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How To Manage Anxiety (With No Suggestions Of Medication And Meditation!)

How To Manage Anxiety (With No Suggestions Of Medication And Meditation!)

It’s a shocking statistic that one in four of us will at some point this year suffer a mental health issue, and amongst those, depression and anxiety are the most common disorders.

In a GB survey, 1 in 6 adults had experiences some form of “neurotic health problem” … in the previous week In fact, 1 in 10 of us will develop a specific form of anxiety that will be considered disabling.  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common illness in the USA, affecting 18% of the population – that is 40 million adults! What is shocking about these statistics is the fact that this is such a high percentage of the general population. What’s even more shocking is the number of people that do not speak about it or seek the right help to make it better. Sticking a plaster on it will cover the wound from public view, sure. But it doesn’t heal. And unfortunately these social plasters that we are using to mask our anxiety often come in the form of alcohol, smoking, comfort eating and the like. Unfortunately whilst this creates a good façade, putting on a wonderful show to others that everything is fine, it doesn’t stop the worry and the helpless feeling of anxiety.

What is anxiety???

According to Anxiety UK,

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“anxiety is a normal response to stress or danger and is often called the ‘flight or fight’ response. This process involves adrenalin being quickly pumped through the body enabling it to cope with whatever catastrophe may come its way. The problems arise when this response is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation, or indeed is generated when there is no danger present”.

The feeling of anxiety is a distressing one. There is nothing worse that the feeling of helplessness, panic, worry, confusion and uncertainty. The symptoms of anxiety are physical as well as mental, and include a tight chest, nausea, sweating and insomnia. Whilst everyone is different, and what works for one might not work for another, here are my top ten tips for managing anxiety, so that you can come through the other side stronger than ever.

Management tip 1: Know your triggers

This comes with time but once you learn to recognize your triggers, then you will find managing any anxiety or worries a lot easier. What do I mean by a trigger though? Any kind of behavior that might be erratic or out of character that indicates to you that something is not quite right. This might be eating excessively, over exercising or a particular worrying, reoccurring dream. This will be your subconscious, letting you know to take a step back, analyze what is wrong and prepare yourself to deal with it head on.

Management tip 2: Exercise

For me exercise is the key to a stress free mind and a can-do attitude. I am sure I don’t need to bore you about the endless mental and physical benefits of exercise (if you do want to know, read Health24’s article). Even if you are not the sporty type, you’ll find benefit in engaging in light exercise, such as a gentle bike ride or a walk in the park.

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In a study reported in the book, “The Happiness Advantage” it was confirmed that exercise is a key to successfully overcoming depression. The study looked into three groups of depressed patients who were treated with medication, exercise, or a combination of the two and their relapse rate. They found that “those who had taken the medication alone, 38 percent had slipped back into depression. Those in the combination group were doing only slightly better, with a 31 percent relapse rate. The biggest shock, though, came from the exercise group: Their relapse rate was only 9 percent!”

Management tip 3: There is nothing to fear but fear itself

If you haven’t already, read Susan Jeffer’s amazing book “Feel the Fear…and do it anyway”After reading this it suddenly became extremely clear to me that there was in fact nothing to be afraid of in life. After all, if fear was a “real thing” then we would all have the same fear. Be it a fear of failure, loneliess or public speaking, this fear really boils down to the fact that all we really fear is… the unknown. Reminding myself that there is nothing to fear, reminds me to be brave and grab life by both hands.

Management tip 4: Spend time around those that are positive

If you are feeling anxious or unhappy then make sure you surround yourself with positive people. Actually even if you are not feeling symptoms of anxiety but know that you are susceptible to it, then I also recommend this as a tactic (prevention is better than cure after all). When I say positive as well, I don’t mean that you have to be around people that are happy clappy 24/7. This is unrealistic. Surround yourself with people that are positive in the sense that they are confident, have a can-do attitude and will ultimately be an encouraging influence in your life. Those that are pessimistic and play the victim are not welcome in your inner circle, I call these kind of people “toxic people” and you don’t want to feed off that kind of energy.

 Management tip 5: Take time out

If you do find yourself in a situation where it is all getting on top of you, then don’t be afraid to stop, take a breath and take some time out. Whether this is a day off to clear some mind clutter, or a week off to fully get away from it all. This is where tip one comes in handy – spotting and listening to your triggers will mean that you can take a break before it gets all too much for you.

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Management tip 6: Have things to look forward to

I have many passions and hobbies and one thing I have learnt over the years is that the key to my motivation is to have regular activities booked in to my diary! I like to schedule regular weekends away to see friends, evenings out to try new restaurants and personal milestones such as kick boxing gradings.  It is extremely important to have things to look forward to in order to remember what is important to you in life and to see the bigger picture.

Management tip 7: See small tasks as achievements

I am not sure where it stems from, but I find a lot of people (and myself included sometimes) don’t stop to congratulate themselves on the small tasks in life and feel that only the larger achievements (work promotion, new baby, new house etc) deserves a pat on the back.

But why?!

We should take pride in the small things in life – when you do, you’ll find that your confidence will grow and in turn help manage your anxiety as you start to take pleasure and pride in yourself. You will start to see, that when you overcome your worries and fears, amazing things can happen! If your cooking is as good as a blind panda in the kitchen with oven gloves sello-tapped on, then take pride in yourself when you manage to bake your kid’s birthday cake from scratch. This may seem like a small achievement but it is little steps of self improvement that eventually add up to the big ones!

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Management tip 8: Eat healthy

As with top tip two, this is one that I cannot advocate enough. I truly believe that what you put in, you get out. Pump it full of chemicals, processed foods and sugar then you can’t expect your mind or body to function how it should be. Studies too show there is a strong correlation to depression. It is worth noting here too that whilst a large glass of vino after a stressfully anxiety filled day seems like the right antidote, alcohol is actually a depressant.

Management tip 9: Music

I am not a hard core music fanatic (I go to music festivals but have no idea half the time who is on the stage) but I have always found music to be good therapy. Just ten minutes listening to your favourite songs might be enough to perk you up on your drab and dreary commute to the office. If you are feeling down, worried or any other signs of anxiety, pop in your ear phones and take a moment out.

Management tip 10: Set goals and make baby steps

One of methods I found useful for me in containing my worries and stress was to set myself achievable goals, and start making slow baby steps towards them. Following on from tip 7, these don’t have to be massive goals either, they could be something to push you out of your comfort zone to take your mind off things and to help gain confidence. For example, it could be to start a new sport or take up a class at night school. Break down the bigger goal in to bite sized chunk and use these as stepping stones, and remember to reward yourself at each milestone.

If you are feeling any symptoms of anxiety, seek medical help from you GP immediately. Don’t suffer in silence.

For more information visit the Mental Health Foundation and Anxiety UK and Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Featured photo credit: unknown via freeimages.com

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Alice Dartnell

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

1. Salmon

Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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2. Blueberries

Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

Curcumin has also been shown to:

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  • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
  • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
  • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
  • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

4. Coffee

Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

Coffee can also:

  • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
  • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
  • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
  • Improve your memory.
  • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

5. Broccoli

What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

6. Bone broth

Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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8. Eggs

For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

9. Dark chocolate

You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

Conclusion

Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
[2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
[4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
[5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
[6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
[7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
[8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
[9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
[10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
[11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
[12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
[13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
[14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
[15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
[16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
[17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
[18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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