Government statistics show that over 13% of people in Hong Kong aged 16 to 75 have common mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. According to a 2015 study, 27.8% of Hong Kong’s primary school children have anxiety symptoms so severe that professional help is warranted (Click here to read more on stress and anxiety in Hong Kong children).
Perhaps you were anxious as a child and grew into an anxious adult, or maybe you developed anxiety later in life. Regardless, with the current situation in Hong Kong, your anxiety levels may be rising. In addition to seeking professional help, what are some natural ways to combat anxiety?
- Talk to a trusted friend. Let out your frustrations and anxiety to someone who is willing to listen without judgment. Don’t bottle up your emotions inside.
- Your anxiety can worsen with caffeine, so avoid coffee, chocolate and other caffeinated foods or beverages. Try swapping caffeinated beverages with herbal teas that promote relaxation, like chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm and passion flower teas.
- Get moving! Physical activity raises endorphins and serotonin levels to help you feel better emotionally. Exercise can also take your mind off your problems. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3 to 6 days a week.
- Take a nature walk or trail hike. Studies show that people who spend time in the great outdoors (or even look at pictures of nature) experience less mental stress and reduced levels of anxiety.
- Practice deep breathing and meditation. The deliberate process of taking slow, even breaths (as opposed to fast, shallow breathing common with anxiety and panic attacks) can help restore normal breathing patterns and reduce anxiety. Research from John Hopkins found that meditation for 30 minutes a day can “provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants.”
- Chemicals in processed foods such as artificial flavors, artificial colors and preservatives may cause mood changes in some people. A diet high in sugar can also affect your temperament. Eliminate processed foods and eat a healthful diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and good fats. Foods which may ease anxiety include fatty fish, nuts, eggs, turkey and yogurt.
Find a health care practitioner who looks at the whole picture. Pharmaceutical drugs can help reduce anxiety but it may not work for every person. Aside from drugs, there are numerous treatment protocols and techniques that can benefit you and help address the symptoms and root causes of anxiety (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals, etc.). Find a doctor who listens and cares for your wellbeing.
Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps countless people reach optimal health using natural medicine and nutrition.
SOURCES: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2141499/largest-ever-hong-kong-mental-health-survey; https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/meditation_for_anxiety_and_depression; https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322652.php