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  • Writer's pictureDmitri Konash

Calming the Chaos: Managing Anxiety and Heart Rate Naturally


Anxiety symptoms. How to lower heart rate immediately

My heart pounded like a drum solo, each beat echoing in my ears as I stared at the

blank computer screen. Deadlines loomed, thoughts whirled, and my breath hitched, sending my anxiety skyrocketing. Sound familiar? If you've ever experienced the unpleasant combo of racing heart and anxious mind, you know it's no fun. But before you reach for the calming medicines, let's explore some natural ways to manage anxiety and heart rate together.


Demystifying the Duo: Anxiety and Heart Rate


Let's talk anxiety: It's a normal human emotion, a primal response to perceived threats. But when that fight-or-flight kicks in too often or too intensely, it can become overwhelming. Physical symptoms like rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, and muscle tension often accompany anxiety, creating a feedback loop that amplifies both.


Now, the heart rate: This trusty ticker measures how often your heart beats per minute. Exercise, excitement, and yes, anxiety, can all send it soaring. While a temporary increase is harmless, chronically high heart rate is linked to health risks. So, managing both anxiety and heart rate naturally becomes crucial for overall well-being [1].


Trends and Tidbits: What's New in the World of Calm?


The good news? The "natural approach" to anxiety and heart health is gaining traction. Here's what's buzzing:


  • The Power of Breath: Breathing techniques like slow breathing have been shown to activate the relaxation response, calming both mind and body [2].

  • Mindfulness Mania: Meditation and mindfulness practices are exploding in popularity, with research backing their effectiveness in reducing anxiety and lowering heart rate.

  • Move Your Body, Mend Your Mind: Exercise isn't just for physical fitness; studies show it's a potent anxiety and heart rate reducer, even in moderate doses [3].

  • Nature's Nurture: Spending time in green spaces is linked to lowered stress and improved cardiovascular health. Time for a forest walk?


Your Questions Answered: Anxiety and Heart Rate FAQs


Q: Are there foods that help with anxiety and heart rate?

A: While no single magic food exists, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can support overall health and well-being, which indirectly impacts anxiety and heart rate. Certain foods like fatty fish, rich in omega-3s, may offer additional benefits.


Q: What about supplements?

A: Some supplements like magnesium  show promise in managing anxiety, but consult your doctor before taking anything new. Remember, supplements are not a substitute for professional advice or healthy lifestyle changes.


Q: When do I call a doctor? 

A: IMPORTANT: Symptoms of a panic attack (bursts of extreme anxiety) are similar to heart attacks [1]. If you experience  fast or pounding heartbeat, dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea, hyperventilation or rapid breathing, feeling hot or sweating, chest discomfort, shaking or trembling - contact a medical professional to be on a safe side and rule out a heart attack.


Contact your doctor also if you experience prolonged  anxiety which disrupts your everyday life. You may have an anxiety disorder which requires medical treatment. 


Q: How do I objectively measure anxiety at home? 


A: Short answer: monitor both heart rate (HR)  and HRV (Heart Rate Variability) daily. You can measure both these metrics for free with your phone’s camera and our blood pressure app BreathNow. 


The HR graph below shows that my resting heart rate was fairly constant during the month of January.


How to lower heart rate immediately with BreathNow app


The inverted HRV graph (a proxy of anxiety and stress, below)  indicates two stressful periods: in the beginning of January and also around the 20th of January. This demonstrates that HRV is a more sensitive indicator of anxiety which should be used as a prevention indicator. Read more about nuances of measuring HRV in this post. 


How to reduce anxiety and HRV with BreathNow app

 

Personal Best Bets: My Top Tips for Natural Calm

Here are my go-to natural anxiety and heart rate tamers. Our BreathNow method is based on them. 

  • Embrace the power of pause and slow breathing: Take mindful breaks throughout the day. Deep breathing exercises, short meditations, or simply focusing on your surroundings for a few mindful moments can work wonders.

  • Include some movement in your day: Even a 15-minute walk or yoga session gets your blood flowing and sets the tone for a calmer day. 

  • Become a nature enthusiast: Find your green haven, be it a local park, botanical garden, or even your own backyard. Immersing yourself in nature is a powerful stress reliever. 

  • Fuel your body wisely: Opt for whole, unprocessed foods and stay hydrated. Your body and mind will thank you!

Remember, consistency is key! Making these practices a regular part of your life will pave the way for a calmer, healthier you.


Conclusion: Find Your Calm, Find Your Rhythm


Managing anxiety and heart rate naturally is a journey, not a destination. Experiment, find what works for you, and be kind to yourself along the way. Remember, every small step towards calmness is a step in the right direction. Now, take a deep breath, release the tension, and start creating your own personal path to a calmer, healthier you.


References:

2. It's not just inspiration – careful breathing can help your health, AHA Journals, https://www.heart.org/en/news/2023/07/07/its-not-just-inspiration-careful-breathing-can-help-your-health

3. Effects of the exercise on resting heart rate, NIH, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6306777/



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