Treating anxiety or depression is not only limited to the four walls of your therapist’s office. In addition there are essential components that can be integrated to your treatment apart from taking prescription meds. In most cases, a change in your lifestyle can already help lift the problem and bring relief to anxiety. Below are the simple but powerful tools to address this issue.
You would think “How does exercise affect mental health?”. Well, there were numerous and well designed studies conducted to prove that exercise can elevate your mood to prevent anxiety and depression. Mindful movements like yoga, qigong and tai chi are among the best physical activities that can help improve anxiety symptoms.
Exercise also helps stimulate the body’s “happy hormones“. As you move about, your body starts to stimulate the production of endorphins and serotonin in your brain – these are neurotransmitters that help alleviate depression. This explains the happiness you feel every time you finish a good workout.
Eat A Healthy Diet
Your brain is the most active part in your body. Even at bedtime, your brain will continue to work non-stop during the night. It means it needs a steady stream of essential nutrients for it to function properly. Poor diet choices limit the necessary nutrients your body needs to secrete the right hormones to stabilize a proper mental health. Here are some diet tips you may consider:
Buy healthy food – make sure to fill your plate with nutritious meals. Choose whole foods, fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water and get enough calcium. Avoid trans fats and research dietary guidelines to learn more about which foods are the healthiest.
Take care of your stomach – supplementing with probiotics with lactobacillus and bifidobacterium will improve your gut health. Providing these live cultures to your stomach will help boost your immune system. You can also eat fermented foods like miso, natto, and yogurt to support your digestive system.
Cut back on anything sweetened – soda, sweet tea, fruit punch and juice concentrates contribute to anxiety. A recent study of individuals who drank at least four cups of soda found they were 30% more prone to anxiety and depression. This same study also reported that individuals who drank unsweetened decaf coffee each day had less likelihood of experiencing anxiety compared to non-coffee drinkers.
Choose decaf – Coffee is rich in antioxidants, but too much caffeine is not good for you peace of mind, indeed long-term intake of caffeine is also linked to anxiety. Try to gradually switch to decaf. This way, you get the same amount of health benefits from coffee without the caffeine content.
Take More Antioxidants
Anxiety is thought to be connected to high oxidative damage and a low antioxidant state in your cells and body. Antioxidants are needed to help fight the oxidative damage brought about by free-radicals in your body, which occur naturally. Therefore, it is a must for you to prioritize antioxidant-rich sources to ease the symptoms of anxiety.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are 3,100 herbs, spices, supplements and foods that are designated to help increase your body’s antioxidant levels. Some of them include beans, berries, nuts and vegetables.
You may think that fruits and vegetables have the highest content of antioxidants, but herbs and spices hold even more to that reputation. One potent spice that has anti-anxiety properties is turmeric. Its active ingredient curcumin is responsible for fighting the free-radicals in the body and is known to efficiently prevent further chronic microinflammation.
Eating more of these antioxidant sources will help prevent anxiety and depression. You can also get it in pill form or in its liquid extract state. Curcumin supplements are already in popular demand and you can find that easily in your local shops or online stores. Turmeric supplement side effects are rare but should still be watched out for.
A bad mood is often led by stress and lack of sleep. When you deprive your body of at least 7 hours of sleep every day, it finds it difficult to improve your mood as the hormones that control your state of mind are not fully replenished by your night’s rest. To restore and maintain a balanced mental health, you need to rest especially if you are feeling stressed out.
Scientific medical research shows that sleep-deprived individuals classify neutral images as “negative”. This means that people who do not get adequate sleep at night see everyday objects as “menacing”. If this continues, anxiety can develop into depression.
Alcohol is usually abused as a “self medication” to alleviate stress and numb the pain from depression. But it is itself a depressant and it does not make sense that people suffering from major anxiety and depression tend to resort to drinking too much alcohol.
Alcohol is not a quick fix and should be avoided no matter what. It only prevents you from taking the proper action to cure your anxiety. If you feel the urge to constantly drink alcohol, seek the advice of a professional. You might be battling with something more than anxiety.
Control Your Emotions and Thoughts
Believe it or not, your brain has the power of suggestion. If you allow negative feelings like helplessness and hopelessness to take over, the physiological function of your body becomes upset. This leads to hormone imbalance and depletion of brain chemicals essential for achieving the feeling of “zen”. If this continues, your entire body and immune system will follow and can possibly make you feel sicker by the day.
Mediation and positive thinking can affect your perception of the world in a positive way. It will make you more resilient, calmer and happier. There are mental trainings that can help you gain a more favourable outlook in life.
Some people choose to meditate, practice yoga, or use prayer. Researchers have also identified that kindness, forgiveness and a sense of gratitude can be practiced and developed over time and can alleviate anxiety and depression.