The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that more than 40 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with anxiety disorders each year (ADAA). These rates have increased considerably with the current state of the pandemic as many American’s have dealt with job changes, financial struggles, isolation and for some, the loss of a loved one.
Maintaining our health is as important as ever to help combat the effects of stress on our minds and bodies. Regular physical exercise and proper nutrition can have a dramatic effect on those with anxiety and depression. Adding a moderate amount of exercise to our normal routines and adopting healthy eating habits can help improve mood, self-esteem, sleep, and energy levels, and will help to reduce overall stress levels.
When we are physically active, our brain produces chemicals called endorphins that act like natural painkillers. They also aid in improving sleep quality and reducing stress levels which can dramatically impact the harmful effects of stress on our brains. When our brain is affected by stress, our bodies feel it too. When adopting a new healthy habit, sometimes the hardest part can be getting started. Start small and try getting outside for a walk a few times a week or doing a gentle guided yoga session at home.
Nutrition also plays an important role in maintaining our mental and physical health. No diet can cure anxiety but eating a balanced diet can help improve energy levels and help protect our bodies from the effects of stress. Drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol, and eating a healthy, balanced diet can help improve mood and our sense of wellbeing. Try starting each morning with a balanced breakfast. This fuels the body with the energy it needs to tackle the day and sets us up to make healthier choices throughout the day. Try this easy recipe for Banana Overnight Oats to fuel your body for the day ahead.
Incorporating moderate exercise into your weekly schedule and adopting a balanced diet are great ways to help manage stress and anxiety. If you continue to struggle after implementing these practices, seeking professional care for depression and anxiety is highly recommended. For more great information on managing stress through exercise and nutrition, visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.