How to Reduce Anxiety and Increase Cognitive Ability
The past year has been a challenge for everyone’s mental health. We had so much thrown at us in terms of school and business closures, health threats, people around us who are sick or worse, it’s no wonder there are high levels of anxiety across the country. One thing we know is that stress doesn’t do us a whole lot of good. It affects our physical health and gets in the way of healthy relationships. If you’ve ever been extremely stressed out at work, you likely know that it hasn’t been great for your performance. Likewise, stress at home places a heavy burden on relationships and other aspects of your life. Anxiety also affects cognitive ability. It’s harder to focus and pay attention. Your body is drawing mental resources away from where you need them to address parts of your brain and body that are dealing with anxiety spikes.
One thing we should all start focusing on more is ways to reduce anxiety. If you are looking for a way to improve cognitive ability at school, work, or just in your interactions with family and friends, stress reduction is a good play to begin. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the anxiety of stressful situations, but here are some proven strategies you can use to eliminate anxiety and help your brain work more effectively.
Get Better and More Sleep
Sleep has a massive impact on your mental well being. Most Americans aren’t getting anywhere near enough sleep. When you are sleep-deprived, your brain isn’t running on full power. It’s easier for problems you encounter to trigger anxiety and impact your cognitive ability. Too many people wear lack of sleep like some badge of honor when they are really doing themselves harm. Thankfully, there has been a recent shift in focus to emphasize the importance of sleep on long-term performance. If you really want to gain a mental edge, get to sleep earlier. Avoid caffeine in the evenings. You’ll wake up better rested and notice that your brain is ready to go as well.
Eat a Healthy Diet
The food you eat and what you drink has a direct link to anxiety and cognitive ability. We’ve become so accustomed to diets high in sugar, caffeine, unhealthy fats, and carbohydrates. What these foods do is provide short-term stimulation that requires a constant cycle of consumption to prevent crashes that affect our moods and how we feel at work. As a result, we gain weight, feel cloudy or drowsy after lunch, and struggle with fluctuations in energy throughout the day.
You can see significant improvements in your cognitive ability by simply cutting out sugar. That’s a great first step. Once you have that tackled, start working on cutting down on carbs and instead each a protein-rich diet with lots of vegetables. Your energy levels will be more constant and you’ll feel mentally sharper all day long.
Find a Physical Outlet for Stress
Everyone has to deal with a lot of stress. Whether you’re single in the middle of climbing the corporate ladder, starting a business, or dealing with kids at home in virtual school, we all face stressful challenges and the effects of stress on our mental and physical health. What you need to do, though, is carve out time during the day for stress relief. One of the best ways to do that is with physical exercise.
The important thing here is to find some sort of physical exercise that you enjoy doing or at least can tolerate, to build a long-term habit of physical health. Keeping healthy is a terrific way to improve cognitive ability. With hard exercise, you clear your mind and remove everything that was cluttering your brain previously. Everyone is in different physical conditions, so you’ll have to be honest with yourself and find something that pushes you without causing too much strain before you’re ready.
Take a Look at Peptides and Anxiety Relief
Peptides have been getting a lot of attention lately over clinical research results tied to anxiety and cognitive ability. Originally developed in Russia, Selank is a peptide that has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress in rats and has shown promising results around things like memory retention and traceability. The tests done on rats showed that this peptide Selank prevented the expression of many genes tied to inflammation, indicating that it has a mitigating effect on episodes that typically trigger anxiety. This peptide is not yet FDA approved for human use. There is more research that needs to be done but has promising future medical possibilities.
Create Social Connections
One of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety and improve cognitive ability is to have a social support system in place when stress attacks. Whether you rely on friends, colleagues at work, or family members at home, you’ve likely seen how helpful friends and others in your circle can be when you are dealing with anxiety or stress. Hopefully something this past year has taught us is the importance of social interactions and connections, and that it is ok to ask for help when you need it.
Identify and Avoid Anxiety Triggers
Don’t get caught in an unhealthy loop where you are stressed out or triggered by the same things over and over again. Identify what’s causing anxiety and avoid or remediate the situation to eliminate the source of stress from your life. We become accustomed to patterns in life too easily, even harmful ones. Take control of your mental health by being more conscious of how topics, people, or situations affect you.