Over half of all people will experience symptoms of depression or anxiety, or both, at some point in their lives. There is a lot of mis-information about what causes it, as well as what ‘fixes’ it or how to manage it. Often symptoms are just a very normal response to life events or a message from our intuition that something needs to change. For example, if your current experience is a mis-match for who you Truly are then it makes sense that your biochemistry will respond with unpleasant symptoms in order to motivate you to make the necessary changes.
Working holistically in response to the symptoms gives you the best probability of resolving the underlying cause without the need for medication. It can also be more empowering for you as you move forward knowing more about who you are and what you need in order to sustain your unique equilibrium as you move through life.
So what is the physiology of anxiety?
Anxiety is the “fight, or flight” mechanism in your body. Our ancestors used the anxiety to keep them alive when they were hunting or being attacked. Adrenaline was pumped into their bloodstream, so they could make the decision to turn around and fight or flee from danger.
Anxiety continues to be necessary for us today because it acts as a warning signal that something is not right. However today, we may not be able to fight or run away from perceived threats or stressors like our ancestors did. So the symptoms of anxiety can get ‘stuck’ in our system with no way to get physically expressed.
When this happens it is common for people to feel some quite scary physical symptoms such as a racing heart, shallow breathing, shaking and tingling arms/hands. It’s common to feel nauseous too because the adrenaline has sent the blood away from your internal organs into your extremities in preparation to ‘run or fight’.
To help you manage these unpleasant feelings in conjunction with Counselling here are some natural options…
Natural ways to deal with anxiety:
1. Healthy Diet
There is a lot of research that shows anxiety can originate in the gut. That is why, when people experience anxiety, they also typically have issues with bowel movements. A change in diet can help a person experiencing anxiety to overcome or reduce the symptoms. Reduce caffeine, sugars, alcohol, and dairy and eat more fruits, veggies, grains, seeds and nuts.
GABA: GABA is an amino acid known for its calming effect on our central nervous systems. It is a neurotransmitter that helps nerve impulses communicate. If your body does not have enough GABA, you can experience anxiety. Many with low levels of GABA choose to self-medicate with substances such as alcohol. You may try 500-1000 mg of GABA supplement a day and include foods in your diet that increase its production, like green tea, citrus fruits, bananas, nuts and greens.
L-Theanine is a concentrated form of green tea and has a very calming effect on the whole system. Some people even say it helps them feel a ‘warm inner peace’. It is recommended that you take this capsule with a glass of water on an empty stomach to get the strongest effect.
Omega 3s: Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the symptoms caused from anxiety, aiding the body to keep cellular receptors in optimal condition. According to Everyday Health:
“Japanese researchers found that a diet high in fish protects people from depression and suicide, while in Finland a team of researchers surveyed 1,767 residents and concluded that eating fish more than twice a week has a protective effect against suicide and depression.”
Magnesium: Magnesium naturally calms the nervous system. It can be found in coconut water, seaweed, pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, chocolate and more.
5HTP: 5HTP is recommended for anxiety with depression. It is an amino acid that is essential for the production of serotonin, which helps to elevate mood.
3. Relaxation therapies
Relaxation therapies such as yoga, meditation, grounding and breathing techniques, massage, acupuncture and soaking in bath all naturally elevate mood and help release the hormones that make you feel good.
4. Movement and Exercise
Get your heart pumping and it will help circulate the blocked energy that is causing anxiety while releasing feel-good hormones such as Dopamine. Move the body 30 minutes a day and you will notice how much better you feel.
Despite our conditioning in relation to pharmaceuticals (we are taught they are only solution), the Earth already holds all the medicines that we need to heal ourselves, and the following herbs can help you tame your anxiety.
• Chamomile has relaxing and sedative effects that help with sleep
• Kava Kava helps to reduce anxiety by activating GABA receptors in the brain
• Valerian root is used for insomnia by taking a supplement or drinking the tea an hour
• Passionflower has been used as a remedy for anxiety and insomnia
Essential oils can be added to baths, massage oils or infusers. The best essential oils for anxiety are lavender, ylang-ylang, geranium, rose, bergamot and jasmine.