips have helped me relieve anxiety in many situations and daily life. Anxiety doesn't have a cure, but you can work to minimize stress levels. All it takes is willpower and determination to obtain positive changes in your life.
How to Stop Anxiety: Foods to Avoid
- Elements Behavioral Health, 8 Facts About Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders, https://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/mental-health/8-facts-anxiety-anxiety-disorders/, Accessed 5/19/18
- Boyle, Marie, Personal Nutrition - 9th Edition (2015), page 325, Figure 11.1
- Calm Clinic, Sugar and Anxiety: The Relationship, https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/causes/sugar, Accessed 5/20/18
- American Heart Association, Sugar 101, http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#.WwMtG0gvzIU, Accessed 5/21/18
- Better Help, Is Alcohol A Stimulant?, https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/addiction/is-alcohol-a-stimulant/, Accessed 5/20/18
- Calm Clinic, How to Deal With Hangover Anxiety, https://www.calmclinic.com/types/hangover-anxiety, Accessed 5/20/18
- Be Brain Fit, 15 Link Between Caffeine and Anxiety, https://bebrainfit.com/caffeine-anxiety/, Accessed 5/20/18
- Livestrong, What Are the Effects of Tobacco Smoking on the Central Nervous System?, https://www.livestrong.com/article/139446-what-effects-smoking-cardiovascular-system/, Accessed 5/23/18
- US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Explaining the stress-inducing effects of nicotine to cigarette smokers, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22389079, Accessed 5/23/18
- Consumer Reports, The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet, https://www.consumerreports.org/diet-plans/plant-based-diet/, Accessed 5/21/18
The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available in this article is for general information purposes only. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from this article with other sources and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. Never put off or delay seeking professional medical or nutritional advice and treatment.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Shelly Warren