What we can do to help prevent anxiety

Laura Thompson


Laura Thompson




Anxiety can become a constant and almost daily battle

Anxiety is something that we all have experienced at some point in our lives, whether it is before taking an exam or starting a new job, but for some people anxiety can be a constant battle completely taking over there lives.

Anxiety is our bodies natural reaction to threat or danger or what’s often classed as the “ fight or flight response”. Our body releases hormones such as adrenaline to help us stay alert and react quicker.

So some form of anxiety could be seen as beneficial as it helps us to focus and concentrate better. However when anxiety becomes excessive or if it occurs when there is no danger present it is considered an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health issues affecting the population of Ireland. There are no accurate statistics but it is thought that one in nine people will suffer a primary anxiety disorder at sometime in their lives.

Anxiety disorders are not age -specific and can range from childhood and adolescence into adulthood.
So what can we do to help prevent anxiety ?

Ongoing stress is a big factor so it is important to get the balance right between work and leisure. Learning to leave work at work is a battle that I am all too familiar with but is crucial for us all. Making to do lists and putting things aside till the next day rather than stressing over them has helped me immensely.

Learning to say no sometimes, letting people know when you have too much on your plate is not a failure but a strength. Set boundaries regarding your time and make sure that you have adequate rest and relaxation.

I have spent a lot of time studying the gut and am amazed at how important good digestion is for our mental health.

In our bodies we have what is known as the “ Vagus Nerve “ this extends all the way from our brain ,tongue, vocal chords, heart, lungs and intestines.

To simplify it, our brain and our gut are in constant communication. When we are anxious we will often experience “butterflies in our tummies” the brain signalling to the digestive system that there is a threat. However we now know that it can also happen in reverse sometimes the gut can signal to the brain causing some anxiety.

Keeping the gut healthy or as it is often referred to “The 2nd Brain” is important for mental health. Eating a wide diversity of vegetables, whole grains and fruits is important for good gut health.
Breathing properly is another factor , so many of us breathe using only a small part of our lungs especially if we are stressed. Rapid shallow breathing will sometimes lead to panic attacks. Learn to breathe properly using all of your lungs expanding it deep into your abdomen.

Try taking a yoga class where breathing techniques are taught to overcome anxiety and panic attacks. Mindfulness is also very beneficial and has strong research to back it up.

Reduce your intake of caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea. Try herbal teas such as green tea or Chamomile. Cut down on the sugar which is bad for your gut bacteria but also a stimulant increasing anxiety. Alcohol is something we often think of as a relaxant but it can be a factor in anxiety and depression so use it in moderation.

There are some great natural remedies for anxiety and your health food shop will be able to help you choose the best one for you.

Here are some of my favourites : Avena Sativa made from oats . This is a very gentle herb which can help with mild anxiety and is a good one to start with.

Passiflora , Valerian and lemon Balm are all natural relaxants. Remember to check with your doctor if you are on prescribed medication before trying herbal remedies.

Many people, myself included, find C B D oil useful particularly for sleep disorders. Again check with your doctor first.

Taking a good multi b vitamin is a good idea. B vitamins are really important for protecting the Adrenals and we don’t store them in the body so need regular amounts. Magnesium known as Natures Tranquiliser is fantastic. An amino acid called L Theanine is also worth trying found in green tea.

Treatments such as Acupuncture, Massage and Reflexology are all great for relaxation.

A final word from Sonia Ricotte “surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.”