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Ditch the Pills: Ways to Incorporate
Healthier Alternatives for Anxiety
Nearly 7 million adults in the U.S. (3.1 percent of the population) are affected by Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), but only about 43 percent of these people are in treatment. Could it be because anxiety is a major part of our society? Or is it because they’re looking to avoid prescription medications?
If you’re struggling with anxiety and are looking for healthier ways to handle it, there’s some good news.
There are ways to incorporate healthier alternatives for anxiety into your life. And the healthier you are, the easier you should find it to handle stress and anxiety.
In this post, we’ll cover ways to ditch the pills and handle anxiety in a healthier way.
We know we need to eat in order to keep from starving, but in reality, many people are starving for nutrients. And many of these nutrients play a role in helping the body handle the stress response.
Some of these nutrients include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Researchers found that omega-3 fatty acids could reduce inflammation and anxiety in a study of healthy young people. Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of a healthy diet. If you want to get more of this important nutrient, add the following foods to your diet:
- Fish, specifically mackerel, salmon and sea bass
- Seaweed and algae
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Kidney beans
Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can help the body handle stress by reducing inflammation. You can get your fill of vitamin E from food sources like nuts, seeds and leafy greens.
B vitamins – B vitamins are natural mood enhancers. In fact, a 2014 Australian study found that those who consumed higher levels of B vitamins showed a 20 percent reduction in work-related stress compared to their peers. Interestingly, the same study found that vitamin B6 can also be depleted by chronic stress.
- Magnesium – Magnesium is often dubbed the “original chill pill” because of its intense effects on overall mood and anxiety. This mineral helps relax the nervous system and helps calm restlessness. You can get magnesium in your diet from leafy greens like spinach, or in foods like tofu, almonds and bananas.
If you’re having trouble handling stress and often feeling anxious, a balanced diet may help. However, when you’re feeling anxiety, it may be especially difficult to follow through on the need to eat healthy. You probably already know that when you’re feeling stressed, your eating habits suffer. You may not eat enough or eat too much of the wrong foods, comfort foods.
But during this time, the right foods can actually help you handle the anxiety, so you may not need the pills.
If you’re having trouble eating balanced meals throughout the day, try to at least consume one green smoothie or green juice daily. This way, you can get the nutrients your body needs from a food source that contains various vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
And if that’s not possible, commit to taking a daily multivitamin. The body will always absorb vitamins from foods more easily, but taking a multivitamin and/or magnesium supplement is better than forgoing the nutrients altogether.
And then, when you’re feeling better, you may find it easier to fit healthy, balanced meals into your routine.
Doesn’t it seem like exercise can cure anything?
There are so many studies out there that tout the emotional, mental and physical benefits of getting regular exercise. And it should come as no surprise that daily movement could also help address your issues with anxiety.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, just one vigorous workout can relieve your symptoms of anxiety for hours.
Much like exercise, getting regular massages can help a wide array of ailments. It has even been found that a regular massage for addiction relief may be effective.
But it doesn’t take a study to tell you that massage relieves muscle tension. You feel it when you get a massage, and it also makes logical sense.
Herbal remedies often come with fewer side effects than prescription pills, so they’re a safer choice for most people.
Just be sure to talk to your doctor or a professional herbalist if you have another health condition or are taking other herbs or medications. They don’t always mix well.
For anxiety, consider adaptogens like Rhodiola rosea. These herbs can help your body adapt to stress, which in turn reduces symptoms of anxiety. This herb specifically may have stimulant-like effects, so take it with caution and avoid taking it before bed. Ashwaganda is another adaptogen that could have anti-anxiety effects.
Chamomile is another herb that’s effective against anxiety, and it can also promote a restful sleep. So, if you’re looking for something to take before bed, this is it.
When you’re sleeping well, you’ll find it much easier to handle stressors.
And the reverse is also true. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, you’ll become hyper-sensitive to anxiety. The brain regions that help us handle stress are also very sensitive to sleep deprivation.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, here are a few tips to help.
Avoid a nightcap – Alcohol before bedtime can actually rob you of more restful stages of sleep, so it’s best to avoid alcohol.
Consider chamomile – Not only can chamomile reduce stress on its own, but it can also help you get to sleep, which will attack your anxiety from another angle.
Consider a new mattress – If you’re having trouble sleeping, your mattress may be at fault. If your mattress is over 8-years-old, consider a newer, more comfortable one.
Turn off technology – Put your smartphone away and turn off the television about an hour before bed.
Set an earlier bedtime – If you aren’t allowing enough time for sleep, set an earlier bedtime to get more rest each night.
Stress can really take a toll on your emotional health and wellbeing, so try making these lifestyle changes to get yourself back on track.
About the Author
Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who's been clean and sober for over 6 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge.
In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.