Nutrition & Exercise to Combat Anxiety

Nutrition and exercise play vital roles in our mental health. Making sure we eat the right way and move our bodies is always important, but, did you know eating foods rich in nutrients and getting 30 minutes of exercise daily can help with your anxiety symptoms? 

What is anxiety and what is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety is a feeling of discomfort typically in the absence of an imminent threat. It is a natural part of our fight or flight response and serves us to be alert in the case of a threat. 

However, when feelings of panic, nervousness and fear become overwhelming and interfere with your ability to perform daily activities you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder. If you are unsure if you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, please seek a medical professional for assistance. 

Nutrition and exercise may aid with controlling anxiety symptoms but may not be enough if you are experiencing an anxiety disorder.

Common anxiety symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Feeling nervous or tense
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly 
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling tired
  • Trouble concentrating 

Nutrition & Anxiety

Nutritious meals fuel our body and brain which prevent crashes throughout the day. While not a substitute for treatment, certain foods can help with minimizing anxiety.

Tips for upping your daily nutrition:

  • Choose complex carbohydrates that boost the calming brain chemical serotonin. Complex carbohydrates include, quinoa, brown rice, black rice, oats and barley.
  • Eat protein at breakfast, so you have energy and your blood glucose levels stay steady.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause mood changes. Aim for 8 glasses of water daily.
  • Include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Exercise & Anxiety

Getting 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily can greatly reduce the symptoms of anxiety.  Exercise releases feel-good chemicals in our brain, reduces muscle tension and boosts resilience. 

Tips for increasing your daily exercise:

  • Start slowly and build up gradually. 
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Listen to how your body feels. Aim for 30 minutes per day, sit with yourself, check in and see how you’re feeling.
  • Walk in nature and embrace the soothing atmosphere as you walk
  • Crank your favorite tunes and dance 
  • Change the exercise you do to make it interesting. 

Have fun & feel the difference

Including proper nutrition and exercise in your daily routine will have you feeling better and will reduce anxiety symptoms. While these tips will not eliminate anxiety altogether it will make your anxiety easier to manage. 

The following books are a starting point to some of the wonderful resources available to you at Markham Public Library.

Until next time, have a wonderful day   

Nutrition & Exercise to Combat Anxiety


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