We all know worrying is useless, but some people just can't help but sweat the small stuff. Never mind life and death.
A surprising new study from the University of British Columbia has found that Tylenol, the ubiquitous over-the-counter pain drug, may also reduce the physiological effects of the type of anxiety and fear known as "existential dread."
"We were surprised, but there was good theoretical reason to suspect this might work, especially following recent research that shows Tylenol helps to relieve feelings of social alienation, Daniel Randles, the study's lead author, told The Huffington Post Canada.
Randles says the study suggests that emotional pain and physical pain are processed by the brain in a similar way, and that Tylenol seems to inhibit the signal that something is wrong. The study pointed to one region in the brain that responds to both types of pain.
The study used the euphemism "existential dread" to describe the kind of anxiety people have when they think about the meaning of life and fear of death. Randles noted that people who tend to be distressed about existential uncertainty and death are also more anxious about everyday things in general.
The research examined more than 350 UBC psychology students over the last 12 months. In the study, participants took the generic form of Tylenol, acetaminophen, or a placebo while performing tasks designed to evoke feelings of anxiety, such as talking about what will happen to their bodies when they die — an old psychological manipulation — and watching a surreal and creepy David Lynch video from his short film series called "Rabbits."
"We chose this one because it features a lot of narrative events that make people feel a little bit uneasy, the dialogue doesn't match up, the characters appear to be talking about important things but they don't react to each other's statements and there's a laugh track but it's used in appropriately and everyone is dressed in rabbit costumes with no explanation as to why," Randles says.
The participants were then asked to assign fines of different types of crimes, including public rioting and prostitution. Compared to the placebo group, the researchers found the people taking acetaminophen were much more lenient in judging the acts of the criminals and therefore more equipped to cope with troubling thoughts and ideas.
Randles says the results suggest that participants’ existential suffering was “treated” by the headache drug, however he cautioned that further research and clinical trials are still needed before acetaminophen should be used considered a safe or effective anxiety treatment.
Also on HuffPost:
1. Eat Real, Whole Food
Trudy suggests that you keep a three-day diary to see what your intake of real whole food is compared to processed foods, junk food, and sugar. Trudy says: "Simply go back to eating the way your grandparents ate!"
2. Eat Breakfast
She also reminds us that when you include protein (like eggs, meat, whey, fish) in your breakfast, it helps to keep healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day and, therefore, reduce stress and anxiety.
3. Eat 3 Meals A Day And 2 Healthy Snacks
To keep blood sugar levels even, three meals a day and two healthy snacks are needed. Trudy shares some great snack ideas: "fresh fruit, a boiled egg and grass-fed beef jerky. Raw baby carrots and ornamental green/yellow/red peppers are crunchy and tasty, especially dipped in hummus." Another easy snack is leftovers from dinner, such as a chicken drumstick or wing. Trudy's travel snacks include cans of sardines, oysters and salmon. They are a good protein alternative to fast food and good for emergencies if you get stuck at an airport or arrive late when traveling. Another favorite is pumpkin seeds because, as Trudy states, "They are a great source of <a href="http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/what-eat-deep-sleep?page=3" target="_hplink">tryptophan and zinc</a>, both of which help improve mood and reduce anxiety."
4. Pass On The Coffee
Yes, really! Especially, if drinking coffee makes you more anxious and affects your sleep. Instead, try herbal, caffeine-free teas. Licorice herbal tea is delicious, rooibos herbal tea from South Africa is rich in antioxidants and chamomile tea is calming. If you can't function without coffee and use it to give you energy then you need to figure out why -- low iron, burned-out adrenals, low catecholamines, or underactive thyroid?
5. Look At Your Gluten Intake
If athletes perform better without gluten in their diets, and many seem to, then maybe it's time to assess your gluten intake as well. Trudy advises that you start with a two-week gluten elimination trial. If you feel less anxious without gluten and more anxious when you add it back, you may have gluten intolerance or may need to be tested for celiac disease.
6. Get Outside And Do Some Exercise
Exercise helps raise serotonin levels to help you feel less blue and worried. You'll also get some Vitamin D from being outside, which improves mood and reduces stress.
7. Enjoy Yoga Regularly
Yoga, tai chi and guided imagery actually raises GABA (a calming neurotransmitter) to help you feel less overwhelmed.
8. Good Multivitamins And Amino Acids
Consider using a good multivitamin, a good B complex and the amazing amino acid supplements tryptophan or GABA for short-term relief of anxiety, worry and stress.
9. Slow Down
Make "me-time" a priority and learn to say no. Take care of yourself!