We all feel anxious from time to time. Your boss who mentioned something about the quality of work which you then think about the whole day. It could also be something you said at a party that you can’t get over. If it persists, it may be more than just being “anxious from time to time”.
According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety is the most common mental condition in the US. affecting 18% of the population or roughly 40 million people.
Medication and therapy are the most common treatment for anxiety. But below are ways to help manage your anxiety besides medication that can go hand in hand with your therapy. These are evidence based and even recommended by therapists.
Hopefully these could help you in your struggle against this condition.
#1 Eliminate External Sources
Most of our anxieties in life are triggered externally. It can be stress at work, home or personal relationships. These stressors then get inside our heads and we can’t stop thinking about them thus the anxiety.
These kinds of external sources are part of our everyday life and can be hard to eliminate. However, what we can control is our reactions to these stressors.
Fortunately, there are external sources that we are in complete control of. Spending too much time in Social Media is something that we can control.
According to a study conducted by the San Diego State University, the more time people spend online the more likely they are to develop anxiety and depression. Excessive screen time can also damage the neurons and gray matter which makes it more likely to develop anxiety and depression.
Constantly being bombarded by information can lead to mental stress. Moreover, as social media posts are mainly all positive and people cannot help but compare themselves to others. These again leads to anxiety.
Minimizing time online and knowing that each individual on social media are mainly posting what is positive and happy in their lives may help manage anxiety.
We all have our ups and downs, happy and sad moments. Social media mainly highlights what’s happy and what’s good. Who would post something about how sad they are and how pathetic their life is right?
#2 Meditation and Deep Breathing Exercises
This is probably my favorite anxiety management tool (if you will). It is free, can be done anytime and anywhere and very easy to do.
Meditation and deep breathing exercises are gradually becoming a part of mainstream management of anxiety. Plenty of studies support its benefits in the overall treatment of anxiety.
One of which is a study published on National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. It showed that mindfulness meditation and deep breathing exercises showed it reduces anxiety symptoms.
According to several studies, mindfulness meditation and deep breathing exercises reduces anxiety in multiple ways.
Deep breathing relaxes the whole body. It also helps regulate and increase oxygen supply in the brain. This creates a feeling of euphoria and helps eliminates unhealthy thoughts (yes that work you kinda screwed up).
Mindfulness Meditation on the other hand, trains your mind to focus on the moment rather than anxious those thoughts. It can be hard to meditate at first but with time and training, your mind can be thought to eliminate thoughts that are not necessarily helping.
Both Mindfulness Meditation and Deep breathing exercises also helps slow everything down. It calms both the mind and body. Giving you a chance to evaluate the thought and ask yourself, is it really necessary to spend time and really think about this?
#3 Watch What You Eat
You are what you eat. So do not be surprised that by eating fast food, junk food and tons of sugar and your mind is scattered and thinking about what you should have said or done at a party.
In my previous article about Health Benefits of Probiotics, I mentioned that the gut and the brain are very much connected, hence the benefits of Probiotics (which I will talk about in a few…).
So what we eat will have a direct effect on our brain and our mood. What exactly you should eat then? There are plenty of foods that help with anxiety.
Asparagus contains folic acid which again helps with anxiety.
Avocado has a lot of B vitamins which promotes healthy neurons.
Blueberries (no blueberry cheesecake does not count) may be tiny but they are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C which helps protect you from stress.
Similar with blueberries, almonds are beneficial in our fight against stress. They are rich in vitamin B2 for the nerves and vitamin E for immune system.
In my article 20 Foods that Boost Productivity, Salmon is known to boost productivity and brain function for it is rich in Omega 3. A diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids helps regulate cortisol and adrenaline during stress which will help keep anxiety in check as well.
#4 Take Care of Your Gut Health with Probiotics
As mentioned in my previous article, the gut and the brain are directly connected but what is known as the gut-brain axis. It is a bundle of nerves connecting the two.
The gut also contains trillions of living bacterial organisms wherein we have a symbiotic (give and take) relationship with them. Some help us digest food, others break down nutrients and others protect us from bad bacteria.
Science is just starting to unravel the connection between our micro tenants in our gut and our overall mental health. Mounting research suggest that maintaining proper balance of probiotics in the gut results in significant reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms.
