One in four people – over 2 million Australians – experience anxiety each year. This blog post shares a toolkit for dealing with this common mental health issue.

THE PERILS OF ANXIETY

Everyone feels anxious sometimes. Those gripping moments of nervousness in the pit of your stomach, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, feeling like we want to either fight against a situation or flee from it, as it feels just too overwhelming to face.

These anxious moments help to make us aware, ready to act, perform and protect but when it becomes all pervasive and seeps into every corner of your life and starts affecting our overall health and wellbeing it has become a problem that needs attention.
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia and the alarming statistics show that 1 in 4 people will experience anxiety at some stage in life. In a 12-month period, over 2 million Australians experience anxiety.

The following tips can be added to your mental health toolbox along with anything else that you find helpful to manage your anxiety.

I hope it helps! Best in Health, Leah x

Tips for your mental health toolbox

EAT WELL – Food is medicine. There is a link between gut health, inflammation and anxiety and research suggests that the microbiome – the whole community of bacteria in the digestive tract – may have an influence on emotional behavior, pain perception and how we respond to stress. Those who eat more fermented foods (with gut healing probiotics) have shown to have fewer symptoms of social anxiety. Magnesium helps to relax muscle tissue so increase magnesium rich foods in your diet – leafy greens, wholegrains, beans, legumes, vegetables, seaweeds, seeds and nuts. Steer away from caffeine as it reduces magnesium absorption, sugar as it elevates mood and avoid greasy foods which may block Qi circulation;

GET MOVING – Studies show that physical exercise operates as an anti-inflammatory and anti-O&NS (oxygen & nitrogen stress) agent and among other benefits it also releases endorphins and endo-cannabinoids (self-produced chemicals) which may have a positive impact on those with anxiety. New studies also suggest that exercise also helps the microbiome of the gut!

BREATHE – Mind follows breath. Slow your breathing. When your breathing slows down your mind
slows down too. Find a breathing technique that suits you. Meditate. Research by Herbert Benson showed that meditation shuts down the fight or flight – fear response and it stimulates the parasympathetic, or relaxing nervous system of the body and this helps to relieve stress. Guided visualizations and exercises where the breath follows movement such as Tai Chi and yoga are also great ways to support mental wellbeing.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE – Get back in the garden, go for a walk in the bush, spend time with friends and family and schedule holidays away. These activities are stress busters and help improve wellbeing.

TECHNO DETOX – Go device free when possible. Don’t allow technology to take over your life and replace the healthy communication that you have with family and friends. Our health and wellbeing relies on connection and communication with friends, family and the community around us. Using devices before bed can impact on precious sleep so limit its use before your bed time.

FIND A PSYCHOTHERAPIST OR PSYCHOLOGIST – The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry says that Cognitive and behavioural therapy is the most effective intervention for generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder, It’s important to find someone that you can connect with and be supported by to unravel suppressed emotion and learn skills to manage anxiety.

HAVE AN ACUPUNCTURE SESSION – Scientific research suggests that acupuncture may cause a reduction in cortisol levels (raised by chronic stress) and balances serotonin and endorphins to encourage mental health. Treating reflex points in the ear has been shown to have a calming effect on the central nervous system.

SPEAK WITH YOUR HERBALIST – Over the recent decades, the exploration in the area of herbal psychopharmacology has received much attention with literature showing a variety of herbal mechanisms of action used for the treatment of anxiety. Also check with your naturopath if you require mineral or vitamin supplementation which may benefit your symptoms.

SPEAK TO YOUR GP – Your GP will decide if a mental health treatment plan is required and refer you to a psychologist if it is right for you.

GET ONLINE – Search www.beyondblue.org.au for further information, guidance and support.