Get a good medical evaluation: Physical problems like overactive thyroid activity, other hormonal imbalances, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, heart valve prolapse, vitamin B12 deficiency, withdrawal of certain drugs, and other problems could be the source of anxiety and should be ruled out by a competent physician and appropriate testing.
View only the positive, the true, and the noble on television or internet. Much of what is shown on TV stimulates the adrenal glands to release stress hormones that aggravate and perpetuate anxiety. We deliberately choose to lower our threshold to anxiety by watching violent programs or movies, causing us to live the action vicariously.
Limit exposure to media. Overall and night-time specific social media use along with emotional investment were related to poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem, as well as higher anxiety and depression levels in teenagers.1 Using multiple forms of media at the same time — such as playing a computer game while watching TV — is linked to symptoms of anxiety and depression.2
Eliminate caffeine. Caffeine magnifies the effects of adrenal stress hormones and messes up an important brain chemical, GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid). This chemical helps us to focus and remain calm during stress. Caffeine can be a contributing factor in post-traumatic stress syndrome. It lowers the threshold to anger and decreases the level of contentment. Caffeine is bad news indeed for anxiety control.3
Physical exercise helps. Twenty minutes of continuous walking (done daily for 10 weeks) improves anxiety.4 Physical exercise is linked to good health. Physical fitness can buffer against the harmful effects of mental stress. In the elderly, exercise improves the quality of sleep, and the perception of personal control and self-efficacy. It helps control an inherited tendency to anxiety and also increases contentment. Regular, moderate exercise also helps to reduce pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body which are commonly elevated in anxiety. Additionally, some studies suggest that exercise may play an important role in helping people to endure life’s daily anxieties and stressors better. Regular exercise helps to buffer the effects of emotional exposure. If you exercise, you’ll not only reduce your anxiety, but you’ll be better able to maintain that reduced anxiety when confronted with emotional events.5
In contrast, low-energy activities that involve sitting down are associated with an increased risk of anxiety, according to new research. These activities, which include watching TV, working at a computer, or playing electronic games, are called sedentary behavior.6
Enjoy an anti-inflammatory diet. Since anxiety fuels inflammation (and inflammation fuels chronic conditions), adopt an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet which includes leafy green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and omega-3 fats. Avoid liberal use of refined oils and sugar as this fuels inflammation. Plant foods are rich in fiber. Fiber helps to populate the stomach and gut with friendly bacteria. Mounting evidence links unfriendly bacteria to mental disorders, including anxiety.7 Omerga-3 fats reduce anxiety and inflammation in healthy students.8 Chia seeds, flaxseed, organic soybeans, and walnuts are good vegetarian sources of omega-3 fat.
Boost your antioxidant intake. Culinary herbs like turmeric, ginger, rosemary, thyme, and oregano can help to do that. Consider a modest plant-based vitamin supplement. Why? Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder can have low levels of antioxidants in the blood.9 Low levels of antioxidants might help to contribute to anxiety in some cases.10 It would be a good idea to have your vitamin B-12 and vitamin D levels checked too.
Don’t microwave plastic and limit drinking from plastic containers. Researchers at North Carolina State University show that exposure to the chemical bisphenol early in life results in high levels of anxiety by causing significant gene expression changes in a specific region of the brain called the amygdala. The researchers also found that a soy-rich diet can mitigate this effect.11
Avoid alcohol. After chronic alcohol exposure, mice are unable to control a learned fear response, shedding light on the link between alcoholism and anxiety problems like post-traumatic stress disorder. In other words, persistent drinking rewires the brain and lowers the threshold for anxiety.12
Enjoy a neutral tub bath. This hydrotherapy treatment relaxes the body while sedating the nervous system. Be sure the room is warm. The water temperature should be maintained between 94-97 degrees F. The bath should last between 15 minutes to an hour. Place an air pillow under the head for comfort if needed, and cover any exposed area with a light towel.
Conclusion: Our next newsletter will cover the mental strategies for overcoming anxiety.
Author: Elizabeth J. Hall
Copyrighted 2017 by Wildwood College of Health Evangelism. Publication, translation, or duplication in any form is prohibited. To share with a friend, click on the share button below.
- British Psychological Society. “Pressure to be available 24/7 on social media causes teen anxiety, depression: The need to be constantly available, respond 24/7 on social media accounts can cause depression, anxiety.” ScienceDaily. 11 September 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150911094917.htm
- Michigan State University. “Multiple media use tied to depression, anxiety.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121204145557.htm>.
- Spiller, G., Caffeine. CRC Press, New York, 1998, pp. 264-272.
- Nieman, D., The Exercise-Health Connection. Appalachian State University, 1998, pp. 249-262.
- University of Maryland. “Exercise may protect against future emotional stress, study shows.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120913123629.htm>.
- Megan Teychenne, Sarah A Costigan, Kate Parker. The association between sedentary behaviour and risk of anxiety: a systematic review. BMC Public Health, 2015; 15 (1) DOI: 1186/s12889-015-1843-x.
- Office of Naval Research. “Gut feeling: Research examines link between stomach bacteria, PTSD.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160425161324.htm>.
- Ohio State University. “Omega-3 reduces anxiety and inflammation in healthy students, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110713121313.htm>.
- Medhavi Gautam. Role of antioxidants in generalised anxiety disorder and depression. Indian J Psychiatry. 2012 Jul-Sep; 54(3): 244–247.
- Krolow R, Oxidative Imbalance and Anxiety Disorders. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2014 Mar; 12(2): 193–204.
- North Carolina State University. “Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) early in life results in high levels of anxiety; Soy mitigates effects, study shows.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120907131638.htm>.
- University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “Heavy drinking rewires brain, increasing susceptibility to anxiety problems.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120902143143.htm>.