Every day, I hear of more and more people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, or depression.
The new year can heighten these feelings of panic, as they are a time of re-evaluation and change.
There is a huge lack of understanding of these issues in the medical industry; they seem to prefer to “treat” these conditions with drugs—instead of addressing the root causes of the problems.
I have experienced stress and anxiety in my life, and it was a really debilitating and sad place to be. At the time, luckily, I was able to recognise it and was then able to make some changes to help get me back to my usual, positive self.
So here are some simple tips which helped me—which you can do as well, or you can tell a loved one who may be experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression about them.
What are the root causes?
Most people that I know who suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression share a similar root cause: feeling as though their life is not on track.
Without a goal to work toward, it can be hard to experience a sense of achievement.
And when this is coupled alongside aggravating factors like isolation, poor diet, lack of exercise, or lack of sleep, we can quickly spiral into a depression.
So, how can you help address these root causes?
1. Change your perspective on goals and life.
One of the best things I did to overcome anxiety was changing my mindset. Rather than focusing on what everyone else was doing, where I was on the “ladder,” and striving to achieve my dreams, I tried to focus on the here and now.
Some useful tools and habits:
>> Stop future negative thinking: Often I would foresee all these future scenarios where negative experiences would happen. This often caused me anxiety in the present day, even when everything was okay.
>> Stop past rumination: A lot of stress and anxiety is caused from past actions, rethinking, or ruminating over what has happened in the past. It’s easy to become obsessive and mull over situations, but often, this doesn’t help and instead makes things worse. I try to stop myself immediately by reminding myself that I did the best that I could at the time with the information I had. I need to learn from the experience and move on.
>> Practice gratitude: One of the best ways to help build your esteem is to recognise the things you are grateful for, even if these things are small. Start the day by being thankful for a warm bed, a caring friend, or a nice cup of green tea. You’ll soon start to feel lighter and happier.
2. Spend time with people.
Often stress and anxiety can cause people to isolate themselves. For example, breakups can create a feeling of isolation and a lack of self-worth, but losing touch with people only makes this worse.
Even if it’s just being with friends or family, going to a café for a drink, joining a community group or a sports team, spending time with other people can help you feel less isolated.
Having a network of real people (not just Facebook friends) will help you see that everyone has problems, everyone goes through hard times, and that it’s important to stay positive.
3. Change your diet and exercise.
Many studies show how important a healthy diet and regular exercise is for mental health.
Serotonin is a chemical in our brain which is thought to have a huge impact on mental health; low serotonin levels can result in depression. We can boost our serotonin levels by consuming a healthy diet of leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and good fats like salmon and avocado.
Matcha green tea may help to combat stress, as it contains the amino acid L-Theanine which enters the bloodstream and has been shown to help increase serotonin and dopamine levels.
Exercise also produces feel-good endorphins and promotes the production of serotonin in the brain.
4. Make sure you get enough sleep.
Sleep is so important for overall health. If you are exhausted, then you won’t have the energy to tackle any of the above mentioned causes of anxiety.
One of the reasons for insomnia can be the inability to stop thinking. To take your mind off worrying thoughts, try playing some soft background music like “ocean sounds.” The streaming service Pandora is just $7 a month and has a great channel called “Ocean Waves for Deep Sleep.”
If you’re sensitive to caffeine, it could be a good idea to cut out coffee after 10:00 a.m. If you need the energy boost, have a matcha green tea instead which delivers caffeine in a way that won’t cause you sleepless nights.
When you start to feel low, it’s easy to forget the ways to improve your state of mind before it’s too late. Try to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and spend time with people. And remember, years of conditioning and habitual patterns won’t reverse overnight—but step by step, day by day, hopefully you’ll feel more positive, energetic, and connected.
~TM: 4 Natural Ways to Overcome Anxiety & Stress.
Author: Erin Young
Image: Movie still
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
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