Women and anxiety
Women are nearly twice as prone to anxiety as men. This is believed to be due in party to hormonal factors and cultural pressures to meet everyone else’s needs before their own.1 Expectant mothers and those going through menopause are particularly susceptible to symptoms of anxiety.1
While anxiety can be hard to live with, some women seem to soldier on through it; they manage to go about their everyday tasks seemingly unaffected. They might be on constant overdrive and feeling overwhelmed and agitated though they probably don’t want to admit it to themselves or others. Importantly, over time mild anxiety may worsen and disrupt our work, sleep or relationships, so it’s a good idea to address symptoms early on.
What can a woman do to relieve stress and anxiety and restore her body’s natural equilibrium?
These tips might help:
- Get some fresh air, sunshine and exercise – Exercise is a great stress reliever and may help to manage the symptoms of anxiety.2 Choose activities that you enjoy such as brisk walking, jogging, dancing, cycling, aerobics classes, swimming, boxing or boot camp. Ideally exercise outside to get a dose of fresh air and sunshine to boost your mood and help you stay positive.
- Practise yoga and meditation – Yoga may reduce daily stress and anxiety when practised several times a week,1 and almost anyone can do it including pregnant women. Meditation may reduce anxiety by aiding relaxation. A form of meditation known as ‘mindfulness meditation’ may reduce anxious thoughts and feelings by helping a person focus on the present rather than wandering off into thoughts about the future or past.3
- Schedule in some guilt‐free “me time” – Women are notorious for feeling selfish and guilty if they put themselves first. But dedicated “me time” can actually make us calmer and happier, better work colleagues, mothers and friends. Get more guilt‐free time to yourself by getting a weekly massage, rising earlier than your offspring to read the paper and enjoy the peace and quiet, schedule a night for a pilates or yoga class, soak in the tub with a good book, or schedule in a pampering session.
- Spend time with family and friends – You may not feel like socialising if you’re stressed or anxious, but staying connected with people will actually help increase levels of wellbeing and confidence.4
- Look at what you’re eating – If we consume large amounts amounts of caffeine, sugar, fatty foods or alcohol we will most likely feel tired, sluggish and heavy leading to negative emotions and self‐criticism and making our anxiety symptoms worse. Eating a nourishing diet on the other hand gives us an overall sense of wellbeing.
Try to eat plenty of the following: fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, lean meat, fish and poultry, whole grains such brown rice, quinoa, spelt and rye, dairy products or alternatives such as almond or soy milk that have been fortified with calcium. Also drink plenty of water and limit coffee, sugar and alcohol intake.
- Consider specialised nutritional supplements – Nature’s Own EQ CONTROL is a specialised product with the clinically trialled ingredient Sensoril®, to help relieve common symptoms of stress and mild anxiety including loss of appetite, headaches and muscle pain, irritability, sleeplessness, forgetfulness and inability to concentrate.
- Find extra support – If anxiety is getting you down or affecting your work or relationships it’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional such as a GP, psychologist or mental health nurse. There are also online community forums that provide an opportunity to connect with others, share experiences and find new ways to deal with difficulties. Check out Mindhealth Connect (http://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/) or Beyond Blue (http://www.beyondblue.org.au/connect‐with‐others).
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Published March 17, 2014
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