Anxiety is diagnosed in up to 15% of the population, but touches the lives of many more people at one time or another. Anxiety can include panic disorders, generalized anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, phobias and separation anxiety. Persistent anxiety should be treated by a trained clinician and may require medication to manage and preserve quality of life. Whether or not medication is required, here are five things you can try to calm feelings of anxiety when they arise.
1) Mindfulness based stress reduction. From classrooms to clinics, mindfulness is receiving wide recognition for its ability to mitigate the experience of stress, depression and anxiety.
What is mindfulness? It is not meditation, which is a common misconception. Mindfulness, rather is the process of experiencing a strong feeling in the present moment without judging it. Rather than feeling anxiety and then experiencing the negative effects of also feeling poorly about oneself for having anxiety, mindfulness encourages you to simply feel the anxiety and all of the bodily sensations that come with it. Calmly focusing on the body and the experience helps limit it and see the thoughts and feelings for what they are~ strong and real, but temporary and normal. Classes in mindfulness based stress reduction are often offered at wellness facilities or through local libraries, hospitals or schools.
2) Music. A fascinating study was done on burn patients, who undergo extremely painful treatments along the path to recovery. A meta-analysis of 17 studies done on these patients found that music was a helpful adjunctive therapy. Not only did the experience of actual physical pain during the treatments decrease when patients listened to music, the anxiety experienced around these treatments decreased as well. This was not only measured by self-report, or by asking the patients how anxious they felt, but also by physical signs of anxieties, including heart rate.
3) Probiotics. Good bacteria in the GI tract improve the ability of the brain to respond in a balanced way to stress. Nutrivee’s Advanced Probiotic Formula contains a great balance of the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species that have been shown to improve the relationship between the brain and the adrenal glands. When the microbiota of the GI tract is altered, your response to stress is higher than it should be and it stays higher longer, perpetuating anxiety. Probiotics help restore that balance and make anxiety more manageable.
4) Diet. Reduce sugar intake and increase protein, good fats and vegetables. Anxiety can be a symptom of hyper- and hypoglycemia-blood sugar that ranges too high after eating simple carbohydrates or high-sugar foods, or blood sugar that goes too low, causing shaking and feelings of anxiety. Adding protein and healthy fats to your diet can steady the changes in blood sugar that you experience from eating. Rather than having a low fiber, high sugar cookie for a snack, try fruit with peanut or sunflower butter. Adding vegetables will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to make and manage healthy neurotransmitters.
5) Fresh air and exercise. Everyone knows exercise is great for health, but it can be intimidating to begin an exercise regimen. How much is enough? When using exercise to manage anxiety, the benefits begin at very low levels of activity. Stretch your legs by walking around the office. Park in the spot farthest from your destination. Walk a lap around a large store when running errands. Get outside and take a walk at a break or lunchtime. Just limiting the number of times a day that you are sedentary for more than 20 consecutive minutes can have a positive impact on anxiety.
 Ebrahiminejad S, Poursharifi H, Bakhshiour Roodsari A, Zeinodini Z, Noorbakhsh S. The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy on Iranian Female Adolescents Suffering From Social Anxiety. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal. 2016;18(11):e25116. doi:10.5812/ircmj.25116.
 Jinyi Li, Liang Zhou and Yungui Wang. The effects of music intervention on burn patients during treatment procedures: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Complementary and Alternative. 201717:158 DOI: 10.1186/s12906-017-1669-4
 Helgadóttir B, Forsell Y, Ekblom Ö. Physical Activity Patterns of People Affected by Depressive and Anxiety Disorders as Measured by Accelerometers: A Cross-Sectional Study. Potash JB, ed. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(1):e0115894. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115894.