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.