Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, 1 in 4 people – 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men – will experience anxiety.1
There are things you can do to help lessen and manage your anxiety. Here are some of our top recommendations that can help you feel better.
Avoid caffeine as it will fuel your anxiety. This includes coffee, energy drinks, high cocoa chocolate (>70%) and black tea. If you can’t give up coffee, stick to just the one, and have it prior to 12pm so not to interrupt sleep patterns. I also often recommend to have coffee only when you feel relaxed (think a chilled Sunday morning with friends) and avoid when either stressed or tired, it generally will only add more fuel to the anxiety fire.
Drink chamomile tea its high in magnesium and calcium, which help to relax you, make it strong with two tea bags and leave too steep for 5-10 minutes. A nice addition is 4 drops of the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy. Bach flowers have been round since the 1930s developed by an English physician, Dr Bach. Rescue remedy is said to ‘comfort and reassure’ and from what I have witnessed it really does seem to calm.
Minimise alcohol; alcohol has been linked to anxiety states because it raises lactate levels, which in turn can increase the production of the neurotransmitter noradrenaline that in excess can cause anxiety.
Drink ginger tea and use ginger as a spice in cooking. This reduces the release of noradrenaline lessening anxiety. Also, drinking soda water increases the body’s carbon dioxide which can also have this effect.
Eat a wholefood diet full of whole grains, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans, good quality oils (extra virgin olive oil) and free range / organic meats. Avoid refined and processed food and bad fats such as trans fats.
Eat foods high in the amino acids phenylanlanine/tyrosine/tryptophan, which support beneficial brain chemistry. These include beef, chicken, soy beans, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, baked beans, almonds and milk.
Avoid smoking, recreational drugs and talk to your doctor about evaluating any pharmaceutical medication you are taking, e.g. steroids can exacerbate anxiety.
Breathe to relieve
Here is an anxiety relieving exercise:
- Sit with your arms held loosely at your sides and with hands resting limply in your lap. Both feet should be flat on the floor. Now breathe in through your nose for the count of five. Hold your breath for three counts. And then slowly breathe out for the count of seven. Repeat three times.
- If you become anxious – bring your attention to your breath paying particular attention to your exhale making it long and even. Another trick to bring yourself out of a panic is to look around you and name things in your environment – i.e. chair, picture, table, desk etc. This brings you out of your head and into your surroundings and hopefully out of the immediate anxiety state.
Get moving – It has been shown that exercise can modulate anxiety sensitivity, which is the fear of anxiety-related symptoms and is a major predictor of panic attacks. A study found that both low and high intensity exercise decreased general anxiety symptoms whilst high intensity exercise alone reduced fear of anxiety-related symptoms. Also, exercise has been shown to prevent the occurrence of panic attacks.
Look after Number 1 – consider:
- Counselling – talk to your doctor to see if you qualify for the mental health care plan, where sessions with a psychologist and are eligible for a Medicare rebate.
- Physical therapies – acupuncture helps to increase your opioid levels (decreased opioid levels can contribute to anxiety). Massage would also be a great way for you to relax.
- Epsom salts – use 1 kilo in a bath, drop some lavender in and soak for 30 minutes with your shoulders and neck under water. Be sure to be well hydrated.
- Meditation – download a meditation App (e.g. HeadSpace or Insight Timer) Listen to the App on your commute if you are on a bus, before you sleep or in your lunch break). Even as little as 5 minutes a day will help.
- Get enough sleep – give yourself enough winding down time before bed – turn off your screens, make yourself a cup of chamomile, have a hot bath/ shower, read some fiction and meditate…
Last, but not least – nutritional and herbal medicine.
At Northern beaches health & fertility we are truly blessed to have a dispensary of lovely calming and stress supportive herbs, these work wonders to calm and soothe whilst supporting energy. Nutritional medicine is also fantastic; magnesium for an anxious person at the right dose and using the right form can be life changing.