Today, the fast pace of life has created a constant in people’s emotional health: anxiety. Anxiety is the product of current demands at work, family, school, and life in general. Worst of all is that when you consult a doctor, they will immediately prescribe anxiolytics or antidepressants to “correct” the problem. This could be causing a lot of damage and you are still suffering from anxiety. Managing anxiety without drugs is the best option you can give to your mental and physical health.
6 ways to manage anxiety without medication.
Anxiety is not a Xanax deficiency disease. The mind and body are involved in anxiety; however, anxiety is, first and foremost, a physiological disorder; that is, it is a disorder of the body, not just the mind. The good news is that changing the physiology of our body is relatively easy to do.
There is so much we can do with diet and lifestyle to control anxiety, and much of it is safer and more effective than medication.
1. Keep blood glucose stable.
- “It is not disrespectful to the complexity of existence to point out that anxiety is often low blood sugar and exhaustion.”
- Today’s diet promotes a blood sugar roller coaster, and every time we are on the downward journey, we may feel anxious.
- When our blood sugar levels crash, our body responds with a stress response. We secrete stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, which tell our liver to produce more sugar in the blood to keep us alive. The good news: We stayed alive. The bad news: This hormonal stress response feels identical to anxiety.
- By stabilizing your blood sugar, you can avoid this stress response and manage anxiety by lowering it.
This is how you keep your blood sugar stable:
- Eat more protein and healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, coconut oil, grass-raised butter).
- Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks daily; don’t skip meals.
- Take a tablespoon of coconut oil upon waking, in the evening and before going to bed; This will serve as a blood sugar safety net throughout the day.
- Always have a snack on hand (e.g., nuts, hard-boiled eggs, dark chocolate, wild salmon, almond butter).
2. Do a caffeine-free test.
- The relationship between caffeine and anxiety should not be underestimated.
- Think of it like this: When we’re on caffeine, our nervous system is ready to fight. Throw in a stressor, and you’ll have an anxiety response all the way up.
- If you suffer from anxiety, you should stay off caffeine.
- By gradually reducing your intake (coffee ->half-caf (half caffeine half decaffeinated) -> black tea -> green tea -> herbal tea) over the course of a week or two, you can avoid withdrawal symptoms. After a few weeks, you may be surprised to see that your anxiety has decreased, your sleep has improved, your energy has stabilized, and you even tolerate stress better.
- If you’ve had a successful caffeine trial, but want to get back to having that morning ritual, consider making green tea.
Having good quality sleep is your best protection for managing anxiety. There is a 2-way street between anxiety and sleep, anxiety causes insomnia, and lack of sleep makes us vulnerable to anxiety.
The best way to approach this is to prepare ourselves for better sleep. Conveniently, the way to do these overlaps with a general approach to anxiety. Here’s how:
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine. Even if you don’t have trouble falling asleep, caffeine lowers the quality of your sleep.
- Keep your blood sugar stable.
- Sugar in the blood interrupts sleep, causing you to wake up at night.
4. Heal the gut.
There are recent studies on the relationship between intestinal flora and mood. The bacteria in our digestive tract have a profound impact on how we feel and play an integral role in anxiety disorders.
Here’s how to promote healthy gut flora and heal the gut:
Avoid what irritates the intestine: Food: gluten, sugar, industrial vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, alcohol. Some medications: antacids, antibiotics, oral contraceptives (only make changes under the close supervision of your doctor).
Add what soothes the gut: Fermented foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, miso paste, apple cider vinegar, kombucha, kefir (if you tolerate dairy products).
Tubers rich in starch: Sweet potatoes, banana, taro, yucca. Bone broth Supplements: Take a probiotic. Consider supplements with glutamine and collagen.
Create the conditions to heal the intestine: Using the squatty potty (stool to defecate correctly) to go to the bathroom can change life. Sleep enough. Manage stress with yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, acupuncture, being in nature or whatever exercises you can do without problems.
Treat intestinal infections. If you suspect you may have a chronic infection in your gut, get an evaluation with an integrative or functional medicine professional.
Exercise is the best medicine for managing anxiety. If you struggle to exercise regularly, forget about boot camps and triathlons.
Get in the habit of mini workouts. Get small amounts of exercise in your living room or take a short walk outside. Sustaining it is the key. In general, stand more, sit less, walk whenever possible.
Yoga and Tai Chi are particularly beneficial for anxiety, but the most important thing is to find something that you like.
Magnesium is the Xanax of mother nature. Many of us are magnesium deficient as our food is grown in magnesium depleted soils.
It can be supplemented with magnesium in a few different ways: Take an Epsom salt bath. Take a chelated magnesium supplement (for example, magnesium glycinate). Try a magnesium topical gel.
Anxiety has a significant impact on quality of life. Keeping your blood sugar stable, cutting back on caffeine, getting enough sleep, healing your gut, getting some exercise, and filling your body with magnesium are safety tactics that go a long way toward reducing anxiety.
If managing anxiety after making these lifestyle recommendations isn’t working for you, a consultation with a qualified mental health professional is recommended.
7. Hug, dance, laugh!
Did you know that hugging increases oxytocin and decreases the activation of the fear center in the brain? If you know someone you trust who likes hugs, go and hug them. Make sure you choose someone who is not averse to touching or hugging, or else you will just worsen the way you feel.
There are so many ways that we can manufacture chemicals in our body that are so beneficial to change our mood, not only hugging, but also dancing, and spending time with someone who is always in a good mood and generating jokes that make you laugh.
Look for those environments, look for those types of people, you will see that the results are surprising.