Anxiety can be a force for good, says Wendy Suzuki, a professor of neural science and psychology at New York University, on NPR. The trick is learning how to harness it, rather than letting it consume us. Deep breathing is the quickest way to control anxiety, as it activates the “parasympathetic nervous system”, which soothes the mind and body. Walking also helps by stimulating the release of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline – “it’s like giving your brain a wonderful neurochemical bubble bath”. If we can keep our “prickly friend” in check, anxiety can fuel productivity and help us achieve great things.
Nature’s stress reliever
The Indian herb ashwagandha can reduce stress, says Get the Gloss. It’s been used for more than 3,000 years in ayurvedic medicine and is now gaining popularity in the West. Meghan Markle, Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow are all fans. Ashwagandha can “calm a racing mind by regulating the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline”, though it’s best taken in the two (or three) months prior to a stressful event, rather than in a moment of crisis. That’s because it builds resilience over time by triggering “small stress reactions in the body”. The herb can be taken in capsule form or as a powder added to smoothies.
Never take stairs two at a time if you’re trying to keep fit. You burn more calories if you take them one at a time.