Guest post by Victoria Ward
You have a huge presentation at work or school, and tens, hundreds, or thousands of eyes are upon you. Your heart’s racing and you can feel sweat dripping down your brow. Once it’s your turn to speak your voice begins stammering and you choke—no words come out. Maybe you see an old friend from high school across the street and you speed-walk away, so you don’t have to confront them. You’re on a date and you can’t seem to gather your thoughts—will they think what you say is dumb? Are they losing interest? How do I show them I’m someone worth their attention?
If any of that sound like you then you’re in the same boat as the nearly 1 in 3 Americans who suffer from anxiety—and it’s time to abandon ship! Obviously, the goal here isn’t to go from an anxious Aggie to Captain Charisma in one day, but with some smart planning and dedication on your end you can kiss anxiety goodbye in just a few months. Start these methods, in order, one at a time, and re-evaluate your anxiety levels every few days.
Did you know that eating the wrong foods can make you anxious, depressed, or lethargic? Okay, smarty pants, was it that obvious? Well, what if I told you there are foods that, when eaten every day, have the opposite effect—such as making you confident, happy, and exuberant?
The sad thing is that many people have days where they just feel happy or feel sad without knowing why. ‘This is going to be a good day!’ they’ll tell themselves, without even realizing the reason they think that is because they drank honey the night before, or they had cinnamon for breakfast.
Well, maybe that wasn’t the only reason why, but diet is definitely a contributing factor. Knowing which foods to eatand which to avoid is the first thing we’re going to discuss—because it’s what almost everyone does wrong from the offset.
Eat these foods often:
- Dark chocolate
Limit these foods—you don’t have to avoid them like the plague, but they should definitely not be staples in your diet:
- Processed sugars
- Excess fats and oils (certain greases and animal fats come to mind)
- White bread
*This is an odd one, I know. If you have any anxiety symptoms and consume dairy often, try abstaining from it for a couple weeks and see if your symptoms improve. Paradoxically, yogurt seems to combat anxiety, so dairy may either help or harm you based on certain genetic factors.
In keeping with my long-standing belief that it’s almost impossible—or at least very unrealistic, to get all the necessary nutrients from diet alone, supplements come into play. Some supplements should be taken every day and others only before an anxiety-inducing situation.
You should be taking B12, chamomile tea, 5-HTP, and ashwagandha every day. Some of those, like B12, can be taken 2-3 times a day since it’s water-soluble, and your body flushes (pees) out what it doesn’t need.
For those quick (anxiety-reducing) fixes drink black tea for its L-theanine or take CBD gummies about half an hour before you anticipate you’ll need it.
If you’re an adult and live in one of the states where marijuana is legal, smoking cannabis sativa is another option I’m leaving on the table. And, while there’s never been a case of marijuana overdose, smoking it all day, every day, may just turn you into Jeff Spicoli, so take it easy and don’t overdo it.
If you’re blessed with physical mobility, and you’ve been screened by your doctor, exercise is one of the best (and cheapest) anxiety reducers at your disposal. Cardiovascular exercise releases endorphins, which help reduce anxiety and depression. Resistance exercise, or weight training, may lead to more self-confidence, which indirectly lowers anxiety. Exercising a minimum of 150 hours per week would be a very smart idea—so get up and move that body!
Remember when I was describing all those anxiety-inducing situations at the beginning? Well, now I’m going to ask you to actually play them out. Hold on there, tiger. I’m not saying you should give a speech to a thousand people tomorrow or go serial dating. No, we’re taking a much slower, more gradual approach. How about tomorrow you say hello to 20 people you pass by or ask a co-worker or classmate to hang out? Find what makes you anxious, and slowly but surely expose yourself to that uncomfortable situation. Besides forcing you to realize there was nothing to be worried about all along—it also desensitizes you to any feelings of anxiety you may have had. Remember when you were first learning to drive? It was probably pretty scary, but after a few months it became second-nature. Well, the same rule applies to social anxiety too.
Remember, try these one at a time, stay determined, and persistence is the lynchpin of success!