Many of us frequently suffer from anxiety, through menopause, which can even set up panic attacks. This is often combined with low mood and feelings of inadequacy; in our fast-moving ‘always on’ society pressure to perform can be overwhelming. Smiling more can really help! Here’s some tips that might help relieve some of those feelings of anxiety.
We can often forget it’s not just about what we eat that can make us feel anxious; certain drinks can have a marked effect on anxiety and mood. Out go stimulants such as alcohol (also a depressant), fizzy drinks (even the sugar-free varieties which contain unhelpful chemicals) and caffeinated coffee, tea and colas (providing a quick ‘high’ then an edgy low).
In comes calming camomile and valerian teas, non-caffeinated varieties such as red bush and green tea, which contains theanine, a calming amino acid. Whilst green tea does contain a small amount of caffeine, the stimulatory effects are off-set by the theanine. However, it’s best not drunk before bedtime.
What we put into our mouths has the most influence on how we feel emotionally and physically. The body needs around 45 nutrients daily to function at its best; when these are lacking we can certainly feel tired and cranky.
The mineral magnesium, ‘nature’s natural tranquiliser’ is key to coping with anxiety and is used up more during times of stress. Green leafy veg such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are great sources of magnesium. Plus, if you’re waking with anxiety in the night, eating a few almonds, also rich in magnesium, before bedtime can really help.
The B vitamins are also key in controlling the stress response; vitamin B5 is especially important in helping produce our stress hormones. The good news is that it’s found in plenty of foods such as poultry, whole grains, oily fish (also rich in brain-loving omega 3s), legumes and dairy products.
It’s not always easy to get everything the body needs on a daily basis. Plus, if you’ re really struggling with anxiety, then there’s plenty of additional herbal helpers.
Both the herbs ashwagandha and rhodiola are known as ‘adaptogenic’, meaning they help the body better cope during stressful times and adapt to its needs. Both can easily be supplemented but do take them in the morning as both can stimulate and give an energy boost, whilst reducing feelings of anxiety. Additionally, the herb passionflower can be taken as a supplement and works really quickly; it’s especially helpful if you’re struggling with a nervous tummy.
Don’t forget to also to take a vitamin D supplement, especially now the winter months are upon us; as well as supporting the nervous system it helps lift low mood and also induce feelings of calm.
It’s very easy to think anxious thoughts and over-think situations and life itself. It’s a question of managing your brain and its thought processes. Sometimes visualising a hand preventing negative thoughts coming in can help. Equally, practising meditation is one of the best ways of gaining back control of your brain.
There are plenty of ‘calming’ apps that you can download and listen to; find what works for you. However, our over-use of technology and social media has certainly done nothing positive for our mental well-being. Blue light emitted from electronic goods will keep us awake so switch everything off a couple of hours before bedtime and try to have time during the day when you’re not glued to your laptop or phone; even if it’s only for 20 minutes daily.
Any form of exercise is incredibly positive for mind and body. Some people need to do fast-paced exercise to help with stress and anxiety, whilst others do better with calming, gentle activities. Whatever suits you, doing strenuous exercise in the evening is not recommended as it stimulates the stress hormone cortisol, which will keep you awake.
Yoga and Pilates are really calming and relaxing and can even be practised in your own living room, if time or availability of classes is a problem. However, the benefits of finding some calming activity that works for you can’t be over stated.