2020 has been a doozy for humanity. As COVID-19 swept over the world, countless people have lost loved ones, financial security, and their sense of peace and safety. Outside of the pandemic and the recession, other headlines have caused worry and anxiety for many people—an increasing social and political tension, climate change effects, and painful celebrity deaths have taken over our social media feeds and Google alerts.
It’s no wonder there has been a spike in anxiety and other mental health problems among adults in America. Therapists and counselors’ caseloads are bulging, and COVID-19 is no longer the only public health crisis we have to contend with.
When it comes to combating anxiety, many of us are already well-versed in the basics: A proper diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, talking about, and doing some deep-breathing exercises are the basic advice given, and rightly so. They still work, and people who struggle with anxiety would do well to practice these things daily to keep anxiety at bay.
But here are some other remedies you can try to reduce the overwhelming stream of anxious thoughts:
Go for an annual physical.
One of the things that exacerbate anxiety is being out of the loop and always feeling uncertain about many things about your health. The way to counter this is by going for an annual physical to get a sense of awareness about how your body is doing. Not all diseases present symptoms. If you want to be healthy for a long time, your doctor needs to know what irregularities there might be in your body so that it won’t evolve into a more serious condition later. Some diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis need treatment and diagnosis immediately so that healthcare providers can provide management programs to improve the disease’s symptoms.
Pray or meditate.
One piece of advice that often gets lost in conversations about anxiety is the role of spirituality. Researchers found that people who constantly pray to a protective and loving God are less likely to experience anxiety-related disorders like self-consciousness, fear, worry, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive behavior.
A growing amount of research confirms that prayer and medication can help regulate one’s emotions. Another study found that meditating regularly can help thicken parts of our brain’s cortex, helping guard against depression. Simply put, whatever your religion or spirituality is, being expectant that a higher power will come through for you will help greatly in reducing your anxiety.
Eliminate foods and drinks that trigger anxiety.
The common advice for people struggling with mental disorders like depression and anxiety is to eat healthily in general. Still, experts say there is also a specific nutritional plan that can help combat anxiety and that there is a great benefit to intentionally avoiding foods and drinks that are natural stimulants. Here are some foods and drinks you need to avoid to help prevent or reduce anxious episodes and anxiety attacks:
- Any sugary like fruit juices and caffeinated drinks like coffee, soda, and tea. Sugar and caffeine are natural stimulants, and when you opt for these drinks, you’re basically drinking sugary liquid.
- Foods are made with highly processed white flour like white bread.
- Dressings with labels that say “high-fructose corn syrup.” These dressings usually get their sweetness from an artificial sweetener called aspartame, which is linked to anxiety and depression.
- Alcoholic drinks can shift the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which can then aggravate one’s anxiety.
- Energy drinks can induce strange heart rhythms and sleep issues.
Remove the clutter in your home.
In 2011, a group of neuroscience researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging and other physiological measurements to see how respondents react to clutter being cleared in their work environment. They found that the respondents were better able to process information and focus on the tasks at hand. There was also an increase in productivity. Another study found that mothers who were surrounded by clutter had higher stress hormone cortisol levels in their system.
A lot of studies support the position that clutter can increase one’s level of stress and anxiety. So if you want to reduce your anxiety, start by clearing your home. Don’t hesitate to throw away worn-out items, refurbish what you can, and donate or sell those still usable. A thorough clean-up will do wonders for your mental health.
The Bottom Line
No remedy can replace going to a professional. If you find that nothing works, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Speak to your healthcare provider to help you find a therapist or counselor.