Ahhh anxiety, the never ending emotional hamster wheel. Anxiety is a feeling I am quite familiar with. As someone who has felt this overwhelming feeling most my life, this blog definitely strikes a nerve. Even placing the above picture on this blog gives me mixed emotions.
Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Anxiety was present throughout my childhood and into adulthood. I had an amazing childhood with loving parents and amazing brothers. So why the racing thoughts and stomach aches? Although, I NEVER thought of my stomach being in knots all the time as something that had a name to it or even something that could be "dealt" with. This was my normal. It wasn't until my late 20's when I started to take my health and wellness into my own hands and do some research about how I was feeling. What a relief it was to start trouble shooting for my own peace.
Since I've done the leg work on this topic I decided sharing my findings was an absolute must! It is my hope that with these holistic tips, I will be able to reach a few people and lessen some of the overwhelming feelings in their life.
1. Herbal Tea
Tea leaves have been broadly acknowledged around the world as one of the most effective natural remedies for fighting signs of stress and anxiety. The beautiful thing about this kind of treatment against symptoms of anxiety is that the effects can be felt almost immediately and the herbs are so readily available. Chamomile not only helps with anxiety but it also helps many other common ailments such as hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids. Teas such as peppermint, chamomile, and lavender contain no caffeine and as such are more preferable thank coffee for soothing the effects of anxiety. Peppermint also assists with digestion, headaches and can help create a ‘cooling’ effect which counteracts the heated fear associated with panic attacks.
2. What we eat
Eating a healthy balanced diet also lends itself to a calm state of mind. Foods such as root vegetables contain vital grounding and soothing properties that help ease the effects of cortisol and other stress-related hormones, as well as foods rich in B Vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are vital for our brains to function properly and regulate hormone release. Wild salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds are just some examples of this. Other foods which are known to benefit the symptoms of anxiety are blueberries, almonds, spinach, broccoli, raspberries, quinoa and red lentils to name a few.
3. Yoga and meditation
Yoga and meditation are both activities which have been proven to improve and assist in accessing our ‘flow state.’ By consistently engaging our bodies and minds into a state of internal focus and concentration in the form of physical postures (asanas), mindful breathing techniques (pranayama) and directing awareness to thoughts and emotions as they arise (meditation), we can begin to access a state of mind/body harmony and awareness. This focus and awareness, when sustained over some time, is ultimately a prime example of the human mind in a ‘state of flow’.
Exercise is thought to be one of the most invigorating and effective ways to combat periods of anxiety, stress, or depression, as the endorphins produced after even a short 10-minute walk have similar effects to taking aspirin for a headache. Exercise has been proven scientifically to elevate moods as more physically active people show lower instances of anxiety and depression. Whether it’s yoga, running, climbing, weight-lifting, swimming, or hiking, the effects of moving the body and engaging in physical exercise are unlike anything else for achieving stress and anxiety relief. The best way to find an activity that suits you is simply to try them; see what works for you and your lifestyle, and what you can realistically incorporate into your everyday life. I, for one, can say exercise has helped me a great deal throughout my entire life.
5. Gut and brain connection
Gut bacteria are intricately linked with our brain via the nervous system, spinal cord, hormones, and immune system. The ‘Vagus Nerve’ is the main communicator between these and it transmits neurotransmitters from the base of the spine (which is conveniently located near the gut) to the brain. We’ve all experienced the discomfort, negative emotions and bad moods that can result from a period of indigestion. That’s why it came as no surprise (or at least, a little bit of a relief) to learn that gut-health has significant parallels to our mental state, as several recent studies have proven and publicized. This is important because it further supports the facts which holistic healthcare has promoted for centuries - that what we put into our bodies truly does affect the way our minds work and the feelings of positivity/negativity we experience.
It has been proven that stress levels can rise in unpleasant environments which do not lend themselves to our emotional comfort, and so holistic health calls into question the environment in which you live, work and interact with others. These elements must be completely in balance and in line with your requirements to maximize your mental health and productivity. Think about it - if you don’t feel well, comfortable, or valued in your environment, how are you supposed to function to the height of your potential? How are you expected to do your best work, be the best version of you, and feel at home in your own skin while doing so?
Unfortunately I do not have the magic remedy to make your anxiety go away entirely because anxiety is not a 'one size fits all' condition. The examples I gave most likely you've heard before but maybe after reading some of the scientific data collected from numerous studies will entice you to try them...really try them. Saying your mind still raced after meditating once and chalking it up to 'I can't meditate' is hardly trying. These tips are meant to be regular practices for your WHOLE life. Once you get in a routine not only are you helping to prevent future anxiety but you are connecting to your mind and body. You are sending the message to your body that you are worth it. Show up for yourself. If you don't who will?!