There, it is again.
You feel an intense uneasiness that makes your stomach go queasy, as if you ate something funny, yet you didn’t. There is an unmanageable and overwhelming sense of dread that refuses to dissipate. You find that your heart is palpitating so rapidly, you wonder if it might just burst right out your chest. You can’t focus…well, beyond the source of fear, that is.
There must be something big coming–a death, maybe? . . Or is the planet about to go up in a ball of fire?
Nope, it’s just your anxiety showing face again. You may be fearing the safety of your child on a regular school day, because of something you saw on the news. You may be worrying about your job security, because of some little thing you said or did that your boss may not have liked. Or perhaps you are convinced you have breast cancer, simply due to reading an article on the disease–and now it won’t leave your mind.
I know this feeling all too well because I have suffered from social anxiety disorder for as long as I can remember. And I’m far from alone in that. It is estimated that 15 million Americans suffer from anxiety brought on by social situations. Another 25 million experience anxiety in other forms: generalized, OCD, phobias, PTSD and panic attacks.
While I realize that prescription medications are sometimes in order, I wanted to share with you some of the more natural ways that I have found helpful for keeping my anxieties in check. Here are nine natural ways to deal with anxiety.
Yoga was my first anxiety drug. I stumbled upon an instructional dvd by Rodney Yee, and immediately fell in love with the way it made me feel. In those moments when I felt as if there was no escape from dread and uneasiness, yoga set me free. It allowed me to breathe; my tensed up muscles would release and let go. It honestly felt like a heavenly moment–and I began to crave it regularly.
Sometimes it’s hard for us busy moms to get to a studio, but I have had some amazing experiences connecting with the women there. Studios offer amazing opportunities to expand upon our methods of relaxing. I have attended some pretty unique workshops, with yoga nidra being one of my all-time favorites–who doesn’t love a reason to relax so deeply it can put you to sleep?
If you ever have the opportunity to go on a yoga retreat, take it! Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health will give you an experience that will leave you feeling like a new person. They offer programs for every spiritual and relaxation interest, from a few days to a week at a time. Not to mention, it is located in the beautiful Berkshires of Massachusetts. Their organic meal selection is top-notch, catering to a variety of diets.
Meditation & Mantras
Meditation is something I personally struggle with, but I know that it can help immensely with anxiety. Since anxiety involves worrying about the future, it is really grounding to reel your mind into the present moment. It’s so easy to constantly be one step ahead of ourselves in our thoughts, but what is the present for if not to enjoy? Taking a moment to sit with nature and using it to find the stillness within ourselves,–it exists, I promise!–can make all the difference.
Try using the Headspace app to get in the habit of incorporating meditation into your daily life.
A Clean Diet
Eating the right foods is critical in maintaining a feeling of inner calm. Things like caffeine, alcohol, sugars and refined carbohydrates can all add to those anxious jitters. Anti-inflammatory foods like green vegetables and berries, contribute to a more peaceful sense of being as well. Foods rich in B vitamins, magnesium, calcium and Omega-3 can make all the difference, since these are nutrients anxious minds are often lacking.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT can be extremely effective in dealing with anxiety. It allows you to examine your thought processes, identify the problematic ones, and then change them in order to rid yourself of the anxiety. Although I never sought therapy for my anxiety, I was able to train myself to change my own thinking through the use of a few books based on CBT. Those books were Diagonally Parked in a Parallel Universe by Signe Dayhoff, and Feel the Fear and Beyond, by Susan Jeffers.
Your local hospital or medical facility may also offer anxiety groups. I have found a few to be quite helpful. It’s very valuable to find cameraderie with other fellow sufferers. Everyone has their own experience and advice to give.
Beyond the vitamins we’ve already mentioned, there are so many natural supplements out there that can help to ease the daily struggle. I know that every time I have lavendar essential oils diffusing into my atmosphere, it immediately eases my tensions and encourages me to relax.
While this is not something I’ve done a lot of, I remember seeing my mom engage in it often while growing up. The practice involves a pattern of tensing and releasing a variety of muscle groups, generally working from one end of the body to the other. You can find guided relaxation videos on youtube to help you get started.
There is something about releasing your thoughts through a pen that can really help you sigh a deep sigh of relief. It seems to work a lot like talking to someone, even though it is just a piece of paper. Pick up a pretty journal and tell your diary all the deep secrets you aren’t comfortable sharing with another human. I’ve found that guided journals are a great place to get started!
Getting some fresh air & sunlight
There are so many benefits of spending some time in the great outdoors. The experience slows the heart rate, boosts your serotonin levels and has a way of putting our minds at ease. On a sunny day, you have the added benefits of Vitamin D exposure.
If you can find the energy, getting your heart rate up can give you an immediate endorphin release, stimulating a mood boost that can reset your day. It also contributes to the decrease of stress hormones, like Cortisol, that accumulate naturally in your body.
I hope some of these suggestions can work for you the way they have worked for me in my own life. Now, I’d like to share with you a special series of personal anxiety stories, that The Mindful Mom Blographer has created, in order to help raise awareness and decrease the stigma. She just recently featured my own story.
I see you, Momma, with your unbearable weight of the world on your shoulders; anxiety filling your chest, just trying to get through your day. Hustling to care for your children’s every need. So many of us are fighting this fight. You are not alone, and there are ways to make it easier. You deserve to feel better. Take a minute to figure out what works for you. Your children will be better for it. Happy Mothers’ Day <3
I’m sure some of you have found healthy ways of dealing with anxiety that I haven’t mentioned here. I’d love to hear about it!
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