We don’t deny that life can be stressful. It’s easy to become anxious when you have a tight deadline at work and the boss is breathing down your neck. Even at home, you have obligations. Your spouse is giving you a hard time, your child is acting up in school, etc. There isn’t exactly a bible on life management when circumstances throw an onslaught of lemons in your direction. The thing about anxiety, though, is that it’s also largely a chemical and hormonal balance issue. It helps to know how the brain works if you want to get rid of anxiety.
What Causes Anxiety?
Yes, undesirable situations cause anxiety. However, the emotional response is due to physiological changes in the brain, which in turn affects other areas of your body. Learning how to control anxiety begins with knowledge of the brain-emotion connection.
The research in stress and anxiety is still in its infancy. The latest studies, though, do yield some clues. One report published in the PLOS ONE journal, for instance, suggests there may be a genetic factor. Those with a gene called RBFOX1 may be more prone to anxiety disorders in response to unfavorable external stimuli.
Researchers are also studying the brain’s role in causing anxiety. The amygdala is especially getting a lot of attention. This is the area that interprets perceived dangers and alerts the rest of the brain when it believes the threat is real. The triggering is what activates the fight-or-flight system in your nervous system. While essential for survival in a real-life precarious situations, an over-triggering can cause excess cortisol release. Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone for a reason. Aside from making you stressed, you’ll also suffer physical effects, such as diminished testosterone and libido.
START TODAY: Could Low Testosterone Be the Cause of Your Anxiety?
Understanding how to lower anxiety begins with keeping cortisol levels in check while elevating the release of specific “feel good” hormones and neurotransmitters.
How to Calm Anxiety Without Medication
Just because anxiety is a formally classified illness does not mean you need to resort to side-effect-inducing drugs. By all means, see a doctor, but explore natural pathways before even considering prescriptions of any sort. The methods we introduce below will show you how to calm down anxiety while also improving overall health and well-being in the process.
Change Your Diet
The western diet, while convenient, does your health and mind no favors. Too many foods are loaded with processed and refined chemicals that throw your body out of hormonal balance. Consider these foods for reducing the cortisol stress hormone and controlling anxiety:
- Salmon – Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which regulates production of the hormones dopamine and serotonin. These are the body’s natural feel-good hormones.
- Turmeric – This is a spice more than a food, but it’s loaded with curcumin, which studies1 show has anti-anxiety effects.
- Yogurt – This dairy goodness has long been revered as an excellent probiotic source. While probiotics mainly benefit the gut, studies2 also show they boosts mental well-being.
- Avocados – This fruit contains B vitamins that aid in brain cell production. B vitamin deficiency has been linked to many ailments, including anxiety.
Get Some Exercise
Considering this is a fitness site, we assume you’re already physically active or at least plan to be. Not only will this benefit your physical health, but it may also have anxiety-relieving effects. If you regularly work out, then you’re familiar with what is referred as a runner’s high. You also get the same high from anaerobic exercise.
It’s believed physical activity that gets your heart rate up increases endogenous opioid activity in the peripheral and central nervous system. This induces a euphoric state, which can last for several hours after the workout. Studies3 also show exercise increases brain-derived neurotrophic factors, which have been linked to stimulation and growth of neuronal pathways.
While we are advocates of low volume weight training, you can do other forms of exercise as long as they produce the same runner’s high.
You don’t need to retreat to a mountaintop or seek out a guru in India to become a meditator. Meditation can be done for about 20 minutes a day in the comfort of your home. There are so many forms of meditation. We recommend keeping it simple with mindfulness and deep breathing. Just find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Take deep breathes, hold and slowly exhale. Studies4 show diaphragmatic breathing prevents cortisol spikes in healthy adults.
A report published in Harvard Health also suggests meditation may ease anxiety and mental stress.
You may have heard the saying that laughter is the best form of medicine. The very act of laughing causes the brain to release some of the aforementioned feel-good chemicals. Heck, you don’t even need to laugh out loud. Even a smile alone is enough to cause a rise in dopamine release. Studies show laughing causes a surge in endorphins, which not only makes you feel good but also relieves physical pain.
With this in mind, one of the best ways of controlling anxiety is watching a comedy film. In the age of YouTube, you can also seek out funny viral videos of aspiring YouTubers doing outrageously stupid stunts for cheap laughs.
By socializing, we’re not talking about tweeting or Facebooking one of your hundreds of social media friends. We’re talking about good old fashioned face-to-face interactions. This has become almost a lost art due to the prevalence of Skyping and instant messaging. None of this technology was available just two decades ago, and if you’re old enough to remember those days, we bet you fared just fine.
Studies show social bonding actually increases the brain’s production of oxytocin, a chemical that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing it to produce a calming sensation.
LEARN MORE: Reduce Stress in Your Life
If you want to know how to fight anxiety, call up your friends for a karaoke night or whatever. Even a scheduled bingo night is fine. What’s important is that you’re in close physical proximity and actively bonding with people you consider important in your life.
Use Supplements for Anxiety
Use an all-natural supplement that reduces cortisol and promotes the release of the feel-good hormones we’ve been talking about. Look for a product with scientifically proven ingredients. Examples include choline, DHA, ginkgo biloba and inositol, just to list a few. These compounds are all found naturally in food. They’re also found in our own Cortigon supplement for relieving stress and boosting mental clarity. Top supplements for depression contain the good stuff found in nature and don’t rely on synthetic compounds.
Know How to Get Rid of Anxiety: It’s the Best Thing You’ll Do for Your Life
We get that life isn’t all rainbows and roses. However, you don’t have to be a victim of circumstance and feel down and out all the time. No matter your age or life events, you can get out of bed every day feeling grateful to be alive at this point in time and place. Learning how to get rid of anxiety is about controlling what you can and being able to ride the waves of what you can’t.