When it comes to treating anxiety and stress, people can suffer for months and even years because they have never addressed the root of the problems successfully. Working towards regaining balance in the body, mind, and spirit is a good first step in reducing symptoms. Holistic doctors, acupuncturists, and even yoga teachers (who specialize in breath therapy and movement specific to reducing the stress response) can assist people in feeling less anxious almost instantly. Holistic practitioners who can help include:
Lifestyle Changes can make HUGE shifts in your body and brain chemistry, helping to reduce Anxiety and Depression. Some simple yet powerful changes you can start with today include:
1. Reducing your sugar intake:
Anxiety takes place when the body is tripped into the “fight-or-flight mode” or “stress response.” Often the stress response is out of your control which can be made even worse with high sugar intake that causes adrenal imbalance and a host of other health problems. Sometimes it can be difficult to avoid stressors like work related ones or traffic on your commute, however other times stress can be completely avoidable. One extremely common and preventable cause of the stress response is preventing swings in high and low blood sugar levels. Swings in blood sugar levels happen mostly because people are eating too much sugar in their daily diets.
A number of you are already familiar with the experience of feeling “hangry” (hungry+angry). For some people, blood sugar dips cause stress and anxiety. And sometimes these folks are not even aware of this connectivity. If this is you, then you can make yourself significantly less anxious by maintaining a stable blood sugar level.
The definitive solution is to cut out refined carbohydrates and sugars, eat plenty of healthy protein and fats, and stick to safe starches like plantains and sweet potatoes. Except for that total diet overhaul, you can likewise rely on something like sprouted almond butter or coconut oil to give yourself a blood sugar safety net. If you feel your blood sugar level crashing, take a spoonful of almond butter or coconut oil. If you’re running out of your house and you understand you’ll be on the go without much time to eat and pause, take a spoonful. If you will go to bed and you often wake up in the morning or middle of the night with anxiety and racing thoughts, it could be that your blood sugar dipped to low while sleeping and your adrenal glands had to increase cortisol levels in an effort to stabilize your blood sugar – BUT the result you feel is that you wake up in a state of anxiety. If you eat an early dinner you can take a spoonful of nut butter before bed as an option, or you can try a fat bomb or other healthy high fat snack like chia pudding which is made with coconut milk and chia seeds. The protein and healthy fats will help stabilize your blood sugar while you sleep. When you are out all day, you can carry portable almond butter packets in a bag so you can still have a spoonful on hand. Taking these precautions to stabilize your blood sugar levels can prevent your body from going into a stress and anxiety response, and these simple changes can also help stabilize your metabolism as well.
2. Cutting out caffeine:
Most people like this one! Drinking coffee is our favorite ritual culturally. It’s warm, comforting, trendy, delicious, and often it’s the only thing getting us out of bed in the early morning. However, if you struggle with anxiety and you consume any form of caffeine, it can definitely contribute to your increased anxiety. Caffeine makes your body more likely to get tripped into a stress response by causing your nervous system to go into fight or flight. Genetically we can see if a person metabolizes (breaks down) caffeine at a fast, normal, or slow rate. If you are a slow metabolizer you could really be causing unnecessary suffering for yourself by consuming foods and drinks with caffeine. Even if genetically and historically you can drink caffeine without side effects, when you combine coffee with a stressful task and a busy life, that suffices to make almost anybody anxious. You’ll have the ability to handle the busy life and stressful job a lot more calmly without coffee ramping up your nervous system.
When it comes to kicking the caffeine habit, proceed slowly with reducing caffeine consumption. For some people caffeine withdrawal is no joke, so make regular adjustments and allow your body to adjust before you take the next step. If you drink 3 cups of coffee or more per day go down to 2. If you drink 1 cup, change it to half. If you’re drinking black tea, then try green tea. And if you’re a green tea drinker and you are still experiencing anxiety, do a trial totally off caffeine. Holistic medicine approaches for anxiety most often include removing caffeine from the equation — at least for a period of time while the underlying causes which might be triggered by caffeine are being addressed.
3. Implementing breath work:
Many people don’t know that breathing exercises are an effective antidote to anxiety and stress. Specific breath work will put the body directly into the relaxation response, which is the opposite of the stress response. This relaxed state protects the body and brain from anxiety, and can even stop anxiety when it starts to take place. Breathing exercises are safe, effective, available to us anywhere, and totally free anytime. So why aren’t we all doing day-to-day breathing exercises? Start today, you have everything to gain!
Starting a new habit is always the hardest part. Instead of holding onto a perfectionist approach to meditation, just take imperfect action. Imperfect action will take you in the direction you need to go to achieve perfect action. Holistic doctor for anxiety suggests you start with at least 2 minutes of practice meditation today, right now. There will always be a host of urgent matters waiting on our attention, making us feel like we have no time. But making the time to start with even just two minutes of breath work and meditation — That is when the magic happens!
Here’s a super-quick and easy breathing exercise to fight anxiety and stress. It’s called the 4-2-4 breath. Breathe into the count of 4, hold the breath for 2 counts, and breathe out to the count of 4. Set a timer and do this for 2 minutes at least once a day, or whenever you’re anxious. Everybody has two minutes.
While these tips might not get you the same benefit as living in sync with nature or 7 years of treatment in a utopian community, these steps are taking you one step closer to healing your body and your mind. Keep making conscious decisions that take you one more step towards your goals… those decisions are cumulative and will help you in your healing journey. So start today with implementing these 3 simple steps into action and keep working towards restoring your body’s health so you can reduce your anxiety.