5. Cut back on sugar and caffeine.
Sugar and caffeine can make anxiety symptoms worse.
Both sugar and caffeine can cause physical symptoms similar to those of a panic attack. Sugar can cause fatigue, difficulty thinking, and blurred vision; someone prone to panic attacks might misinterpret these symptoms as signs of a panic attack, which in turn could trigger an actual panic attack. Crashing after a sugar high can cause shakiness and nervousness, making existing anxiety symptoms even worse.
Studies have demonstrated that high-sugar diets are linked to an increased incidence of anxiety. Although cutting back on sugar can’t eliminate anxiety entirely, it can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and enable the body to better cope with stress.
Caffeine is a stimulant, so it triggers the body’s “fight-or-flight” response. Humans evolved to experience a rush of energy during seemingly dangerous or frightening situations. In the presence of a perceived threat, the body automatically releases hormones designed to help you respond to the situation, either by confronting the danger or running away from it. These hormones cause rapid breathing and heart rate, increased blood pressure, shaking, dilated pupils, and pale or flushed skin. In people with anxiety, the fight-or-flight stress response can be triggered psychologically in the absence of an actual threat. In severe cases, this stress response can lead to full-blown panic attacks. If you’re prone to anxiety and panic attacks, you should avoid stimulants like caffeine, which can trigger anxiety symptoms or make existing symptoms worse.