These days, there is a pill to cure almost anything – from headaches to weight loss, to stress and sleep deprivation, to the plethora of vitamins available as a supplement to real food. It is easy to submit to these quick fixes, however it has always been my belief that ‘natural is best’.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, approximately a quarter of the population will experience some kind of mental health issue in the course of a year, with anxiety and depression the most prevalent mental disorder in Britain and in the U.S.A.
If you are someone that suffers from anxiety or is easily stressed, here are a few easy, natural ways to help combat the associated symptoms of anxiety, which can vary from interrupted sleep, to shortness of breath, sweating, heart palpitations and general feelings of unease.
1. Control your breathing
If you are feeling anxious or stressed, take a few minutes to focus and control your breathing. Often in a state of anxiety, we tend to take short, sharp breaths, which limits the amount of oxygen going to the brain. Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, and count for 5 seconds during both inhalation and exhalation. This will not only help to regulate your breathing, but it will also get your mind to focus on something other than the symptoms of anxiety.
The great thing about this remedy – there’s no such thing as an overdose. These breathing exercises can be used as frequently as you need, so bring on the 02!
2. Stay away from processed foods
Processed foods, in particular simple carbohydrates and sugars, cause a spike in cortisol levels, a stress-induced chemical released by the adrenal gland. While most people have a tendency to turn to comfort food during times of stress, try to avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, chocolate, cakes and soft drinks, as these types of foods will cause an increase in cortisol.
3. Say goodbye to caffeine
Being a coffee lover myself, I can totally understand why your mouth has dropped to the floor upon reading point three. However, there is method to the madness. Caffeine is a stimulant that increases the production of adrenaline, which is usually secreted by the body during a distressing or traumatic event – also known as an “adrenaline rush”. Try opting for decaf coffee, or if you drink multiple cups a day, allow yourself one caffeinated and switch to decaf for the rest. Beware also of hidden caffeine in teas, chocolate and energy drinks.
4. Epsom Salts – nature’s muscle relaxant!
You have just arrived home from a long, stressful day at work and can’t wind down. Its time to draw a hot bath and add some Epsom Salt! Sure its no Lush Bomb, but Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate, which has been scientifically proven to help with anxiety and panic attacks, settle the nervous system and relax the muscles.
So before you rush to the pharmacy, try a little bit of oxygen, a little less sugar and caffeine, and some down time in the bath. Your mind as well as your body will thank you for it.
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