Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders in the country. Stress is a part of everyday life, but prolonged exposure to stress or constant worry is another matter and is more dangerous to your overall well-being.
Thankfully, there are several things you can do to relieve anxiety from lifestyle changes to consumption of natural probiotics.
Your Relationship With Anxiety
Your body is naturally designed to handle stress to a certain point. The stress response in your body prepares you for fight or flight. This occurs whether the threat is real or perceived.
The physical changes your body goes through during this response is beneficial in the short term. Long term, these changes can be dangerous, and this is what happens with the ongoing perceived dangers associated with anxiety.
The stress response is an evolutionary mechanism designed to protect us from danger. However, when it runs on full speed all the time, it becomes a danger. The increased hormones release, altered breathing and heart rate, and changes to your digestive system can really damage your mental and physical health.
When your body constantly thinks there is a threat looming, these physical changes begin to cause internal damage. A large proportion of individuals suffering from anxiety also experience gastrointestinal problems. The nerves that control the digestive system are hypersensitive, leading to gas, bloating, cramps, irregular bowel movements, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In addition to digestive troubles, many anxiety patients develop respiratory problems too. A panic attack leads to hyperventilating, which disrupts airflow in your lungs. Fast-moving air does not stay in the lungs as long as it should, meaning your body does not get the oxygen it needs. Fainting is not uncommon during panic attacks, and, over long periods of time, you run the risk of chronic respiratory disease.
Cortisol, often called “the stress hormone,” causes your blood pressure and heart rate to increase This is great when you need the extra energy in fight-or-flight mode. When there is no real threat, however, this continually elevated heart rate places great strain on your blood vessels and can lead to a heart attack, hardened arteries, and even a stroke.
What You Can Do?
Anxiety may be a common mental health disorder, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it take over your life and health. There are a number of things you can do to control the symptoms of anxiety and reduce it altogether.
You can employ several lifestyle changes to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and to lower your overall response to stress around you. You can also learn to calm your brain and control anxious thoughts to improve your mental health. Dietary changes such as adding probiotics can also help to control anxiety and protect your health.
The practice of meditation or mindfulness allows you to train your brain to focus on the present. This means that future or past worries are removed from your brain’s daily itinerary. By removing worries, your brain can avoid repetitive negative thought cycles, and your body and mind remain calm.
The idea is to find a quiet time of day to be alone and re-focus your thoughts. It is common to notice your thoughts stray in the beginning, but with practice you will become more focused. Reciting a mantra is a good trick for keeping your brain focused. Better still, incorporate nature into your meditation through the ancient Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku or “Forest Bathing.”
Science has shown that meditation and mindfulness can cause physical changes to your brain, allowing it to handle stress and anxiety better. A single session of mindfulness has been shown in studies to make improvements to your brain. With time and dedicated practice, your brain can better withstand the temptation of anxious thinking.
Regular exercise is good for your physical health and mental health. Your brain associates the accelerated heart rate and breathing with exercise and not anxiety. The next panic attack that comes around is quickly written off as not being a threat.
Exercise has long been associated with improved mental health so should be incorporated daily into your routine. Even if you only have time to take the stairs instead of the elevator, every little bit can help.
You can take probiotic supplements or incorporate some of the best probiotic foods to your diet. The link between gastrointestinal problems and anxiety is noted, so by taking care of your gut with probiotic support, anxiety can be controlled and reduced.
The best probiotic foods are ones you have likely never heard of but should be on your shopping list if you are prone to panic attacks.
- Kimchi, a spiced, fermented cabbage popular in many Asian cuisines
- Kvass, a probiotic beverage similar to the more popular kombucha
- Lahpet is pickled tea leaves that are commonly served for breakfast
Insomnia and anxiety go hand in hand, so making sure you get the sleep you need will help prevent anxiety. Develop a bedtime routine to ease you into sleep such as removing all electronics, taking a hot bath, reading, and avoiding late night snacks. Proper sleep hygiene is essential to everyone, stressed out or not.
Deep breathing is related to meditation, and they are often practiced together. The rapid breathing of a panic attack can be controlled by focusing on your breathing and slowing it down. By practicing deliberate and slow breathing exercises, you can correct shallow breathing, and restore healthy respiratory flow in your body.
Anxiety is common, perhaps even inevitable, but does not have to ruin your life. Incorporate exercise, meditation, and probiotics into your life and feel the stress melt away.
Medications are one way to go when it comes to treating anxiety, but why run the risk of potentially unpleasant side effects when you can try more natural alternative methods instead? Promote brain health and calm your anxiety with probiotics and relaxation techniques.