Have Anxiety? You're going to want to read this.
a guide to holistic and natural remedies to tackle anxiety
So the other day, I was 4 minutes late to a hot yoga class that I was supposed to take with someone who had never taken hot yoga before. When I arrived, the studio wouldn’t let me into the yoga room where said someone was awaiting me to join them. Being a yoga teacher, I understand respecting the practice of other yogis that could be disturbed by my late entry, but...
I was SHOOK.
NOT because they didn’t let me in, but because I was disappointed and anxious that said someone was going to peg me as unreliable.
So I did the most logical thing I knew to do.... I called my mom and cried.
Which, god bless her- she is an ANGEL (but she might not be when she sees I screen-shot her snap and put it up here). She empathized with me, even though I was crying about not getting into a YOGA CLASS. Which is perhaps the MOST champagne problem you could cry about. But my point is...
Anxiety is a b*tch.
Increased heart rate, feelings of ungroundedness, with a side of constant worry about scenarios that haven't even happened yet. Just some of the ways that anxiety manifests. On the outside I'm seemingly handling it (chipper even), but on the inside it’s a f*cking shit show. Why? Idk, maybe because I'm worried that after missing a yoga class I'll be deemed unreliable. Which would lead this person to never want to plan activities with me again.....because that’s TOTALLY reasonable ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
It’s not OUR fault!
Anxiety is a chemical imbalance in the body- that can be experienced in a plethora of ways and caused by a variety of factors. For most people it usually varies day to day. Depending on the cause and the degree, it can be debilitating.
Hack your anxiety
Whatever the factors are that manifest themselves in the form of anxiety (adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalance, gut issues, control issues, trauma, etc.), there are hacks in order to lessen the effects of symptoms . These methods provide a foundation rooted in balance through supporting our physiology, NOT sedation.
OF COURSE, consult a medical doctor if you are struggling with anxiety- I am simply offering methods of easing the anxiety woes that are tried and true by me.
CBD oil is a heavy hitter, it just recently (6 mo ago?) joined my supplement roster and I’ve observed it’s profound effect in lessening the symptoms of my anxiety.
Not only has it helped me to tackle inflammation , but it has greatly helped manage my anxiety. A high or variable heart rate is indicative of stress. Since I've boarded the CBD train, my heart rate has been routinely around my normal resting heart rate (I track my heart rate). Not to mention, I’m not an absolute basket case about things that used to send me over the edge.
How it works on anxiety: Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is the main contributor to feelings of well being and happiness. Evidence shows that CBD works like an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) so that our brains has ample happy neurotransmitter floating around for the taking. For reference- common SSRIs that you may be familiar with are Zoloft, Prozac, and Lexapro.
BUT Is it addictive?
NO! CBD modulates and regulates without binding to receptors, unlike many SSRIs, so it can’t cause addiction! It’s an adaptogen, so it’s a molecule that helps us ADAPT to stressful situations. Make sure you get your CBD oil from a trusted brand that extracts the oil from a clean source of hemp. I recommend CW hemp.
Caffeine & Adrenal Fatigue
If you have anxiety, or any anxious tendency, and you are a member of the “coffee, for breakfast!” camp
You are playin’ yourself.
If you aren’t already in the grips of adrenal fatigue, allow me to play fortune teller. Caffeine, for the anxious, mimics and elevates symptoms: increased heart rate, jitters, agitation, impaired cognition. Not what you had in mind when you drank that latte now was it?
GOOD NEWS, all we need to help combat those symptoms is to have a balanced breakfast before/with coffee containing fats, protein, and carbs to keep our hormones at bay. That way the caffeine doesn’t f*ck our sh*t up.
Adaptogenic mushrooms have been used in eastern medicine to help increase energy levels, decrease anxiety, and support immunity for centuries. Lucky for us companies such as Four Sigmatic and Sun Potion have carefully taken the fruiting bodies of said mushrooms to create powder extracts that can be mixed with hot water (or thrown into a smoothie) to make an anxiety reducing tonic! If I start to lose steam after lunch, I drink Four Sigmatic's mushroom hot cocoa with cordyceps instead of coffee to get my mojo back- WITHOUT the post caffeine crash. I drink a reishi elixir if I’m stressed at work, and to relax before bed. More about magic 'shrooms in one of my earlier posts here.
