Money, health, work, and family can all be sources of anxiety and depression. Everyone experiences anxiety or depression at some point in their lives, some more often than others. It’s natural to experience anxiety and/or depression, however, if these feelings last for days, weeks, or a longer period of time, it would be wise to seek out a remedy. The following is a list of suggestions to help reduce and even remedy anxiety and depression. Simple lifestyle changes, such as avoiding caffeine and/or sugar, can make a huge difference. Other small changes like exercise or meditation can also be immensely helpful when combating anxiety and depression. Some of these suggestions can help ease anxiety and depression right away, while others will help over time.
Caffeine stimulates your “flight or fight” response, which can make anxiety worse and possibly even trigger an anxiety attack. The effects of caffeine are similar to the symptoms of anxiety: nervousness, moodiness, and insomnia, which can make one feel as if they are experiencing anxiety.
Sugar impairs the body’s ability to deal with stress. It also worsens anxiety symptoms. A sugar high can cause shakiness and tension which not only worsen anxiety but can be interpreted as a panic attack. The subsequent crash of a sugar high can further worsen the negative feelings associated with depression. Research has shown a link between the consumption of high levels of sugar to an increased risk of depression. Sugar also makes the body acidic and causes chronic inflammation, which impacts the brain, immune system, and other body systems. A link has also been shown between chronic inflammation and depression, in fact, research has shown a high correlation between countries with high sugar consumption and the yearly rate of depression.
“One of the major causes of anxiety is worrying about illness and health, and that dissipates when you are fit,” says Drew Ramsey,MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University. One of the ways is which exercise helps relive anxiety is by slowing the heart rate down. Anxiety cause a increase in heart rate so by doing some sort of aerobic exercise, such as jogging or swimming, one can, over time, slow their resting heart rate. Even a 20-30 minute work out can help reduce anxiety. It typically takes about 21 minutes for exercise to effectively reduce anxiety. Exercise also helps remedy anxiety through the release of feel-good chemicals. These chemicals help improve focus and the way one deals with stressful situations, therefore reducing the possibility of anxiety and depression.
Try a Sauna or Hot Yoga
Heat reduces muscle tension and anxiety. It’s been suggested that warmth sensations may possibly alter neural circuits that control mood such as those that affect serotonin. Even simply curling up in front of a fire with a cup of tea can calm anxiety and boost your mood. Yoga, though not aerobic, can help counteract the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Physical movement combined with meditation and deep breathing can help calm the mind and body.
According to Teresa M. Edenfield, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Durham, N.C, mindfulness meditation is a particularly effective methods in treating anxiety. Mindfulness meditation forces one to think about the present moment, this, in turn, blocks out all anxiety and feelings of negativity. Teresa adds, “The act of practicing mindful awareness allows one to experience the true essence of each moment as it really occurs, rather than what is expected or feared,” she says. Begin with breathing exercises. Close your eyes, breath in. Feel as the air fills your lungs, what is the temperature of the air as it travels inward? How does it feel as it exits your body? Breathing exercises have been shown to be effective in lowering stress and anxiety. Breathing exercises can be practiced anytime, anywhere, and as often as needed.
Forest bathing, which is a short leisurely walk through a forested area, is one of the best ways to naturally remedy anxiety and depression. Also known as Shinrin Yoku in Japanese, it has been proven to positively create calming neuro-psychologival effects via changes in the nervous system. People who walked through a forest for 20 minutes experienced lower stress hormone levels after their walk than those who took a similar walk in an urban area, according to one study in Japan. Shinrin Yoku also naturally increases your vitamin-D levels, which can minimize symptoms of depression and anxiety, and increases you immune system functions. On a psychological level, a short walk through the forest creates a calming sensation which helps the mind let go of stress. A forest isn’t necessary for this activity, any green outdoor area, such as a park or a tree-lined street will suffice.
Soothe your GI tract
It may surprise some to learn that gastrointestinal issues can cause anxiety and depression. The stomach has it’s own nervous system. Feeling worried or anxious can directly affect the way we digest. Millions of receptors located inside the gastrointestinal tract respond to worry by increasing or decreasing the rate at which one digests, this can lead to nausea, heartburn, and diarrhea.
Chamomile tea (drink or supplement)
According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania Medial Center, patients experiencing generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), showed a significant decrease in symptoms after taking chamomile supplements. Chamomile contains compounds that bind to the same brain receptors as Valium- a pharmaceutical used to treat anxiety disorders. Drinking chamomile tea or taking chamomile as a supplement are both great, natural ways to obtain it’s anxiety-reducing benefits. Green tea has similar effects.
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