A new year is a new opportunity to to reinvent yourself, to set goals, or to just reconnect with yourself ahead of a brand-new chapter. But what happens when that reflection turns into unease?
Anxiety can make way into our lives from almost anywhere—from everyday occurrences like family life and work to uniquely 2024 issues, like the looming election cycle and the economy.
But it’s important to take a breath and take stock of your surroundings and the good things in your life before you burying yourself in worry and negativity. It is perfectly normal to have these feelings—after all, look at what we have all been through the past few years. But don’t ignore your feelings or try to push them down. When we do that, it can lead to emotional buildup that may manifest in more heightened anxiety, poor digestion, inflammation, or coping mechanisms like overeating or numbing with drugs and alcohol. Bottom line: anxiety is normal, but if left unchecked, it can cause physical and mental health challenges. Instead, feel your feelings to “digest” them. Feelings need to be processed, just as we digest and process our food. They can be released, and by doing so, we can avoid buildup and burnout.
When we place too much attention on the external world— such as what we look like, what other people are doing and thinking, and even our jobs—it can quickly lead to a state of heightened angst. That’s why it’s critical to spend time connecting with our true selves, to the real us beneath the surface. Here are a few tried-and-true ways to do just that.
1Start the day with meditation
Making space for meditation in the morning will help us feel more calm and resilient as we begin our day. While it may be tempting to occasionally skip, I encourage you not to-think of it as a gift to yourself.
2 Create routines
While we can’t always control what happens around us, we can control our own routines and practices. Regular routines give us a sense of stability and security, and I recommend creating a solid morning and evening practice.
3 Support gut health
Optimal gut health can help with overall well-being and balance, both potent antidotes to anxiety. Try faking daily probiotics and adding fermented foods into your diet to get healthy bacteria into your gut.
4 Connect with your body
As the day progresses, our thoughts can spin endlessly, leading to more anxiousness. Break this cycle by finding a moment of calm and dropping into how your body feels. Notice the weight of your feet on the ground or your hips on a seat, and do a body scan to see where there is any tension. Consciously breathe into it, and release.
5 More being, less doing
We live in a society that encourages more doing, pushing, and getting those to-do lists done. But constantly keeping up a frenetic pace frays us. Make time to relax, be still, and journal, all of which will help us connect inward.
6Brightly colored fruit and vegetables
Vitamin deficiencies can lead to stress, tension, depression, and other conditions. By consuming a variety of colorful plant foods, we can ensure we’re getting the vitamins and minerals we need for optimal health.
7Coconut oil, almonds, brazil nuts, and sea vegetables
These specific foods contain nutrients that may help support thyroid function, as an overactive thyroid has been linked to anxiety. Try to consume daily.
Healthy fats help us feel grounded and assist in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. And essential fatty acids play a significant role in brain health, which is important in keeping anxiety at bay. Plant-based sources of healthy fats include avocado, plant oils, and seeds like chia and flax.
Shiitakes are the best plant source of vitamin D, and studies show that low serum levels of vitamin D can lead to anxiety or depression.
Turmeric is loaded with antioxidants, which researchers have found can suppress feelings of anxiety. Add it to your smoothies, lattes, or curries.