A WHOLISTIC GUIDE TO AIDING ANXIETY
Natural Tips To Ease You
Did you know anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States every single year? That’s 18.1% of the population. While medication and cognitive behavioral therapy are two of primary methods of treatment, there are lifestyle, diet, and mindset adjustments that can aid in reducing feelings of anxiety.
Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been treating mental health concerns like anxiety for hundreds of years through acupuncture, massage, herbs, and suggested changes in nutrition and exercise. These holistic approaches center on creating balance from the inside out, and releasing negative energy that can fuel anxiety.
Be sure to consult with mental health professionals and your TCM practitioner to create the healthiest plan for your lifestyle. Looking for additional at-home tips and tricks to ease anxiety from head to toe? We’ve curated a list of all-natural anxiety-relief methods.
Foods to Reduce Anxiety
Food is the fuel that keeps our bodies functioning. While we all know it’s a good idea to fill our diets with healthy fruits and vegetables, did you know that what you eat can play a part in your level of anxiety? In TCM, anxiety stems from an excess of ‘yang’ foods. This includes anything aggressive on the stomach and intestines, foods that are extremely spicy, sweet, processed foods, anything using an excess of sugar, and items with caffeine typically fall into this category.
By contrast, eating plenty of ‘yin’ foods can help keep your internal balance in line by reducing heat and stress on the organs. It’s also important to select nutritional foods carrying high amounts of vitamins and minerals. Studies show that foods that release dopamine and serotonin can help reduce feelings of anxiety for many people. Some of these anxiety-easing foods to add to your diet include:
- Seafood like salmon, which contain omega-3’s.
- Zinc-rich foods including oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks.
- Spinach or other leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains that have high amounts of magnesium.
- Avocado, almonds, asparagus
- Probiotics such as yogurt, pickles, and sauerkraut
Drinks to Reduce Anxiety
Ever made it to your third…or fifth cup of coffee in the morning and realized that your hands were shaking, your stomach was in knots, and your thoughts were running wild? Many of us have grown accustomed to using beverages to help us “get through the day”, whether it’s our morning coffee, or a nightcap before bed. But these supposed aids might actually be doing more harm than good!
Caffeine can have a huge impact on our minds and bodies, and is no friend to anxiety. Western medical doctors and TCM practitioners alike suggest cutting out most or all sources of caffeine from your diet to avoid fueling existing anxiety. Other drinks to avoid include alcohol, energy drinks, and drinks with excess sugar like soda. Good beverage choices to help with anxiety are water, low-caffeine teas, and vitamin-rich smoothies.
Did you know that dehydration can play a part in your mood? Water keeps the body well-hydrated and helps flush out toxins. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water each day to maintain hydration, which will hopefully minimize feelings of anxiety. In addition to water, consider adding a daily smoothie to your routine. Studies have shown that vitamin C and vitamin B help reduce stress on the body. Pack your morning smoothie full of colorful fruits and vegetables to get those anxiety-busting vitamins.
If warm drinks are more your preference, try an herbal tea. Many studies have shown very positive results for herbal treatments for anxiety. Most of these herbs can be steeped into a tea, or you can sometimes find the herbs in the form of supplements.
Try teas with soothing properties such as:
- Passion flower
Lifestyle Habits to Ease Anxiety
Is your life filled with activities that create a sense of peace and calm or perpetuate anxiety? Take the time to do things that help your anxiety, rather than make it worse. Simple lifestyle habits like meditation, exercise, journaling, and yoga can all help reduce anxiety.
Anxiety can truly affect the entire body. Muscles tense, jaws clench, heart rate increases, breathing is shallow and the mind races. Yoga works to relieve each of these physical and mental symptoms, which can provide relief from anxiety, particularly when practiced frequently. Yoga can help anxiety whether you are practicing alone at home, in a class, or simply implementing minor stretches into your daily activities.
Similar to yoga, physical exercise is a positive way to release stress and tension from the body. Taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood, going for a swim, or participating in weight training or a spin class are all exercise options that can reduce anxiety. Exercise also provides the added benefit of endorphins, which are our body’s natural happy chemicals that can boost your mood.
If your anxious thoughts are constantly overwhelming, it might be a good idea to incorporate daily meditation into your routine. The practice of meditation is centered around maintaining focus on the present moment. By creating a peaceful environment, sitting quietly, breathing deeply, and clearing the mind, it’s possible to find peace and identify areas of growth to pursue. Try meditating before going to sleep and first thing in the morning. Begin with five to ten minutes and increase the time as needed.
Journaling your thoughts each morning or night can also help ease feelings of anxiety and stress. Many actors and professional athletes have various takes on journaling to clear the mind of clutter. It’s advised that you write whatever comes to mind without judgement, simply to rid yourself of negative or distracting thoughts. Some people even burn or throw away the pages after writing to physically symbolize the lack of power those stressful thoughts have on them.
TCM Treatments for Anxiety
If you’re interested in the assistance of a TCM practitioner to help reduce your anxiety, there are a few treatments you can expect. Acupuncture, massage, and herbal treatments are all common practices used in the treatment of anxiety. These treatments often work together to provide holistic care for anxiety.
Stress and anxiety often create a build-up of tension in the neck, shoulders, upper back, and jaw. These areas of the body fall along the gall bladder meridian and are also connected to the liver meridian. Implementing acupuncture treatments along these meridian lines have helped release the tension from deep within these muscle groups. Acupressure massage can also help with minimizing stress, even simply by applying pressure to the point on the ear.
Often as part of your treatment, your TCM practitioner will prescribe Chinese herbal remedies. These herbal formulas can be taken in several ways, either directly, mixed into food or drink, steeped into a tea, or taken as a capsule pill. Common herbs used to treat anxiety or depression include:
- Polygonum Root
- Jujube Date
- Rehmannia Root
- Polyrachis Ant
- Duanwood Reishi
- Licorice Root
- Dang Gui Root
- Cynomorium Herb
Treating anxiety from a holistic perspective is all about creating a consistent and manageable lifestyle that develops positive coping habits and relieving symptoms. What’s your favorite strategy for minimizing anxiety?