January 15, 2020; Many believe this past year has been the most stressful year excluding the two world wars and the great depression. That is an ominous conclusion, but many of us would agree. Despite the stress of 2020, as we entered January 2021 stress levels have peaked again due to political conflicts. Is there hope for 2021 to be better? I believe there is hope. We now have a very effective COVID-19 vaccine and it appears the economy is posed to recover. Of course, we don’t know exactly what will happen, but as we learned in 2020, maintaining our mental and physical health is important to take on the struggles to come.
In fact, from an article by Psychology Today from Dec 21, 2020, 2020 was a tough year for most Americans. This article reported according to the U.S. Census Bureau provided data to NBC News, more than 1 in 4 in the U.S. reported having felt anxious more than half of the previous seven days. For feelings of depression, the number was close to 1 in 5, a figure that has inched up since near the start of the pandemic.
In the Psychology Today article they also mention a few tips to help reduce the risks of excessive anxiety:
Get your Physical Health Checked Out
Especially, if you have increased shakiness, shortness of breath, nausea in order to rule out any medical conditions that could be contributing to anxiety. These may include heart disease, thyroid problems, COVID-19 or diabetes that can present with anxiety-like symptoms.
Take you Vitamins
Approximately 80% of Americans take dietary supplements and vitamins according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition. The mineral magnesium has been shown to lower symptoms of stress and gastrointestinal distress while improving sleep. Consider taking probiotics (whether consumed through foods like yogurt or in supplement form), A healthy gut may help both anxiety and depression.
Coffee and tea have healthy antioxidants and caffeine that can improve mental alertness. But too much can induce symptoms of dizziness, heart palpitations, and stomach upset.
Reduce your Sugar
Simple sugars and other carbohydrates that are quickly absorbed and will increase the pleasure neurotransmitter – dopamine. Dopamine spikes can result in food addiction and can ultimately make us more vulnerable to depression. Complex carbohydrates that take longer to digest are not associated with this. These include whole oats, vegetables and high fiber foods.
These are just a few ways to reduce your anxiety and improve your 2021. Of course, mediation, mindfulness, increased socialization and re-establishing your circle of fiends and family can help also. My hope for you is a happier and healthier 2021.