Anyone who keeps up with the latest health related trends would be noticing that anxiety as well as stress and all of it’s related illnesses is constantly on the rise. A recent survey by a medical tracking firm indicated that there were over 22% percent of respondents who actually had minor symptoms of depression. They also reported that over 11% percent of the general population will suffer some type of anxiety attack or disorder sometime in their lives, while over 80% percent will visit their doctors for stress related issues.
So that being said, how can we as an aging population protect ourselves from these constant anxiety and stress issues? The best natural cure and protection is through a sensible well balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, being socially active and taking the right supplements to feed and balance our bodies.
Although these are typical common sense solutions that almost everyone knows they should be doing, when we are under stressful conditions, these steps are usually the first to go, based on a lack of time or energy.
Maintaining A Stress Free Diet
Eating as well as managing a regular healthy balanced diet is a crucial step towards effectively insulating our bodies and mind from poor blood sugar fluctuations. Not doing so can obviously drive our stress and anxiety levels even worse. So it’s vitally important to consume the daily recommended amounts of proteins at every meal. Proteins such as such as fish, soy and nuts, eggs, white meats, or supplementing with a good protein based drink.
Make sure that you include lots of fruits and fresh vegetables in your diet as well. During periods when you are experiencing higher levels of stress, it becomes awfully tempting to increase the consumption of sweets, caffeinated drinks or alcohol. All of these will make the stress related situation even worse and not better.
So to substitute sweets such as a chocolate bar or cookies, replace them with fresh or even dried fruits to satisfy that sweet tooth craving. As for caffeine such as coffee or tea, try substituting green tea instead. Although green tea may also contain traces of caffeine, it also contains an amino acid known as l-theanine, which has proven to lower anxiety levels as well as increasing alpha brain wave activity, helping you to relax. So if you are a regular coffee drinker, try to cut down and try replacing it with green tea instead. Excess coffee consumption can elevate anxiety as well as stress levels much higher.
Drinking green tea can be beneficial as it also contains antioxidants which has been proven to prevent and possibly treat cancer. Green tea will also assist in detoxifying your body, helping you to lose weight. It is now considered a real superfood since it contains a lot of the constituents which are beneficial to good mental as well as physical health.
Exercising Helps To Reduce Stress
Physical exercise, whether jogging, walking, cycling or aerobics at the gym is one of the best recommended methods to reducing anxiety, stress and depression. What exercising does is it will assist in burning stress hormones that will usually build up when you experience periods of high anxiety. As working out is also an excellent cure for depression, there are a lot of studies that prove consistent exercising actually works better than psychotherapy or anti-depressant drugs.
The problem however is that most people who are depressed are either too unmotivated or tired to even get up and go for a walk outside. But if you’re able to somehow force yourself or have a friend motivate you, and are able to work out a bit, it is the best thing that you can do for yourself.
There are also some other forms of exercising that will be especially useful against stress like symptoms, such as tai-chi, yoga, chi-kung and other types of martial arts. Although meditation really isn’t considered an exercise, what it does involve is deep breathing leading to relaxation, which is also excellent for alleviating and preventing stress and anxiety symptoms. When you have a few minutes, taking a few deep soothing breaths during the middle of your next stressful day will work wonders in relaxing your system before it gets to you.
Good Sleep Relieves Bad Stress
Usually, when you are under stress or feeling anxiety, the first thing that you usually lose is sleep. So it’s an excellent idea to developing good sleeping patterns and habits, especially during those high stress periods.
Better sleeping techniques includes not watching TV, using the computer, or any other device for that matter, an hour or so before you usually go to sleep. Always go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time as well. Make sure that you keep the bedroom cool as well as dark during the night.
There are a few excellent natural sleep aids that are available, but keep in mind that they can react differently depending on the individual. Some of the most popular of these natural sleep supplements includes l-theanine in a chewable tablet form, as well as melatonin and 5-HTP. Since it is chewable, it will absorb quicker and as a result takes effect a lot sooner. If you are someone who happens to wake up a few times during the night, it’s recommended that you take magnesium before going to bed, as well as taking ‘time-released’ melatonin tablets.
Stay Socially Connected
Studies have proven that those who have excellent social support groups usually has fewer episodes of stress or anxiety attacks. This obviously makes sense, as having a good talk with friends or family members can prove to be therapeutic for relieving everyday stresses.
If the stress happens to be severe or prolonged for a while, then therapy or seeking professional counseling may at times be an excellent investment. There are some good techniques on how you can deal with anxiety disorders or attacks such as cognitive behavioral therapy. For moderate cases of having that ‘down’ feeling, psychotherapy at times can be beneficial as well.
Natural Supplements You Can Take For Stress Relief
It’s recommended that when searching for a good multivitamin, that it contains all of the B vitamins as well as any additional minerals such as magnesium, which can be helpful during periods of high stress.
What’s also recommended is taking what’s known as adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng, ashwaganda or rhodiola. These are excellent natural traditional herbs which helps the body to adapt to as well as cope better with the stresses in your life.
They have all been well researched and proven to work to increase your mental and physical energy, making sure that your blood sugar levels are as stable as possible, and stabilizing your levels of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone.
One of the better natural herbs for stress relief is rhodiola. Rhodiola, which originates from Siberia has been previously used to survive harsh climates. Studies has shown that this particular herb assists in helping to balance the neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and serotonin, which often become unbalanced when under stressful conditions or anxiety attacks.
Another natural herb that has been studied to help relieve anxiety, stress and mild depression is St. John’s Wort. This herb has shown that it’s effects is equal to a lot of the SSRI anti-depressants prescribed by doctors, which alleviates mild depression. Although its regarded safer than SSRI anti-depressants, it should be noted that it can at times cause photo sensitization, so if you are particularly sensitive to sunlight, then avoid over exposure.
SSRIs are popular prescription anti-depressants. They work by keeping the serotonin levels in your brain that you already have, but will not increase the overall levels. So what eventually happens is that the serotonin levels will eventually become depleted, resulting in the SSRI to be ineffective.
So a better alternative to replenishing low levels of serotonin is by saturating the body with 5-hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP, which is a natural product helpful in treating sleep disorders and anxiety.
L-theanine, which is helpful for a good nights sleep, is a natural extract which is derived from Green tea. It’s available in higher concentrations in extracted form, which is useful to treat anxiety disorders, even if you have not responded to other natural methods as discussed.
To integrate as well as testing some of these recommendations individually is suggested and as a result should be more effective, rather than just relying on one remedy to treat the stress or anxiety conditions. If these natural suggestions do not help in reducing your situation, then what’s recommended is seeking professional treatment from a certified health professional.
Blog contribution by Christa Lopez – Thank you!