There is so much uncertainty around this pandemic that it can cause anxiety if you’re a person who likes to maintain control in your life, or even if you’re not. Not knowing how things will go, can be unnerving on many levels. Good news, there are things we can do to ease that stress and anxiety.
- Exercise daily. I know, who wants to exercise when they are stressing about how we are going to make rent or pay the mortgage, get groceries and fix that thing on the house that needs to be done pronto? Plain and simple, exercise is amazing for our mental health. Studies have shown that regular exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as taking an antidepressant. Isn’t that amazing? Exercise also is a natural anti-anxiety treatment. It releases endorphins that relieve tension, stress and boosts your mental and physical energy. Exercise has also been shown to help those with ADHD, PTSD or trauma as well. There is a very long list as to why you should add exercise into your daily routine. Do not stress over not being able to handle an hour workout everyday. Start small. If you start with ten minutes a day, your body will thank you. You can increase it weekly when you feel comfortable doing so.
- Limit your alcohol intake. I don’t know about you, but when I was home during the shut down, I was increasing, not decreasing my intake. Occasionally unwinding is not necessarily a bad thing, (as long as it’s in moderation) but it is important to note that alcohol is a depressant and a sedative that affects your central nervous system. The problem begins when you end up drinking regularly and you build up a tolerance to these sedative effects, which makes anxiety and stress even more difficult to manage. When alcohol enters the bloodstream, it gives us a relaxing sensation, however when that wears off depression and anxiety will creep in. When suffering from stress and anxiety, it’s best to avoid reaching for that drink and go for a run, practice yoga, meditate, read a book, or call a friend.
- Get enough rest. When the body is suffering from stress and anxiety, you need more, not less sleep. You need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. To ensure a better sleep at night, you will want to avoid keeping your phone in your bedroom. If you use it as your alarm, be sure to keep it out of reach and sight on the other side of the room. Avoid screen time at least 1 hour before bedtime. This includes tv, phone, tablet, reader, computers, etc. The light the screen emits can trick us into thinking it is daytime and disrupt our sleep patterns. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. This will help your body maintain a pattern of sleep. Limit caffeine and alcohol, as both can disrupt quality sleep. Do not eat a heavy meal too close to bedtime as it can induce heartburn or stomach upset. Be sure to get regular exercise, and try to avoid it too close to bedtime as the endorphins it releases can keep you buzzing.
- Eat Well Balanced Meals. Avoid sugar as it can interfere with your body’s ability to deal with stress and increase your risk of developing depression. There are however, foods that can help aid in the fight against anxiety. Those who suffer from depression and anxiety have shown that they are low in folate. Folate can be found in many foods such as asparagus, broccoli, enriched bread and pasta, tropical fruit and many more. B vitamins are also good for those plagued with anxiety. B’s are found in whole grains, meat, eggs, seeds and nuts, dark leafy greens and citrus fruits. Inadequate magnesium reduces serotonin levels, so you can remedy this by consuming almonds, pumpkin seeds, spinach, cashews, peanuts and lots of others. Probiotics are great for a healthy gut which help the immune function. If you are not supplementing probiotics in your diet, you can find them in these foods: yogurt, kiefer, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi and sourdough. Antioxidants boost your mood so be sure to add garlic, berries, seafood, pumpkin, apples, tomatoes, carrots, avocados, nuts into your diet, if you aren’t already. Lastly, Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly helpful in aiding with anxiety. Omega 3’s can be found in salmon, chia seeds, soy beans, walnuts and cold pressed olive oil. It is wonderful that the answer to many of our problems can be found in our diet. With simple changes we can effectively feel better.
So in summary exercise, avoid alcohol, get plenty of rest, and eat well balanced meals. When facing stressful times be sure to take down time, meditate and talk to friends.
***Please note: This information is not a replacement for your doctor expertise. Always seek the guidance of your GP before making any major changes to your diet and exercise routine.