Once upon a time, I had a panic attack while I was in a yoga class. When we reached the end of the class and had to lie down on our backs to get into Shavasana, my anxiety took over when you would least expect it and in the last place that you would imagine someone will have a panic attack. Don’t we go to yoga classes to feel calm afterwards?
Usually, in a yoga class, you are kind of in a state of meditation. It took me quite a while before I could get myself to fully calm down using the breathing and meditation techniques that I learned when doing my yoga teacher training.
I am not sure what triggered my panic attack in the yoga class. At that point in my life, I was eating a healthy diet, doing yoga, and meditating regularly, but it just was not enough to relieve my stress and anxiety. I decided to pull myself together, calm the f**ck down, and make pleasure a priority.
Basically, what I am trying to do is challenge my neurotic and anxious tendencies, while still aiming to live a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle that is free of panic attacks.
I’ve experimented with different ways to reduce anxiety and stress, and to ultimately tame this annoying anxious dragon that lives within me. Below, I have laid out the ones that I have found to work the best. The moment that I neglect one of them, it becomes much harder to control my anxiety.
It does take a bit of discipline to lower stress and anxiety overall, but in a few months’ time, things can improve a lot. Just imagine where you will be in a year’s time if you continue, and if you keep finding more ways that help you relax, focus on your breathing, and stay present in the moment.
Here are my top tips for lowering stress and anxiety:
Exercise To Reduce Stress and Anxiety
The fight or flight response is triggered in the body when you are stressed or anxious. This then causes a rise in your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the main stress hormone, and if your levels are chronically elevated, it will have detrimental effects on your body.
Why do we have the fight or flight response? Well, it exists to help protect us when we are in danger. Back in the past, it meant that you would have possibly been eaten by a lion. Nowadays, however, we have stress triggers that do not actually affect our overall survival. As humans, we have invented new reasons to stress and be anxious. The body is not able to tell the difference.
Working out on a regular basis will help to reduce your anxiety by providing some relief. But breathing properly is still essential. If you stretch regularly and do yoga, it will also help by helping your muscles to relax and releasing physical tension.
Breathe Deeply and Meditate To Reduce Anxiety and Stress
A meditation practice gives you the skills to block out thoughts that pop up and contribute to anxiety, and it can also help you by allowing you to reflect on what the root causes of your anxiety could be. Simple breathing exercises (or Pranayama) can greatly help to reduce anxiety as well. Just breathing deeply and meditating for 5 to 10 minutes a day is enough to help calm your sympathetic nervous system. Consider trying a restorative yoga class if you are really anxious.
Switch to An Anti-Anxiety Diet
Remove foods and drinks from your diet that can contribute to stress and anxiety, such as caffeine, sugar, processed foods, energy drinks, and gluten.
Eat foods that are rich in magnesium, as magnesium can help to lower your cortisol levels.
Eat tryptophan-rich foods, such as beef, chicken, turkey, yoghurt, eggs, and cheese, as they are great for lowering stress and anxiety. Tryptophan helps your body to produce serotonin, which is important for mood stabilisation. Also make sure that you get enough exercise and sunlight exposure, as they both help tryptophan to reach your brain.
Improve your gut health, as a lot of anxiety starts in the gut. When you have an unhealthy gut microbiome and an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut, anxiety can start to surface. For a healthy gut, start by incorporating probiotic-rich foods, such as kefir and yoghurt in your diet. Eat collagen-rich foods like cartilage, gelatin, and bone broth. Consider supplementing with collagen. It really helps to repair a damaged gut lining.
Increase Your Human Growth Hormone Levels
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is an anti-ageing hormone that aids in muscle building and it also suppresses cortisol production. You can increase your levels of HGH naturally by ensuring that you get enough sleep, by doing intermittent fasting, and by doing workouts that get your heart rate up while you are fasting. When you exercise, it produces lactic acid, which then helps produce Human Growth Hormone.
Get Into a Self-Care Routine
Self-care really is important. Take care of yourself and do things that will help you to relax and that you also enjoy. It will help you to balance out stress with pleasure. It will put you in a better position and help you cope with stress. Do workouts that make you feel good. Take a nice, warm bath. Read a book. Eat a healthy dessert. Put yourself first.
Get Enough Sleep Each Night
If you have ever been exhausted, you know that getting enough sleep can help you to feel more positive overall. It helps your body produce human growth hormone, and it also gives your neurons the time they need to shut down and repair.
I hope these tips on reducing stress and anxiety will help you to feel more relaxed and better overall.