Health & Wellness: How to manage anxiety

Katherine Gansen PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Katherine Gansen PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Katherine Gansen PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Katherine Gansen PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Katherine Gansen PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Katherine Gansen PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Katherine Gansen PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Mind racing? Feeling sweaty? Heart beating fast? Pacing back and forth? Feeling like something bad will happen, even if everything appears OK?

If this sounds like you, you could be one of the millions of people who suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Women especially have been prone to anxiety due to never-ending

to-do lists, running kids with busy schedules, trying to keep up with work demands, cleaning the home, making healthy meals for their family and trying to integrate 30 minutes of exercise into their daily regimen.

Whoa! No wonder women are stressed.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, health care providers are seeing a 25% overall increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. Factors such as increased isolation, fear of infection and death of loved ones contributed to the rapid increase.

Women, however, are gaining more insight into their anxiety and want to handle it from a more natural approach, avoiding prescription medication, if possible.

Here are a few ways to manage anxiety:

Check your

vitamin D level Vitamin D has been linked to serotonin, the mood-boosting hormone that aids in focus and helps you feel calm. Speak to your health care provider about checking your vitamin D level. You can increase your vitamin D level by spending time outside, eating fatty fish or taking a supplement.

Journal Write it down. For a lot of people, writing down your worries or stressors will help with “getting it out of your head.” Make sure to add in things you are grateful for, in addition to your worries.

Meditate Meditation is the practice that involves focusing or clearing your mind using a combination of physical and mental techniques. It can be very helpful for anxiety. It is a skill however and does require practice to master this skill.

Get outdoors Spending time outdoors not only is great for your physical health but also a natural mood booster.

Limit caffeine Caffeine is stimulant, and although it can be helpful on a sluggish morning, it can contribute to that jittery, on-edge feeling. It also can worsen the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heart and the feeling of shakiness or restlessness.

Try complementary therapies Many people have found benefits with alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, aromatherapy and reflexology.

Get moving Studies have shown that exercise is effective in having a positive impact on anxiety. A natural mood booster, it also helps to reduce the energy needed to fuel anxiety.

Laugh It sounds simple, but laughter releases endorphins to improve mood and lessen anxiety.

If you have questions regarding if a natural approach is right for you or questions about these interventions, contact your health care provider.

Katherine Gansen is a board-certified family nurse practitioner, with extensive experience in mental health, at Statera Integrated Health and Wellness Solutions in Dubuque.

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