Diet and Exercise for Anxiety Relief

Anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, worry, or unease that is a normal human experience. It is also present in a wide range of psychiatric disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobias. Although each of these disorders is different, they all feature distress and dysfunction specifically related to anxiety and fear.

Anxiety affects a person emotionally, but it also has some physical symptoms, including shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and/or tremor.

People who suffer with anxiety should remember that diet and exercise have an important impact on the recovery journey. There are a few rules that they should keep in mind:

  • They should eat regular size meals at the same time every day.
  • The use of alcohol, too much sugar, and caffeine (like coffee, tea, and/or soda) can increase the feeling of anxiety.
  • Although caffeinated tea is bad for anxiety, valerian is a good anxiety relief.
  • Adequately hydrating with plain water is best, at least six to eight glasses a day.
  • While nicotine does not cause anxiety, withdrawal from nicotine can mimic anxiety, and people with anxiety may smoke to soothe themselves. What can be an issue, since nicotine can also raise blood pressure and heart rate, which are symptoms of anxiety.
  • People who feel anxiety may lean on alcohol to calm their nerves. But excessive drinking can lead to its own set of emotional and physical problems, including addiction and alcoholism.
  • Working toward a well-balanced diet with adequate fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats remains a good recommendation for those who struggle with anxiety.
  • Avoiding processed foods and foods with high sugar concentration means that the body experiences fewer highs and lows of blood sugar, which helps to further reduce feelings of anxiety. High sugar in blood may mimic a panic attack.

One of the best diets to follow to stabilize the sugar levels in your blood is the Mediterranean diet.  The Mediterranean diet includes fruits, vegetables, pasta, and rice. For example, in Spain a typical day would be as follows:

You should keep in mind the following tips when following a Mediterranean Diet:

  • Use olive oil or canola oil instead of butter
  • Use herbs, garlic, parsley, and onion to season your meals instead of salt
  • Cut back on sugar and processed foods
  • Cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and smoking cigarettes
  • Eat foods rich in zinc, like whole grains, oysters, kale, broccoli, legumes, and nuts
  • Eat foods rich in magnesium: fish, avocado, dark leafy greens
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin B, such as asparagus, leafy greens, meat, and avocado
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, for example, wild caught salmon and tuna
  • Eat probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt, and other fermented foods.

Although a good diet is very helpful when recovering form anxiety, exercise also plays an important part in the process. Experts have found that exercise relieves anxiety and depression, and that a 10-minute walk 3 times per week may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. Exercise work very quickly to elevate depressed mood in many people.

As well as with the diet, the key is in constancy. The effects of exercising are temporary, they demonstrate that a brisk walk can deliver several hours of relief. But there is some evidence that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people.

Exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress. Regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long lasting. One vigorous exercise session can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time.

I have a workout routine that I perform every day. It is a yoga for beginners routine and it lasts 10-20 minutes. I do it every morning to start my day with positive energy. I also like meditating for 10 minutes before going to sleep, I know that is not exactly physical exercise, but it is a strong mental exercise to go to sleep without worries.

Post made possible thanks to Montse M. 

8 thoughts on “Diet and Exercise for Anxiety Relief

  1. My wife struggles a bit w/ anxiety – thanks for these helpful tips. I will defo look into our diet a bit more now

  2. These are some awesome tips for those who suffer from anxiety. I will share this with my friend. Thank you so much.

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