*While this article provides suggestions for the betterment of your overall health and tools to help with anxiety, if you are experiencing anxiety, we recommend talking to your doctor and consulting a mental health professional in order to find the treatment plan that is right for you.*
What is Anxiety
Anxiety is the mind and body’s response to stress. Our bodies have a really neat tool that makes us faster and stronger in the face of danger. When there is danger, our autonomic nervous system kicks into overdrive, allowing us to be hyper-vigilant and ready for action. This is often referred to as our fight or flight state.
These instincts have equipped us to survive and are hugely helpful! However, what happens when our body and our mind continue to act like there is danger but there isn’t any in sight? This is what happens with those of us who struggle with anxiety and anxiety disorders. Our autonomic nervous system is overactive and misfiring on all cylinders.
As we have evolved and grown, become more civilized, slowed down and connected to technology in new ways our bodies aren’t yet used to, these fight or flight instincts have become less useful when our lives aren’t always in danger. In fact, anxiety is when these instincts misfire, or prolong beyond the point of threat.
Trauma and Anxiety
For those who have experienced trauma and danger, anxiety can linger long after the point of threat. It can look very different for everyone. It can look like a racing mind, panic in the body, or an inability to relax. As you explore how to manage your anxiety and stress, it is so important to practice self care and maintain good mental, emotional, and physical boundaries. You might also find a lot of relief when you process trauma and everyday stress with a licensed counselor. Processing with a counselor and receiving guidance from a professional to reframe our negative thoughts patterns can be so impactful.
While maintaining our foundational health doesn’t always provide immediate relief with anxiety, it is extremely helpful in the long run. Drinking a lot of water, moving, eating real, unprocessed food, and practicing healthy sleep hygiene are all essential habits to maintain as we tackle anxiety.
Holistic Tools to Help With Anxiety
As someone who has journeyed through this life with, let’s say, an active mind, I have come across some natural and holistic tools that have really helped me cope with anxiety. While I work to heal and overcome these patterns and pursue health and self-care in these foundational areas, I sometimes just need a few tools to cope and provide immediate relief. Here are my favorite holistic tools that have provided immediate relief from anxiety.
Chamomile Tea has amazing benefits aside from calming the mind. Chamomile can reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar, and help with relaxation. It also contains flavonoids, which are similar to antioxidants. The flavonoids found in chamomile are found to have mood-enhancing properties. I can honestly say that a hot cup of organic chamomile tea almost immediately gives me a calming effect. This is one of my go-tos if I am feeling stressed from work in the afternoon. I grab a cup and head to the recliner, slowly sipping as I allow the flavonoids to kick my racing mind in the butt.
This type of breathing helps to access the parasympathetic nervous system, and bring your body back to homeostasis. It involves deep, diaphragmatic breathing (allowing your stomach to rise before your chest during inhalation). Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Focus on expanding your stomach upon inhalation, and do this for a few rounds. You’ll notice yourself begin to relax.
CBD, or cannabidiol, has been used to manage anxiety. If CBD oil is legal in your state, I recommend an organic, fast-acting water soluble brand like Ojai Energetics. I feel the effects of this CBD oil within 30 seconds, which is what they mention on their website, and it has been such a helpful tool when my body is in a state of panic.
Holy basil, or tulsi, acts similarly to an adaptogen and is a great tool to help with anxiety. Adaptogens help reduce stress in the body. My favorite way of consuming this plant is also by drinking it as a tea. It relaxes me to a meditative state and allows me to easily let go of mental stressors. My favorite brand is Organic India.
Walking can help move your stagnant or pent up energy into something more productive. At the same time, walking doesn’t put as much stress on your body as working out. It is a great balance of stretching your muscles, moving your body, and still maintaining a sense of relaxation. Take a walk with a friend or simply walk solo and allow your mind to wander.
Anxiety can be overwhelming and crippling, and can take a toll on the physical body. However, it can also be an invitation to better self-care, changes in your lifestyle, and redirecting unhelpful thought patterns. Know that you are doing a great job, and there is no shame in the way your brain moves with everything you have experienced and walked through. At the same time, how can you invite yourself into a healthier way of being? This just might be the question you need to ask yourself, in order to experience a fuller life.