– by Dr. Steve Rosman
A tight feeling in your chest, the fluttering sensation of “butterflies” in your stomach, weakness in your knees, dizziness, and trouble breathing are all signs of anxiety, and unfortunately many people experience it. Anxiety may manifest itself in times of high pressure and stress, but for some, the symptoms may begin to show themselves for seemingly no reason at all. Here are seven secrets to overcoming anxiety in the moment and preventing it long term.
If you begin to feel anxiety symptoms or the onset of a full-blown anxiety attack, it is possible to regain your calm center through breathing exercises. The most effective styles of breathing exercises involve slow, deep breathing that increases the flow of oxygen through your body. The simplest breathing exercises involve involve deeply for several seconds and then exhaling for the same amount of time, repeatedly for anywhere from two to ten minutes, as needed. Doing this will help loosen up sensations of tightness in your chest and encourage feelings of calm.
While getting physical may not always be helpful in the moment of anxiety onset, it can help minimize feelings of anxiety long term. Exercise that elevates your heart rate and lasts at minimum 21 minutes per day is shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety over time, and a single vigorous workout can keep symptoms at bay for hours. The best exercises for dealing with anxiety are those that include stretching, deep breathing, and cardio, like yoga or hiking.
Nutritionally-Dense Whole Food Diet
Recent studies have shown that digestive health and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. If you suffer from anxiety symptoms, it’s important to remove processed foods, especially those containing sugar, from your diet and consume a nutritionally-dense whole food diet. This means consuming a balanced amount of macronutrients, focusing on “eating a rainbow” of produce every day, as well as consuming healthy sources of protein and fats. Our bodies perform best with the proper nutrition, and some symptoms of anxiety are actually symptoms of nutrient deficiencies or sugar overload.
When selecting your nutritional foods, be sure to also include important omega-3s in your diet. These can be consumed through supplements or through your dietary choices. Omega-3s are best derived from healthy food choices like fresh salmon, cod liver oil, and seeds like chia and flaxseeds. Omega-3s also have a number of other health benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, stabilizing blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation and joint pain, and more.
Undiagnosed nutritional deficiencies can lead to a number of health problems, including anxiety symptoms. Having a complete blood panel done to identify nutritional deficiencies can help you ensure that you’re including the right foods in your diet and supplementing where necessary. Common deficiencies that can lead to signs of anxiety include magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin D, and more.
A healthy mindset comes from a healthy body, and adequate sleep is one of the main proponents of good overall health. Sleep does more than recharge your physical body, it also gives your body time to heal from injuries, refill depleted stores, and rebuild muscle after workouts. Sleep is a necessary part of our day-to-day physical cycle and getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night is not just a suggestion, it’s a necessity. In order to ensure that you get the proper rest each day, you should give yourself a 8-10 hour window each night for a good night’s rest and begin winding down an hour or so before your bedtime. This includes putting aside screens like phones and laptops, meditating, beginning your fast, and even taking a warm, relaxing bath with epsom salts and essential oils, like lavender.
Developing a meditation practice can be key to calming your mind and body on a long term basis. Mindfulness meditation does more than calm you in the moment, it can also rewire your thinking patterns and help you process stress in a more responsible way. Encouraging yourself to live in the moment rather than allowing worrisome thoughts to flood in during times of stress can help you develop a new way of thinking. In fact, mindfulness meditation has been shown to alter the structure and function of your brain to promote peacefulness.
It’s important to remember that your body doesn’t want to feel anxious and if it is cared for properly, it will reward you with positive feelings. Taking care of your anxiety in the moment with breathing exercises, physical activity, and meditation can help reduce symptoms when anxiety appears, and following a healthy dietary regimen and sleeping schedule can encourage your body to be anxiety-free for life.