Supermodel Gisele Bündchen might have wealth, beauty, and a pro-athlete husband, but not everything in her life has been picture-perfect.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults.
Bündchen first experienced a panic attack during a bumpy flight on a small plane in 2003, and as a result, she developed a fear of tunnels, elevators and other enclosed spaces. Soon, she began to experience anxiety attacks from within the safety of her own home, which prompted feelings of suicide.
“I actually had the feeling of, ‘If I just jump off my balcony, this is going to end, and I never have to worry about this feeling of my world closing in,'” she told People Magazine.
Refusing to take prescription drugs to help her cope, Bündchen, instead, did a complete lifestyle overhaul to keep her anxiety in check. Here’s what she did.
She Revamped Her Diet
We know Bündchen and her husband, Tom Brady, to be super health conscious today, but that wasn’t always the case.
“I had been smoking cigarettes, drinking a bottle of wine and three mocha Frappucinos every day. I gave up everything in one day,” said Bündchen who also cut out sugar.
The supermodel was onto something. A diet high in sugar is said to worsen anxiety symptoms as well as impairs the body’s ability to handle stress. Subsequently suffering a sugar high and a sugar crash can make anxiety worse.
While a nutritious balanced diet is known to help many ailments, including anxiety, there are also specific healthy foods that are known to lower panic attacks.
Diets low in magnesium were found to increase anxiety-related behaviors, which means eating foods naturally rich in magnesium, like leafy greens such as spinach and Swiss chard, could make someone feel calmer.
Another study suggested a link between probiotic foods and a decrease in social anxiety, and found eating probiotic-rich foods, like pickles and kefir, had fewer symptoms.
She Practices Yoga
If you follow the supermodel on Instagram, then you know that she’s a devoted yogini — and now we know why. Bündchen shared that she initially turned to yoga and meditation to combat her anxiety, and there’s a good reason why. Multiple studies have shown that yoga, as well as meditation, have positive benefits on mental health.
One study from Georgia State University found that yoga is a “viable option” for those with a general anxiety disorder, and could reduce symptoms.
She Broke Up With Leo
Also part of Bündchen’s lifestyle overhaul also included breaking up with longtime boyfriend, Leonardo DiCaprio. Bündchen said she thought it was time to rethink her relationships and realized she was “alone” in her soul-searching journey.
Steven Meyers, a professor and associate chair at Roosevelt University, told Time Magazine that “helplessness is one of the main feelings that worsen anxiety and depression,” adding that a “powerful antidote to worry or sadness is to take charge in your life in some way.”
And sometimes that means breaking up with Leo.
By devoting herself to a holistic lifestyle, Bündchen not only conquered her anxiety attacks, but she also opened up her life in new ways. Soon after, she met and began dating Brady, and, well, the rest is history.
What’s probably most enlightening about Bündchen opening up about her anxiety struggle is the realization that one never knows what another is experiencing.
“Things can be looking perfect on the outside, but you have no idea what’s really going on,” she said.
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