Top 5 Lifestyle Changes to Combat Anxiety and Depression
- Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet:
Research shows that people with anxiety and depression tend to have more inflammation in their body. The standard American diet (otherwise known as S.A.D.) is loaded with inflammatory compounds such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed oils, preservatives and so on. Getting away from the SAD diet and adopting one that is rich in whole, nutrient-dense colorful foods such as fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and avocados can cool inflammation and boost your mood.
- Incorporate a daily relaxation practice:
Mind-body practices such as yoga, tai chi and qigong can increase awareness of how the body is feeling while shifting attention away from thoughts that perpetuate anxiety and depression. Daily meditation and deep belly breathing practices can also stimulate the production of the feel good hormone ‘serotonin’ that will leave you feeling lighter, happier and more in control.
- Balance your gut microbes:
About 80% of serotonin is actually made in the gut by certain bacteria, especially Streptococcus and Enterococcus. If your microbes are out of balance, you could be lacking in feel good hormones. Support balance by eating plenty of fiber-rich foods and fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut. Avoid processed foods and added sugar. And take a probiotic supplement especially if you are required to take an antibiotic.
- Get moving (outside if you can):
Research shows that exercise can work just as well as antidepressants, the effects last longer, there are fewer side effects, it costs less and provides benefits beyond just a lift of your spirits. Even better, if you can get your body moving outside among the beauty of nature, these benefits will increase exponentially. Fresh air, sunshine and beautiful landscapes can supercharge your exercise and your mood.
- Foster your tribe:
Research shows that loneliness and lack of community can lead to anxiety through stimulation of stress hormones, it can increase your blood pressure, reduce quality of sleep, make it more difficult to learn and remember, and lead to depression. Humans are built for social connection, so surround yourself with a “tribe” that supports and loves you for who you are!