Anxiety – Don’t Let it Rule You

We all have moments of anxiety, especially facing challenging situations. However for an increasing number of people, anxiety is present even with simple everyday situations such as social gatherings or work deadlines and can be persistent even when there are no stressful events. This is called generalised anxiety disorder and can be very disabling.

It is important to be aware that anxiety can present as both physical and emotional symptoms. So what do you need to look out for?

Physical symptoms:

  • Palpitations or a racing heart
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Feeling clammy or sweaty
  • Nausea, abdominal discomfort or loose stools

Emotional symptoms:

  • Excess worry, fear
  • Feelings of panic
  • Mind racing with thoughts
  • Feeling tense

If you identify with some or all of these symptoms, there are strategies to help bring back some balance and calm into your life.

Lifestyle Strategies to Promote Wellbeing

  • Eat healthy foods- avoid processed foods especially sugar laden foods which cause blood sugar imbalances and aggravate anxiety. Instead choose wholefoods such as lean protein, fruits and vegetables and essential fatty acids from fish, nuts and seeds.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol- these stimulants can worsen anxiety.
  • Exercise regularly – promotes healthy moods and decreases feelings of anxiety.
  • Connect with friends and nature- both actions have been shown to decrease the sense of isolation and overwhelm that anxiety can engender.
  • Adequate sleep- 7-8 hours are important and fortunately the strategies that decrease anxiety also tend to support sleep.
  • Calming techniques- meditation, mindfulness, Tai Chi, yoga and breath work can all be helpful adjuncts in calming the mind and finding stillness in the midst of a racing mind.

Supplements to Promote Wellbeing

  • Magnesium – a mineral that is known as the great relaxer and vital for neurotransmitter function.
  • Herbs- there are a number of herbs that have anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) properties and can promote calming and many also promote sleep. These include zizyphus, passionflower, magnolia and withania (also known as ashwagandha).
  • Amino acids- several amino acids are showing promising benefits for anxiety. These include L- theanine which is the major amino acid in green tea, GABA and L-tryptophan. Once again they also support sleep so having another desirable effect.

Psychological Strategies to Promote Wellbeing

  • Counselling- various psychological therapies such as CBT ( Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can be very effective at dealing with unhelpful thoughts working on both the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety.
  • Neurofeedback- is a form of biofeedback teaching the brain to function more effectively and appropriately by rewarding positive brain activity and so retraining the brain to support healthy neural pathways. It has been found to be very effective for decreasing anxiety.

Although anxiety is experienced by most of us from time to time, when it becomes overwhelming or starts to impact on our daily life, it’s time to act. Fortunately there are many strategies available to support your journey to calm, balance and wellbeing!