Anxiety can affect our life on so many levels, whether you are suffering from anxiety attacks, feeling anxious at particular moments or currently feeling anxious due to the COVID19 pandemic, it is important for us to start to work on reducing this anxiety. So, what can we do naturally?

Firstly, we can start to exercise regularly. If you don’t like to exercise or feel anxious at the thought of doing so, you may think the last thing that will help you is to do some sort of physical activity. Well, it is highly known in the medical world that increasing our heart rate and blood flow will enable your body to start pumping those lovely endorphins to you brain. Which can have a significant impact on your anxiety levels.

Secondly, don’t drink alcohol. Yes, that is right alcohol is not your friend, you may think that drowning your sorrows into a bottle of whiskey will help for the time being, and it may just do that momentarily but, in the long run alcohol will have the oppose effects. Alcohol is actually a depressant and will facilitate all of those negative emotions. Alcohol will dehydrate you and completely mess with your hormone balance while some of the toxins in alcohol can even bring on anxiety attacks. Plus, waking up with a hangover the next day is not fun and will only add to the anxious thoughts.

Three: Stop smoking. People who smoke know that cigarettes can have effects on the lungs, but what does this mean for anxiety? Well those who smoke tend to breathe faster than those that don’t, and the changes in breathing that come from damaged lungs can increase anxiety. This is because faster breathing can cause hyperventilation, and hyperventilation is one of the most common triggers of panic attacks, inducing symptoms such as chest pains, rapid heartbeat, light-headedness, and shortness of breath. These feelings often trigger intense anxiety and further hyperventilation.

Number four; remove caffeine, Yes, what you think is getting you through the day is actually a huge trigger for anxiety. Caffeine is a stimulant, and this does not sit well with anxiety. Caffeine is known to increase the heart beat and some sensations can create anxiety for example, increased racing thoughts, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and hyperventilating.

Lastly, eat a healthy diet. Eliminating the amount of refined sugars, fried foods, acidic foods and dairy products you have in your diet can have significant effects on our anxiety levels, over time. But why? So, those refined white sugars stimulate your body similar to caffeine and cause agitation and the stress your body is put under trying to digest those fatty foods can increase the destressing symptoms of anxiety. As with dairy products now, they are not necessarily bad for you but too much may heighten your adrenalin levels and contribute to a more anxious state. Lastly, those acidic foods may cause a drop in magnesium levels within our body and these levels have a relationship with our anxiety.

Stef Gafa’ is a counsellor with Willingness who has a particular interest in trauma, attachment, domestic violence and the LGBT community.

Steptoe, A., Wardle, J., Pollard, T. M., Canaan, L., & Davies, G. J. (1996). Stress, social support and health-related behavior: a study of smoking, alcohol consumption and physical exercise. Journal of psychosomatic research41(2), 171-180.