Anxiety, stress and inflammation are not mutually exclusive. There is a host of data to suggest that inflammation may be the cause of stress and anxiety and, conversely, that prolonged periods of anxiety and stress can lead to inflammation. If you want to reduce stress levels, manage anxiety and reduce inflammation, you need to take a 360° approach to your overall health and wellbeing.
So what is inflammation?
There is a difference between acute inflammation - a healthy immune response - and chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation occurs when you bump your arm and a bruise develops, or when you catch a cold and your nose runs. These are healthy and normal responses to a stressor in the environment. Chronic inflammation, however, occurs when your immune system goes into overdrive, usually as a result of a prolonged and sustained period of stress or anxiety.
Chronic inflammation is a lead determinant of a number of ‘modern diseases’ such as obesity, heart disease and even depression. Whilst stress and anxiety are often associated with being the cause of the problem, chronic inflammation can also feed into increasing levels of stress and anxiety. If you don’t take action quickly, this can be a vicious cycle that gets harder to break the longer it goes on.
What are some of the signs that you might be suffering from inflammation?
Chronic inflammation can manifest in a number of different ways in the body. If you think you might be suffering from it, look out for some of the following signs:
- You’re constantly tired or fatigued
- You suffer from unexplained skin conditions
- You’ve been experiencing digestive issues
- Your blood sugar tends to be high and carbs make you sleepy
- You suffer from allergies
- Your face is puffy and you have bags under your eyes
- You regularly experience water retention
- Your gums bleed when you brush (gum disease)
- If you’re a man you may suffer from erectile dysfunction
- You feel constantly anxious and/or stressed
In this article we suggest some of the best ways for you to banish inflammation from your body and reduce stress and anxiety in the process.
1. Clean up your diet
So many of the foods that we eat these days contain inflammatory compounds which increase our propensity to develop stress and anxiety. The first step for anybody looking to combat inflammation is to clean up your diet.
Dairy and gluten should, initially, be ruled out in their entirety. This is especially important if you’re looking for a full reset or are suffering from prolonged and intense inflammation. You should also look to avoid refined sugars, alcohol and caffeine as all put an unnecessary strain on your system.
Some foods to focus on including in your diet for their antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties include:
Berries, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, turmeric, bone broth, bitter green leafy vegetables, raw cacao, garlic, brussel sprouts, rooibos tea, high quality fats such as coconut oil and olive oil, collagen-containing foods, medicinal mushrooms and a wide variety of fresh herbs such as thyme, parsely, coriander and rosemary.
2. Slow down
Being constantly ‘on’ can cause the body’s systems to go into overdrive and react disproportionately to the stresses of everyday life. Meditation can be a really powerful tool to alleviate some of this extra strain on the body's systems. Just 20 minutes of stillness per day has been clinically proven to slash stress-levels and anxiety, and to lower inflammation.
It will also pay dividends when it comes to reducing stress and inflammation to indulge in a little self-kindness. Think regular massage, laughter, spending time with people who make you feel good, carving out time for a bubble bath a couple of evenings a week. You get the jist. All of these things and more have been shown in scientific studies to reduce anxiety, curtail stress and diminish inflammation.
Something that is often overlooked when figuring out how to tackle your over-anxious brain is to simply get out there and start enjoying your life. Taking it easy, having fun, relaxing, indulging and treating yourself are all fundamental to living a balanced, low-stress life.
3. Get a better night’s sleep
A lack of sleep is one of the leading causes of inflammation (which, at this point we know is synonymous with being one of the leading causes of stress and anxiety). Ideally we should be sleeping for eight to nine hours, and should not be waking through the night.
We can eat the best possible diet, move our bodies in the most desirable way and meditate until the cows come home but, if we aren’t getting enough good quality sleep, our long-term health will surely suffer.
If sleep is an area of wellness in which you fall short you are not alone; studies tell us that most people don’t get their eight hours a night of shut-eye. No wonder we’re living in such an anxious and stressed out world!
Here are some of the best things you can do to sleep better and up your levels of good quality sleep, reducing your levels of inflammation, anxiety and stress:
- Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day - establishing a routine will get your body feeling ‘ready’ to sleep
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugar in the second half of the day as they are stimulants and will mess with your body’s natural rhythms. Chocolate can also have a similar effect, so you might want to re-think that ‘one small square of dark chocolate’ after dinner
- Exercise daily - for the reasons outlined below, but also because it will leave you literally ‘tired out’ and more in need of a restful slumber
- Avoid all screens for two hours before bed - the blue light technology is designed to keep you wired and will completely mess with your body’s natural melatonin production
- Sleep in a cool room - studies have shown that a room that is between 15°C and 18°C is perfect for a good night’s sleep. Your body’s sleep hormones work more efficiently in a cooler environment.
- Try a natural supplement - KSM-66® Ashwagandha has been clinically proven to enhance the sleep cycle and to promote both falling asleep faster, and staying asleep longer.
Studies have shown that just 25 minutes of movement a day (ideally outside for the added benefits of vitamin D on your mental health) can reduce levels of inflammation in the body. And the effect of exercise on reducing stress, anxiety and inflammation is pretty much instant. So if you are feeling anxious or stressed, getting your sweat on is probably the best immediate remedy there is.
Move in a way that feels good for you. That could mean going for a brisk walk, or it could mean skipping, rock climbing, cycling or going for a run. Do what makes you happy, and remember that each and every day is different. Listen to your body. Try to make exercise part of your regular routine if you’re looking to banish inflammation, stress and anxiety for good.
5. Take the right supplements
LYMA is the ultimate supplement for stress-relief, anxiety management and inflammation-reduction. LYMA contains a potent combination of HydroCurc® and KSM-66® Ashwagandha , both of which have been backed by peer-reviewed clinical evidence confirming that they pack a powerful punch against stress and inflammation, as well as boosting anxiety resistance. LYMA is in a class of its own when it comes to bringing your body back into balance.
HydroCurc® contains the most bioavailable and effective form of curcumin on the market and is formulated at a daily dose of 250mg in the LYMA formula. Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric but, when ingested dietarily, is exceptionally difficult for the body to absorb. You are much better off supplementing with HyroCurc®.
Full spectrum, root extract KSM-66® Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic supplement which has been used and studied for centuries for its role in reducing stress and inflammation in the body. Formulated at a daily dose of 600mg in LYMA, this particular strain of ashwagandha has been shown time and again to be the most powerful adaptogen for fighting stress, anxiety and inflammation.
If you want to reduce stress levels, banish anxiety, dramatically reduce inflammation and support your basic neurochemical functioning more generally, then taking LYMA every day would be a great place to start.