Shakiness, heart rate increasing, dry mouth, tunnel vision. Any of these sound familiar? Pretty much everyone has experienced anxiety every now and then. Anxiety is a natural physiological “fight or flight” response that allows a person to act quickly in times of crisis. Your adrenaline will go up, as will your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.
Why do we have this response? Like animals, we were once nomadic scavengers moving through the world from location-to-location to find food, shelter, and a temperate environment to live. Like animals living in the wild today, there is always a threat of an attack.
The “fight or flight” response that leads to the build-up of panic and anxiety that you immediately feel is your body preparing itself for a morbid scenario that requires the body to either defend itself or run as fast as the wind away from it’s potential doom. This is merely an evolutionary left-over, one that our animal friends find useful and one that we find, more often than not, horrifying.
You normally don’t expect a lion to jump at you as you leave your cubicle, you also don’t expect your computer monitor, keyboard, or mouse to suddenly grow teeth and try to take a bite out of you. No, in todays society that “deadly predator” is typically the boss demanding a quick deadline, an overload of workflow, or the aggravating office gossip and banter. Did I mention bills and taxes?
So what can you do about anxiety?
One of the best ways to reduce anxiety is to focus on your breathing. If you’re at work, perhaps go to a bathroom stall, otherwise find a comfortable spot. Close your eyes, relax your muscles, and begin to inhale deeply and exhale deeply. Let your mind stay clear of anything and everything besides the breathing.
Think positively. It might sound too simple, but many times it helps. Reappraisal is when you reassess a situation that is causing you great distress and look at the big picture of what the actual outcomes and meaning of that situation in relation to yourself. When all is said and done what does it mean a year from now? Five years from now? Ten years?
Try meditation or yoga. We talked about meditation in the previous article and the ways it can help you to recover from a distressed state of mind. Yoga similarly is a great technique to help with stressers. Yoga can combine breathing exercises, a little bit of exercise, and the mindfulness of meditation in one package. Many beginners wrongfully try advanced yoga positions and techniques – don’t. Start off simple with easy to learn yoga help found online.
Eating right. This is something that, again, many people take for granted. People don’t usually correlate the food you eat with your mood or stress levels. The old saying “you are what you eat” is correct in many ways. Studies have shown the trans-fats and chemicals found in fast-food and processed food to not only lead to a cycle of addiction to such foods, but also to depression and difficulty with self-regulating your emotions. Watch the number of calories you eat, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and try to eat whole and organic when possible.
Other techniques include exercise (studies have shown this to be extremely successful in helping anxiety), laughter, socializing with friends, sex (yes, that’s right – sex helps anxiety), playing games, music therapy, art therapy, writing (it’s helping me right now in fact!), walking, gardening, aromatherapy, taking up hobbies to focus your mind, and many other techniques.
As for supplements, lower caffeine intake when possible, also drinking green tea (L-Theanine), or even white tea, can help with stress. Some over the counter pill supplements at a vitamin shop or herbal teas are said anecdotally to relief mild cases anxiety and stress. Chamomile, Ginkgo, Valerian, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Passionflower, Omega-3s, Rhodiola, Skullcap, and Ayurvedic, just to name a few. Taking a daily vitamin supplement and mineral supplement (many minerals have been shown to help anxiety) helps greatly too. Vitamin C is especially well known for not only helping the immune system, but helping greatly with anxiety.
Lastly, if you find yourself feeling extremely anxious, stressed, or if you have panic attacks, don’t just rely on the above. You could have an anxiety disorder, which can sometimes be co-morbid with depression and personality disorders. Firstly, consult your doctor before trying the techniques above and taking any of the mentioned supplements as, depending on the individual, they may be hurtful rather than helpful, depending on the individual. Secondly, see a therapist, psychologist, counselor, or clinical social worker to talk to about your problems and see how they can help. If your doctor or therapist feel it is necessary, consider seeing a psychiatrist who may have to prescribe psychiatric medication. If so, mentioned to your psychiatrist about any of the herbs taken above, as some can be dangerous when mixed with psychiatric medication. Don’t risk your health and always do what is best for you. Thanks for reading and I hope this article helped.
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