Alternative Health

5 ways to ease symptoms of anxiety

Woman with hand on chest in warm jumper

Many of us experience feelings of anxiousness throughout our lives – it’s a completely normal part of the human experience, which shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment or shame. As a holistic lifestyle coach, I often encounter people who are experiencing this emotion. For some, their anxieties can easily be linked to nerve-inducing events, such as a test result or job interview. However, for others, the root cause of their anxiousness is harder to determine.

Either way, anxiety often comes hand in hand with a set of physiological symptoms – sudden brain fog, shallow breathing, increased heart rate, and even feelings of nausea and lightheadedness. Although unpleasant, these are all very normal responses to the stressful moments that we encounter or anticipate.

The good news is, there are ways to help us manage symptoms of anxiety, so we can feel calmer and better prepared to tackle the tasks in front of us. Did you know, for example, that certain vitamin deficiencies can be linked to feelings of increased stress and anxiety? Or that breathwork could help you instantaneously reduce the physiological symptoms of anxiety?

Read on to discover ways to minimise and manage your feelings of anxiety on the go. However, if you regularly experience anxiety symptoms in response to what may seem like routine or day-to-day events, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. If you feel you need extra support, speak to your GP or a mental health professional for further advice alongside these helpful tips.

1. Ensure you don’t have a nutrient deficiency

My first piece of advice would be to ensure you’re eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet. We all know how important nutrients are for feeding our bodies, but there is now a greater understanding of how they can play into our mood and mental health.

Making sure we’re getting the nutrients we need and eliminating the risk of deficiency can help us reduce the chances and symptoms of anxiety, as well as generally help us feel better every day.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies that are sometimes linked to anxiety include:

Iron

This mineral is responsible for helping our red blood cells carry oxygen around our body, which enables the optimum performance of our cells. Low iron levels can affect this process, leading to symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath. However, a deficiency might also be a factor in anxiety and even depression; one recent study linked low iron with anxiety disorders as well as other mental health issues.

To make sure your iron levels don’t fall into the red zone, regularly include foods such as beef (if you eat meat), eggs, spinach, pumpkin seeds and pistachio nuts in your diet – all good sources. If getting all the iron you need from diet alone is a struggle, opt for Nature’s Truth Iron Complex Supplement to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs

Looking for a vegan iron supplement? Don’t worry, Nature’s Truth has you covered – check out the Gentle Iron 14 mg tablets.

B vitamins

Low levels of B vitamins are associated with higher levels of anxiety, depression and fatigue – in particular, vitamin B12. Together, the group of B vitamins help us convert food into energy, form the ‘feel-good hormone’ serotonin and promote healthy cell production, amongst other things.

When it comes to anxiety, a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods concluded that subjects who ate foods rich in B vitamins saw their anxiety scores decrease significantly. Reach for foods such as oily fish, high-quality beef, eggs and legumes for a B vitamin fix.

While vegans (and many vegetarians) should ensure they’re taking a B12 supplement daily – as this nutrient can’t be found in a plant-based diet – every diet type can benefit from taking a vitamin B supplement as a safety net for those on-the-go days.

Magnesium

Magnesium, often found in foods such as nuts, leafy greens, bananas and some fatty fish like salmon, is essential for muscle function, nervous system regulation and energy creation. It’s not one you want to miss off your list!

When it comes to minimising anxiety, magnesium may play a role in easing symptoms by regulating stimulating neurotransmitters, affecting levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and helping the brain to relax.

Lower your risk of deficiency by regularly taking a magnesium supplement alongside eating naturally magnesium-rich foods, such as spinach, nuts and avocados.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for many functions in the body. In fact, low levels of this essential vitamin have been linked, on multiple occasions, to low mood and anxiety symptoms. Our skin makes vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight. However, in the winter in the UK (from October to early March), we can’t make enough, so finding ways to top up your vitamin D levels should be on everyone’s to-do list!

