Feeling tense? Worrying and/or racing thoughts? Increased heart rate? Shallow, quick breaths?
For some people this may just sound like stress however, to others, this may be anxiety. Anxiety itself can be thought to be a completely normal and necessary emotion as it is essential for our survival. However, the key difference here is that increased anxiety in absence of or in a disproportionate relation to a threat, that keeps an individual from leading a normal life, is considered abnormal. It can also cause flow-on effects altering other body functions, mental states, relationships, and so on if left untreated/unmanaged. And sometimes these feelings continue escalating and reach a peak of intense anxiety and/or terror, resulting in a panic attack.
In this blog, we will be exploring general anxiety – as an emotion. However, please note that types of anxiety disorders exist such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Social Anxiety Disorder. These are a lot more complex and require psychological support.
Sometimes anxiety can be due to one particular thing but most commonly it is a combination of factors. These are the most common causes or contributing factors:
· Genetic predisposition
· Certain personality types
· Ongoing stress (e.g., work, living arrangement, relationship, financial, abuse, death)
· Physical health conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, hypertension, hyperthyroidism)
· Other mental health conditions (e.g., depression)
· Substance use (drugs or alcohol)
And now aside from working with a psychologist or counselor (highly recommend), what other things can you do to reduce your anxiety?
1. Consider supplementing herbs such as Kava, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Zizyphus, or Passionflower, as these are anxiolytic meaning they reduce anxiety. Always consult with a qualified Naturopath first to determine which are right and safe for you (caution if taking medication), do not self-prescribe.
2. Keep engaging in activities that you enjoy and make you feel good about yourself.
3. Prioritize good quality sleep. This includes keeping a regular sleep/wake cycle, incorporating a nighttime routine, reducing stimulants 6-8 hours before sleep, keeping your bedroom dark, cool, comfortable, and quiet, and reducing fluids consumed 1-2 hours before bed.
4. Consider supplementing nutrients such as magnesium, L-Theanine, GABA, taurine, glutamine, or B6. These nutrients play roles in specific neurotransmitter synthesis and cortisol pathways. Always consult with a qualified Naturopath or nutritionist first to determine which are right and safe for you (caution if taking medication), do not self-prescribe.
5. Avoid/reduce the use of alcohol and drugs, as well as stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks.
6. Engage in regular physical activity, aim for >30minutes minimum 3x/week to start off with.
Please remember these are just general recommendations and they do not replace the advice from a psychologist. These are complementary recommendations however it is always recommended to speak to your qualified Naturopath to ensure the safety of specific treatments for you.
I personally can say how effective herbs and nutrients are at supporting these pathways to reduce anxiety as not only have I seen the effects in myself but also in my clients. Have you had experience with anxiety? What worked and what didn’t work? Let me know below.
And if you'd like some 1:1 support targeting anxiety, please book here.