Feelings of anxiousness are common and may be caused by several factors. Everyone experiences some level of anxiety every day. It is an innate response designed to help us respond to stress encountered in the environment. When anxiety occurs inappropriately or when there is no environmental stimulus it becomes problematic.
Fight or Flight
One of the most ancient biologic responses the human body has maintained is the fight or flight response. This automatic reaction to a perceived threat in the environment produces simulator hormones from the adrenal glands designed to prepare the body to do just what the response is named for, fight the threat or run away. It worked well for prehistoric man but in the modern world can produce anxiety symptoms that interfere with a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Anxiety and Depression
Many medical professions believe that clinical anxiety and depression are related. Certainly persistent anxiety can lead to depression. An estimated 40 million adults in America are being treated for anxiety disorders. Anxiety is a common complaint and appears to be on the rise.
Symptoms of Anxiety
There are over 100 symptoms of anxiety. Most, if not all are related to the effect adrenalin and other simulator hormones have on the mind and body. Just a few include:
- Increased heart rate
- Increase blood pressure
- Flushed skin
- Dry mouth
- Obsessive thoughts or difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of impending doom
- Need to escape
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty sleeping
- Somatic complaints (aches, pains, nausea, shortness of breath, etc.)
Understand that feelings of anxiety can be useful in everyday life to motivate change and face real threats. Anxiety disorders range from mild concerns about things that are not immediate threats to severe panic that incapacitates the sufferer.
1. Stop Ingesting Stimulants
Ingesting chemicals related to adrenalin can produce anxiety symptoms in people prone to feeling anxious. Certainly in those experiencing anxiety these substances should be strictly avoided.
Caffeine is common in society to “jump start” the day or provide energy throughout the day. Caffeinated beverages like coffee, teas, dark soda’s and foods like chocolate can also “jump start” anxiety.
Many over the counter medications, particularly cold remedies also contain stimulants that increase anxiety symptoms including the decongestants ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. In the body they are converted into the same compounds that cause anxiety.
Many herbal supplements also contain stimulatory properties and can ignite anxiety. If having symptoms and taking herbals discontinue them all and back one at a time as a trial. Here are a few to definitely avoid if experiencing anxiety:
· Yerba Mate
· Kola Nut
· Asian Ginseng
· Bitter Orange
Use up the adrenalin
In ancient times when the fight or flight response was generated, the resultant activity quickly metabolized the stimulatory hormones produced. In modern times we have learned to moderate our response to threats and intellectualize the responses. It is now considered socially unacceptable to fight every time we are threatened or to run away. So what happens to all of the adrenalin and similar compounds that are generated? They circulate in the body and are slowly metabolized over time. While biologically available, however; these chemicals continue to act on end organs creating high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and stress to kidneys, liver, muscles and gastrointestinal tract. They also act on the brain and can cause anxiety.
Physical exercise reproduces the ancient mechanisms that speed metabolism. When feelings of anxiety present, engage in some form of physical activity. Take a brisk walk or jog, run in place, calisthenics, and aerobics or box an imaginary foe. Any increased demand in muscle will increase metabolism of stimulatory hormones.
Due to the ongoing modulation of fight or flight response society demands from us all, most people exist everyday with increased circulating catecholamine’s (stimulatory substances). It is in part why there is so much hypertension and heart disease today. Developing a regular exercise routine will benefit the entire population; but will specifically help those prone to anxiety.
3. Give Yourself Some Time-In
Set aside a time every day that is more convenient to allow yourself to feel anxious. The opposite of a “time out” is a “time in.” Whenever anxious thoughts start to plague consciousness, remind yourself that at the pre-allotted time you will allow free range to these thoughts. Keep a log handy and write down the subject if it can be identified to review later. Just the act of acknowledgment can abate the feelings.
Pick a time that won’t interfere with daily activities and stick to it. It will take a little training to condition the mind to postpone the intrusive thoughts, but the habit will develop.
4. Herbal Therapy
Natures Calming Gifts
Just as there are herbs to avoid in preventing anxiety, there are several that can improve the unwanted feelings. These herbs either have a direct calming effect or work as anti-depressants. Remember that depression and anxiety are often co-morbidities.
· Lavender is a beautiful and fragrant herb that contains linalool and linalyl acetate. Scientific study has shown these compounds effective in treating anxiety and sleep disorders. Used in aroma therapy, just the scent from lavender has produced calming effects.
· Fennel contains anethole, a smooth muscle relaxer that treats cough and colic. It is also thought to provide the anti-anxiety properties fennel can affect.
· Kava Kava root contains at least 15 known substances called Kavalactones. Their effects in the body are similar to benzodiazepines (Xanax, transgene, Librium, valium etc.) without the addictive components. It has been used for traditional anxiety treatments for centuries.
· Valerian root extract acts on anxiety by its effects on the GABA receptors (a neurotransmitter receptor in the brain). It has documented sedative and anti-anxiety properties.
· Chamomile is a member of the aster flower family and has many chemical compounds effective in several biologic applications. For anxiety, studies support a calming and anti-anxiety property associated with GABA receptors.
5. Take A Deep Breath
Mind Body Exercises
Anxiety is often a result of the fight of flight reaction run amok. It is a response loop that has developed a bad habit. Breathing exercises done regularly can reprogram the tendency towards anxiety and when done acutely interrupt an attack.
Take a deep breath and count to ten slowly. Concentrate on holding the breath and the counting. If the anxious feelings return, do it again. Soon your mind gets the message you are going to give into the anxious thoughts and they abate. Remember to count slowly and think only about holding the breath and nothing else.
Learn mind body techniques that allow your brain to control your mind and body. It takes practice but the long term effects allow you to control the anxiety. Yoga and meditation are two disciplines that have been used for centuries to strengthen mind body control. It allows the habit of anxiety to be reprogramed in positive ways. These disciplines allow individuals to recover their control over anxiety.
Conclusion: Take Back Control
Perhaps the worst component of anxiety is the feeling of being out of control. It is as if the mind has taken over the body in a very bad way. Using natural remedies to control anxiety restores self-control and is empowering. If you suffer anxiety, take back control naturally today.