By Ellen Wan and Angela Bright
The voice in your head drones on: “If I don’t work hard, I’ll be sifted out,” “No matter how hard I work, I can’t get everything done,” and “Why do I feel anxious when nothing is happening?” Stress leads to mental tension, and inner fatigue leads to psychological anxiety. How do we adjust? Psychologists remind us to not let our emotions lead us by the nose.
Severe anxiety and stress can lead to increased blood pressure, accelerated heart rate, and other physical changes, including sleep disturbances, decreased concentration, and digestive and reproductive system disturbances.
Yu Jiarong, a psychologist and director of the ChildMate Psychological Clinic in Taipei, Taiwan, told The Epoch Times on March 13 that every emotion exists for a reason, but we can choose not to be led by them. She recommends four tips for the readers of The Epoch Times to help relieve tension and anxiety:
1. Focus on the Moment
Instead of worrying about how to stop worrying, focus on what you need to do right now. When we focus on what’s right in front of us, the thought of “I have not done this and that yet” doesn’t come to mind.
2. Keep Everything in Order of Priority
Make a list and prioritize. Do the important and urgent things first, and the less important and urgent things later. When you make a clear list of the things you’ve been thinking about, you won’t be distracted by “what’s left to do” while you’re doing things.
3. Do Your Best
“Do your duty and await the outcome.” If you constantly keep yourself on standby just in case there’s more you have to do, you will miss out on many wonderful things. Therefore, as long as you know that you have done your best, you needn’t concern yourself about the outcome. You can only adjust your own situation.
4. Set Aside Time for Yourself
Take care of your physical and mental health, as your health is more important than anything else. Don’t ignore what’s going on in your heart. Only by allowing time for yourself and talking positively to yourself can you adjust your own pace in a fast-paced society.
Yu cautions that any form of anxiety can lead to physical and mental health problems, and there are ways to relieve anxiety. But if you feel anxious for a long time, you should seek professional help from a psychologist as soon as possible to assess your situation and overcome anxiety together.
Food Therapy: Another Way to Prevent and Relieve Anxiety
Studies have shown that foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean protein can improve mood and cognitive-related diseases. For example:
1. Fish. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to have positive benefits for metabolic diseases (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular disease), rheumatoid arthritis, neurological disease, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Eggs. Eggs contain vitamin D, protein, and L-tryptophan. L-Tryptophan helps produce serotonin, a chemical neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, sleep, memory, and behavior. Serotonin is also thought to improve brain function and ease anxiety.
3. Pumpkin seeds. These seeds are one of the best foods to treat anxiety. Pumpkin seeds are rich in two minerals—potassium and zinc—both essential for brain and neural development. Zinc, primarily stored in brain regions, can promote positive emotions and reduce anxiety. Potassium helps regulate the body’s electrolyte balance and control blood pressure, which is conducive to reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety.
4. Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains the mineral magnesium, which helps reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.
5. Turmeric. The curcumin in turmeric can help reduce anxiety by reducing inflammation and oxidation. A 2015 study found that consuming one gram of curcumin a day reduced anxiety in obese people.
6. Chamomile. Chamomile is a Chinese herb that can be used as a tea. Studies have shown that taking 1,500 milligrams of chamomile extract daily can balance mood and reduce anxiety symptoms.
7. Yogurt. Yogurt is one of the best foods to relieve anxiety. It is a probiotic food, rich in lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, and other healthy bacteria. Yogurt and other fermented foods have anti-inflammatory properties and mood-boosting neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which help reduce inflammation in the body and reduce stress and anxiety.
A 2014 study showed that consuming probiotic yogurt products can trigger feelings of well-being in some people while eating fermented foods can reduce symptoms of social anxiety in teens.
8. Green tea. The L-theanine in green tea has anti-anxiety and calming effects. A 2017 study showed that taking 200 milligrams of L-theanine a day reduced stress in participants.
9. Brazil Nuts. Brazil nuts are rich in minerals such as selenium and vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps treat anxiety. Selenium deficiency in the body will reduce the protective effect of antioxidant enzymes in the brain, causing high oxidative stress to brain cells, which can induce early Alzheimer’s disease. Selenium supplements may help relieve anxiety, irritability, mental fatigue, and even some symptoms of depression.
A June 2010 clinical study found that women who took a daily dose of selenium in the first trimester of pregnancy could prevent postpartum depression.
Healthy people can get sufficient selenium by maintaining a balanced diet. However, it is important to note that excessive selenium may cause nausea, fatigue, and neurological abnormalities. The daily intake of selenium should not exceed 400 micrograms.