Not to be confused with anxiety disorders, occasional anxiousness is considered a normal part of everyday living. Most adults have experienced short-term anxiety during times of loss or when dealing with difficult work or family matters. Many can relate to unpleasant sensations of apprehension or stomach jitters before a job interview, a performance, or while awaiting the results of medical tests, as well as many other challenging anxiety-provoking situations. The feelings of temporary discomfort are triggered by the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response to real or perceived danger. This stress response heightens the senses and provides the body with a burst of energy to assist with either fighting or fleeing.
Frightening experiences whether real or imagined automatically trigger the fight-or-flight response. The brain must ascertain whether a situational trigger encompasses a real threat and the need to fight or flee, as in fear; versus a situation that more resembles a fantasy or dream that doesn’t actually require any action, as in anxiety. While anxiety and fear produce identical physiologic effects, fear is a response to a clear and present danger and the need to seek safety. Normal anxiety is intermittent and expected based on certain events and situations. As well, anxiousness may occur as a result of a psychological and emotional response to a perceived threat. An anxiety disorder results when this response becomes triggered too easily and too frequently.
Anxiety that is characterized by persistent, irrational, seemingly uncontrollable and overwhelming dread that interferes with daily activities and reduces quality of life is considered a serious mental health condition that merits consultation with a healthcare practitioner. Per the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common category of mental illness in the U.S. Constant anxiety takes a toll on health, increasing the stress hormone cortisol, raising blood pressure and driving inflammation that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. As well, fully one third of adults report feeling nervous, irritable, fatigued or angry due to high levels of daily stress.
Norman B. Anderson, PhD, Chief Executive Office of the American Psychological Association (APA) states, “America is at a critical crossroads with it comes to stress and our health.” Statistics show that chronic stress is rapidly becoming a public health crisis with the majority of American adults and almost a third of children suffering from moderate to high stress. Only 40 percent of Americans rate their health as very good or excellent. While 54 percent agree that physical activity is an important tool for stress reduction, only 27 percent are happy about their own level of exercise. Many also blame unhealthy eating patterns and poor sleep quality on high levels of stress.
While Americans cite lack of willpower as the biggest obstacle to adopting healthier behaviors, people can structure their environment to increase the likelihood of making healthy choices to reduce stress and feelings of anxiousness. Traditional approaches for coping with chronic stress and anxiety range from therapy to anxiety-relieving medications, which help manage symptoms but also come with a risk of dependence. Traditional treatment can be complemented with natural approaches. Dietary considerations, physical activity, meditation and good sleep habits, as well as nutritional and herbal supplements are seen as effective strategies for decreasing symptoms of daily stress and occasional anxiety without adding to the risk of serious side effects.
- Mind/body approaches, such as deep breathing, meditation and conscious mindfulness help to ease muscle tension and promote calmness. Studies show that meditation practice is beneficial for stress and anxiety reduction. Practicing mindfulness, which allows a focus on the present, helps to improve brain functions that enhance the ability to avoid excessive stress responses.
- Physical activity directly reduces excess cortisol by using the energy cortisol creates. Exercise is a form of physical stress that relieves mental stress by stimulating the release of endorphins, the brain’s natural pain relievers and mood elevators.
- A diet rich in complex carbs, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits helps to maintain steady blood sugar levels and eliminate highs and lows. Sugar and refined carbs can cause mood swings and altered energy levels, potentially making it more difficult to ease anxiety.
- Ashwagandha, a powerful rejuvenating ayurvedic herb helps to stabilize the body’s response to stress and reduces anxiousness without causing drowsiness. Considered an adaptogen, ashwagandha helps regulate natural bodily processes to promote overall health and wellness.
- Rhodiola, a widely used adaptogenic herb, helps to relieve anxiety symptoms and combats the effects of prolonged stress-related mental and physical fatigue. Rhodiola increases the body’s stress resistance by balancing stress hormone levels, raising and lowering cortisol as needed.
- L-theanine, an amino acid found almost exclusively in the tea plant, has been shown to support relaxation without inducing drowsiness. L-theanine has neuroprotective, mood-enhancing and relaxation properties, and has a positive effect on neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, aiding stress reduction while improving alertness, concentration and attention span.
- B vitamins are vital to a healthy functioning nervous system and help reduce stress, as well as stabilize mood. Vitamin B6, in particular, helps to boost mood by supporting production of serotonin and GABA, calming neurotransmitters that can positively affect emotional response.
Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality supplements in support of overall heathy functioning:
Stress Suppress by Diamond Formulations: This non-drowsy, bestselling product is formulated to address symptoms of daily stress and frustration. Specific nutrients support healthy levels of calming neurotransmitters, encourage balanced stress and inflammatory responses, improve symptoms of stress and support a general sense of wellbeing. Free of wheat, yeast, soy, gluten, animal and dairy products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and artificial colors sweeteners and preservatives. Non-GMO, Kosher formulation.
Ayur-Ashwagandha 300 mg by Douglas Laboratories®: This traditional adaptogenic herb is utilized as a general tonic to support energy production and improve mental and physical performance. Ashwagandha’s natural calming properties support the body during times of emotional and physical stress. Free of yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, corn, sodium, sugar, starch and artificial coloring, preservatives and artificial flavoring. Non-GMO formulation.
B Spectrum by Professional Supplement Center®: ON SALE! This highly bioavailable vitamin B complex provides activated forms of all B vitamins in support of adrenal, neurological, cardiovascular, immune and stress-related functions, as well as healthy mood. Free of wheat, gluten, corn, yeast, soy, animal and dairy products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and artificial colors, sweeteners and preservatives. Non-GMO, vegan formulation.
Rhodiola by Integrative Therapeutics®: Clinically studied rhodiola has been utilized for centuries to combat fatigue, increase physical strength and enhance mental stamina, as well as improve the body’s ability to cope with internal and external stress. Free of sugar, salt, yeast, wheat, corn, gluten, soy, dairy and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Non-GMO, vegetarian formulation.
L-Theanine by Pure Encapsulations®: This unique, amino acid formulation derived from green tea promotes relaxation, helps to moderate occasional stress and supports healthy mood and cellular function. Gluten free, hypoallergenic, Non-GMO, vegan formulation.
Do You Have Normal Anxiety or a Disorder? https://www.verywellmind.com/is-it-normal-anxiety-or-an-anxiety-disorder-2584401
6 Tips to Reduce Daily Stress and Anxiety. https://time.com/4748658/stress-anxiety-ticortisol/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=time-health&utm_content=20190805
Stressed in America. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america
Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2959081/
Exercising to Relax. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax