hempstead valley therapy centre

4 ways to lower your anxiety and cope better with stress

Do you struggle with anxiety? You don’t have to ‘just live with it’. There is a lot you can do to support your body.

And it doesn’t need to be complicated. Read on for some simple changes that can make a huge difference to how you feel.

By the way, did you know that anxiety is a symptom that can also be linked with a low functioning thyroid?

Complete my Thyroid Health Evaluation QUIZ to find out if you could have an underlying thyroid issue.

I know how terrible anxiety can feel. I definitely felt anxious a lot of times in the last year.

Everyone is different, but the following 4 simple hacks have helped my clients and me to lower feelings of anxiety and increase resilience.

  1. Stabilise your blood sugar throughout the day

When you are on a blood sugar roller coaster, it can have a massive impact on your emotional state. Just doing this can already make a huge difference!

How do you do that? The following are just a couple of examples. Click HERE for a previous video with more details on how to balance your blood sugar.

  • Start your day with a breakfast that has protein, good fats and fibre in – such as scrambled eggs with avocado on sourdough bread or porridge with walnuts, tbsp of almond butter, a big handful of berries (or grated apple) and cinnamon – if you have just jam on toast for example or sugary cereal, you will be hungry again half an hour later, because those are high in carbohydrates, which are digested very quickly. Protein, fats and fibre keep you fuller for longer and keep you more stable. Have breakfast within an hour of getting up.

Reduce stimulants, because shortly after you’ve consumed those, your blood sugar crashes and sends you on the roller coaster, which impacts your emotional state. So reduce coffee, alcohol, sugar, sugary fizzy drinks and foods high in refined carbs like cake and pizza. I am not saying cut them out completely, but reduce them until you feel calmer and more collected. I cut out coffee completely and I felt so much better within a couple of days! But remember, don’t go cold turkey, reduce the coffee slowly, otherwise you could get withdrawal symptoms such as headaches.

HTC Blog - Porridge
  1. Magnesium!

It is also called natures tranquiliser and it gets depleted quite quickly when we are stressed and anxious!

  • Make sure you eat more of the foods that contain magnesium, such as dark green leafy veg, nuts, seeds, organic meat, seafood and whole grains like brown rice.
  • Or take a bath in magnesium flakes (click HERE for the ones I use). That way you absorb the magnesium through your skin and avoid digestion which can make sure the magnesium actually reaches your cells, in case your body can’t absorb it properly from the food you eat. Have the bath before bedtime. It has such a calming effect and can help you sleep better as well.
  • You can also take a magnesium supplement, but I would advise you to consult a health professional first, especially if you are on any medication.
  1. Do things that stimulate your vagus nerve naturally

You might have heard of this nerve – it connects your brain with many important organs. It is part of the “rest and digest” element of the nervous system. So you definitely want to stimulate this one when you are in “fight and flight” mode when stressed and anxious. Toning the vagus nerve means your body can relax faster after stress.

You can stimulate the vagus nerve by

  • Deep and slow breathing. I find that most of us tend to breathe in a shallow way most of the time. Remind yourself by adding an alarm on your phone a couple of times a day to take some deep breaths, make sure that your stomach expands and then exhale long and slow. You can use this example, breathe in on the count of 3, hold for 4 and breathe out on the count of 5.
  • Cold showers. Try finishing your next shower with around 30 seconds of cold water and see how you feel.
  • Singing, humming and gargling. If you are not someone who sings under the shower or in a choir, try gargling. This has helped me a lot. I gargle every time after brushing my teeth for about a minute with water. Remember to breathe in between. I tend to gargle for around 10-20 seconds, spit out the water, breathe and gargle with another sip of water. And I do this around 3 times.

The key to understand is that you can send a message to your body that it is time to relax by stimulating your vagus nerve.

  1. Support your gut!

As mentioned, the vagus nerve is linking the brain with many organs, including the gut. There is a constant stream of information sent from the brain to the gut and vice versa.

We have a collection of different kinds of bugs in our gut such as bacteria, fungi, and parasites and certain types are supposed to be there! When they all live in harmony we are happy too.

Gut bacteria play a big role in the regulation of our mood, stress response and sleep!

They produce certain neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is very important for regulating mood, feelings of wellbeing and is needed for our ability to fall asleep.

Melatonin (our sleep hormone) is produced from serotonin and if the bacteria are out of balance, they do not produce enough serotonin, which can cause insomnia, anxiety and depression!

Also, did you know that 70% of our immune system is located in the gut!

Make your gut more resilient so that the gut bugs have the right kind of fuel to produce certain compounds that send signals to the brain that everything is ok.

So how do we keep the gut bugs happy?

  • By eating a rainbow of different kind of vegetables and fruit and other fibre rich foods such as lentils, beans and peas on a daily basis.

Little note on the side here: increase fibre rich foods slowly, as they can cause some digestive issues if you eat a lot in one go in case you normally don’t eat a lot of them. And also make sure you drink at least 4-6 glasses of water a day, as fibre absorbs a lot of water.

  • By eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut (click HERE for my recipe for “Bavarian style Hash Browns”), kimchi, kefir and miso soup.

So you can start seeing food not just as fuel, but as information!

HTC Blog - fruit and veg

There are many more things you can do to overcome anxiety and make your body more resilient. If you want to discuss your health situation with me, book a free 30 minute call and I can find out more about you and your symptoms and how I can be of help.

I am looking forward to speaking with you!