We all have times when stress,anxiety and sleeplessness enter our lives, especially with everything that’s going on these days. The rhythm of our lives can become quite fast-paced, and at times it can all become overwhelming. If that is happening, we need to pay more attention to our bodies, respect and honour them.
The body, heart, mind – they are all linked together. Stress and anxiety are not not only in your mind! They can manifest in our bodies as well!
Put simply, anxiety is a sense of fear and apprehension that puts you on alert. Biologically, it’s meant to put us in a heightened sense of awareness so we’re prepared for potential threats. Unfortunately, when we start to feel excessive anxiety, or we live in a constant state of anxiety, we’re in trouble. Our bodies never turn off our fight or flight response, and we live with the physical and emotional effects of anxiety on a day to day basis, even when there’s no reason or cause for them.
On its face, anxiety can look like stress; but the reality isn’t so simple. Anxiety can arise as a result of stress, but stress can manifest in other ways. Stressors can make a person sad, angry, worried, or anxious, while anxiety is specifically that feeling of fear, dread, and apprehension we mentioned. You may never even know what’s causing your anxiety, or in some cases, it can manifest on its own, without any real “trigger” or cause. Stress is often caused by external influences, while anxiety is an internal response. That’s part of what makes anxiety intrinsically different than stress, and also what makes it so difficult to manage.
However, there are many ways to not only manage stress and anxiety, but release it, or at least reduce it till the point where it no longer impacts our day-to-day lives.
As I’ve mentioned above, we can’t heal an imbalance only on a physical level, or only on a mental level. It’s all connected, which is why I’m going to provide with information on remedies for the physical(body), as well as for the mental (mind).
Here are the natural remedies to heal anxiety and stress:
4 remedies for the body
- Chamomile Tea – The most recent study, from the UK’s University of Nottingham Medical School, found that chamomile significantly relaxed blood vessels and smooth muscle fibers. This effect was indicated specifically with the application of three of chamomile’s central constituents, apigenin, luteolin and bisabolol – all hydroxylates. Traditional herbalists will typically recommend the use of anti-anxiety herbs such as chamomile, lavender, St. John’s wort and others over a period of three months to a year in order for them to reach their full effectiveness. After that, they are often recommended to be continued at least periodically or as needed. The good news about chamomile, as evidenced by this and other studies, is that it has no known adverse side effects and is non-addictive. This is in stark contrast to anti-depressant pharmaceuticals, some of which are known for being significantly addictive in addition to having numerous other adverse effects.
- Exercise – Exercise will not only make you feel better about yourself, but will flood your body with feel-good endorphins. Some researchers even believe that increasing your body heat, a natural result of exercise, may alter neural circuits controlling cognitive function and mood, including those that affect the neurotransmitter serotonin. Researchers believe this response can boost your mood, increase relaxation, and alleviate anxiety.
- Natural sunlight – This is the best way to naturally increase your vitamin-D levels, which can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. A short 15 minute break will not only take your mind of stress, but also let you reap the benefits of outdoor activity. And the greener the better—one Japanese study found that people who walked through a forest for 20 minutes had lower stress hormone levels after their walk than those who took a comparable walk in an urban area. If you’re stuck in an urban area, look for parks or quiet tree-lined streets to take a stroll.
- Eat foods that reduce anxiety – Asparagus, Blueberries, Avocado, Almonds, Oranges and Spinach are some of the foods that dissolve anxiety
4 remedies for the mind
- Face the fear. “If something makes you scared, face it,” says Cassiday. If you feel shy, go out to social functions, she says. Scared of clowns? Go to the circus. It can help, too, to understand that when you worry about what might happen — such as no one will talk to you at the party — your anxiety just rises. Your anxious worry is about the uncertainty, she says. “What a worrier really wants is a promise that everything is going to be OK.” But uncertainty is part of life, she says. Exposure therapy, or facing the fear, helps you learn to live with risk and uncertainty.
- Ground yourself. When anxiety hits, ”do something tangible,” says John Tsilimparis, MFT, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles and adjunct professor of psychiatry at Pepperdine University.”Take your house keys out, run your fingers along the keys,” says Tsilimparis. “That sensation will give you ‘grounding.’ Pick up a paperweight, hold it in your hand. Or, get an ice cube. Hold it as long as you can do it.”Why does this work? “Your brain can’t be in two places at once,” he says. The activity distracts you from the anxious feelings. “Your mind will shift from racing, catastrophic thoughts [that accompany anxiety] to the cold ice cube in your hand,” he says.According to some research, using a virtual reality distraction system can reduce anxiety during dental procedures. Patients immersed in VR — a computer-generated realistic environment — reported less pain and anxiety than when they didn’t use it.
- Laugh it off. Cultivate a good sense of humor and laugh, says Karen Lynn Cassiday, PhD, president-elect of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and a clinical psychologist in Chicago. “Even if you do a fake laugh, you get an instant hit of dopamine,” says Dr. Cassiday. Dopamine is a brain chemical that controls feelings of reward and pleasure.If you’re too tense to laugh on your own, try using technology, she suggests. For example, find a laugh track phone app. Just google phone apps for laughing.In a study presented at a medical meeting, Loma Linda University researchersfound that even anticipating a mirthful laugh reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which increases when you are anxious.
- Schedule relaxation. “Sit down and look at your schedule,” says Katherine Raymer, MD, ND, associate clinical professor of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University, Seattle.”Is there a time to put in a half hour to do whatever you do that is relaxing?” Dr. Raymer asks. That can be a walk, meditation, yoga, tai chi or anything you find relaxing. Click here for good meditation to release anxiety.Researchers trying to help shy men with social anxiety found that a period of relaxation helped them, lowering their heart rates after they interacted with people.
Thank you for reading,
Love and Light,