Bill Clinton Blames White House Affair on Anxiety: 10 Smarter Ways to Deal with Stress
In the 4-part Hulu docu-series “Hillary,” former President Bill Clinton says that the affair he had with then-intern Monica Lewinsky was a way of “managing my anxieties.” Evidently, his stress-management strategy backfired and caused him a lot more anxiety considering the scandal eventually led to a grand jury investigation and his impeachment in 1998.
Clinton isn’t the only American to turn to unhealthy ways to deal with anxiety. Every day, millions of people self-soothe or self-medicate by taking drugs (whether they’re illegal, prescription, or over the counter), drinking excessively, overeating, engaging in compulsive spending, binge-watching TV shows, smoking, guzzling caffeine, or (like Clinton) having extramarital affairs.
There are better ways to cope with stress, pressure, and anxiety!
Here are 10 brain healthy ways to calm your nerves and soothe your soul:
1. Meditate or pray
Decades of research have shown that meditation and prayer can calm stress and anxiety. Loving Kindness Meditation, in which you repeat words like “May I be safe and secure, may I be healthy and strong, may I be happy and purposeful, may I be at peace” can develop feelings of goodwill and warmth.
2. Use self-hypnosis
Using self-hypnosis can quickly decrease the stress-induced fight-or-flight response and can lower anxiety. One simple technique involved focusing on a spot, taking slow and deep breaths, relaxing your muscles, envisioning yourself riding down an escalator, enjoying a feeling of tranquility when you reach the bottom of that escalator, then imagining yourself riding back up the escalator and opening your eyes. It should leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed.
3. Practice diaphragmatic breathing
Every time you take a breath, it brings oxygen to your blood cells. When you exhale, your body releases waste products, such as carbon dioxide. When there’s too much carbon dioxide in your system, it can cause stressful feelings of anxiety, disorientation, and panic attacks. Breathing deeply from your diaphragm calms the brain’s basal ganglia, the area that controls anxiety. Whenever you’re feeling anxious or stressed, take 5 deep breaths, taking twice as long to exhale to settle.
4. Consider calming supplements
There is strong scientific evidence for several nutritional supplements that can support a sense of calm and relaxation.
- Gama-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid that has a calming effect on people who struggle with anxiety or stressful thoughts.
- Magnesium glycinate or citrate helps activate GABA receptors in the brain, which can help calm the brain and reduce anxious thoughts.
- Vitamin B6 is important for the production of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin and calming neurotransmitter GABA.
- L-theanine is an amino acid uniquely found in green tea. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and can increase dopamine. It also increases GABA and serotonin, so it tends to have a balancing effect on the brain. It helps with focus as well as mental and physical stress.
5. Eat anti-anxiety foods
Focus on foods that promote calm and relaxation, including:
- GABA-rich foods (broccoli, walnuts, lentils, bananas, beef liver, brown rice, halibut, gluten-free whole oats, oranges, rice brain, spinach)
- Magnesium-rich foods (pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, Swiss chard, sesame seeds, beet greens, summer squash, quinoa, black beans, cashews)
- Omega-3-rich foods (flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines, shrimp, walnut oil, chia seeds, avocados, avocado oil)
- Probiotic-rich foods (brined vegetables, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, miso soup, pickles, spirulina, chlorella, kombucha tea)
6. Kill the ANTs
Learn to challenge the automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) that pop into your head and make you feel anxious, nervous, and stressed. Every time you have an anxious thought, write it down and ask yourself if it is true.
7. Create an anxiety rescue playlist
Music can soothe you when you’re stressed or under a lot of pressure. Create a playlist or try Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” or Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”
8. Check hormone levels
Hormonal imbalances can mimic symptoms of anxiety and nervousness. Have your healthcare provider check your thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels to see if they are out of whack and optimize them if necessary.
9. Try HRV training
A 2014 study in Frontiers in Psychiatry shows that anxiety is linked to low levels of heart rate variability (HRV), the time interval between heartbeats. You can biohack your way to a healthier HRV with biofeedback apps to help you deal more effectively with stress.
10. Limit caffeine, alcohol, and sugar
These substances may temporarily mask feelings of anxiety and stress, but they actually worsen anxiety and lower the body’s ability to respond to stress. Limit or eliminate them completely from your diet.
At Amen Clinics, we take a unique brain-body approach to diagnosis and treatment that includes brain SPECT imaging, as well as laboratory testing to check physical health, and other important factors that could be contributing to symptoms. By getting to the root cause of mental health conditions, such as anxiety and panic attacks, we can create a more effective, personalized treatment plan for you. We believe in using the least toxic, most effective solutions for anxiety and other mental health problems.
If you want to join the tens of thousands of people who have already enhanced their brain health, overcome their symptoms, and improved their quality of life at Amen Clinics, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.