Stress is defined as a normal reaction to a threat, which causes physical, emotional, or psychological responses. The danger can either be real or merely a perception.
Various life events can trigger stress. Examples include traveling, going on a maiden date, the first day of school, the prospect of losing your job, etc.
Now, stress is part and parcel of our everyday experiences. It’s quite abnormal to go through life without dealing with one form of stress or another. But if you find yourself responding disproportionately to stressors, then you could be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Medical researchers have identified five major anxiety disorders so far. They include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and panic disorder (PD).
Without prompt medical intervention, anxiety can degenerate into mental complications like depression. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to combat stress and keep anxiety and depression at bay.
This post looks at the top five ways to manage anxiety and depression.
Consider Herbal Supplements
There are numerous anxiolytic herbal extracts you can use to treat or prevent anxiety and depression.
- Lemon balm
- Kava kava
- Green tea
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
CBD deserves a special mention due to its remarkable antianxiety properties. The compound treats anxiety by increasing serotonin signaling. Studies have shown that cannabidiol may relieve all significant anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When consumed, cannabidiol enters the body and mimics the behavior of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac and Zoloft. But unlike conventional SSRIs, CBD doesn’t induce severe adverse effects. Plus, the compound is non-psychoactive. So, you can use CBD vape pens for anxiety without worrying about getting stoned in the process.
Cut Back On Caffeine
To many people, it’s almost impossible to picture breakfast without a cup of good, old coffee. Coffee is most famous for enhancing concentration and treating mental fatigue.
However, high doses of caffeine, the primary bioactive chemical in coffee, have been shown to aggravate anxiety. Caffeine produces jittery effects similar to those you experience in response to a traumatic event. That’s due to the chemical’s ability to stimulate the “fight or flight” response. The fact that caffeine can last up to eight hours in your system complicates the issue even further.
So, it’s recommended to cut back on coffee if you experience jitteriness every time you consume the drink. Five or fewer cups a day work well for most adults.
But if you still experience anxiety even after lowering your coffee intake, then you might consider decaffeinated drinks instead.
Sleep deprivation is a significant risk factor for anxiety. Insomnia and anxiety disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder usually occur side by side.
Therefore, one of the most effective ways to treat anxiety and depression is to have enough sleep.
In one study investigating the relationship between sleep deprivation and anxiety, researchers asked 18 participants to watch emotionally disturbing videos after having a night of restful sleep and after a sleepless night. After exposure to the videos, each participant completed the trait anxiety inventory, a standard anxiety questionnaire. Researchers then scanned the participants’ brains using polysomnography and functional MRI.
The brain scans noted significant deactivation of the medial prefrontal cortex after a sleepless night. Medial prefrontal cortex is an area in the brain that eases stress and anxiety. Therefore, researchers deduced that sleep deprivation could increase anxiety.
Have a Robust Exercise Plan
Exercise is often promoted as a healthier way of maintaining lean weight and warding off chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. But besides helping to keep chronic diseases at bay, you can also combat anxiety and depression by following a robust workout plan.
Indeed, studies have shown that people who follow a solid workout routine are less likely to develop anxiety than those who don’t. Working out regularly helps to fight anxiety in various ways.
First, exercise increases the secretion of feel-good hormones, such as endorphins and serotonin. On the flip side, it inhibits the activity of stress hormones like cortisol.
Exercise can also improve sleep. And as we’ve just highlighted, sleep plays a crucial role in alleviating anxiety.
Last but not least, exercising regularly can have a massive boost on your self-confidence. The higher your self-esteem, the less anxious you’re likely to be.
Spend More Time with Your Near and Dear Ones
No one is immune from anxiety and depression. However, the worst thing you can do to yourself is enduring the mental torture caused by anxiety on your own.
Seeking social support from your family and friends can go a long way in helping you get through life’s stressful situations.
According to one study examining the effects of social support on anxiety and depression, it emerged that spending time with family and friends could increase the secretion of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a natural stress reliever.
In this experiment, researchers found that hanging out with friends and children produces the “tend and befriend” effect, which is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
The Bottom Line
It’s challenging to live a stress-free life. There’s a typical pun that “the apparent lack of stress is itself a form of stress.”
However, you shouldn’t let stress, anxiety, or depression take a toll on your health. Fortunately, there are several natural antianxiety and antidepressant remedies out there to experiment with.