As a naturopath, I believe that one of the best ways that we can combat anxiety on a daily basis, is by starting the day right. If we start our days relaxed and calm, this sets the tone for the rest of our day.
Here are my top 3 tips for starting the day more calmly, and helping to control your anxiety throughout the remainder of the day.
1. Ditch the caffeine.
We all love that morning, warm hug in a cup, but the trouble is, if you suffer with anxiety, consuming excessive amounts of caffeine can actually make your symptoms worse. Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant and whilst this can help you to feel more alert and awake, the other effects of caffeine include: increased heart rate, restlessness, nervousness and insomnia. All of these symptoms could potentially worsen your anxiety.
Ditch the coffee for a caffeine-free beverage such as ginger tea, turmeric latte, warm water with slices of lemon, freshly squeezed vegetable juice or a nutrient-packed smoothie.
2. Eat a Good Breakfast.
Chances are that by the time you wake up, you may have had 8 hours of fasting while you were asleep and therefore, your blood sugar levels could be quite low. Whilst fasting has numerous health benefits, for people who suffer with anxiety, having a low blood sugar level may actually present as symptoms of anxiety. This is because when our blood sugar levels are low, this signals to our adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline, two hormones that are involved in blood sugar regulation. The trouble is, that these two hormones are also implicated in anxiety.
I recommend starting the day with a healthy, protein-based breakfast (eggs are fantastic); ditching the high sugar breakfast cereals which can cause fluctuations in blood sugar; and also ensuring that you have regular meals and snacks throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels stable.
3. Breathe Deeply.
I know we’ve heard it all before, but you really cannot underestimate the benefits of deep breathing. When we’re feeling anxious, we typically function in that “fight or flight” mode which is our sympathetic nervous system response. The opposite to that is the parasympathetic nervous system which is our “rest and digest” mode. For anxiety sufferers, the aim is to switch back into that parasympathetic mode, and one of the best and quickest ways to achieve that, is by doing deep, diaphragmatic breathing.
Start your day with just 2-3 minutes of deep breathing before you get out of bed, and also do this any time throughout the day when you’re feeling stressed, anxious and frazzled.
I recommend closing your eyes and breathing in and out to the count of four, initially. When you get better at it (you may feel a little out of breath at first because you’re used to shallow breathing), try holding your breath at the end of the in and out breaths for a count of two. E.g. in for 4 - hold for 2-out for 4 – hold for 2. It’s amazing how quickly this technique can work and your nervous system will thank you for it!
When it comes to the management of anxiety, there are numerous other considerations and treatment options, including certain herbal and nutrient therapies that can provide excellent support. I'd love to work with you to tailor a program that's right for you!
Zsuzsanna is a passionate naturopath with over 15 years' industry experience.
Having come from a corporate background herself, Zsuzsanna understands the demands of the busy, modern world we
live in, and is particularly passionate about helping busy people prevent burn out, and achieve their best health possible.
Zsuzsanna also has a special interest in mental health and uses functional pathology testing, together with nutritional and
herbal therapies, to provide holistic, mental health solutions.