According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental illness in the United States. Anxiety affects 40 million adults, i.e., 18% of the total population.
Nowadays, we are wound up in times of vulnerability and uncertainty, with the future becoming progressively hazy. Anxiety and related disorders will continue to rise as the world faces significant health issues, social challenges, and the effects of natural disasters.
Thus, finding effective techniques to diminish anxiety becomes crucial.
This article discusses five diet and lifestyle changes to cope with anxiety peacefully and lead a less stressful and happier life. But before starting, let’s talk about anxiety and how to deal with it.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety, characterized by feelings of fear or worry, is a physiological stress response. Several factors influence it, including brain chemistry, environment, and genetics.
Although they may vary from person to person, anxiety symptoms can take many different forms. Some typical warning signs are accelerated heart rate, fast breathing, agitation, and difficulty concentrating. However, it is essential to acknowledge that anxiety can manifest in various ways depending on the individual. For instance, one person might feel their stomach flutter, while another might have panic attacks, nightmares, or troubling thoughts.
Many anxiety treatment options are available, whether you’re seeking medical attention or trying to release anxiety symptoms alone. You can book a consultation with any of the top counseling or therapy facilities in your state or city to learn about the severity of your condition and possible treatment options.
However, while antidepressants and sedatives help to ward off severe anxiety episodes, there are some natural ways to deal with it.
Five Diet and Lifestyle Changes to Cope with Anxiety
- Regular Exercise
Regular physical activity has advantages for both physical and mental health. A 2013 study found that those with anxiety disorders who maintained a high level of physical exercise could avoid the emergence of anxiety symptoms better. Exercise is beneficial for a variety of reasons. It has the power to draw attention away from concern and anxiety-provoking situations.
Creating anti-anxiety neurochemicals, including serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), can also be facilitated by increasing your heart rate through exercise. The preferred or recommended exercise depends on the individual. Running or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are good ways to increase heart rate for people looking for strenuous exercises. However, if you’d prefer to begin with lower-impact workouts, Pilates and yoga are excellent options for enhancing mental wellness.
- Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol consumption initially seems to have a positive impact, but all it does is provide short-term relief with long-term consequences. In fact, research suggests a link between anxiety and alcohol use, with AUD and anxiety disorders frequently co-occurring.
A 2017 comprehensive review of 63 studies found that cutting back on alcohol consumption can help with both anxiety and depression. However, the equilibrium of neurotransmitters, which are essential for preserving mental health, might be upset by excessive drinking. An imbalance brought on by this disturbance may aggravate anxiety symptoms.
Even though anxiety may briefly rise at the beginning of sobriety, long-term recovery is achievable. Alcohol has also been shown to interfere with sleep homeostasis and the body’s regular sleep cycles. Therefore, it’s essential to give up the temptations of sipping a glass and instead practice stress-relieving activities like meditation to manage the stress of the daily grind.
- Eat a Healthy Diet
Certain people may experience reduced anxiety symptoms after adopting a nutrient-rich, healthy food diet. Although food alone cannot alleviate anxiety, certain types can contribute to a calmer state of mind and support overall mental well-being.
The following foods may help you deal with anxiety:
- Fatty Fish: Fishes high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, can aid in reducing brain inflammation and fostering healthy brain function.
- Seeds and Nuts: Almonds, pecans, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are phenomenal sources of nutrients like zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 unsaturated fats, which can uphold brain health and signs of anxiety.
- Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content includes antioxidant flavonols that may improve mood and lessen anxiety.
- Green leafy vegetables: Vegetables like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard can provide sufficient amounts of magnesium, which can assist with managing cortisol levels and diminish anxiety.
- Berries: Fruits rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, can help reduce stress and produce a sense of calm.
- Whole Grains: Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats have complex carbohydrates that help regulate serotonin levels, leading to feelings of relaxation and well-being.
- Yogurt and Probiotic-Rich Food sources: Yoghurt and other fermented foods include probiotics that may benefit intestinal health as well as mood and anxiety levels.
Remember that everyone’s reactions to certain foods might differ, so paying attention to your body and choosing foods that are right for you is crucial. A certified dietitian or healthcare expert should be consulted for personalized nutritional advice on handling anxiety.
- Get Enough Sleep
Due to its effect on neurotransmitter replenishment, getting enough sleep is crucial for mood regulation. In addition, restorative sleep is necessary for keeping the brain healthy and can assist with anxiety and depression symptoms.
Compared to those who regularly get undisturbed sleep, individuals who get insufficient amounts of sleep—both in quantity and quality—are more likely to experience severe depression.
- Limit Caffeine Consumption
Caffeine should either be consumed in moderation or not at all for those suffering from persistent anxiety, as it can make them feel jittery and restless. In addition, regular consumption of caffeine exacerbates anxiety and panic-related disorders, making it an alarming concern.
However, it has been demonstrated that reducing or eliminating caffeine significantly improves anxiety symptoms in some people.
It is recommended to gradually reduce the amount of caffeine you consume daily to reduce or eliminate caffeine from your routine. Start by substituting water for coffee or other caffeinated drinks to meet your body’s hydration demands. Try taking herbal teas to keep yourself energized. Take it slow so that your body doesn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms if you’ve been addicted to coffee or any other caffeinated beverage for quite some time.
In this fast-paced world with an unpredictable future, it’s no wonder that millions of people face anxiety and depression. However, humans have coped with so much, including deadly viruses and natural disasters. Lifestyle changes are usually all it takes to get through mental health issues and enhance our well-being.
Although these changes cannot eliminate anxiety, they can help to successfully manage its symptoms and promote a greater sense of tranquility. However, it is crucial to understand that every person’s requirements are unique, and consulting with medical experts may offer specialized advice and assistance for successfully managing anxiety.