How Exercise, Vitamins & Diet Can Help Reduce Anxiety
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety affects more than 40 million people in the United States. While this figure largely represents adults, anxiety is also extremely prevalent in children (but the data is inconclusive because children often don’t report or don’t understand the symptoms.)
Due to a recent diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis and the healing power I found in reprogramming my body through vitamins and exercise, I know human bodies are capable of healing without the use of prescription medications. I was told my illness was incurable, but I am feeling so much better because I am being kind to my body and listening to its needs! I believe this notion is applicable to all ailments, especially anxiety. I know living with anxiety is tough, but I also know it is manageable, even treatable.
For all those who suffer from anxiety, follow the tips below to help control the symptoms and allow for a peaceful and tranquil existence:
- Exercise: I have found exercise to be an unparalleled benefit to help heal for so many reasons. In this crazy world, it allows the unique opportunity to take time for yourself. A time to listen to your body and calm your mind, which is necessary for people with anxiety. Exercise encourages your muscles to stretch, which decreases tension. When tension is low, endorphins (the chemicals in your body responsible for reducing stress) are released. This whole process is created by your own body to essentially help you become anxiety-free! A tip from me…keep the exercise relaxed. A leisurely walk, stretching, yoga…something that is calming and healing. This is not the time to train for American Ninja Warrior.
- Foods to avoid: What you eat has a huge impact on how you feel. As much as it pains me to say, sugar, caffeine, fried foods, and alcohol should be avoided when you have anxiety. I know! I’m sorry! Don’t hate me! Increased sugar actually decreases the body’s ability to handle stress. Caffeine can make your irritable, jittery and shaky…a bad combination for anxious brains. Fried foods generally contain hydrogenated oil which decreases brain function. When your brain is functioning at a less-than-optimal level your body overcompensates by going into a heightened state of awareness, which is counterproductive for anxiety sufferers. Lastly, alcohol. Some people who experience symptoms of anxiety will sometimes turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. A way to escape the feelings associated with the symptoms of anxiety. I understand the need for a remedy, but alcohol is a depressant and can lead to your brain becoming dependent on that substance…becoming wired to believe it cannot function without that substance…becoming a source of anxiety and panic.
- Healthy foods & vitamins: I love this section! Yummy foods that contain powerful anti-anxiety vitamins! Quite possibly my favorite food ever, avocados are packed with B vitamins which increase serotonin levels and reduce stress. Serotonin is lovingly referred to in the science world as the “happy chemical” …enough said! Other B vitamin-rich foods: milk, eggs, cheese, red meat, citrus fruits and beans. Magnesium has also been proven to increase serotonin levels, which can be found in almonds, bananas, nuts, seafood and leafy greens. Cutting out coffee altogether was a first step for me when combating my illness. To satisfy my warm morning drink craving I turned to decaffeinated green and black tea with Theanine, proven to reduce stress and leave your mind feeling calm and relaxed. If you suffer from anxiety, try to incorporate any (or even all) of these anxiety-reducing-vitamin-rich foods. If you prefer to just pop some vitamin capsules instead of nothing, I have included links at the bottom for your convenience. I do not care the method, just get them in your body to ease your mind!
We were all taught at a young age to “treat people the way you want to be treated” and “if you are nice to someone, they will be nice to you.” So, why wouldn’t you apply those life lessons to your own body? I promise that if you are nice to your body, it will be nice to you! You just have to treat it well, be courteous, listen when it communicates, keep it healthy and be kind. If you are a parent, try to encourage your child to do the same and incorporate the above tips into their daily routine so we can all benefit from a calmer, anxiety-free life.