We've asked a neurologist how best to alleviate anxiety by working out, looked into morning rituals that will help, and tried to find other anxiety remedies as proposed by our readers and co-workers. The thing is, we're an anxious bunch. While it's not only this generation of 20-somethings that experiences anxiety, numerous studies have produced findings that prove millennials suffer from anxiety at a much higher rate than those who preceded them.
Jean Twenge, PhD, a social psychologist at San Diego State University and the author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before, wrote "Obviously there's a lot of good things about societal and technological progress, and in a lot of ways our lives are much easier than, say, our grandparents' or great-grandparents' lives. But there’s a paradox here that we seem to have so much ease and relative economic prosperity compared to previous centuries, yet there's this dissatisfaction, there's this unhappiness, there are these mental health issues in terms of depression and anxiety."
So here we are. Discussing another way to soothe and treat your anxiety because knowledge is power. Below, find 11 foods that can help give you some relief.
Green TeaPhoto: Stocksy
"Not only does drinking green tea make you feel nice and cozy," the Care/Of scientific advisory team says, "it also has properties that give a calming effect. Care/of specializes in personalized vitamins and supplements curated for you based on your lifestyle. So, they know a lot about ingredients and how they effect our bodies. "It contains the amino acid L-theanine, which stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin," the team says.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which allows for more dynamic functioning of the brain, and higher levels of dopamine have been linked to enhanced brain function, elevated mood and energy levels, and a more balanced nervous system. And, releasing serotonin will help break the cycle of your anxious thoughts.
Dark ChocolatePhoto: Stocksy
"Eating dark chocolate has shown to reduce stress hormones, including cortisol and epinephrine," explains the Care/Of scientific advisory team. "Cocoa is a rich natural source of flavanol antioxidants, and it’s thought that these flavonoids help reduce oxidative status, which can cause stress if left unmanaged."
Researchers found eating the equivalent of one average-sized dark chocolate candy bar each day for two weeks reduced the stress hormone cortisole as well as catecholamines (our "fight-or-flight" hormone) in highly stressed people.
"They're a great source of magnesium and selenium, so snacking on almonds can help you de-stress," says the Care/Of scientific advisory team. "If you're not getting enough of either of these important minerals, it can affect your mood negatively."
Turkey contains tryptophan, a chemical that may promote calmness when consumed regularly. According to a recent study, 25 healthy young adults saw differences in anxiety, depression, and mood after consuming a high-tryptophan and a low-tryptophan diet for four days each.
"Asparagus is rich in folic acid," says Brooke Alpert, a registered dietician and author of The Diet Detox. "Folic acid has been shown to help with depression and mood disorders, according a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology."
According to the research, there's a link between depression and anxiety and low folate levels. However, oral doses of folic acid (as well as B12) help with reoccurring mood disorders.
"Blueberries are full of vitamin C—an antioxidant that helps soothe anxiety, stress, depression, and fatigue," says Alpert. In a recent study, findings showed antioxidants "play an important therapeutic role in combating the damage caused by oxidative stress in individuals that suffer from anxiety." And, that a "diet rich in vitamin C may be an effective adjunct to medical and psychological treatment of anxiety and improve academic performance."
"Avocados have high levels of B vitamins—often, feelings of anxiety may be rooted in a B-vitamin deficiency," says Alpert. Truth be told, there has been very little research done with proper control groups and enough participants to prove the effectiveness of all B vitamins on anxiety. Though B12 is an option that has the most information available about its positive effects, and avocados are a great, nutritious way to get your fill.
Oily FishPhoto: Stocksy
"Wild salmon provides a great source of B12 vitamins as well," says Alpert. Plus, tuna, sardines, trout, and mussels contain omega-3 fatty acids—specifically a fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid (or EPA)—which has been linked to mood. Omega-3s are the basic building blocks of the brain and nervous system, but our bodies don’t produce it, so eating fish helps brain signals keep moving smoothly," adds the Care/Of scientific advisory team."
"Probiotics have been studied for years for their relation to brain health. The healthy management of gut bacteria directly affects chronic stress, and it has been shown to promote mental health and cognitive function," explains the Care/Of scientific advisory team. "You can support your microbiome (and your brain) with yogurt full of good, probiotic bacteria."
Researchers at William & Mary and the University of Maryland have found a connection between eating pickled (aka fermented) foods and having fewer social anxiety symptoms. Similar to the positive affects yogurt can have on your anxiety, those involved in the study speculate the findings have to do with probiotics. So adding more pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha to your diet may offer solace from your anxious feelings.