Covid-19 Lockdown Stress, Panic Attacks and Nutrition
Covid-19 lockdown stress, panic attacks and nutrition
The Covid-19 pandemic has been extremely unsettling for many people, with serious illness, unemployment, furlough and social separation creating significant problems for much of the population. It’s no surprise that many of us have been suffering from stress during the lockdown period. In fact, one study has revealed that one in two people in the UK feel down, depressed or hopeless about their future due to coronavirus, indicating a clear mental health risk for a significant proportion of the country. And with increased stress and anxiety comes heightened risk of panic attacks, which can be extremely frightening and even debilitating.
But what exactly are panic attacks, why are so many of us feeling anxious during this time and what role does our diet have in helping to manage this stress? Find out more about Covid-19 lockdown stress, panic attacks and nutrition.
What is anxiety and how is it linked to Covid-19?
Anxiety is known as the body’s natural response to stress, resulting in feelings of fear, apprehension and worry about what might happen. All of us will have felt anxious at some stage in our lives, but for some people living with anxiety disorders, these emotions can be overwhelming and constant. Symptoms can include a racing heartbeat and nausea, along with nervousness and feeling overwhelmed.
Covid-19 and the corresponding lockdown was unprecedented, so it’s no surprise that more than 25 million people in the UK were affected by high levels of anxiety at the end of March when the decision was made to implement lockdown. With heightened concerns over physical wellbeing, job security and personal finances emerging throughout the lockdown, many of us have felt more anxious than usual. Loneliness, boredom and stress are also impacting our mental health.
What is a panic attack?
Panic is described by the NHS as being the most severe form of anxiety. Sudden and intense feelings of anxiety and fear can be symptoms of a panic attack, which is a type of fear response that is a heightened reaction to danger or stress. According to mental health charity Mind, panic attacks usually last between 5-20 minutes and can happen at any time, with physical symptoms including a racing heartbeat, dizziness, shaking, chest pain, nausea and feeling hot or cold. These physical symptoms can mimic those of other health conditions such as heart attacks and even Covid-19, making panic attacks extremely frightening for those who suffer from them and their loved ones. For people who already suffered from panic attacks, the sudden changes and fear brought about by Covid-19 may have exacerbated the problem.
What role does diet and exercise play in managing our mental health?
While it’s clear that anxiety and panic attacks have been real concerns for many during lockdown, there are ways to alleviate stress and improve mental health.
The link between diet, exercise and wellbeing has been long discussed within the healthcare community. Research shows that what someone eats and how fit they are can affect their experience with panic attacks and disorders, with caffeine, sugar and alcohol all known dietary triggers of anxiety. And in a vicious cycle, stress and anxiety can deplete our nutrition levels and attack our stores of vitamins B, C and E, threatening our immune systems and leaving us low on energy. This makes a balanced, healthy diet absolutely essential in both combating and responding to stress and anxiety.
Meanwhile, exercise is a known stress reducer and regular physical activity has been shown to not only improve moods but also boost energy levels. Studies suggest that regular physical exercise can also reduce the body’s physical reaction to anxiety and reduce the intensity and frequency of panic attacks, suggesting that exercise is as good for the mind as it is for the body.
What diet should you follow to improve your mental health?
Stress and anxiety can rob us of many vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to ensure your diet is packed full of nutrients during this stressful time. Look for iron-dense foods such as spinach, broccoli, lentils and quinoa, which are important as stress can influence how much non-heme iron our body absorbs. Magnesium, which is used in more than 300 chemical reactions and processes in the body, also has a positive role to play in reducing feelings of fear and anxiety thanks to its ability to increase the body’s levels of GABA. Unfortunately, this stress-relieving nutrient is also attacked by anxiety, due to the body’s reliance on magnesium during its stress response. This means it’s important to eat foods rich in magnesium such as bananas, leafy green vegetables and wholegrains. Other foods to add to your stress-busting diet include fish, eggs, avocados and nuts.
How the AI Weight Loss Diet can improve your health
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