Simple Solutions to Reduce Anxiety

by Eric Disco
Jun 21

luciole.deviantart.com2There’s a lot of talk about different ways to minimize anxiety.

But if you’re really serious about getting past anxiety, you may want to consider two very simple solutions.

This week, Time Magazine has an interesting article about the effect of exercise on depression and anxiety (Is Exercise the Best Drug for Depression?).

Various studies have been testing the results of exercise versus pharmaceutical anti-depression and anti-anxiety drugs and the results are startlingly similar.

The article explains why.

The result is that exercise primes the brain to show less stress in response to new stimuli. In the case of lab rats and mice, that stimuli include being plunged into very cold water or being suspended by the tail. And while those are not exactly problems that most people face, the thinking is that the human neurochemical response may well react similarly, with exercise leaving our brain less susceptible to stress in the face of harmless but unexpected events, like a missed appointment or getting a parking ticket. A little bit of mental strain and excess stimulation from exercise, in other words, may help us to keep day-to-day problems in perspective.

I have found from first-hand experience that running a few times a week adds to a much more stable mood.

In fact it does a lot of good things for me. After taking a break from exercising and coming back, I can’t believe it took me so long to get back into it.

My anxiety levels definitely drop and I become more social and energetic in general.

Caffeine

Far be it from me to pry the cup of coffee out of your hands and tell you not to drink it.  I know how much people love coffee.

I myself would probably not have stopped drinking it if I hadn’t had stomach issues.

For the past few weeks I’ve been completely off caffeine and I can tell you the effect is amazing in terms of anxiety.

Caffeine stays in your bloodstream for up to 18 hours. Not only does it disrupt sleep, but it increases heart rate, adds to nervousness, and almost mimics the effects of anxiety in a lot of ways.

Nutritional biochemist Stephen Cherniske, author of “Caffeine Blues,” talks about the effects of caffeine on anxiety sufferers.

For five years I worked in a team practice with physicians and psychotherapists. Often, the psychological evaluation would include one or more anxiety syndromes, and the recommendation was for counseling. I would point out that the person was consuming excessive amounts of caffeine and request a trial month off caffeine prior to therapy sessions. In about 50% of cases, the anxiety syndrome would resolve with caffeine withdrawal alone.

If you’re serious about getting past approach anxiety, try reducing or eliminating caffeine as well as getting regular exercise. You may be surprised at the benefits.

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posted in Miscellaneous

COMMENTS
6 responses
Tz says:

That’s a good point about caffeine and exercise, Eric. Exercise has so many beneficial effects on everything from health to self-esteem to mood, that it’s a no-brainer. Caffeine is questionable though. Some research has suggested it may have some anxiety-provoking effects when given to people who don’t normally consume it, but other research has suggested that even those who are genetically vulnerable to anxiety quickly become adapted to the anxiety-inducing effects of caffeine if they’re regular coffee drinkers. So if you regularly drink coffee, you’re probably immune to any anxiety effects from it. Plus, coffee has a lot of other potential benefits too, such as improved mood and other research suggesting a lowered risk of diabetes and other disorders. Not to mention that coffee shops can be a good place to meet girls ;)

Eric Disco says:

So if you regularly drink coffee, you’re probably immune to any anxiety effects from it. Plus, coffee has a lot of other potential benefits too, such as improved mood and other research suggesting a lowered risk of diabetes and other disorders.

Someone once told me a great analogy, that caffeine is like going into debt. You get that energy, but you always pay for it later in some way.

They’ve done studies on long term caffeine drinkers and found that it gives a temporary boost, but that a tolerance builds up that slowly negates that boost. They tested caffeine drinkers and non-caffeine drinkers in a variety of mental tasks. The people who drank caffeine regularly needed that caffeine to get back to zero, where the non-caffeine drinkers were without caffeine.

I myself have sworn on how awesome caffeine makes me feel. It gets my mind racing. I feel mentally lubricated.

But I also know that pickup is not a mental game. It’s a physical game. Thinking more does not usually help. In fact its one of the main culprits of anxiety.

My main desire for caffeine is to get an energy boost because I feel tired or unmotivated, something I should be doing without caffeine (theoretically!)

But the difference I feel in my anxiety levels is noticeable. It’s not that I have no anxiety but there are less huge fluxuations in my anxiety levels. And I know more how to deal with the anxiety that is there. My anxiety isn’t on steroids like it is with caffeine.

Eric

Hal says:

I have now gone for about 5 days without any caffeine. Approach anxiety, although still present, is much reduced. Also my energy levels appear to be more constant.

[...] Eric Disco – “Simple Solutions to Reduce Anxiety” [...]

Snap says:

It seems an absolute no-brainer to me that caffeine could cause anxiety. I have been utterly amazed to find that I’m having considerable caffeine each day in the form of tea. I had falsely believed tea had much less caffeine.

With respect, I have to laugh when I see comments to the effect that it is questionable whether caffeine can be a serious consideration for anxiety sufferers. Perhaps we build tolerance to some degree, but if it were complete, why would there be withdrawal symptoms? Yet there are.

In any case, it’s entirely possible that some are more succeptible to anxiety with stimulants. I have a severe reaction to ephidrine or pseudo-ephedrine. It is pretty much a long, drawn out panic attack. The only thing that made it bearable, when I had it, was knowing it would subside after a few hours.

I’m quite sure caffeine is no good for me. I’ve been drinking tea as a beverage that I enjoy. I have now realised that on at least a handful of occasions, I have had serious anxiety after 3 or so cups of tea.

Enough’s enough. I’m off it. Here’s hoping a lot of anxiety goes with it.

Adam says:

I have had some form of anxious thinking for a while, I was unsure where it came from, I thought it had piled up from my demanding job as a chef. I was trying all sorts of elimination diets, removing one thing at a time to figure out what was causing my anxiety. At one point I attempted pescatarianism to become normal!

I came to a point when I thought it was my beer drinking, isolated the alcohol from my diet but the anxious thoughts were still present. I get regular exercise as I am a cyclist who lives in Portland Oregon, my bicycle is my main vehicle.

I had began attending school where one of the advisors I loved talking with allowed me to drink the department coffee, and I did all day long! I was only half aware that I had began drinking up to 7 cups of coffee a day!

I realized that my anxiety could be caused by all the coffee and cut it out of my diet, for a week now I have only been drinking caffeine free tea, I feel sooooo much less anxious! its incredible!

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