Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is a common mental disorder that presents with a constant and irrational fear of unknown origin.
Patients with GAD express constant worry about every aspect of their lives, including money, health, family, and work. The worst part about GAD is anticipating fear all the time, which constantly puts patients on their toes.
Perhaps the best analogy to understand what GAD patients go through is by picturing yourself on a rollercoaster. Once the train reaches the peak of the track, the vehicle starts to slow down, which makes you experience anticipatory fear –a fear of what’s coming–.
In short, that’s how GAD patients feel; only in their cases, the fear is almost constantly present.
In this article, we will cover some food elements that help with anxiety and stress based on reputable scientific sources.
Meditation and yoga
In a classic 2014 meta-analysis, researchers reviewed 17,801 citations and 47 trials with 3,320 participants.
The results showed significant stress relief after practicing meditation, with scientists concluding that “the evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation programs could help reduce anxiety, depression, and pain in some clinical populations. Thus, clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program could have in addressing psychological stress.”
Another study published by the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found that regular practice of yoga reduces feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety.
Don’t rely on caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
Stimulant substances can damage the body if consumed over a long period of time. Moreover, these products contain several addictive components, which can lead to physical and psychological dependence.
Therefore, instead of relying on these substances to reduce stress, people should switch to more calm-inducing activities, such as yoga, meditation, and music.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), exercise is the cheapest method to reduce stress and control anxiety levels.
This effect is mediated by the active stretching of the muscles releases stress-relieving hormones, such as serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine.
Additionally, you can perform one of the following breathing exercises whenever you’re in the middle of an anxiety episode:
Prolonging the phase of exhaling is associated with the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “rest and digest” mode.
As a result, your heart rate will slow down, and your breathing becomes more regular, reducing your stress and anxiety.
Follow these steps for the correct exhaling technique:
- Take a normal inspiration and exhale gradually until you reach maximal expiration.
- Spend more time during the expiration phase. For instance, inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 5 or 6.
- Do this exercise for 6 minutes.
Breathing correctly is an essential part of all types of yoga; however, pranayama takes breathing to another level.
There are several exercises to improve your respiration and reduce stress in this type of yoga, including equal breathing, lion breathing, and abdominal exercises.
For beginners, you should start with equal breathing where you divide the respiratory phase into two equal periods during which you either inhale or exhale.
This exercise focuses on forcing your exhale; here’s how you do it:
- Sit down in a cross-legged position.
- Put your hands on your knees while extending your arms.
- Breathe in through your nose.
- Exhale through your mouth while vocalizing the sound “ha”.
- During each inspiration, open your mouth as wide as possible and stick your tongue out.
- Rest your face when you inhale.
- Repeat this exercise 7 times
Food choices play an important role in the physiological and metabolic responses of the body. For instance, a diet that’s rich in whole foods, vitamins, and minerals reduces cortisol-release.
Anxiety is a common condition that requires special care by patients to prevent related complications. Hopefully, this article helped you understand anxiety and ways to get rid of it, but if you still have any questions, feel free to ask us!