by Andrea Purcell, ND
In this fast paced life anxiety is presenting itself in many different forms. Patients will describe nervousness, irritability, edginess, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, hurriedness, and inability to turn off the mental motor. These are just a few descriptions that I hear daily in private practice. Stress is present, people become overwhelmed by it and then get stuck in an anxiety cycle that leads to sleeplessness and becomes very difficult to get out of.
Here are a few tools that can be used on a daily basis to help re-boot our nervous system and break the fight or flight cycle.
The top three-lifestyle ways to soothe anxiety are physical exercise, breathing exercises, and meditation.
Physical exercise has physical in the name so we forget how much it helps our mental health. Daily exercise can lift our moods, influence our food choices, which influence our moods, and act as a mental stress reliever. It helps us get out of our heads, and allows us to take a mental health break.
Deep breathing increases the amount of oxygen in the blood which acts to boost our immune system and give us more energy. It also calms down the sympathetic nervous system and in turn decreases our adrenalin output. So we feel like there is less of an emergency all the time. Breathing abdominally is better than chest breathing. I recommend the “breathing in a box technique”. Inhale slowly for 4 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts, exhale for four counts, and hold for four counts. And repeat. The slower you do it, the more you can focus on the air entering, moving through, and exiting your body. Posture is important! Sit up straight with your shoulders down and pulled back, align your neck over your spine and breathe. Poor posture promotes shallow breathing and more anxiety.
Meditation is a daily practice just like exercising and breathing. Many patients say that they have difficulty completely emptying their mind and find this practice hard to do. My recommendation is to get yourself a tape that will take you through a very short say 1 minute meditation to begin and then expands as you practice your meditation muscle. The Chopra Center has free online meditations; they gradually introduce a new-comer to meditation.
You do have to subscribe to their free online library.
Supplements to use when you are overwhelmed:
Rescue remedy by Bach flower
Calms forte –homeopathic remedy for an over stimulated nervous system.
Double bag of chamomile tea
L-theanine – found in green tea it has calming properties. 200mg capsule, 1-2 capsules usually help take the edge off.
Note from Dr. P
Stress is here to stay, so we all need to get a game plan that works for us to manage stress on a regular basis. I recommend calendaring everything, yes, even exercise. Items on your calendar will not get pushed to the side they will get done with everything else. Every woman I know has a daily list of items to accomplish that is greater than what is humanly possible. Have the immediate list and then the list that can be done over more time. I call it my doing “now” list and my “not” doing now list.
Another stress reduction tip is to be present! The gift is in the present! The present is all we have, so enjoy it, soak it up like a good piece of Italian bread in garlic and oil, ummm, that will help diffuse the anticipation of what is next on the to do list.
Finally, if you find that you just can’t keep it together, and that your day is running you instead of you running your day, there could be other factors that need to be evaluated by a trained professional. You may have a hormonal imbalance and need good council by an integrative doctor. So get the help, get balanced, and get on with your life!
-Be Happy, Healthy & Holistic