It’s hard to admit that we have worries.
We’re only human! It’s okay to not feel happy or positive all the time. I mean…are all situations positive? Of course not. So, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for having days in which we are down and out of it. However, because we live in a world in which we are so focused on making sure that the individuals around us aren’t burdened by our problems, it’s hard to share how we feel; I know I’m guilty of it. Even with the people I’m closest to, I’ve just always been afraid to talk about my problems or to show that I even had problems in the first place. Truly opening up to people and letting them see the struggles that I am going through is making myself vulnerable; I was never the biggest fan of vulnerability.
For some time, I assumed vulnerability to be a bad thing; if I opened myself up too much, it would never result in something good. I didn’t like the idea of being susceptible to anyone and allowing myself to be defenseless to anyone was…unrealistic. So, for a while I just kept my worries and insecurities and all the negative junk bottled up inside. And for a while, I thought that this was working out. I shoved my problems so far behind my heart that it seemed like they didn’t exist. If I tried my hardest to act like these problems weren’t there, then maybe they actually wouldn’t be.
Of course, I was highly mistaken.
No matter how hard something gets ignored, that doesn’t mean that it just disappears; worries are not a magic trick. Though I didn’t want to address the things that were haunting me in the back of my heart, eventually, these problems forced their way into the light. After a while, it became impossible for me to not talk about my worries and even more of a struggle to act like I didn’t have to deal with them.
The more I tried to push these things further and further away, the more they accomplished hurting me. I wasn’t taking the steps to put my worries out there, honestly, and to sincerely do something about them. I had spent so much time bottling up everything that it eventually turned into anxiety. I found myself worried about everything now, instead of just the problems I began with. From something as important as a job interview, to something as small as what color nail polish I should get, everything just made me anxious and I was completely lost on what to do about it; or, if anything could even be done about it.
So, how did I combat my anxiety?
First and foremost, I stopped acting like my problems didn’t exist. Instead of waiting for them to force themselves into the light, I forced them there. That first step of acknowledgement of my problems, talking about them and sincerely not being afraid of vulnerability allowed me to address them efficiently and effectively. Being more connected with my faith and with God, I came across a devotional that told me to get a box and paper. On each slip of paper, I was to write down whatever worries I had; whatever was keeping me up at night; whatever problems that were making me anxious. After writing everything down, I took those papers and place them in the “worry” box and I didn’t let them haunt me anymore; this box was a metaphorical of me giving my problems to God and He would relieve me of my anxiety. Even if you don’t follow the same religion I do, THAT was a great practice and you should DEFINITELY try it.
Now with my anxieties bought to light, I wanted to do more to address them. Hmm Deiona…what could possibly help you feel better? What is something that never seems to disappoint and can natural boost your mind, body and spirit? DING DING DING! The answer was food! I love to eat and food had never let me down before, so, I began researching what foods—if any—could aid in my anxiety relief journey.
So, what foods can bring me peace?
If you ever find yourself feeling down or anxious, here are a few foods to get your mind and spirits back in order:
- Dark Chocolate: Yes, to relieve anxiety can be both rewarding and delicious. Flavonoids—a type of antioxidant—found in dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure, enhance the flow of blood to your brain and heart, and relieve your anxiety. However, it is still a sugary sweet so don’t eat too much of it!
- Berries: These fruits have lots of antioxidants, which help with protecting your cells from stress and could potentially ease that anxious feeling.
- Oysters: For my seafood lovers, the zinc in oysters can boost your mood!
- Nuts: Cashews, walnuts and others, the zinc they contain—such as in oysters—can relieve your anxiety and boost your mood.
- Yogurt: The probiotics found in this dairy treat can improve numerous aspects of your health, especially in regards to your mental health. The probiotic yogurts are responsible for inhibiting free radicals and neurotoxins, which can contribute to nerve tissue damage in the brain and lead to anxiety.
- Spinach [or any leafy green]: From spinach, to kale to broccoli, the key ingredient that can help you feel calmer and at ease is magnesium.
- Oatmeal: This super carb slowly enters your system and provides a consistent flow of energy to keep your mind active and lively all day. Additionally, oatmeal can give you a boost of a brain chemical called serotonin, said to be responsible for heightening your mood.
- Oranges [and other citrus fruits]: The vitamin C is the key. Having a diet that consists of consuming a decent amount of citrus fruits have proven to help you calm down and overall put you mind in a better mood.
- Tea: From peppermint to chamomile to lavender, drinking a cup of tea in itself is calming, but the antioxidants these herbal teas provide can help relieve the anxiety on any mind. Additionally, these antioxidants have proven to reduce inflammation, which contribute to anxiety in a person as well. Green tea is also great for anxiety relief. Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has been proven to have positive effects on the brain and on reducing anxiety, specifically with decreasing levels of cortisol—a stress hormone linked to anxiety.
- Turmeric: Try swapping out the salt for this spice. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a compound that has been credited for promoting brain health, anti-inflammatory properties and preventing anxiety disorders.
A lot people may think eating their favorite snack or junk food will get them out of that funky mood. Well, they are wrong. The main problem is all the sugar. Spikes in your blood sugar can bring changes in your hormone levels, and not good ones. These changes can start with having the “jitters” and “crashes” throughout the day.
During this month of international peace, let us remember to not suppress how we are really feeling and discover the peace that our minds, body and spirits deserve.