Natural Tips for Anxiety

lavender - anti-anxiety herb

 

I never understood anxiety when I was younger, but I do now! Maybe it's the roller coaster of entrepreneur life, maybe it's just adulting, but over the past few years I've learned about the havoc that anxiety can wreck if left untreated. If you are familiar with anxiety, I don't need to remind you how debilitating it can be. The past few years I've been on an active quest to tackle my anxiety head on. In the process, I've gained many helpful tools that I turn to when I'm overwhelmed. Getting a hold of my anxiety has brought joy and confidence back into my life––read on for my natural anxiety tips!* 

1. Eliminate 'black and white thinking.' Anxiety traps us in a corner where we can only see things in stark black-and-white terms. The world is not black and white, it's a beautiful ombre. When you catch yourself caught in black and white thinking, try to take a deep breath and look for the grey...it's there, I promise.

2. Exercise! Move your body, daily if possible. 'Nuff said. 

3. Breathe/use aromatherapy. Aromatherapy has many benefits, but my favorite one is how it connects you to your breath, which stimulates your vagus nerve, which calms the nervous system. Some of my favorite oils to huff in stressy times are clary sage, lavender, geranium, cypress leaf, rose, and ylang ylang.

4. Avoid/limit stimulants. Substances such as caffeine, sugar, and alcohol wreck havoc on your adrenal glands, your blood sugar, and sleep.

5. Speaking of sleep: anxiety loves to play games in this department, and poor sleep leads to greater anxiety (and a slew of other issues). Try to carve out time before bed to relax. I love to do legs up the wall for about 10 minutes, meditate, drink tea, and put away my phone. Taking a hot soak with epsom salts helps lull the body into a relaxed state. If you wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety, don't lie there and let it take over. Get up. Go in another room, read a book, breathe. Separating yourself from the habit of anxiety will help break the cycle. I also love falling asleep to this guided body scan by Jon Kabat-Zinn (an excellent mindfulness teacher). 

6. Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a powerful way to stay focused on the present moment and not get too caught up in the mental games of anxiety. Mindfulness relies on the power of daily meditation to transform reactive habits. Mindfulness can help us identify our emotional triggers, and from there we can retrain ourselves to respond more skillfully to those triggers. There are many online resources available if you'd like to explore the subject. Personally, I'm a huge fan of Tara Brach's free online talks, this book by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and this one by Phillip Moffitt.

7. Seek out herbal support. Adaptogens are herbs that help our bodies adapt to stress. These include reishi, holy basil/tulsi, ashwagandha, astralagus, maca, and cordyceps. Herbs to reduce stress and anxiety (and promote sleep) include lavender, scullcap, chamomile, hops, catnip, valerian, St. John's wort, passionflower, and kava. Magnesium is also a wonderful supplement.

8. Get support! Seek the help of a therapist, get bodywork, phone a friend, & confide in your community. The more we can share our personal struggles and dark corners with others, the less power those challenges have over our lives.

Did I leave anything out? Shoot me a note with your favorite tool, to let me know if you found this helpful, or just to say 'Hi!' Here's to a life of more presence, more joy, and much less anxiety! 

*I am a huge fan of an integrative approach. This blog post is based solely on my personal experience as a holistic practitioner. This post is not intended to diagnose or treat. Sometimes the best fix for anxiety is medical attention + medication, and I encourage you to seek such expert help if you need it.

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My Week In Wellness

Night-blooming Cereus

I started the long Memorial Day weekend by taking a 2-day @SmokePerfume Instagram hiatus. I'd been feeling pretty overwhelmed, and this tiny tech break was just the respite I needed to clear my head.

Here are some other wellness practices that I've also been incorporating this week:

1. Is this dental hack the supplement my teeth have been waiting for my whole life?! 

2. Reading this 40-day guide––who doesn't want a miracle?!

3. Bingeing Master of None season 2 all week, because laughter is good medicine! 

4. Finally scooped up a new nut milk bag (such a bad name, though, why??) after losing my old one a year ago...this cheap and handy item is essential (IMO) for making delicious & nutritious nut milk! Super handy how-to vid by my girl Sarah Britton here

5. And finally, the cherry on top: witnessing the first bloom of my night-blooming cereus flower!

While the bloom was of course unplanned and out of my control, it stands out as such a relaxing and positive experience. The night-blooming cereus is native to the jungles of South America, but has been a traditional porch plant of New Orleans forever. In fact, many families hand theirs down, or at least clippings of them, for many generations. What makes these plants so special, is that the flowers only bloom once a year––and only for one night! The flower literally buzzes and shimmers with life. It truly takes the principles of wabi sabi to the highest level.

Anyway, sitting with this flower's beautiful energy was such an invigorating and relaxing event for me. When was the last time you sat with a flower? It really is a sweet meditation.

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A morning routine that can go anywhere & transitioning to summer!

Lemon water morning routine

I recently did a week-long spring cleanse ("Ayurvedic Kitchari," for those interested). While the cleanse itself was wonderful, what has stuck with me since has been the morning routine I developed that week. The idea of a morning routine is nothing revolutionary, but it is amazing how easy it is to forgo in favor of hitting the ground running straight into our very full lives. 

I like to start my morning with a big glass of hot lemon water. I juice half a lemon into about 10 ounces of hot water. This simple ritual has so many benefits! (Honestly, this is sometimes the only part of the routine I do; on weekends when I relax my routine, for example).

Next I do a bit of meditation and light stretching. If I'm pressed for time, I'll just do 15 minutes of meditation with my preferred meditation app (Insight Timer). On days when I have more time, I enjoy kundalini yoga classes on Yoga Glo.

That's the foundation of my morning routine. I keep it easy and flexible. In the past, my routines often failed because I was too ambitious. If I didn't do that hour-long walk and 30 minutes of stretching, it was OVER! Now, my routine is not a miracle cure. I still have good days and bad days like everyone, but a routine provides a peaceful touchstone to return to throughout the day. It also provides a domino effect. I've gotten better at cooking a solid breakfast, responding to stress in a less reactive way, and putting more time and attention into planning my day, for example. 

As we head into the intensity of the hot New Orleans summer, I'm grateful for any tools I can cultivate to stay grounded. I've also been revisiting my favorite herbal beverage, Golden Milk (see my blog post a few posts back for the recipe!), and reading more this week ("Love Warrior" by Glennon Doyle--aka the best book on healing I've read in a while!)

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