Meditation And Mindfulness To Manage Anxiety
Meditation is becoming an increasingly popular approach to managing stress, and more and more scientific studies are backing up its effectiveness. Brain imaging has allowed neuroscientists to determine that meditation can actually change your brain for the better. In a study performed by Dr. Sara Lazar, neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, after just eight weeks of meditation , subjects had physically altered their brains: they had grown areas of their brain associated with empathy, compassion, learning, memory and emotional regulation , and shrunken the part of the brain associated with anxiety, fear, and stress .
Buddhist monks have actually been training their brains in this way for centuries. At the recommendation of the Dalai Lama, neuroscientist Richard Davidson from the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin, Madison studied the brains of eight practitioners who had spent over 34,000 hours meditating. What they found was that meditation had allowed the monks brains to become more plastic, more adaptable and accepting of change and stressors.
Nutritional Strategies To Ease Anxiety
- By Uma Naidoo, MD, Contributor
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Thats 40 million adults18% of the populationwho struggle with anxiety. Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, with about half of those with depression also experiencing anxiety.
Specific therapies and medications can help relieve the burden of anxiety, yet only about a third of people suffering from this condition seek treatment. In my practice, part of what I discuss when explaining treatment options is the important role of diet in helping to manage anxiety.
In addition to healthy guidelines such as eating a balanced diet, drinking enough water to stay hydrated, and limiting or avoiding alcohol and caffeine, there are many other dietary considerations that can help relieve anxiety. For example, complex carbohydrates are metabolized more slowly and therefore help maintain a more even blood sugar level, which creates a calmer feeling.
A diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits is a healthier option than eating a lot of simple carbohydrates found in processed foods. When you eat is also important. Dont skip meals. Doing so may result in drops in blood sugar that cause you to feel jittery, which may worsen underlying anxiety.
Let Me Introduce Myself
My name is Dr. Elisha Goldstein and since finding my own healing and peace, I have spent nearly every waking moment over the last 20 years helping others make lasting positive changes in their lives.
Aside from being a practicing clinical psychologist, I’ve taught side by side with other notable teachers in the mindfulness and wellness guides such as Dan Siegel, Elissa Eppel, Rhonda Magee, Rick Hanson and more.
I’ve also written 5 best selling books on applying the power of mindfulness in your life.
One of which with a foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
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Other Risk Factors For Developing Anxiety
In addition to these primary causes of an anxiety disorder, there are other risk factors that can contribute. These include:
- Severe stressors: These include financial ruin due to job loss or losing a loved one on whom you heavily depended.
- Certain personality types: These include Type A personalities and perfectionists.
- Gender: Women are twice as likely to have generalized anxiety disorder as men.
- Underlying medical conditions: These include chronic pain, respiratory conditions, gastrointestinal disorders and heart disease.
- Everyday stressors: These include more minor stressors like a hectic schedule or dealing with an unruly child. Such factors can build up without proper self-care.
Make These Foods A Part Of Your Anti
You might be surprised to learn that specific foods have been shown to reduce anxiety.
- In mice, diets low in magnesium were found to increase anxiety-related behaviors. Foods naturally rich in magnesium may, therefore, help a person to feel calmer. Examples include leafy greens, such as spinach and Swiss chard. Other include legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
- Foods rich in zinc such as oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks have been linked to lowered anxiety.
- Other foods, including fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids. A study completed on medical students in 2011 was one of the first to show that omega-3s may help reduce anxiety. . Prior to the study, omega-3 fatty acids had been linked to improving depression only.
- A study in the journal Psychiatry Research suggested a link between probiotic foods and a lowering of social anxiety. Eating probiotic-rich foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, and kefir was linked with fewer symptoms.
- Asparagus, known widely to be a healthy vegetable. Based on research, the Chinese government approved the use of an asparagus extract as a natural functional food and beverage ingredient due to its anti-anxiety properties.
- Foods rich in B vitamins, such as avocado and almonds
- These “feel good” foods spur the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. They are a safe and easy first step in managing anxiety.
