Anxiety is an emotional response, which can be triggered by many varying factors and can be evident both physically and emotionally.
Some people are prone to anxiety more than others, and anxiety differs from person to person. Anxiety can be triggered or made worse because of life experiences, lifestyle including work and dietary factors, or underlying health conditions.
Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
A sense of impending panic or danger
Increased heart rate
Change in body temperature – sweating or chills
Obsessively thinking about the panic trigger
Excessive worrying and catastrophizing
10 ways to reduce anxiety naturally
1. Find ways to reduce the burden of stressful or anxiety inducing situations
One of the ways to do this is to make a list of all the things that cause overwhelm and anxiety and brainstorm ways in which you can overcome them. This might include only doing tasks that are truly your responsibility and delegating to others. Tackle easy items first and get them off your list, then with the help of a friend, partner or colleague get advice on how to problem solve the other more complex issues. Sharing will help to alleviate the burden and bring another perspective.
2. Get outdoors regularly
Consciously make the effort to get outdoors at least 3 times a week, and schedule “me time”. Getting fresh air helps to clear your head. Try to focus on being mindful, and acknowledge and absorb your surroundings, which helps to keep you present. Regular exercise stimulates feel-good hormones and gives us a sense of perspective. It gets our hearts pumping and blood flowing and supports our body systems in many ways.
3. Avoid stimulants
This includes caffeine, alcohol, and recreational drugs because they stress the body systems, stimulating stress hormones. The side effect is feeling jittery and nervous, which further compounds the anxiety. Also, caffeine and alcohol impact the production of melatonin – our sleep hormone.
4. Eat for nourishment
It is important to eat a good healthy nutritious diet, which optimizes brain health. Prioritize eating whole grains and organic fruit and vegetables. Ensure a good quality protein source such as nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, quinoa, and buckwheat.
5. Avoid refined and processed foods
Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates (white bread, white pasta, cereals), junk foods, harmful oils (margarine, fried foods), and processed and packaged foods. Sugary foods create a spike in insulin, which affects mood and emotional behaviour and refined carbohydrates have been processed and stripped of all their key nutrients.
6. Ensure a good sleep routine
Having good sleep is essential to health and well-being, especially in regulating mood levels. Scheduling wind-down time and good sleep habits will promote the onset of sleep through the production of melatonin, as mentioned earlier.
7. Use stress management and relaxation techniques
Meditation, yoga, and visualization can all help manage anxiety. Learning breathing techniques can also be very helpful for those suffering from anxiety. Taking in slow, deep breaths can help prevent the onset of a panic attack and slow down breathing. Deep breathing signals the brain to calm down and the body to relax. You can try breathing in slowly for 10 seconds, and then out for 10 seconds and see how it feels. There are many free Apps that can provide guided breathing techniques.
8. Increase your magnesium intake
You can do this by eating magnesium-rich foods and/or supplementation. Magnesium is very important for hundreds of body processes, and it is particularly helpful for anxiety. Magnesium is calming and helps to lift mood by regulating serotonin levels (the feel-good hormone) and increasing energy levels. Magnesium-rich foods are green leafy vegetables, spinach, avocado, pumpkin seeds, beans, buckwheat, legumes, almonds, and whole grains.
Avoid letting anxiety isolate you from friends and loved ones. Studies show that people who maintain regular human connections tend to have lower levels of anxiety.
10. Aim to identify triggers
Identify and understand what kind of situations or actions cause you stress or increase your anxiety. This way you can start to identify and practice strategies to help you deal with anxious feelings in these situations. Talking to someone about what they are and how you could find ways to cope can also help.
Anxiety can be triggered by different factors and can become evident physically and emotionally, differing from person to person. Life experiences, lifestyle, dietary factors, or underlying health conditions can trigger anxiety or make it worse.
Finally, there are possible ways to reduce anxiety naturally. Identifying the triggers and using stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, journaling, and breath work can help. Improving sleep habits, daily nutrition, regular activity levels, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and recreational drugs can also support symptoms of anxiety.