As time goes on it seems that more and more people suffer from anxiety. According to the ADAA anxiety is effecting around 40 million adults in the United States, and this is just the people who are reporting it. I have clients as well as friends ask me what are some tips to naturally heal this problem. Commonly, anxiety is treated by some form of pill and usually in most cases those pills can make us feel not like ourselves, worse then before, and even depressed. The world is waking up and realizing that there are other natural healers that can help take place, and take place easily! My co-writer for this blog and I have both suffered from anxiety and both been through the ringer with numerous doctors, medications, and we both have realized the key to ending this can be done naturally, holistically and simply. If you are like us and want to begin to heal anxiety naturally then we applaud you. You have decided to take control of your own health. I have worked with the amazing Holistic Nutritionist Lexy Sorlie to develop some tips for you on how to get rid of anxiety, and control it when needed.
We are going to break this article in to two different sections, Holistic Tips and Nutrition.
Lavender oil : This natural healer as been around for thousands upon thousands of years. In a study published in the journal Phytomedicine, lavender oil was shown to be just as effective as the pharmaceutical drug lorazepam (Ativan). Furthermore, lavender oil showed no sedative effects (a common side effect of lorazepam) and it had no potential for drug abuse or dependence. You can take capsules of this or simply just breathe it in, find some flowers or a bottled essential oil. Watch my video on tips to make your own clearing spray for more on how to make your own lavender spray!
Exercise: Studies have shown that even exercising for 20 minutes a day greatly reduces anxiety! Not only does it make you feel better about yourself, it pumps endorphins through your body which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers as well as help improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. If you are feeling anxious try working out for just 20 minutes and watch how the anxiety decreases. It can be as simple as going for a walk, run, doing yoga, or hitting the gym. Whatever your taste, or situation allows, get out there and move!
Breathe: When anxiety presents itself into our lives we usually become short of breath. This can be related to the body’s natural instinct of fight, flight, or freeze. In this case that can mean that we are forgetting to exhale. Breathing exercises are becoming more and more popular to treat anxiety. Here is a quick one that you can do wherever you are! Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. Then inhale slowly through your nose for 3 seconds. The hand on your abdomen should rise whilst the hand on your chest should stay relatively still. Then exhale through your mouth for three seconds, making a whooshing noise as you breathe out. Make sure you are breathing into your belly! Focus on the breath, with each breath think to yourself, “Inhale… exhale…. Inhale… exhale…”
Logical vs Emotional: I’ll never forget the first therapist I ever saw for anxiety. The pills I was prescribed were making me feel horrible and at a young age of 19 I knew that I had some deep rooted pain that I wasn’t expressing. I saw this therapist who would casually sit Indian style across from me and just give me simple tips. One of them she told me was that our brains can not have a logical and emotional thought at once, so if you are having a hard time controlling your own thoughts try this simple trick. Start to begin to count backwards in your mind by 3’s from 100. 100, 97, 94, 91… This technique has helped me many times. We can easily get caught up in emotionally driven thoughts and actions, this is why it is important to come from a logical point of view before making a decision while under anxiety.
Meditation: This is my number one tip for all of you! These thoughts that cause anxiety are going to come and go, what meditation teaches us is how to detach from these thoughts and let them pass, not giving much energy or feeding them. According to http://www.chopra.com “Numerous scientific studies have found meditation to be effective for treating anxiety. One study, published in the Psychological Bulletin, combined the findings of 163 different studies. The overall conclusion was that practicing mindfulness or meditation produced beneficial results, with a substantial improvement in areas like negative personality traits, anxiety, and stress.” There are a lot of excuses and people who say they cant meditate, but really everyone can. If you need help with this please contact me!
The best, easiest, and most simple tip that I can give you for reducing anxiety with nutrition is to just start eating better. Whatever that means to you as it could be switching to an all organic diet, or having one cup of coffee a day instead of three. I (Lexy) can honestly say that nutrition saved my life, but it wasn’t an overnight overhaul. It came in time, with changes I could manage and allow my body and lifestyle to adjust to. It is true that eating better will make you feel better, but one can’t expect to feel good while crashing into a hard, strict diet as that will bring more anxiety to your life. Living in the thoughts like, “Can I eat that?” “How long am I going to have to work out if I eat this?” “How many calories are in that?” “I’ll make up for this later.” and etc as the anxious mind works itself over
If you had a piece of fruit this morning for breakfast instead of a sugar-filled cereal, protein bar, or coffee drink then pat yourself on the back. Congratulations! We live in a society where we’re almost taught to be too hard on ourselves. If you parked in the back of the parking lot in an conscious effort to walk further than needed, congratulations! If you switched one cup of coffee for tea, keep up the good work! You don’t need to make extreme efforts to make a difference in your life. Don’t get me wrong, some occasions call for drastic measures, but if we’re looking to decrease anxiety, the worst thing you can do is overburden yourself with a rigid structure of what you can and can’t have to eat. This is about balance.
There are a few specific suggestions that I can also offer.
Caffeine has similar affects to the body that anxiety does, physically and emotionally. Caffeine increases blood pressure, can trigger sweaty palms, make your ears ring, your heart races… sound like anxiety yet? I’m not asking you to cut out your caffeine completely, but cutting back is a good idea if you are having complications due to anxiety. I’ve been a barista who drinks a pot or two (…or three) of coffee a day and one of the ways that I was able to began to cut back was switching out a cup of coffee for black tea. A cup of drip coffee can have up to 200 mg of caffeine depending on bean, roast, strength, among other factors while a cup of black tea will have under half of that. This isn’t getting rid of the caffeine we think we need to keep going, but it is greatly decreased. Coffee also dehydrates you as opposed to tea which in turn hydrates you. The body needs plenty of water to keep everything lubricated and running smoothly. If you are a heavy coffee drinker with a hectic lifestyle, but no matter how much caffeine you have you still feel tired, do some research on Adrenal Fatigue. That’s a topic for another blog.
A study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, initially undertaken in 2009, indicated Chamomile to have remarkable benefits in the treatment of anxiety. This is a natural, calming herb that has been around since the dawn of time and people have been using it for just as long. This flower makes a delicious cup of tea tastes even better when gently sweetened with honey. It’s been proven time after time to help with sleep, which in turn also reduces anxiety. Chamomile is an herbal tea, which means it is caffeine-free naturally.
Here’s a fun info-graph on tea versus coffee: Health Realities of Coffee and Tea
Balancing food intake with a healthy supplement regiment is important, but when it comes to anxiety there is one substance that is extremely important and that is Magnesium. We’ve known Magnesium is crucial to stress and depression for quite awhile. Back in 1996 a study was performed by Dr. Richard Cox and Dr. Norman Shealy found that 100% of chronically depressed patients were deficient in Magnesium. These results have been tested and proven time after time and span across the board without being affected by gender, weight, age, or other factors. Magnesium is required for over 300 metabolic cellular functions. It is needed for maintaining electrolyte balance, assists with healthy bowel movements, helps muscles relax, among so many other things. Supplementing with Magnesium is something everyone should do, but especially if you have trouble maintaining healthy stress levels or have problems with anxiety. Magnesium helps calm under stressful circumstances and can relieve muscle spasms, reduces hypertension and migraines. It helps regulate other vital nutrients such as Potassium, Calcium, and Sodium. The amount of Magnesium we need in the body isn’t much, but it’s proven to be critical in how the body performs.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me (Kara). As always, have a Soulistically happy day!