The basics

It can be demanding to consistently make good health choices if you feel too sick, too tired or too overwhelmed by all you need to do to feel better. Try and get back to the basics – make your diet as healthy as you can – get some activity into your day and get some restful sleep. This will help if you are worried or anxious.

Healthy diet

Specific diets are often recommended for specific conditions, such as heart disease. There are also many dietitians who specialise in helping with specific illnesses so they can give you a healthy eating plan tailored to you and your needs. If this is too complicated, studies have shown that both Australian and Mediterranean style diets help to protect against anxiety and depression. Foods in this style of diet are generally fresh and are prepared simply. Include lots of plant-based foods such as beans, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, fruits, olive oil, and also some yoghurt, cheese, fish, chicken, eggs.

Be active

How much you can do will depend on your symptoms and your medical advice but whatever you can do will help to get the feel good hormones circulating in your body and this is a great stress reliever.

Quality sleep

Sleep needs are individual. However, if you can get quality sleep for the hours you need to feel rested, this will reduce anxious thoughts and feelings. Admittedly this is sometimes not easy to achieve. Often what happens is you can’t get to sleep, or get back to sleep after waking, and you then start to get anxious about not sleeping! On top of this, being anxious about your illness can stop you from sleeping. For more information on good sleep habits visit

Know the side effects of your medication

As some medications, including those for asthma, high blood pressure and steroid medications like cortisone, can cause you to feel nervous and anxious. It is worthwhile checking if any medication you take has symptoms of anxiety as a side effect.

Watch your alcohol intake

If your medical advice is that you can still drink alcohol with your symptoms and medication, keep alcohol to only one drink a day and aim to have some alcohol free days during the week. Reaching for alcohol because you are anxious can sometimes make the anxiety worse because you are numbing the pain, not dealing with the cause.

Created on 30/08/2013 | Updated on 10/12/2015
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Jean Hailes is Australia’s leading and most trusted women’s health organisation. We believe in physical and emotional health and wellbeing in all its dimensions for all women in Australia throughout their lives.

We offer a range of free resources and easy to understand information on women’s health and wellbeing. Appointments at our specialist women’s health clinics can be made in person (East Melbourne and Clayton, VIC) or across Australia via our Telehealth consultation service.

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