Stress, anxiety, feelings of depression: they can all creep into our lives at some time or another. It could be the demands of work that stress you out, missing time spent with your family that generates sadness, or perhaps a period of great change that creates fear. Fortunately, these emotions are quite normal as long as they don’t negatively impact your day-to-day functioning. The important thing to know is there are effective, natural ways to prevent anxiety and stress from becoming controlling factors in your life. The ability to naturally improve and maintain your mental health and well-being is often easier than you think. Try following these five suggestions for alleviating anxiety and boosting your mood.
Strategic Food Choices
You can adjust your mood by eating wisely. Try a few of these low sugar foods that contain healthy fats known to stimulate your mood, improve sleeping patterns, and boost your overall health:
- Foods high in Omega-3s such as tuna, salmon, anchovies and herring
- Nuts like cashews, almonds, peanuts and walnuts
- Fiber-rich choices like flaxseed, beans, and fresh fruit
Try to avoid temptations like alcohol, caffeine, fast food, refined or processed grains and sugar-filled snacks. They often make us feel better in the moment, but they can also contribute to poor sleeping patterns, heightened levels of anxiety, depression, addiction and unwanted weight gain. And that’s not to mention the potential for long-lasting negative effects on your health.
However, it’s very important not to get into a mindset of restricting your food or cravings. Focus more on getting enough of the healthy foods and allow yourself to indulge on other foods in moderation. Just make sure you pay attention to how you feel when you eat different types of foods so that you can use that knowledge to your advantage if you’re just not feeling quite right.
Get Moving & Exercise
Exercise is not only great for your body, but it is also incredibly important for your mental health and attitude. Studies have shown that physical exertion raises the natural mood enhancing chemical dopamine in our bodies. It also has the added benefit of potentially warding off anxiety and panic attacks. Plus, getting your body used to the increased respiration, perspiration and heart rate that come with physical exertion can help improve your resilience and response to feelings of panic. Exercise has also been shown to regulate sugar levels, which keeps you away from the nasty blood sugar highs and lows that can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.
Dedicate Yourself To Getting Sleep
Poor sleeping habits and interrupted sleep patterns have been linked to elevated blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and have even been associated with diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Lack of sleep can leave you drained, irritable, sluggish and can cause trouble with concentration and focus. Dedicate yourself to getting good sound sleep for seven to nine hours a night. Create a calming night time routine that helps you leave the day behind and avoid stimulation like video games, action movies, world news, and politics before going bed—and turn off that cell phone.
Meditation & Relaxation Techniques
There are a number of relaxation techniques that can lower your stress level, with meditation being one of the most common and best researched. Meditation can actually lower your production of cortisol – one of your body’s primary stress hormones, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety, stress, fatigue, trouble sleeping, depression and weight gain, among other problems. Meditation can even increases the feel-good chemical serotonin and other endorphins in your body while helping you gain control over your thoughts. If you have trouble sitting still for meditation try walking or running meditation, tai chi, yoga or qigong for the same benefits. Sitting still is not a requirement and neither is emptying your mind.
Listen To Your Favorite Music
Listening to wisely selected tunes has been proven to lower stress levels and boost a person’s mood. In some studies, music has been shown to raise dopamine levels while lowering cortisone levels. It also helps quiet the “monkey mind” that’s responsible for the persistent stress-chatter and distorted thoughts related to anxiety and depression. Sing along, dance around or listen in silence. Any way you do it, listening to music helps bring us into the moment and away from overactive thoughts.
Schedule an Appointment
Is anxiety still keeping you from living life to your full potential? Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with an anxiety specialist through our secure Client Portal. We can discuss your specific situation and whether anxiety treatment might benefit you.