So how do you maintain this balance? There are plenty of sources of probiotics, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Miso and of course yogurt.
#5 Supplements Can Help
As mentioned in the previous health benefits what we eat can directly affect our mental health. But we don’t always get the right nutrients in the food we eat. Enter supplements. Supplements have specific nutrients we need especially for a specific purpose.
For anxiety, supplements that contain Omega 3, vitamin B complex, probiotics, vitamin D, and iron, all crucial to our mental and emotional well-being. This Whole Food All Natural Supplement contains all those mentioned above.
Again, in my previous article I briefly mentioned about the health benefits of Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is a root/herb used in traditional Ayurvedic or Indian remedies with a lot of health benefits. Based on research it is known to reduce anxiety symptoms.
Ashwagandha supplements are available. One of them is this Ashwagandha Root Extract from Amazon. It is specifically formulated to help reduce anxiety and depression.
#6 Try Hypnosis
Hypnosis has been used in treating anxiety along with cognitive behavioural therapy. Hypnosis can help people focus their thoughts, attention, problems and help them respond to suggestions. It can also help in rethinking of problems and anxious thoughts.
Numerous studies have suggested the use of hypnosis in treating anxiety. In an article published by the Harvard Medical School, hypnosis can be considered as a supplement to therapy for anxiety disorders. In the article it was mentioned that “It has been studied most as a treatment for anxiety related to surgery. Many studies have reported that hypnosis reduced anxiety levels and lowered blood pressure in patients before surgery, and enhanced recovery afterward by shortening hospital stays and reducing complications like nausea and vomiting.”
If you want to try hypnosis, simply ask your psychiatrist for recommendations of qualified hypnotherapist (may include the psychiatrist him/herself).
#7 Check and Take Care of Your Thyroid
Anxiety can be caused by a lot of things. Imbalance in the neurotransmitters in the brain, stress and even genetics. One of the more uncommon and hidden causes of anxiety is hypothyroidism or low thyroid function.
It can be passed on from parents, triggered by a major life event life death in the family. And one of its main symptoms is, yup, anxiety.
Diet is one of the best ways to manage hypothyroidism aside from possible medication. Foods rich in selenium such as Macademia nuts and hazelnuts. Seaweeds are also perfect for this condition. It is rich in Iodine which helps proper functioning of Thyroid glands. Yogurt which has plenty of Tyrosine (an amino acid that is good for hypothyroidism) should also be a staple in ones diet.
If dieting may be difficult or inconvenient, supplements such as Terry Naturally Thyroid Care are available in Amazon, it is packed with both Iodine and L-tyrosine for a healthy thyroid.
What is Biofeedback you ask? To put it simply and to quote Harvard Health Publishing, “Biofeedback measures specific body functions, such as heartbeat or breathing, and feeds this information back to you in the form of sounds or lights. This can help you become aware of your body’s responses and learn to control them using relaxation and cognitive techniques.”
So how do you measure your Biofeedback? There are many equipment and devices to track your bio feedback one of the more simple and easy to use device is the Spire Stone: Stress Management and Activity Tracker available on Amazon. Spire’s patented respiration sensor measures your breathing patterns all-day to help you keep control and manage stress.
#9 Move your Butt
Another simple way to manage anxiety is to simply exercise. You don’t really have to enroll in an expensive gym. Exercises such as jogging and walking have been known to alleviate anxiety symptoms.
In journal published by the Frontiers in Psychiatry, it concluded that there is strong evidence that exercise and regular activity can significantly reduce anxiety and its symptoms.
Now some of you may be too lazy to exercise or walk. This I highly recommend – a Medical Folding Pedal Exerciser from Amazon. This machine can help you exercise even when you are just sitting around and watching your favorite series like Modern Family. With this, there is not excuse to move your butt!
In a Nutshell
Anxiety is a condition that is commonly dismissed and stigmatized. For those who suffer this condition, it can be debilitating and can greatly affect their quality of life.
Those mentioned above are very helpful according to research. However, professional help from psychiatrist is highly recommended. It would not only guide you on how treat anxiety, but also just the simple idea of talking to someone about the thoughts and feelings you encounter everyday could definitely help in your struggle against anxiety.