9 Ways to Overcome Anxiety

Anxiety is one of those things that we can do without.  Our feelings of worry, apprehension or fear over something that may or may not happen in the future is all part of what we call anxiety.  And your are not alone.   The Brain And Behavior Research Foundation reports that 40 million American adults live with some anxiety each year.

We all have experienced anxiety one time or another when we are not sure about our security or safety.  When we experience anxiety in our body we experience sensations such as heart palpitations, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, stomach aches, or headache.

What Happens in Our Brain?

Neural circuitry involving the amygdala and hippocampus is thought to underlie anxiety.

When confronted with unpleasant and potentially harmful stimuli such as foul odors or tastes, PET-scans show increased blood flow in the amygdala. In these studies, the participants also reported moderate anxiety.

This might indicate that anxiety is a protective mechanism designed to prevent the organism from engaging in potentially harmful behaviors.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article “Anxiety“, which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

What Can You Do to Help Yourself?

Coping with stress especially around the fall season can be a challenge and often requires making lifestyle changes. There are specific steps that I have used for myself over the years. Try these steps:

1) Eat a breakfast that includes some protein.

Eating protein at breakfast can help your brain make the connections that it needs to stay focused and calm.

2) Eat complex carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are not all bad as one might think.  They stabilize blood sugar which affects mood but also support the feel good hormone serotonin in your brain and body, which has a calming effect. Eat foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains — for example, oatmeal, quinoa, whole-grain breads and whole-grain cereals. Limit or avoid the foods that contain simple carbohydrates, such as sugary foods and drinks they cause havoc to the stability of the mind-body complex.  If you do consume these sugary foods, be sure to have eaten a meal prior with leafy green vegetables as well as protein. This will help balance the scales.

3) Drink plenty of water.

Even mild dehydration can affect your mood.

4) Limit or avoid alcohol.  

Alcohol depletes the body of water soluble vitamins, namely the B complex vitamins.  These vitamins help to make the neurotransmitters in the brain necessary for making solid connections.  It appears that alcohol may be calming, but  it really isn’t because once the vitamins get literally washed out of your body, your mood changes. Alcohol is a depressant and certainly interferes with sleep patterns.

5) Limit or avoid caffeine.

Caffeine is the preferred beverage to “wake us up” but when not used with discretion it disturbs the nervous system and depletes the body of essential water soluble vitamins.  If you are going to use caffeine switch to tea which has less irritating effects than coffee. And, wait until mid-morning before consuming the beverage.

6) Pay attention to your food sensitivities such as wheat gluten or lactose.

In some people, certain foods or food additives can cause unpleasant physical reactions. In certain people, these physical reactions may lead to shifts in mood, including irritability or anxiety.

7) Try to eat at least one if not two healthy, balanced meals per day.

It appears to be difficult in the fast paced society, but over time when we reach are 40’s and 50’s we see the effects of what an improper diet can have on our body as well as our mind.

8) Breath Diaphragmatically.  

The health of our body and mind is directly linked to the way that we breath.  When we use our chest to breath we send signals to our brain that danger ensues.  When we learn and practice diaphragmatic breathing, we promote a calm and focused mind.

9) Meditate at least 5 minutes per day.

The evidence is there that meditation supports longevity and wellness for those that practice.  Find a qualified teacher or class and get started.  Just 5 minutes a day over one month will change your physical and mental state.