Anxiety is one of the most common problems facing young people today and it can easily affect anyone. Research by the Young Women’s Trust has shown that today’s generation of young women are more likely to suffer with anxiety and have lower confidence levels.

Young women are feeling overwhelmed primarily by work, housing and financial problems. The study also revealed almost half of young women are worried about their mental health.

 

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We asked our experts for the top ways to help ease your anxiety naturally:

 

HIGH QUALITY FOOD

You’d be surprised how much your diet links to your anxiety levels, Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com, explains:

“‘You are what you eat’ is very relevant when it comes to anxiety and your food choices can make a massive difference to how you feel and function. Food is not just about calories, and the more fresh it is and the less processed it is, the better it is for you all round. Avoid processed foods, additives, artificial sweeteners, sugars, white flours and refined carbohydrates. Also ideally eliminate or at least reduce alcohol and caffeine intake. Nourish yourself with fresh, wholesome, ideally home-made food, ensuring a good balance of protein, good quality carbohydrates, beneficial fats and oils.”

 

B VITAMINS

One of the easiest ways to boost your mood is to make sure you get some Vitamin B in your diet, Shona says:

“We often can’t prevent the stresses of life, but we can influence our reaction to it. Take a B complex daily, as the B vitamins are water-soluble and if you’re not consuming them daily, through your diet and/or supplementation, you will just miss out on them. The B vitamins folate (B9), niacin (B3), thiamine (B1) and vitamin B6 (and also vitamin C) all contribute to normal psychological function, having an impact on how we feel.”

 

OMEGA 3 FISH OILS

It might be an old wives tale, but fish oil has many benefits, especially when it comes to the brain. Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns, explains:

“Almost 60% of our brains are made up of fat, and about half of that fat is DHA omega 3 fatty acids, which really can only be found in fish. This is why fish is often known as a great source of ‘brain food.’ These essential fats are crucial in order for the brain cells to actually ‘pick up’ our neurotransmitters (i.e. serotonin) so that they can be utilised by the brain cells and play their part in our mood, increasing happiness and reducing anxiety. Omega 3 are known as ‘essential’ fats because our bodies do not make these so we must rely on eternal sources for these nutrients, such as eating oily fish, or taking a supplement.”

 

MINUTES OF MINDFULNESS

With the abundance of mindfulness apps on the market it is easy to take a quiet 5-minute break with a little bit of meditation.

Shona explains: “Meditation is now gaining mainstream recognition through scientific research for its ability to reduce stress. Those in stressful jobs or situations can benefit enormously from meditative practice. It can be done anywhere, such as on the bus or train into work and even 5 minutes can be helpful to clear your mind and feel refreshed.”

 

DEEP BREATHING

Lynne Robinson, Founder of Body Control Pilates and author of Pilates for Life, says:

“Anyone who does Pilates regularly will recognise the moment a few minutes into a session when you get an overwhelming sense of release and calm, and, dare I say it, even joy. As your breathing deepens and settles into its rhythm, as your spine lengthens and unravels, as your deep core muscles connect and your limbs stretch out, mind and body unite and you suddenly feel in control.”

 

RELAX WITH MAGNESIUM

Magnesium is the most important mineral for ‘relaxing’ nerves and muscles. It is essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system. It is also a mineral that many of us are very deficient in. Cassandra says:

“Many of us live hectic, stressful lives, and are more exposed to environmental and food toxins, which can make us more prone to a magnesium deficiency. Try to include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains and bananas in your diet, which are all rich in magnesium. Alternatively, to make sure you’re getting your daily dose I would recommend taking Natures Plus KalmAssure Magnesium Capsules (£5.19, www.naturesplus.co.uk), which are very easy to absorb and easily delivered to the tissues. You will see the difference after 3 months”

INCREASE YOUE ‘FEEL GOOD’ HORMONE

You need to make sure that our levels of serotonin, the ‘feel good’ hormone, remains high if you want to keep your anxiety levels in check. Marilyn Glenville, Nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar explains:

“The body makes serotonin from tryptophan, which occurs naturally in foods such as dairy products, fish, bananas, dried dates, soya, almonds and peanuts. The manufacture of serotonin depends on how much tryptophan is transported into your brain. Combining the foods mentioned above with unrefined carbohydrates, such as brown rice, wholemeal bread or oats, helps the body to release insulin to help tryptophan uptake to the brain. A good example would be to kick start your day with eggs and wholemeal toast for breakfast.”

 

EXERCISE

Everyone knows one of the best ways to de stress is too pump up your endorphins, Katie Booth, CEO and Co Founder of Fitssi, says:

“What better way to reduce stress than sweating it all out and having a laugh with some friends? A good training session can be a great way to switch off from whatever’s stressing you out. Working out with others means you can have a laugh, spend quality time with friends or meet likeminded people, but instead of sharing a drink at the pub you can be getting fitter and healthier.”

Many people are feel nervous about going to a new gym and find big classes intimidating. If you’re one of them try and find smaller, more personalised training sessions that fit in with your own schedule through local classes or through an app like Fitssi (www.fitssi.com)

 

BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR

Irratic sugar levels can easily be behind heightened levels of anxiety and can even prompt an anxiety attack, Marilyn says:

“Balancing blood sugar is essential in lowering stress because the crashes in sugar levels which happen through the day (due to long periods without food and not eating the right foods) stimulates the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol to be released. This is because these stress hormones, apart from helping you to run away from a tiger, can also mobilise your glucose (which has been stored as glycogen in the liver) back into the blood stream. This is why you can feel more jittery, irritable etc when blood sugar plummets!”
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“So, ensure you have a small meal every 2-3 hours that contains protein (eat breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a snack mid morning and one mid afternoon). For example, a hard-boiled egg, 10-12 almonds, a small can of tuna and brown rice. This will stop those roller-coaster highs and cravings for sweet foods. Because your blood sugar isn’t allowed to drop, your body will no longer have to ask you for a quick fix. As your blood sugar steadies, so will your mood swings – reduced adrenaline levels will automatically make you feel happier and calmer inside and feel less stressed.”

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