Anxiety is a complex and multifaceted emotional and physiological response to perceived or anticipated threats, which we commonly refer to as stressors. This response is characterized by various cognitive, emotional, behavioural, and physical symptoms.
It’s no doubt that anxiety serves a true purpose as a natural and adaptive reaction to prepare us to deal with challenges that confront us, however, when anxiety becomes chronic or disproportionate to the actual threat, it can lead to anxiety disorders. This can be characterized by excessive and irrational worry and fear, as well as a range of physical and psychological symptoms which can significantly impair an individual's daily functioning and well-being.
While there is no universal treatment for anxiety as each individual will have their own subjective experience with it, there are many ways to address anxiety in a holistic manner through dietary and lifestyle modifications, and further support through nutritional and/or herbal medicine if indicated.
Whilst every person will experience anxiety in their own unique way, there are common physical, psychological and behavioural presentations associated with anxiety including:
Accelerated heart rate/breathing
Excessive and/or obsessive thinking/worrying
Low or fluctuating moods
Digestive disturbances such as altered bowel habits or bloating
Difficulty concentrating, poor memory recall
Low resilience to stressors
Addictive or obsessive tendencies
Disturbed sleep quality
Experiencing anxiety on a regular basis can be debilitating and overwhelming, so making small changes for our mind, body and spirit can help to support how we experience these daily challenges.
10 Ways to Calm Anxiety
Identify your triggers and avoidance behaviours. From here, personify your anxiety by associating a name, image and/or colour to it. This helps to separate yourself from those anxious feelings so you have a greater sense of control over it rather than blaming yourself or identifying with anxiety.
Practicing mindfulness, both relaxation and active forms can be helpful. Examples of relaxation forms of mindfulness are meditation, breathwork or deep breathing exercises. Active forms of mindfulness may include a nature walk, yoga or pilates, ocean swims, singing, dancing, or painting.
Be mindful of how you’re nourishing your physical body. Substances such as caffeine, stimulants, sugars, alcohol, medications, and dehydration can affect people differently and often worsen feelings of anxiety. A holistic approach to anxiety involves addressing the gut-brain connection, and ultimately healing the gut through diet, supplementation and/or herbal support if necessary.
Incorporate foods to heal the gut: pre and probiotics, slippery elm, glutamine, bone broth, collagen, warming foods, aloe vera, and consuming anti-inflammatory foods.
Magnesium glycinate is the wonder mineral for anxiety! To replenish this essential mineral, implement an epsom salt bath into your weekly routine, visit a floatation tank, apply magnesium spray topically, consume magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, tuna, brown rice, almonds, dark chocolate, avocado, bananas or supplement under professional guidance.
Be mindful of your blood sugar balance. Insufficient protein intake, lack of physical movement, skipping meals, intense and/or excessive training can all disrupt your blood sugar balance. Poor glycaemic regulation has been shown to influence mental health by heightening irritability, anxiety and stress. Ensure you’re consuming a source of good quality protein with every meal/snack; move for at least 10 minutes after eating; opt for high fibre foods; maintain adequate hydration and practice stress management techniques.
Engage in body centered practices such as yoga, tai chi, controlled deep breathing exercises, singing/humming/chanting to stimulate the vagus nerve, grounding exercises, barefoot nature walks. These are all effective ways to manage anxiety.
Connect with your local community to create a safe and caring support network and prioritize spending quality time with loved ones, while disconnecting from social media.
Immerse yourself in nature daily. Ground yourself by walking barefoot on the earth.
Connect with yourself through rituals that feel empowering to you.
Anxiety can be a debilitating and isolating experience for many. Applying a holistic approach that addresses all facets - the mind, body and spirit - offer us an abundance of tools that can help us to manage these feelings and improve self-esteem, confidence and quality of life.
If you’re looking for further support with mental health and/or anxiety, please contact Tayla via email firstname.lastname@example.org, Instagram @curanaturopathy or book in for a naturopathic consultation (Australia-wide only).