Health & Wellness

3 Ways Fitness and Nutrition Can Positively Impact Your Anxiety and Stress Levels

By Liz Bailey
Luis Quintero

Anxiety and stress can be a difficult combination to handle. They have the ability to take over all of your thoughts and interfere with your life. If not properly managed, you can become extremely unmotivated in many aspects of your day-to-day. However, learning to control your anxiety and stress does not have to be as difficult as it may appear to be.

When you take care of your physical health, you are contributing to the care of your mental health, as your body’s systems are interconnected. For instance, getting enough sleep will allow you to have proper energy levels, which will allow you to have the energy to exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, which makes you happy and improves your mood. An improved mood lessens the amount of times you feel frustrated and unmotivated, allowing you to get more done and lowering your stress and anxiety.

Fitness and proper nutrition should play a key role in your life. Let’s take a look at how incorporating each of these into your daily routine will improve anxiety and stress—aiding in the health of your body and mind.

1. Physical Fitness Increases Mindfulness

Having a consistent fitness routine works wonders for your mental and physical health. Exercising gives you something to focus on, encouraging you to set goals for yourself and accomplish them. By exercising, your body naturally releases endorphins, commonly called the “feel good” chemicals, which act as both a pain reliever and a mood booster. Studies show that regular exercise has proven to improve depression, anxiety and stress levels. Incorporating daily physical activity can start slow and increase over time.

Yoga is one of many suggested physical activities to engage in if you are someone who is new to exercise. Yoga combines low intensity body movements with focused breathing exercises. Focused breathing engages your respiratory system and sends the body into relaxation. Yoga has a similar effect on the body as meditating, which reduces the flow of incoming information and clears the mind.

You will also experience physical benefits by incorporating fitness into your lifestyle. Yoga will help you to move freely, which will aid in building long, lean muscle and increasing strength. Taking time to yourself and discovering a new hobby will also lower your stress and anxiety levels, as you will have an escape from the current stressors you are facing in your work and/or personal life. It is important to establish a proper fitness routine to give yourself some time to be mindful – increasing concentration and overall mental health.

2. Proper Nutrition for Awareness

Eating the right foods can increase energy levels and have you feeling less fatigued, increasing your motivation to do everyday activities. Not to mention, you will likely feel better just knowing that you are making nutrition a priority. While it’s usually much easier to just grab a burger and fries on your lunch break, there are ways to ensure you are getting proper nutrients and making them more easily accessible.

Meal planning can be especially helpful because it allows you to prep food in mass quantities to have for the week ahead. Taking the time to plan and prep ahead limits the stress of deciding where to eat for lunch each day, and also ensures that each meal is providing your body with the necessary nutrients. While the physical benefits of healthier eating are more commonly known, doctors want us to remember that there actually are psychological benefits that come from a healthy diet, as well. These benefits include a positive effect on your mood, an increase in your focus and a delay in aging on the body and the brain.

Fueling your body with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, protein and healthy fats impacts the energy levels and limits the ‘crashing’ experience that comes from the consumption of unhealthy foods. A balanced diet keeps the mind healthy and engaged.

3. Consider Natural Supplements

Implementing natural supplements into your diet can also alleviate stress and anxiety. Psychological disorders including stress and anxiety can be related to the deficiency of certain chemicals in the brain, and daily consumption of natural supplements and vitamins can positively impact the levels to which someone experiences them. Here are some to consider:

  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)–an amino acid and neurotransmitter that is crucial to serotonin production, which plays a significant role in mood regulation and relaxation.
  • Valerian Root–commonly used as a sleep aid, this herb can also be helpful for reducing anxiety and stress in the body and mind.
  • L-Theanine–another amino acid that is known to improve focus, reduce stress and promote relaxation. L-Theanine can only be found in a few foods and drinks, so purchasing a supplement to take daily would be the best option to including this in your diet daily.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)–a chemical compound found in cannabis plants that works to regulate physiological and cognitive functions related to appetite, anxiety, mood, pain-sensation and inflammation.

While all of the supplements and vitamins listed above are natural products, it is always best to consult with your doctor before beginning the use of any supplement to ensure it is right for you.

You’re On Your Way

Suffering from anxiety and/or stress does not have to take complete control of your life. If you’re serious about finding ways to manage them, first consider assessing your fitness and nutrition and making suggested changes that aid in reducing the symptoms. Engaging in daily exercise and maintaining a healthy diet have always been more commonly associated with the physical benefits; however, the psychological benefits that each of these have should not be overlooked. With anxiety and stress becoming increasingly more prevalent in society today, finding ways to naturally support a happy and healthy mind will be putting you one step closer to becoming a better version of yourself.

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