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Reduce Anxiety With Exercise
This is not news, perhaps, but exercise is an excellent stress-reliever! According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, studies have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self esteem. Remember the stress hormone adrenaline released from your fight-or-flight response? Exercise naturally reduces this hormone, allowing your body back into a state of equilibrium and relaxation. In addition, physical activity helps release those feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins, making you feel happier and less anxious. Aerobic activities also have the added benefit of allowing you to think of something other than what you might be worried about, serving as a form of active meditation.
You dont need to run a marathon to get the benefits of exercise, either. Go on a hike, go to a yoga session, or play a game of tennis with a friend whatever you enjoy! Any form of exercise will help with stress management, and youll get all of the other added health benefits along with it.
Natural Remedies For Anxiety
Natural remedies for anxiety are those that donât involve conventional medications . They include things such as herbs, aromatherapy, and performing certain actions that promote relaxation. Some people with anxiety use natural remedies alongside conventional treatments to find relief.
Examples of natural remedies for anxiety include:
Exercise isnât just good for your physical health itâs also beneficial for your mental health. While the connection isnât well understood, studies do show that exercise can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety.
Getting active helps to take your mind off of the issues bothering you. It also triggers your body to release endorphins, which are natural feel-good hormones.
Several different herbs and herbal supplements may help alleviate anxiety symptoms, helping you to relax and feel calmer. Some of the more well-known varieties include:
Studies show that chamomile can help with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. While many of the studies on herbal supplements for anxiety are limited, the results are promising.
You can find many of these supplements in capsule form. Many people also drink herbal teas to help them relax.
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to improve health and overall well-being. Many scents can help to boost your mood, help you relax, and reduce anxiety.
Scents to use for anxiety include:
Deep Breathing Exercises
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Keep A Gratitude Journal:
We often spend so much time focused on what is wrong and what we are frustrated by. Taking time each day to journal about what you are most grateful for can be one of the most powerful daily activities.
You can also incorporate this into your breathing, meditation and prayer practices where you remind yourself of what you are most grateful for. This will relax your mind, increase endorphins, reduce stress hormone production and stimulate parasympathetic tone in the body.
Take A Hot Bath With Epsom Salts
First, a hot bath is always calming. Second, adding some Epsom salts to the water may help boost your mood and act as natural anxiety relief. These salts contain magnesium sulfate, which may have anxiety-fighting benefits. For example, information published in a 2017 issue of the journal, Nutrients, notes that there is suggestive but inconclusive evidence for a beneficial effect of magnesium supplementation in mild anxiety. As is the case with a lot of research about natural remedies, this one also points to the need for further investigation.
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How To Reduce Anxiety Naturally
If youve noticed an uptick in your anxietylevels recently, you might have wondered how to reduce anxiety naturally. Thechaos of life and world events can overwhelm anyone from time to time. But ifsymptoms persist, it can be helpful to evaluate your lifestyle and considersome natural approaches to anxiety reduction.
Keep in mind that anxiety isnt all bad. It motivates you toact in times of stress or danger. It helps you stay on top of deadlines and fulfillresponsibilities. But if it continues unchecked, it begins to invade your life,impeding daily tasks and triggering various emotional and physical symptoms.
Here are seven natural ways to ease anxiety and reclaim ahealthier version of yourself.
How To Deal With Anxiety At School:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the basics for children with anxiety: eating a healthy diet, getting at least 60 minutes of exercise a day and getting the proper amount of sleep.
Having a hard time focusing in school could be a sign of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder , which may require medication. Parents should also consider whether bullying is fueling the anxiety.
A child who is overly anxious at school could benefit from therapy. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America also advises helping the child establish a support system at school.
Being mindful about what you eat can help ease anxiety symptoms. Experts advise avoiding sugar. Instead, go for complex carbohydrates found in foods like oatmeal, quinoa and sweet potatoes. You feel fuller longer and experience calmer feelings psychologically as well.
Foods rich in magnesium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B may help ease anxiety.
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How A Health Coach Can Help With Tackling Anxiety
If youve been struggling with anxiety, a Health Coach can be a fantastic resource and support. A Health Coach can suggest techniques, tools, and strategies that can help you ease anxiety specific to your goals and lifestyle, and can also work with you to identify whats causing your anxiety in the first place.
