It’s that time of year when there’s more to do than there’s time to do it. And the simple but truly important things like sleep, healthy eating and exercise tend to hit the back burner. I get it. But there’s a problem (a big one) brewing when you put yourself last on the to-do list. The less you take care of yourself, the more likely you are to be dealing with some serious anxiety issues. Can you get through the month of December actually feeling good and mentally strong heading into the New Year? I believe it’s totally possible.
Here are 5 ways to get started.
- Stop eating sugar. That’s right sugar. Because eating sugar taxes your system and makes it harder for your body to cope with stress. Consequently, you might experience difficulty concentrating, brain fog, fatigue, shaking, tension, sleep issues, and depression. Pretty much, sugar turns you into a zombie. And it’s incredibly hard to whip through your daily agenda when you feel like the walking dead. So, you’ve got to read your labels and do your best to avoid any products with added sugar in the list of ingredients.
- Start eating good mood food. Oatmeal, almond butter, quinoa, fresh berries, raw honey, ground flax, wild salmon and leafy greens are naturally loaded with the raw materials your body needs to boost your energy, concentration and an overall sense of wellness. Harness the power of food to boost your mood and bust your anxiety.
- Focus on your breathing. That’s right breathing. So simple right? Yet, notice how many times in a day you are holding your breath. Deep, low and slow breathing can improve your heart rate variability and increase your sense of calm. I’ve got two suggestion on how to work on better breathing. First, try a progressive muscle relaxation exercise; this easy and effective technique works to improve your breath and reduce muscle tension. Second, check out heart rate variability biofeedback. And while biofeedback is often most effective when directed by a trained practitioner, there are some great devices available for home use. My favorite is HeartMath. Bottom line: you can take control of your anxiety by taking control of your breath.
- Hit the road. As in hit the pavement. As in running, biking, hiking, pilates, yoga, tabata. Whatever gets you out and gets you moving. By boosting levels of feel-good and happy brain chemicals and hormones, exercise and movement are unquestionably a key to managing your mood.
- Take 20. Allow yourself guilt-free 20 minute breaks. Small breaks throughout the day will actually increase your productivity.
Realize that there are simple and natural strategies for managing your anxiety.
You’ve got to put your health somewhere near the top of your to-do list. Empower yourself by focusing on simple and effective strategies. By lessening the sugar burden on your body, eating good mood foods, learning to control your breath, exercising and giving your mind & body occasional breaks, you’ll be better able to naturally bust your anxiety.