Anxiety has been an unwanted companion of mine since childhood. From anxiety-induced stomach aches before school swimming lessons, to panic attacks while out shopping, anxiety has a big impact on my life experiences.

Over the years I’ve learned to take a two-pronged approach to anxiety. To manage it I use:

  • Speedy remedies like chewing on lemon balm leaves, drinking valerian tea, dosing up on Bach Rescue Remedy, and using Ashwagandha tincture each day whenever I’m in a particularly stressful phase.
  • Long term nutrition support. I regularly include foods that supply the vitamins and minerals my nervous system needs to manage anxiety and support mental wellbeing.

This 5-minute video covers 5 of my favourite foods for nervous system support. Each one is easy to find and easy to prep – there’s no weird ingredients or lengthy recipes here. I recommend including these on a regular basis and noticing how you feel. If you scroll on down past the video you’ll find some more ideas for foods and drinks that can help manage anxiety. All of these foods can be safely consumed alongside anxiety medications.

More Good Foods for Managing Anxiety

Fermented foods: let’s not forget the gut microbiome! Our gut flora produce important molecules that influence the nervous system and the production of mood chemicals.

One of these molecules is GABA (gamma amino-butyric acid). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that calms the nervous system. Fermented foods contain the probiotic bacteria that produce GABA, and fibres to nourish other gut bacteria. In turn, this support a healthy environment in the gut, and continues the production of GABA.

Including a serving of fermented foods each day is a great way to top up and fertilise your microbiome. Choose from:

  • Sauerkraut: available from healthfood stores and some supermarkets (avoid the pasteurised versions as the bacteria die off during pasteurisation) or make your own
  • Kefir: milk kefir, water kefir, coconut water kefir – there’s plenty of different varieties. Again, you can make this at home with some starter granules
  • Plain live natural yoghurt
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha

Keen to try home fermenting? I can heartily recommend this book for it’s easy-to-follow instructions!

Herbal Infusions

Quick and easy to make, a warm mug of tea is a soul-soother in itself. Although for anxious people, it does need to be caffeine free – there’s no wriggle room on that! This is because even decaffeinated versions of tea can contain enough caffeine to stimulate the stress response and aggravate anxiety.

Herbs offer some wonderful infusions for anxiety. Try these teas either as single-herb teas or in combinations. For example, chamomile and lemon balm blend well together:

  • Chamomile – soothing and anti-inflammatory
  • Lemon balm (Melissa) – shown to inhibit the breakdown of GABA, the calming neurotransmitter in the brain
  • Lavender – deeply relaxing, and the scent works on the olfactory senses too, to calm the mind
  • Valerian – this is pretty pungent and best combined with other herbs to balance the flavour!
  • Oat seed – oats are nourishing to the nervous system thanks to their high content of B-vitamins
  • Passion flower – calming, and particularly useful for menopausal anxiety

Are you an anxious person?

What tips and tricks have you learned to manage your symptoms of anxiety?

Share your thoughts over on the Facebook page.

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