To up your vitamin D, reach for foods such as salmon, eggs or red meat and look for fortified foods such as spreads or cereals. Some types of mushrooms exposed to UV light also contain vitamin D – check the label in the supermarket.

Also consider adding a vitamin D supplement or vitamin D drops to your daily routine; it’s estimated that as many as one in five people in the UK suffer from a deficiency, after all.

Also read: Which supplements should I take daily?

2. Minimise alcohol and caffeine consumption

Again, what we feed into our bodies can have a huge impact on how we feel – and how severe our mental health symptoms are. We really want to be reducing our alcohol and caffeine consumption where we can, as both can aggravate anxiety.

It’s not just the ‘what did I do last night?!’ element to alcohol consumption that can leave us with ‘hangxiety’. Alcohol has a chemical effect on the brain, changing levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that are linked to anxiety.

As for caffeine, it stimulates your fight-or-flight response in a similar way to the emotion of anxiety – exacerbating its symptoms.

If you can team more mindful consumption of both with focusing on getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night, you should notice a change in how you feel.

Also read: Top tips for better liver health

3. Focus on your breath once a day

It may sound simple, but focusing on your breathing can help to slow things down in your mind, and put a stop to the psychological symptoms of anxiety. Try to make it a habit to focus on breathwork once a day – this can be as simple as taking in five deep breaths, being mindful of the air travelling in and out as you do so.

Whether you make time for this or not, do arm yourself with some tools to slow down anxiety symptoms if you experience them out and about. Take a step back, and find a quiet place to focus on your breath for a minute or so. Slowly, take a deep breath through your nose, filling your lungs. Hold your breath for several seconds, before fully exhaling through your mouth. Repeat this at least five times.

As we slow our breath, our heart rate will also slow down, naturally helping us feel more relaxed.

4. Move your body for 20 minutes daily

You might feel a little tired of hearing that exercise can help us feel better mentally – but that’s because it’s true. When we move, not only does the focus on the body over the mind make a great distraction, it can also decrease muscle tension, alter brain chemistry and can help to build our emotional resilience.

However, I do understand that taking that first step can seem impossible if you’re experiencing the emotion of anxiety. Strip back the notion that it needs to be gyms and treadmills, hectic or high-intensity. Get outside for a gentle walk, follow some gentle stretches in your room, or walk up and down the stairs on repeat to get your heart rate up. Make it work for you, and you’ll feel the benefits without any dread.

Start small, aiming for 20 minutes a day. If this isn’t doable, just build up in a way that seems manageable.

Also read: The fitness expert’s guide to running for beginners

5. Experiment with botanical de-stressors

They’re sometimes dismissed by mainstream medicine, but the power plants can have on our minds and body can be significant. Remember, many of the things we’re already aware of that alter our mental and emotional state – coffee, for example – derive from plants.

So why not consider reaching for herbal remedies to tackle your anxiety symptoms? As an alternative health specialist, I can’t live without the use of things such as chamomile tea to calm me each day. After I gave birth to my son, I took the adaptogenic herb ashwagandha to help regulate my hormones, too. I took a blood test at the time and my hormone levels were perfect. So, in my opinion, it definitely works!

Think about adding botanical remedies to your routine. Studies suggest that ashwagandha may also help with reducing stress and anxiety, and ginseng has been linked to lower stress levels, reduced brain fog and regulating the impact of stress on the body.

If you’re not too sure where to start, why not opt for Nature’s Truth Stress Relief Complex with Saffron? This blend of botanicals, minerals and vitamins is designed to work together to help ease symptoms of anxiety and stress.

Also read: Essential oils for relaxation and stress relief

Read more from Holly Zoccolan and Nature’s Truth’s expert panel here.



Holly Zoccolan

Holly Zoccolan

Holistic Lifestyle Coach

A Certified Nutritional Health Coach and Herbalist, Holly Zoccolan – also known as The Health Zoc – promotes healthy lifestyle changes that are beneficial and accessible. She specialises in women’s health, including balancing female hormones, and the use of essential oils for better health.