I’m going to go a little off topic and get a little personal here.
I suffer from anxiety. It’s not a crippling anxiety that leaves me bound to the four walls of my home, but enough that it interferes with life daily. I live with it day in, day out. I get anxious a lot and get overcome with worry. If someone isn’t here on time my mind starts to wonder up different scenarios (starting with morbid and then, if I am lucky, moving onto something completely normal like, you know, life). I do not express these imaginings that I have had instead, I act like a complete b****. The illness wins.
This is something that I have lived with for years, honestly, I can’t think of a time when I went without these thoughts. I remember having them when I was kid when my parents were late coming home. But I don’t dare talk about these feelings. I don’t dare let people know that I am weak, that there is something wrong with me.
I am part of the problem. Part of the stigma.
I decided to talk to my doctor about and she prescribed a small white pill.
That was over a month ago. The bottle sits unopened in the medicine cabinet. I haven’t touched them. I don’t want to touch them.
But I want to feel normal. I want to feel happiness. I want to turn off the negative voice inside my head that tells me I’m not good enough. The one that tells me I will never succeed at anything. The one that stops me from following my dreams.
But I don’t want a chemical to do the trick. I don’t want a short-tem solution, I want something lasting. I want to feel happiness because I am truly happy, not because some chemical interference makes me feel that way. I want to treat anxiety naturally.
I have tried to change my way of thinking. To catch myself in the middle of my anxiety and remind myself that it’s not so bad. Many have suggested this, including my over-the-phone counsellor, but what most fail to understand is how difficult a task that is when it has been a daily habit for such a long period of time. It’s not as easy as turning off a switch.
So what can I do?
I have been headed down a path to living a much more natural life for a couple of years now. I have replaced all of the chemical cleaners in my home with homemade solutions or chemical free commercial ones. I try and bake my own bread. I grew plenty of fresh food this past spring and summer and have a dining room table full of seedlings that will be ready for the garden in a few months time. I am raising chickens for meat (we processed our first seven roosters a few months ago, read about it here) and eggs as well as meat rabbits (if we can ever bring ourselves to process the furry creatures). I am on my way towards living a self-sufficient life but far too often I give in to that voice that tells me I will never succeed at this, that I am just fooling myself and everyone else. I have also started to replace over-the-counter remedies with more natural ones (the BEST way to cure a cold: 1 Tbsp honey mixed with 1/4 tsp cinnamon).
Naturally, I would like to cure my mental health issues well, naturally.
How to treat anxiety naturally
Here are a few natural remedies I found online that can help in battling anxiety. I am not an expert or a medical doctor. If you too are suffering it is best to consult with a professional. This is the journey I am planning for myself it may not work for everyone. These 7 ways to treat anxiety naturally are helping me to cope with my struggles.
According to a few different websites I have visited anxiety has been linked to a lack of magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral which helps calms the nervous system and relaxes the muscles, a deficiency can result in a tense body and an anxious mind (story of my life). Women my age need between 310-320 mg of magnesium a day for overall good health.
Magnesium can be found in nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish, meat and leafy greens. According to one source it is most abundant in coconut water, kelp, cashews, buckwheat, molasses, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, cocoa powder and rice bran. But be careful which greens you choose. Modern farming practices have stripped the land of vital nutrients like magnesium. Choose organic or grow your own to ensure you are eating the most nutritious foods. Magnesium can also be taken as a supplement. Magnesium is essential for more than 300 bodily functions including regulating the heart and blood pressure. Experts are calling it an invisible deficiency which affects half of the population.
Certain herbs are known to help calm an anxious mind. Lavender is most common and is said to be an emotional anti-inflammatory. You can use lavender oil to create a more relaxing atmosphere. Chamomile is another anxiety-relieving herb. One website suggested to drink three cups of chamomile tea during periods of anxiety. Other herbs include valerian (used for insomnia), passionflower and lemon balm. I am planning to grow a tea garden this year so that I can enjoy the purest herbal teas year round. Herbs can also be enjoyed in cooking, adding fresh flavour and vital nutrients to meals.
Gardening is good for you. Not only does it provide fresh fruits and vegetables but the act of working in the soil is known to boost mental health. Researchers have discovered beneficial bacteria in dirt that raises serotonin levels, acting as a natural anti-depressent. Gardening also gets you outdoors, connects you with the land. It’s therapeutic to work the soil, a time to reflect and be alone with your thoughts.
It has been said that just 21 minutes of exercise a day can help soothe the mind and fend of depression and anxiety. Last year I was pretty dedicated to practising Bikram yoga. Most of my friends think I am crazy, but there is something calming about sweating my a$$ off in a room heated to 104. It’s a sacred time. A time for me. I can shut my mind off and concentrate on my form. I am able to get deeper into each pose as I focus on my mind, telling myself that I can do this. Leaving class I was both alive with energy and peaceful in mind.
Cut out sugar
Now this could be a tough one. I have been thinking about cutting out sugar for some time, not for anxiety but because it’s downright bad stuff. I try and buy organic when I can afford it but there are times when I reach for the highly-processed white stuff instead, especially when it is often half the price. I plan to cutout sugary hot beverages and replace them with herbal teas (especially when I have homegrown blends) as well as cut down on the amount of sugar in my diet.
Bye bye caffeine
I was told to cut this out of my diet in my teenage years when I suffered from the same terrible feelings. It worked. Then I became an adult, entered the working world and rediscovered that little extra push coffee could give you in the morning or as you were pounding out the final words to meet a deadline. It was a good friend when I needed a quick escape from the stress at my desk. But if I am to truly recover from this negative way of thinking I need to say goodbye to this old friend and hello to herbal tea.
This is something I have struggled with. A big part of my anxiety problem is my inability to turn off the chatter in my head. My mind is always focussing on something and it doesn’t just focus, it micro-focusses. I try and turn off my thoughts but then another one always resurfaces and finally I throw my hands up in frustration. I need to dedicate time each day to meditation practice.