How To Reduce Anxiety Naturally : Advice From A Health Coach
Theres no questionwere in the midst of a worldwide anxiety epidemic. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 13 people globally suffer from anxiety. In the U.S. alone, nearly 40 million people experience an anxiety disorder in a given year. Of those 40 million, approximately two-thirds are women and 8% are children and teenagers. So it comes as no surprise that many of those struggling with anxiety are looking for support and treatmentincluding how to reduce anxiety naturally.
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People With Social Anxiety Don’t Want To Be Alone
8. Go to bed early.
This may sound impossible if you’re accustomed to staying up late to catch up on the to-do list. But this one’s a must.
Sleep deprivation is a huge anxiety culprit. Inadequate shuteye can amplify the brain’s anticipatory reactions, upping overall anxiety levels, according to research.
“We all have anticipatory anxiety,” explains researcher Fugen Neziroglu. “Having moderate levels of anxiety about doing well is important. But it can be destructive when it begins to interfere with your life.” It’s impossible to have healthy emotional functioning without adequate sleep.
Don’t burn the midnight oil in hopes of catching up on the weekends. Unused sleep minutes don’t roll over.
9. Wake up 15 minutes early.
Like most anxious people, you’re probably rushing around in the morning and yelling at everyone in your wake, “Hurry up! We’re going to be late!”
Go slowly, and set yourself up for a relaxed day ahead. If you start to worry about the to-do list, take a deep breath and think: There is enough time.
10. Get your lavender on!
Lavender oil has many healing properties and can be used as a natural remedy to reduce anxiety and other nervous conditions. There are many ways to incorporate lavender into your calm tool kit:
11. Reduce caffeine, sugar, and processed foods.
Sugar acts as an adrenal stimulant and can cause anxiety or even panic attacks. Other offensive foods include those containing refined flour products and even wheat, since this causes inflammation.
When To See A Doctor
Constant anxiety that makes it difficult to sleep at night can affect your daily quality of life. Your work or school performance may worsen, and you may find it hard to complete your normal daily tasks.
If anxiety and lack of sleep are affecting your life in this way, its important to reach out to a doctor or mental health specialist for help.
For some people, nighttime anxiety can lead to insomnia. Insomnia is defined as persistent trouble falling or staying asleep. Chronic insomnia can have negative health effects, including an increased risk of:
- health conditions, such as high blood pressure and a weakened immune system
- mental health conditions, such as depression
Whether your doctor makes a diagnosis of anxiety, insomnia, or both, reaching out is the first step in the treatment process.
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The Complexity Of The Brain
The brain is the most complex and incredible organ on earth. The brain contains 100 billion nerve cells and each of these are interconnected with other nerve cells through hundreds and thousands of other synapses . There are believed to be more connections within the brain than there are stars in the sky.
Brain cells are constantly fluxed with both excitatory and inhibitory signaling molecules. Individuals with anxiety have a poorly controlled balance that favors over excitation in certain regions of their brain. Here are the key brain regions and mechanisms that may favor the development of anxiety.
How To Reduce Stress Naturally
Exercise, especially outdoors. It never fails to help me relax and unwind no matter how much I dont want to do it. Finishing the thing Im stressed about. I guess 90% of what I get stressed about is stuff that I have to do, so if I just get on with it and finish it off then I feel much better. I sometimes go overboard with this, Ive stayed up more than once all night to finish something.
It happens to anyone and everyone at some point.
It doesnt matter if you live a stress-free life or have the mental fortitude as tough as a castle wall. A mental blockage will pop up in the most unexpected of times and when it does it will be up to you to face it head-on and overcome the obstacle.
Daily stress is a critical factor that pulls you into a mental rut
Having to go through a mental rut personally and just recovered as Im writing this article, I know it horrible it is to just be stopped dead in your tracks when you had so much momentum going on in your life. I want to break down how these situations occur and how to go about it. One of those most common occurrences is daily stress. All too often we are faced with stress coming from multiple directions all at once and constantly bombarding us day in day out. We get it from family, friends, children, at school, the workplace, or in our social life and it tends to creep upon us.
Positive stress is needed in order for growth and change at a manageable level but too much of it could result in a meltdown.
How has your week been?
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