Anxiety is a mental health issue, effecting about 18% of the population. If you've been diagnosed with anxiety or find yourself stressed out often, then your diet or lifestyle could be making things worse. Adjusting these triggers can significantly reduce anxiety and promote greater calmness.
Here are the top 6 things to watch out for—and what to do about them.
1. You're consuming too much sugar.
Refined sugar can cause a rapid boost in mood, followed by a crash with symptoms of depression, lethargy or anxiety.
Tip: Try switching to sweet potatoes or avocado instead, which have a mild sweetness, but can also produce a calming effect.
2. You getting too much caffeine.
Caffeine can trigger anxiety in many people.
Tip: Even if you think you can handle it, try removing caffeine or switching to green or ginger tea for a week, and see if your anxiety improves.
3. You have a hidden food intolerance or sensitivity.
Different from an allergy (which can cause serious physical and potentially life threatening effects and can be identified through allergy testing), a food sensitivity is an intolerance that can trigger a variety of physical and mood symptoms, including anxiety. The most common kind is lactose intolerance, followed by eggs. Gluten sensitivity effects an estimated 6% of the population.
Tip: Food intolerances do not show up in allergy testing. To determine if a food sensitivity is increasing your anxiety try a 21-day elimination diet.
4. You're eating the wrong foods for your body.
In Aruvedic medicine, there are three types or doshas. The idea is that certain foods either balance or unbalance the doshas. The Vatta Dosha, often found in fast thinking, creative types with slim or long bodies, tends to be anxious.
Tip: Spicy or cold foods can increase anxiety in this type.
5. You're sleep deprived.
Not getting enough sleep is tough for most people, but it's even harder for those with anxiety. New research shows sleep deprivation can trigger anxiety. Making it even worse, anxiety can cause insomnia.
Tip: Try getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night and monitor the impact on your anxiety. If you cannot fall asleep, implement calming practices a few hours before bed.
6. You don't have enough control over your schedule.
This is not in a lot of the literature, but I see it all the time in my practice. The less control people have over their time, the more likely they are to feel anxiety. Even the feeling of being rushed (or even worse—being late), can produce more anxiety.
Tip: Look at your weekly calendar at the end of each week to ensure the next week is doable, Adjust things that are a stretch to a more reasonable time.