Lifestyle, Nutrition and Anxiety
Anxiety sufferers are advised to pay attention to dietary and lifestyle factors which can aggravate anxiety (Andrews, Creamer, Crino, Hunt, Lampe & Page, 2003). There are lots of links between nutrition and stress, such as better sleep patterns, less illness or slugishness and a higher general feeling of well-being.
Some things in your diet that could be linked to stress levels include the following.
Avoid or limit caffeine. Chocolate, some high energy drinks, hot chocolate beverages, coffee, tea & cola drinks all contain caffeine, a stimulant which accelerates the fight or flight response. Caffeine can interfere with your sleep and make you more nervous. Switch to decaffeinated coffee, herbal tea and/or decaffeinated cola drinks, or reduce the number of cups of coffee/cola you have.
Alcohol can aggravate anxiety. People with anxiety are often tempted to drink alcohol before and/or during social engagements as it initially decreases anxiety. However, after alcohol has been in your system for a few hours it acts as a stimulant, making you more likely to hyperventilate and putting you at increased risk of having a panic attack.
Try to quit smoking or at least reduce the number of cigarettes you have. Nictotine, like caffeine, is a stimulant which accelerates the fight or flight response. Unfortunately, many anxious people smoke before or during social events and this will only increase your anxiety. A mental health practitioner can assist you to cease smoking and information on how to stop smoking is available from QUIT.
Try to get a good night’s sleep. Being overly tired can make you more anxious and increase the likelihood of you having a panic attack.
Endeavour to express your anger (1) in an assertive way and (2) as soon as possible after a negative event, as pent up anger increases your level of stress (Andrews et al,2003).
Cocaine, marijuana and amphetamines can increase anxiety levels and lead to users having panic attacks (Burns,1999).
Andrews, G., Creamer, M., Crino, R., Hunt,C., Lampe, L., & Page, A. (2003). The Treatment of Anxiety Disorders. Second Edition. Cambridge, England. Cambridge University Press
Change your lifestyle and help decreases anxiety you may feel. We have a team of psychologists in Melbourne waiting to help, call 03 9819 3671 now.
Burns,D.D. (1999). The Feeling Good Handbook. New York. New York. Plume.