Millions of people suffer from anxiety. Spanning the spectrum from just occasional nervousness to panic attacks, OCD and agoraphobia, anxiety can be a very debilitating problem. One of the biggest problems with anxiety is that it is misunderstood; anxiety is not an illness. Anxiety is a symptom. It is your body trying to tell you that something is wrong and it should not be ignored. Treating anxiety by itself is just treating a symptom. It does not address the cause of the anxiety, which is the real problem. It simply suppresses a symptom, which is a bad idea. Your body is trying to tell you something is wrong.
Anxiety can be caused by many things: food sensitivities, sensitivities to food additives, too much caffeine, too much sugar, environmental toxins, reactions to medications, metal toxicity, and problems with biological systems such as the thyroid or adrenal glands. If anxiety is a problem in your life, these things should be ruled out before anything else happens. Some of the things that anxiety can be a sign of need to be addressed by a doctor, such as an allergy or a thyroid problem. Many people trust that the doctor will cover all of this if you go to them saying that anxiety is a problem in your life but usually, they do not. They simply prescribe you a medication to control the anxiety with no real investigation into the cause of it. So before you add anything (like medication) to the situation, make sure you don’t need to remove or address something else first.
If you have pinpointed one of the above causes as the source of your anxiety, great! You’re all done! If you’ve ruled out the above causes, the problem is probably stress. Stress is not the first conclusion you should come to – especially for severe anxiety. It should be taken into consideration for sure and it could be the cause but the other causes should be ruled out first. That is very, very important. I had what I thought – and what I was told by doctors – was severe panic disorder for years and it turned out to be a sensitivity to food additives – which I discovered on my own. I took medication that I did not need and still felt no relief for years because the real problem was not addressed. I cut out the food and the “panic disorder” disappeared.
If stress is the cause, there are many ways you can combat this. Most of the remedies for this seem so simple that you might be tempted to ignore them. Don’t! Try them. You might be really, really surprised how well they work.
Get enough sleep. This one seems like simple advice but be honest: do you actually get enough sleep? If you don’t, that can cause serious issues with your emotional balance and ability to handle stress. Try getting 30 extra minutes of sleep a night and see how much better you feel.
Try aromatherapy. Our sense of smell is one of our most powerful, emotionally-connected senses. Certain smells can lift your spirits, change your mood, trigger almost total recall of events and much more. It doesn’t have to be a big setup; just get a little burner and some essential oils. It is so, so helpful with stress.
Meditate. The #1 thing people say is that they do not have time to meditate. The #2 thing they say is that they don’t know how. But look: the time you spent reading this blog, you could have been meditating. There is no way to do it wrong and the benefits of meditation are very well-documented by science. If you don’t want to just sit there with your eyes closed or can’t clear your mind (#3), there are moving meditations like tai chi and dancing, there are drumming meditations… I knew a guy that meditated by throwing a ball against the wall over and over. Whatever works for you to bring you peace, relaxation, tranquility and introspection is what you should do. If you find that you can’t clear your mind and relax, that is actually a sign that you probably need to meditate, because it should not be so hard to do. No wonder you are so stressed! Try meditating at least 10 minutes a day for a week and watch how much better you feel. Seriously.
Try herbal remedies. There are many, many herbal supplements and remedies you can try which have nowhere near the amount of dangerous side effects as medications. Many have other benefits as well. For instance, at your local health food store you can probably buy chamomile or lavender flowers. These can be made into a very calming – and tasty – tea. You can also buy supplements in the form of drops and capsules. Lavender drops work very well to combat stress. You can also put the flowers and herbs into food or a nice hot bath. *As with all things you take internally, please be aware of your allergies, interactions with other things you are taking and do not exceed the dosage recommendations. Natural does not mean incapable of harming.*
Develop a mantra. A mantra can be something used in meditation but it can also be a personal motto, something you repeat to yourself frequently to remind yourself of what your goals are. It might be something like “I will not focus on the negative. I will focus on the positive,” or: “I will not let myself be dragged into the drama,” anything that has meaning to you. Try reciting your mantra – either to yourself or out loud – during times of stress, along with a deep breath. It sounds silly but it really does work very well and after awhile it becomes second nature to simply do what your mantra says, without being reminded.
Let go of what you cannot help. We’re all humans. We all make mistakes. We all have bad days, limitations and everything else. So take one problem at a time. That’s all anyone can do. Do the best you can and don’t worry about the things you can’t do anything about. It’s not as hard as it sounds. If it’s something you can’t do anything about, worrying about it is not going to change that anyway. It’s only going to stress you out. Let it go.
Less screen time, more face time. Being so connected to everything and everyone is great but it can create problems, too. The constant notifications from social media and the constant droning of the television create anxiety and stress in us, even though we might not realize it. If you don’t believe that, try a little experiment: go without your cellphone or computer for a little while. You might be very surprised how anxious and bothered you are without it, how worried about it you are in general. This is a sign that you are putting far too much energy into it and that it is causing anxiety and stress in your life. Toning it down can help a lot. Try spending less time on the computer or phone and more with friends and family. You will see what a difference this makes. It’s very noticeable.
These solutions sound so simple, you might think they cannot possibly work but try implementing them seriously into your life for 30 days and see what happens. I guarantee you will feel better and find there is much less stress and much less anxiety in your life. Good luck and be well. Namaste.