Written by Tete Munalula
Anxiety is a very common disorder and can come in many forms such as panic attacks, sleep anxiety, phobias and social anxiety to name just a few. The exact cause of this mental disorder is unknown, but there are many triggers for this unpleasant state of mind. It is not a result of personally weakness or inadequacy. It is a feeling of fear, constant worry and uneasiness that is completely normal and more common thank you think. Environmental factors such as trauma can trigger anxiety. Anxiety is a relative disorder and the experience varies from person to person. Thats why orthodox treatments do not always work for everyone.The orthodox treatment for anxiety is usually a prescription of a benzodiazepine like valium. However these have many negative side effects, can become highly addictive, and can put a strain on the heart and cause damage to the liver. So what naturopathic steps can you take to help cope with anxiety?
There are many mind and body techniques that can help. Exercise is a great anti depressant and is very good for the brain. It will help keep you healthy, confident and will relieve stress. It does not have to be rigorous exercise just a brisk 30 minute walk, jog or cycle would be sufficient. Meditation is also a great relaxation therapy that has a positive effect on improving psychological disorders like anxiety. By being aware and paying attention to the present moment, focusing on your breathing will help you keep control of your thoughts. This practice can increase your ability to control your thoughts and over time this technique can help you cope with your anxiety. Breath through it. Compassion focused therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and positive self talk are all great therapies to consider.
The fight or flight response reflex causes your body to release adrenaline to speed up your heart rate and protect your from any imminent danger. Cortisol is also released when we are in a state of stress. Therefore anxiety can cause indigestion due to the high levels of cortisol and adrenaline. So make sure you are chewing your food, eating slowly and avoiding foods that your body will find hard to digest. Staying away from fizzy drinks, sugary foods, processed and junk food is a must. Eating a balanced diet and eating often will help to balance your sugar levels so you don’t get energy highs and lows. Teas like peppermint, chamomile and lavender are soothing on the stomach and will help aid digestion. Liquorice tea is also very good and its known that liquorice root helps support cortisol levels, exhaustion and adrenal insufficiency.
Omega 3 fish oils are known to help protect against depression, so eating foods high in essential fatty acids would be very beneficial. Think SMASH – Sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, herring. Alternatively, a good quality fish oil supplement would be just as good. B12 and folic acid are supplements that are helpful for anxiety and they support the heart. Magnesium is a calming mineral that helps support the nervous system and the heart. You can get magnesium through the skin by getting some epsom salts and having a relaxing mineral bath. Magnesium will help with restlessness, eye twitching, irritability and will aid sleep. Some well known herbs for anxiety are chamomile, lavender, valerian, hops, lemon balm, passionflower and liquorice.
If you are anything like me – an over thinker – the best way to cope with anxious thoughts is breathing through it. Face your fears – take yourself back to the last time you had a panic attack,and how you managed to cope with it. This can help you to rationalise…is the dreadful thing you are thinking really going to happen? Highly unlikely. Once your rationalise with yourself you will realise how strong you actually are! The more credit you give yourself and the more self believe you have – the stronger your mind will be!
Have a great week!