Helping to Manage Anxiety Naturally

business coach clare wood

Please note: Untreated stress and anxiety can lead to serious illness, so it’s important to seek help from your doctor or mental health professional if you feel you aren’t coping.

Anxiety is something we all feel at some stage, to varying degrees. It could be as simple as worrying about the number of hits your latest blog has received, or as overwhelming as lying awake for nights on end feeling sick to the stomach concerned about anything and everything.  Although anxiety can feel crippling, with the right treatment, it can be managed.  Here are some natural ways to help you help you stay balanced and calm.

 

Counselling and Mindfulness – Psychologists are trained to recognise anxiety and assist its management by helping you identify and navigate contributing factors through techniques such as mindfulness. While mindfulness has been around for a long time, it’s had a recent surge in popularity.  Meditation is no longer just for hippies, mindfulness and meditation are now embraced by the mainstream including by entrepreneurs such as Oprah, Tim Ferris and Arianna Huffington. Dr. Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders, summed up the impact of mindfulness on anxiety so perfectly when she said “People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power”.  She goes on to explain that mindfulness enables the ability to recognise an unproductive thought, acknowledge it, and see it for what it is, just a thought and not a part of your core, or something that can harm you.

Somewhat closer to home is Brisbane-based psychologist, Amy Kate of The Mindful Collective. Amy has used her years of psychology education and training, to help guide her patients to integrate mindfulness into their lives and demonstrating its use as a successful, long-term calming technique. Amy makes the following suggestions for managing your anxious feelings:

  1. Consider your triggers – try recording them if you’re unsure, think about what may have happened before your feelings of anxiety started. Knowing what triggers anxious feelings will help strip the emotion out and see them for what they are.
  2. Consider your possible responses and manage them with kindness:

–          alleviate a physical reaction like tension by stretching or shaking your hands out;

–          talk through your emotional response with someone who will nurture you;

–          respond to negative thoughts with an internal voice which is gentle and soothing.

  1. Consider talking to someone – opening up to someone you trust, whether it’s your mum, a friend, your hairdresser, or a therapist is a helpful way to address your feelings.

 

Kinesiology – this is something I have had a personal experience with, I had no idea what they did or why but I walked away feeling a million times lighter! Thanks to a bit of research, I’ve discovered that kinesiology is a method of overseeing your body’s health and well-being through muscle monitoring, with the aim of revealing any stress and blockages which may be occurring. Once identified, there are some gentle techniques which can be used to help alleviate those blockages including, tapping or massage, movement and breath work, relaxation and visualization.  Whether it’s a placebo effect or not, it’s definitely worth giving it a try!

 

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine  

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can offer natural ways to support your body and calm the nervous system, to relieve stress and anxiety.  Acupuncture points can be stimulated to start the healing process and allow the body to help energy flow smoothly.  This can be supplemented by Chinese herbs to sooth the nervous system.

Our fight or flight system has been fine-tuned through many centuries of evolution and is what has kept us alive however, when we experience anxiety it’s a disproportionate reaction to the supposed threat. Part of the activation of this survival technique are short, shallow breaths, so an excellent way to communicate to your body that everything is going to be ok is to slow down your breathing.

Dr Maz at Balanced Acupuncture suggests using a technique which will do just that:

The Triangle Breath – ideally this is practiced lying down but of course, taking a moment when and where you can is absolutely acceptable. This technique is divided into three parts, the inhale, the exhale and the hold. Simply inhale for 3 counts, exhale for 3 counts and hold for 3 counts– or use this time to continue to exhale if you still have air remaining. Continue these cycles for 3-5 minutes and as you feel your body begin to relax, you can extend your counts, just go with what works for you.

Diet – caffeine and alcohol are pretty much anxiety’s best friends (bugger!). Turning to wine to unwind or caffeine to uplift you after a sleepless night is only going to temporarily solve the problem and you’re probably going to end up feeling even worse. 

As an alternative, try something which will fuel you in a more positive and long-lasting way.   As recommended by the Readers Digest, substitute hydrating water or soothing herbal tea, and fill up on foods like salmon for its anxiety reducing omega 3, strawberries which are chock full of protective antioxidants and avocado, rich in calming magnesium.

 

Exercise – another great way to release all the energy which builds up during the fight or flight state is through regular exercise. Whether you prefer to go for a walk, a swim or join a Zumba class, exercise releases chemicals such as adrenaline, which build up when you are stressed. You’ll also increase your metabolism, your alertness and concentration; you’ll burn off your frustrations and come away feeling relaxed and happy, thanks to the release of endorphins.

 

When it all comes down to it, we all have our preferred method of coping and what seems a little woo woo to some may be the ideal technique for others. No matter which path you go down, the key is being able to recognise the signs of anxiety, understand that it is not a part of you and doesn’t define you, and know with the right tools and techniques and some persistence, it can be managed. 

 

Please note: Untreated stress and anxiety can lead to serious illness, so it’s important to seek help from your doctor or mental health professional if you feel you aren’t coping.

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