80% of Americans are lacking in magnesium- which is unfortunate because it’s essential for hundreds of biochemical processes in our body. At the Well + Good Talks: Biohacking, the Next Wave in Women’s Health, panelist Dr. Robin Berzin (founder and CEO of Parsley Health) spoke about how she takes magnesium glycinate to decrease stress and promote deeper sleep. Since putting Robin’s advice into action, I fall asleep as soon as my head hits that pillow and feel restored in the morning. Magnesium is imperative in regulating cortisol levels (stress), sleep, muscle relaxation and tone, and nerve function. Things that we need to work, ya know? It also helps to balance other vitamin stores such as vitamin K and D. Taking magnesium glycinate an hour before bed helped to calm my post work anxiety and stopped sleeplessness dead in it's tracks. Make sure to get a high quality magnesium glycinate supplement that is non-gmo, hypoallergenic, gluten free, and free from additives. I this one by pure encapsulations.
GABA is the dimmer switch on the stimulation spectrum. It helps us move from wired and tired to relaxed. If you were to walk to your nearest health supplement store and pick a stress relief supplement, I’d bet my money it contains GABA. I have been taking GABA for years now. I find that if I take it as soon as I get home from work it helps me transition from work grind mode to relax mode seamlessly.
It induces relaxation and reduces anxiety, simple as that!
But what is it? It’s a neurotransmitter essential for regulatory function of your central nervous system. GABA is the inhibitory neurotransmitter known to counteract the excitatory neurotransmitter Glutamate.
If you aren’t taking probiotics by now, then this your cue. Turns out, our brains aren't the only organ responsible for harboring feelings of anxiety. The “I have a feeling in my gut” phrase is a lot more than a metaphor y'all. If we have an imbalance in our microbiome, we could be experiencing more than digestive problems. Anxiety, inflammation, and chronic fatigue are all symptoms of an imbalanced microbiome. Try to incorporate prebiotic foods (low FODMAP-er's be weary) and fermented probiotic foods like kimchi or yogurt into your diet. If you haven't already- add a quality probiotic to your regimen in order to support the gut-brain connection. And if you REALLY want to dive into the makeup of your microbiome and target any imbalance there are companies, such as BIOHM, that can provide you a run down with a simple test.
Food sensitivities (note: sensitivities, NOT epi-pen in the leg, full blown allergy), food that causes an inflammatory response or is not digested well by our bodies, can cause anxiety. Think about it. If we put diesel in a car that takes unleaded, the car is not going to run well. So giving our bodies fuel that doesn’t work with our physiology isn’t going to make us feel good. Aside from a gnarly stomach ache, eating foods that we are sensitive too can cause inflammation that can induce anxiety, acne, and fatigue.
Is your diet causing you anxiety?
Once I took gluten and dairy (my sensitive foods) out of my diet, I felt a DRASTIC change in my mood and how I felt. If you have a hunch that you have food sensitivity, try the elimination diet and document which foods you have adverse reactions to. More on food sensitivity here.
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST (and perhaps the most important)
Are we checking in with our intuition and honoring what would serve us and our bodies? If that means not pushing ourselves to go out to a big dinner with the girls, and going to get a manicure at the neighborhood joint instead- honor that. No need to push full steam ahead into a panic attack. When you feel ungrounded, stop and take a quick inventory. What areas in your life are causing you to feel ungrounded? Could it be work woes or a conflict in a relationship? Are you over tired or over stimulated? What actionable steps can you take in order to help resolve your anxiety in that area? When I start to feel overwhelmed and anxious, working out helps to free that stagnant anxious energy in my body, and gives me some time to unplug for a good reset. Make sure to build in those daily rituals that cater to nourishing your soul.
Do you all have any go-to holistic methods to deal with anxiety? I’d love to know! Share with me below!