Original post from Care2
‘……………By Chris Sosa
Millions of Americans live with anxiety, and far too few are getting any help in managing the stress. For some, anxiety is induced situationally. For others, anxieties may be part of a mental disorder.
No matter the cause, maintaining the best mental health possible should be a priority for all of us. These simple suggestions are designed to provide you with more options to manage (and possibly alleviate) unwanted anxiety so you can be your best self.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America points to studies that show even a 10-minute brisk walk can be effective at combatting anxiety symptoms. As the organization highlights, one study showed vigorous exercisers to have a 25 percent reduction in their likelihood to develop anxiety or depression over a five-year period.
Mayo Clinic explains that the relief of anxiety through exercise is related to the release of “feel-good” brain chemicals, like neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids.
Exercise is also a general mood enhancer that helps prevent a series of ailments often associated with aging.
So hit the gym, go for a walk or join an activity team!
For many people, anxiety disorders are rooted in issues best addressed by a therapist. Many folks are afraid to speak with a therapist for fear of either stigma or that they’ll be medicated, which is a major misperception since only psychiatrists dispense medications.
If going into an office makes you uncomfortable or you simply can’t find time, consider trying one of the new messaging platforms that will put you in touch with a licensed therapist you can message at lunch break or after the kids are in bed. (I personally use TalkSpace.)
There are so many benefits to talk therapy that it would be hard to overstate them.
Cut Back on Alcohol and Caffeine
Anxiety disorder and alcoholism share a link that’s not widely discussed. The two are so linked that research is currently unclear about whether alcohol can directly cause anxiety (and depression) or if people who already suffer are turning to alcohol for relief.
For people on medication for anxiety, alcohol can interact with the prescriptions in ways that actually make anxiety worse.
Caffeine can also be a factor for some sufferers of anxiety. The reasons are two-fold. First, caffeine can increase nervousness. But more subtly, caffeine consumption can interfere with sleep patterns.
In short: people living with anxiety should be incredibly careful with alcohol and caffeine.
As I’ve pointed out in the past, mindfulness meditation is an effective way to help manage anxiety. The practice is easy to learn, although one’s skill will improve greatly with time and dedication.
PsychCentral describes the anxiety-reducing effects of mindfulness meditation to be a “pleasant side effect” accomplished through the shifting of focus from past or future-related worries onto the present space.
Mindfulness meditation also trains the mind to view thoughts without judgment, rather than engaging possibly unhealthy cycles. This can help ease worry and anxiety.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Having an imbalanced diet can negatively impact your mood and increase symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders.
Mayo Clinic recommends including a healthy dose of protein with your breakfast, because this can positively regulate your blood sugar and keep you feeling energetic.
The organization also suggests eating complex carbohydrates (like whole grains) instead of simple carbohydrates (sugary foods and drinks). These are believed to help calm your mind through the production of serotonin.
Ask Your Doctor about St. John’s Wort
The popular supplement taken to combat depression may also be effective for the management of general anxiety.
Studies have shown the herb to improve mood and possibly aid in sleeping. This is especially encouraging because lack of sleep is a common culprit in exacerbating anxiety symptoms.
It’s a powerful supplement and interacts poorly with many drugs, so you’ll definitely want to talk with your trusted healthcare provider before starting this one.
(Note: St. John’s Wort is not considered effective for social anxiety.) …………’
Chris Sosa is the Lead Staff Writer at Care2. He’s worked in journalism, politics and advocacy for the past decade. His primary passions are animal rights and ethical living. When Chris isn’t trying to save the world, he can be found rocking out at metal shows across the East Coast. …………’