Get Zen: Overcome Stress & Anxiety with Zen Green's Erin Young
Natural ways to overcome anxiety and stress
Every day I hear more and more people who are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. In my opinion there is a huge lack of understanding in the medical industry where our society seems to be treating the effects with drugs instead of addressing the root causes of these conditions. I have myself experienced at one point stress and anxiety and it’s not a nice feeling, in fact it is really debilitating and a sad place to be. At the time luckily I was able to recognise it and I subsequently made some changes and I was able to get back to my usual positive, happy self.
I wanted to share with you some simple practices you can employ or tell to a loved one who may be experiencing stress, anxiety or depression.
What are the root causes?
From what I have seen from friends experiencing stress, anxiety and depression there is a root cause that they feel as through their life is not on track and they do not have a goal they are working towards. When they experience this in conjunction to some aggravating factors like isolation, poor diet, lack of exercise or lack of sleep then it can quickly spiral into a depression.
Factor 1: Perspective on goals and life
One of the best things I did at a time when I had anxiety was to try and change my mindset where I learned not to tie my sense of worth into the goals I was trying to achieve. It was important for me to learn that there is no “on track” in life and that it was fine for me to have dreams and goals but that I needed to enjoy exactly where I was right now. Some of the most useful tools/habits:
- Stopping future negative thinking: Often I would create all these future scenarios in which negative experiences would happen. This was a huge problem causing me anxiety in the present even when everything was ok.
- Stopping past rumination: A lot of stress and anxiety especially when it stems from a decision we’ve made is caused by constantly rethinking or “ruminating” over what has happened. This is not healthy and I always stop myself immediately by reminding myself that I did the best that I could at that point in time with the information I had. I need to learn from the experience and move on.
- Practice gratitude: Happiness is wanting what you have so one of the best ways to help your esteem is to start recognising that even if you feel you are not where you want to be you should still be grateful for what you have. Start the day by being thankful for a warm bed, for a caring friend, for a nice cup of green tea. You’ll soon start to feel lighter and happier.
Factor 2: Isolation
Often stress and anxiety can cause people to isolate themselves or isolation (i.e. break ups, redundancy) can cause stress and anxiety. One of the best things I did when I was stressed was to ensure I had contact with people every day- whether it be friends, family, going to a café for coffee or joining a community group or sporting team. Having a network of real people (not just Facebook friends) will help you see that everyone has problems, everyone goes through hard times and that it’s important to stay positive.
Factor 3: Diet and Exercise
Many studies are showing how important a healthy diet and regular exercise is good for mental health. Serotonin is a chemical in our brain which is thought to have a huge impact on mental health where low serotonin levels can result in depression. We can boost our serotonin levels by consuming a healthy diet of leafy green vegetables, whole grains and good fats like salmon and avocado. Exercise also produces feel-good endorphins and promotes the production of serotonin in the brain. Matcha green tea is fantastic to combat stress as it contains the amino acid L-Theanine which enters the bloodstream and has been shown to help increase serotonin and dopamine levels.
Factor 4: Lack of sleep
Sleep is so important for overall health, if you are exhausted then you do not have the energy to tackle any of the above factors. One of the reasons for insomnia can often be the inability to stop thinking. I have found simply playing some soft background music like “Ocean Sounds” and focusing on this can aid in falling asleep. The streaming service “Pandora” is just $7 a month and has a great channel “Ocean Waves for Deep Sleep” that I often use if my mind is too active. I’d also advise cutting out coffee at least after 10am- if you need the energy boost have a matcha green tea instead which delivers caffeine in a way that won’t cause you sleepless nights.
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