Anxious, worried, overwhelmed, stressed out? Don’t worry you’re not alone! Anxiety is a huge struggle for a lot of people! Self-doubt, indecision, fear of failure, constant worry about the future are all part of the bigger picture of anxiety.
Anxiety is something I have already come across a lot in clinic, as well as been through it myself. I used to be a very anxious person, constantly overthinking situations, worrying about something or someone, be terribly indecisive. To top this off I was always consuming food and drinks which just made me feel more unsettled, negative, indecisive and on edge. Thankfully, I’ve developed healthier habits that have helped me manage my anxiety.
Anxiety can show up differently person-person, so a personalized approach to reducing those anxious feeling is definitely recommended. The great news is good nutrition and lifestyle habits can make a huge difference in helping to reduce anxiety. There are a number of things you can do, as of today to make a difference.
Here are my 6 top tips to naturally reduce anxiety.
1) Cut the caffeine
I know, I know! I’m sorry to say it, but this is one of the most important ones. Caffeine often exacerbates feelings of anxiety and worry! It’s a stimulant which increases cortisol (your fight or flight) production in the body. Try to substitute your usual cup of coffee with a dandelion coffee (great for your liver!) or a herbal tea. This also means you need to be mindful and steer clear of all caffeine containing food and drinks such as black tea, energy drinks, chocolate (even raw cacao) and pre-workouts.
2) Avoid excess sugar and refined foods
Sugar and white (carbohydrate) foods increase your blood sugar, putting them on a constant roller coaster. Often giving you a temporary relief or ‘high’, followed by an irritable anxious low. Sugar is extremely addictive (I know, I’ve been there!), and it can be a hard habit to break, but once you do, you’ll thank yourself!
3) Focus on your breath
Breathing from your belly is a really simple and effective strategy for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed and stressed, as it activates your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system. Often when we’re anxious we breath short-shallow breaths from our chest. I personally like to put aside 10-20 minutes each day where I can sit alone and focus on my breath. My favourite way is to put my legs up a wall, this is a great way to lower cortisol levels and rest your adrenal glands. If you’re not into this find a quiet spot and focus on your breath, take 20 slow deep breaths making your belly rises and falls, breathing in for 4 counts, and out for 4 counts.
30 minutes a day. Restorative practices which incorporate the breath is what I find best to ease anxious feelings. Some people find more vigorous exercise to be better. Try both, see which works for you. Often yoga, pilates or a walk out in nature are the top picks to help with anxiety.
5) Talk to someone
Weather it’s your partner, friend, parents, sibling, work-colleague, just talking to someone and verbally saying why you are feeling overwhelmed or stress can be quite therapeutic. Talking to something lets you acknowledge the feelings, rather than letting them take over you. They might even be able to offer you some really good advice to help ease your anxious feelings, or even make you aware of what might be triggering those feelings.
6) Practice Mindfulness
Being aware of your thoughts and feelings as they arise give you the opportunity to deal with situations in a rational way. Daily meditation or daily gratitude writing is a great way to start becoming more mindful. Make it a habit to turn inward on a daily basis and observe yourself without judgement. Ask yourself a simple question such as “How am I feeling in this moment” or “How does my body feel today”, it can go a long way.
Finally, consuming a diet rich in whole foods (vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, good quality protein, healthy fats), can ensure your body gets a wide range of nutrients so you don’t become deficient in a nutrient which could worsen anxiety symptoms. One more thing… find something to be grateful for, daily. Gratitude relieves stress and anxiety.