Anxiety is a horrible thing I’ve come to realise. I’ve never really ever experienced it, certainly not on this scale but if I stop my maladaptive day dreaming then I feel anxious and I can feel my heart start to pound. If I will myself to daydream again in order to escape these anxious feelings the anxiety vanishes as obviously I’m feeling all these wonderful emotions and feelings from my fantasy world that make me feel safe and happy. It really is a catch-22.
So what helps beat anxiety?
When my anxiety and maladaptive daydreaming began, I started doing boxing twice a week before work in the park. When I first started I still couldn’t switch off the daydreaming even when boxing and I had a trainer shouting at me to punch the pads. This, to be honest with you, worried me but the more I told myself to be present, the easier it has become. Now when I do boxing my mind doesn’t wander and stays focused on the boxing. Boxing requires concentration as obviously you don’t want to get hit in the face and so the need to concentrate helps to take my mind off the daydreaming and anxiety. When I feel anxious too, I feel the exercise helps to burn off the nervous energy.
Also, when you physically exert yourself, you release endorphins and you stimulate the release of our friend serotonin, which in the brain regulates mood. An aerobic form of exercise is the best since this according to healthline “elevates your heart rate, which improves circulation in your brain”. Regardless of the science the 2 hours a week where I box, I don’t daydream and my anxiety by the end of the session has gone, so I definitely recommend it.
From the research that I’ve done I’ve found out that there are no foods that can directly increase our bodies supply of serotonin. But diet can help in a roundabout way. Food high in something called tryptophans has been linked to regulate our mood as tryptophans are the amino acid from which serotonin is made. And there are foods that can increase your tryptophans.
Forget Atkins, Carbs are good!
When you eat a meal high in carbs, the body releases insulin this causes tryptophans to be absorbed into the body, high levels of which remain in the bloodstream “which means it can freely enter the brain and cause serotonin levels (the happy chemical) to rise”, says nutritionist Elizabeth Somer.
Foods rich in tryptophans are:
- Carbs such as rice, sweet potato, bread etc.
Supplements / Vitamins are also supposed to be very helpful.
Vitamins and supplements are apparently meant to help manage anxiety plus they’re easy to take and my theory that I’m working on is they certainly can only have a beneficial effect. I think I’m taking about 8 vitamin supplements at the moment.
Vitamin B Complex
The B Vitamins sound very important to me since Vitamin B-6 can influence the rate at which tryptophan is converted to serotonin. Then there is the vitamin B-12. There was a research paper published in 2017 that stated that there is a correlation between depression and anxiety and the Level of Vitamin B-12 in people that have depression and anxiety. Best just to take it I think.
Vitamin D also plays a role in mood and brain health and again research has shown there could be a link between depression and a vitamin D deficiency. Also research has shown that vitamin D also helps facilitate with serotonin production.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant shown to help manage anxiety
Omega 3 / Fish oils has also been found to be helpful to people who suffer from anxiety. Interestingly, our body can not make these fats so we need to get them from our diet. A research paper argued that if you had low intake of omega-3 fat in your body this could increase the risk of you suffering from anxiety and depression and so taking omega-3 supplements could help prevent or mange this. This along with the B-complex vitamins I think sounds essential to take.
We also know that chamomile tea is supposed to be calming but really I prefer a cup of coffee. However, thankfully Chamomile can also come in supplements and the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health suggests that it can help with GAD (General Anxiety Disorder).
However, the winning fact for me (and this is quite a statement) is that a study done in 2016 showed that people who took a chamomile supplement extract for 8 weeks had a reduction in General Anxiety Disorder symptoms. According to Medical News today (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com) its effects were comparable with those of an anti-anxiety drug. The participants took 1,500 mg of chamomile per day. This sounds a brilliant supplement to manage anxiety.