Anxiety is a serious issue that many people suffer from, but prescription medications aren’t always necessary with some simple and more natural ways for managing your anxiety that I’d like to share with you. Anxiety can arrive at any given moment, at any point of the day. For people more prone to anxiety and nervous tendencies, battling anxiety can seem like a constant fight. The great thing is, there are very effective ways for managing your anxiety that don’t require a lot of time, money or thought. Try some of these wonderful ways for managing your anxiety, and I think you’ll see in no time just how much better they can help you to feel.
1. Eat All Food Groups
One of the most important ways for managing your anxiety is to to be sure you eat a variety of food groups. Don’t cut carbs, fat or protein out of your diet, or your mood will suffer- trust me! During my former dieting days, I tried cutting all of those at different points and my anxiety worsened. Until I majored in nutrition, I didn’t know what I was doing to my body. Later, I learned that carbs, fats and protein all have a variety of nutrients, special to each food group that help balance our brain chemistry. The trick is to eat them from whole, unprocessed sources and avoid anxiety causing foods.
2. Avoid Sugar
Nothing will make you more anxious than an insulin spike and drop, which happens when you eat sugar, even too much natural sugar. Sugar sends a rush of sensation throughout your body, giving you a “high” initially. Then, it causes your body to become overwhelmed by the rapid release of insulin into the cells, and then a dramatic drop once insulin has finished the job. This means your blood sugar soars and then drops way down. This makes you moody, stressed and hungry. Be sure to avoid sugar, and if you eat high sugar fruits, be careful to see how it affects your glycemic levels.
3. Supplement Smart
Certain supplements have huge benefits for quelling anxiety. Many of them have vitamins and minerals that our body can’t absorb from other sources, or can be depleted through stress. Magnesium is a great example, for instance. Magnesium is the ultimate anti-anxiety nutrient. It helps your body calm down and relax. I take magnesium daily to combat anxiety and I love it! Magnesium is also great for your nervous system’s entire function, and it helps your muscles recover after exercise as a bonus. Other supplements for anxiety include GABA, which calms you down, Vitamin B6 and L-Tryptophan.
4. Get Quiet Time
I’m one of those people that can’t be around a lot of noise, huge crowds or busy environments for extended periods of time. If I do, my anxiety kicks up, and I have to have some down time to myself. If you need more quiet time to quell your anxiety, feel free to take it. We are all different, and knowing how to manage your anxiety will help you feel your best. Introverts, which I am, are some the people most prone to anxiety, and also a group of individuals who need more time to themselves than extroverts do. It’s okay to be different than your friends and need some extra quiet time.
5. Get Enough Sleep
I’ve always secretly wished I could be one of those people who thrived off 6 hours of sleep, but I’m just not! I need my rest, or I’m one huge ball of stress, let me tell you! Getting enough rest is crucial to fighting off anxiety, depression and even obesity. A lack of sleep makes your body secrete more cortisol, the stress hormone. The best way to combat that is to start getting more rest, so you wake up with a refreshed, relaxed mind, ready to take on the day.
6. Avoid Caffeine Overload
I love my morning cup of coffee and green tea, but if I drink more than a couple cups, my anxiety kicks up big time! Coffee and tea are actually beneficial for you in small doses, but too much caffeine, whether from these healthy choices or from soda, energy drinks and even some foods, can make anxiety levels shoot through the roof! Your brain can’t take all the stimulation overload from caffeine, or it messes with your hormones, such as your stress levels, and it makes the body imbalanced. Be caffeine smart and as a general rule, just switch to decaf beverages after 11 a.m. or so. Drink herbal tea during the day if you need something warm and soothing. Plus, teas like peppemint and ginger actually lower stress levels as well. Decaf green tea is also fabulous for stress. All green tea is rich in L-theanine, which calms you down and combats anxiety. If you want to drink regular, that’s okay, but be aware of how the caffeine affects you. Decaf green has just as much L-theanine as regular, so I make that my daily choice and love it!
7. Try Chocolate
I LOVE chocolate, specifically raw cacao, Crio Bru roasted cocoa bean beverages and 100% dark cacao baking bars. I don’t eat sugary varieties, since they tend to mess with my blood sugar, but chocolate in pure form is excellent for anxiety. Raw cacao has more magnesium than any other food per ounce. As I said, magnesium is the best anti-stress nutrient you can eat. Cacao and cocoa are also rich in calming nutrients that send neurotransmitters to the brain that promote relaxation. Unlike coffee or caffeine, chocolate’s stimulating effect is more of a soothing one, and alerts your body, but doesn’t make you jittery after eating it. Even regular or dark cocoa is a fantastic choice to get the benefits. My favorite cacao is by a brand called Philosophie Superfoods, which you can find at philosophiesuperfoods.com, and you can find Crio Bru roasted cocoa beans that you brew like coffee at criobru.com.
8. Tryptophan Foods
The most calming amino acid any of us can eat is tryptophan. Tryptophan is found in a variety of foods, and is one of the most influential nutrients we can eat to combat stress. It promotes relaxation, and a calming sense over your whole body. My favorite sources, which are very high in tryptophan, include gluten-free oats, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, raw cashews, quinoa, raw almonds, raw walnuts, hemp seeds, organic turkey, wild fish, eggs, coconut, leafy greens, avocados and organic Greek yogurt. Chicken, most sources of beef, and all whole grains are sources of tryptophan.
9. Implement Low Stress Exercise
Walking, either fast or moderate, yoga, Pilates and stretching are all wonderful ways to get fit and avoid anxiety. High intense exercises are great for your heart, but they can cause an increase of cortisol in the body, which makes you stressed. Avoid getting yourself in a tizzy after your workout and just do calming exercises instead. You can still get your heart rate up, but not send yourself into a panic. I like interval walking and hiking for this, along with yoga and Pilates. Nightly stretching also helps me destress after a long day, and helps my muscles feel better too.
If you’ve ever suffered anxiety, you can know how stressful it is. Truly, these are some of the most natural, helpful ways I’ve found to help me, so I hope they can help you too. What’s your best tip for managing anxiety naturally?