Ellie Goulding revealed that she had been suffering from stress, exhaustion and serious anxiety last year which was why she cancelled some of her sold-out concerts: “I’d have panic attacks and, to me, they felt like I was dying of a heart attack,” the singer told Stylist magazine.
“It’s a very hot, burning feeling, like your heart is racing uncontrollably which is extra scary for me because I actually have a heart defect.
“Too many people are quiet about mental health. When you feel anxiety, it’s a very lonely feeling. It makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world feeling that way.”
And, she’s not the only famous face that has been battling this; Jennifer Lawrence, Taylor Swift and Catherine Zeta-Jones have all spoken out about suffering from anxiety, plus there’s overwhelming evidence to show that younger women are more prone to panic, worry and moments of feeling anxious about the future than their parents and grandparents were.
New research by the Young Women’s Trust has shown that the current generation of young women are more likely to suffer with anxiety as well as having lower confidence levels. Young women responded that they 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.
Those are pretty staggering statistics; if you have ten female friends then at least five will be grappling with stress, worry and perhaps depression – as well as other related mental health issues. This is bad news, because women tend to feel concerned about the stigma attached to mental health problems, so are less likely to speak up, or seek out help.
If you’re suffering with anxiety, as well as considering a visit to your doctor to talk through the many options which are available to you, here’s SIX easy ways to help combat it.
Boost your serotonin levels
If you suffer with anxiety it is incredibly important to boost your feel good hormone – serotonin – whenever you can.
Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist, and author of ‘Natural Alternatives to Sugar’ explains how a few simple changes in your diet can work wonders for your happiness levels:
“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.”
Know when to say no
When you are getting pulled in a million different directions it can quickly become overwhelming. Make sure you prioritise the most important thing in your life, your health.
Marilyn says: “If you feel the symptoms of stress coming on, learn to get your priorities right. There is nothing in your life right now more important than your health. Learn to say no if you feel that you have taken on too much.”
Boost your omega 3 intake
Diet is the easiest way to nourish your brain and body. Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at Superfood UK, explains:
“Oily fish contains DHA, which contributes toward brain health; research has also shown that the omega three found in oily fish helps in reducing anxiety. Anxiety is something which is often peaking at the end of a busy day so by eating this omega rich meal you will be helping to support your body through this period.”
Feed both your brains
Yes, you read that right; there is a strong connection between the brain and the gut, with scientists now referring to the gut as our second brain. Chronic stress can lead to negative changes within the gut, whilst relaxation promotes gut health.
Lily Soutter, nutritionist and weight loss expert, explains: “90% of serotonin is located within our gut, with only 10% in the brain. Our gut is jam packed full of bacteria which has a strong positive influence on serotonin production which relays information to the brain. No wonder probiotics can have such an effect on our happy hormones!”
And, Adrienne Benjamin, nutritionist at ProVen Probiotics suggests: “To balance your gut flora consider a good quality live bacteria supplement and include fermented foods in your daily diet. Go for natural yoghurt, miso soup, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.”
Fresh air is key
Around two thirds of people tend to eat more during stressful periods. When we are under stress, many of us go for sugar or high fat (dis)comfort foods to counteract tension. Or, they won’t eat – which means they’re denying their bodies of the weapons they need to help feel their best during a difficult time.
It is important to leave the house and get outside, no matter what the weather, as Lily explains: “Take advantage of any rays of sunshine during the winter months to soak up some vitamin D. Fresh air, exercise and nature can also help to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which ultimately can boost immunity.”
Balance your hormones
Stress sends your hormones crazy and throws them out of balance; which then leads to more stress and becomes a vicious circle. (Stress produces cortisol which is the fight or flight hormone and can feel like caffeine jitters). Eating a balanced diet which is rich in fresh vegetables, some fruit and quality lean protein is key, as is getting lots of early nights and reducing your alcohol, caffeine and refined sugar intake – which send your blood sugar soaring and crashing.
Feel calmer and happier – today!
As a footnote, acupuncture and shiatsu – as well as doing regular digital detoxes all help ease anxiety. Long-distance swimmer Beth French told us that she used mindfulness to recover from a serious and debilitating illness which left her bed-ridden and in a wheelchair in her teens. This brilliant self-hypnosis technique will help you learn to feel happier and you can get started in less than one minute.
This fabulous woman drew her way out of depression by doing one drawing which was based around a positive thought every single day. It went on to become a best-selling book: read her journey to happiness here.
Let us know in the comments below if anxiety is something which you have dealt with and how you coped…