It is completely okay to worry about things from time to time. The pressures of work, school, finances, and family all take their toll on your body every now and then.
Your body has a built-in defense against stress and worry and a response to protect you or prepare you if the worry is real. Unfortunately, some threats are perceived rather than real, and the brain initiates the same response. Anxious thoughts and real dangers trigger the same physical changes, and over time, these can do more harm than good.
Millions of people suffer from anxiety disorders and there are numerous medications and therapies prescribed to help them cope. Sadly, medications come with potentially harmful side effects, which push people to look for alternatives.
Treating anxiety can be successfully achieved through more natural methods. By making lifestyle changes and dietary changes or adding probiotic supplements, you can sooth the uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety and calm your overactive brain.
Meditation is often the go-to resource for helping individuals cope with anxiety. Buddhist monks have been successfully calming body and mind with meditative practices for mental health for centuries.
Meditation focuses on re-training your brain to think only in the present moment. Anxiety is caused by endless worry over past problems and future events that you cannot control. When you meditate on the present, those worries become irrelevant, and anxiety goes away.
You can practice meditation anytime of day and anywhere, so long as you are alone and it is quiet. It can be difficult at first to get your brain to stay focused on the now, so using a mantra or image can help.
Anxious thoughts will creep up, but this is normal. You just acknowledge them and let them float away, bringing your mind back to an image or chant. With practice, meditation has been shown to physically change the brain chemistry and relieve symptoms of anxiety disorders.
2. Writing in a Journal
Expressing yourself in a journal or writing your thoughts down is another beneficial way to treat anxiety. Given that anxiety is caused by continual cycles of worry and over-thinking, writing the thoughts down means you can now focus on solving the problem. Once the concern is on paper and out of your head, your brain can relax.
When you do this for each thought you have, you gradually clear out your brain.
Exercise also helps to relieve anxiety, making it the ideal option for keeping you both physically and mentally healthy. The release of feel-good hormones, known as endorphins, is increased with exercise. With exercise as a regular part of your routine, your brain has increased exposure to the happy hormones, which gives it less time to worry.
4. Sleep Hygiene
Insomnia and anxiety typically come hand in hand. When your brain is constantly racing with thoughts, sleep does not come easily. For this reason, learning and practicing proper sleep hygiene will improve the quality of your sleep and reduce stress.
To help prepare your body for sleep and reduce anxious thoughts, get yourself a new bedtime routine. Put all electronic devices away and turn down the lights before bed. If you need additional help, try a warm bath, reading a book, or sipping on a soothing tea like chamomile.
How Probiotics Help Anxiety
Dietary changes are the most surprising yet most beneficial way of treating anxiety. Many people do not realize the strong connection between their gut and their brain, and how the health of one significantly impacts the other.
The discovery of the gut-brain axis showed that the bacteria in your gut communicate directly with your brain. Research backed this up by showing the strong correlation between anxiety disorders and gastrointestinal problems.
You have likely experienced butterflies in your stomach when nervous. Anxiety acts in the same way but at a more intense level. Anxious thoughts trigger the stress response, which slows digestive activity and can seriously impact gut function.
Because the link between gut and brain runs both ways, an unhappy gut can also trigger chemical changes in the brain. The key to understanding what makes a gut unhappy lies within its microbe community.
Trillions of bacteria live within your gut and help to promote healthy digestion, absorption of nutrients, and provide general support to your immune system. Ideally, the bacterial community in your gut consists of beneficial flora, but some harmful strains will also be around.
Poor diet and overuse of antibiotics allows good bacteria numbers to decline and bad bacteria to flourish. When this happens, inflammation is triggered throughout the body, which has direct links to anxiety-related changes in the brain.
Maintaining a healthy balance in your gut is the goal, and this is easy to do with the best probiotic foods or a quality probiotic supplement. Consumption of probiotics increases the numbers of beneficial strains within your gut, keeping bad bacteria at bay. A balanced microbe community means a happy and optimally functioning gut. The messages that will be transmitted to your brain will be positive ones, showing that probiotics may be the next best thing for treating anxiety disorders.
The best probiotic supplement will contain a variety of strains. You want to look for a name brand and clinically proven product to ensure you get high-quality bacterial colonies.
In addition to probiotic supplements, the best probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and other fermented items. By adding these items to your daily diet, you can be assured that your gut bacterial community will remain strong and you will remain healthy.
For those that do not want to use medications, meditation, writing, deep breathing, and exercise can all help to control anxious thoughts and panic attacks. That said, perhaps the most surprising treatment option lies far away from your brain and lives in your gut, but it may be the best option to date.
Adding probiotics to your diet ensures the health of your gut bacterial community. With a balanced and thriving gut microbiome, your immunity is improved, damaging inflammation is reduced, and anxiety can be controlled.
While probiotics are not a cure for anxiety disorders, research has shown that they can ease symptoms by way of the gut-brain axis. If you are looking to ease anxiety, start shopping for probiotic foods or a top rated probiotic supplement.