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Over 40 million adults and almost one-third (31.9%) of adolescents (ages 13-18) in the U.S. have anxiety disorder making it the most common mental health issue in America. With May being National Mental Health Awareness month, we here at Breathe Chile wanted to bring awareness to this sometimes sensitive subject.
The words “mental” and “illness” sound bad when used alone. When you put them together, everyone starts getting uncomfortable, and then the conversations stop. When the conversation stops, people suffer alone because they think they are the only person going through “it.” We want to bring awareness and let you know you are not alone and don’t have to suffer in silence anymore.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the body’s response to worry and fear. It can range from mild to more severe. Everyone gets occasional anxiety and may feel nervous about an upcoming event or worry about things like money or family issues, which is a normal part of life. Severe anxiety starts to affect your day-to-day life. Personally, every time I have to give a presentation or have an important interview or meeting, I get the most severe butterflies in my stomach beginning the morning of. I am not talking about normal nervousness. I get this weird feeling in my gut that makes my heart race, and I literally have to use the bathroom three times before I can leave the house. It is always three times for some reason. Then there are the times when I have nothing going on, but I just have this feeling restlessness. And if I continue to allow myself to go down the rabbit hole, I start feeling like I want to jump out of my skin and scream. Knowing the difference between normal feelings of anxiety and nervousness and something more severe will help determine treatment.
Symptoms of Anxiety
The symptoms of anxiety can differ depending on the person and the severity, but general symptoms can range from:
- Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
- Feeling helpless
- A sense of impending panic, danger, or doom
- Increased heart rate
- Obsessively thinking about the current worry
Types of Anxiety
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder. It is diagnosed after a person has anxiety, with little to provoke it, most days for at least six months. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), anxiety is a part of various disorders. These include:
- panic disorder: experiencing recurring panic attacks at unexpected times. A person with panic disorder may live in fear of the next panic attack.
- phobia: excessive fear of a specific object, situation, or activity
- social anxiety disorder: extreme fear of being judged by others in social situations
- obsessive-compulsive disorder: recurring irrational thoughts that lead you to perform specific, repeated behaviors
- separation anxiety disorder: fear of being away from home or loved ones
- illness anxiety disorder: Anxiety about your health (formerly called hypochondria)
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Anxiety following a traumatic event
Anxiety vs. Depression
There is a difference between anxiety and depression. Anxiety is the excessive worry, and depression is excessive feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. Someone can have both anxiety and depression at the same time. If you are feeling symptoms of depression, please seek medical help.
Is it possible to cure anxiety?
Left untreated, anxiety can worsen and cause even more stress. So, trying to ignore it hoping it will go away will only make it worse. Anxiety is treatable with therapy, natural remedies, lifestyle changes, and medications. You may need to try several combinations and treatments before finding one that works. Talking to someone about what you are going through can often be what you really need in life.
In addition to medications and therapy, there are several natural ways to help reduce anxiety and create a feeling of calm. These techniques may work for those who don’t want to use prescription medications, can’t use them, or are looking for coping mechanisms to add to their medication and therapy plan. If you want to control your anxiety naturally, don’t stop taking your medications without consulting your health provider first. In some cases, stopping a medication suddenly may cause serious side effects.
5 Natural Remedies for Anxiety
1. Embrace Acceptance
Accept that there are things in life you cannot control and focus on the present moment instead of the unknown future. Anxiety often happens when we think about what’s going to happen next. If you are in the current moment, you can’t be worried about what possibly can happen in the future. In other words, try to get out of your head.
2. Know your Triggers
Events, emotions, people, and even experiences may contribute to your anxiety. Keep a journal of when you experience anxiety and the events surrounding the episode. Knowing what triggers you, can help you manage your stress. Sometimes, it can be triggered for no reason, and having negative thoughts about yourself or others only makes this worse.
3. Try Exercise and Yoga
Exercise helps alleviate stress and calm the mind by stimulating the brain’s happiness chemical called endorphins. According to Harvard Health Publishing, endorphins create a feeling of calm and a positive mood. Exercise releases endorphins and helps regulate mood. Just 10 minutes of walking a day can help manage and prevent anxiety symptoms. Getting enough exercise can also improve sleep and the body’s response to stress.
4. Take Natural Ashwagandha and or CBD
Ashwagandha is a herb that grows in the Middle East and has been found to help the body adapt and adjust to stress. These same studies demonstrate that ashwagandha has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels, called cortisol, and boost resistance against stress. Reduced cortisol means reduced belly fat. Yes, please! I have been taking 125 – 250 mg of ashwagandha a day. It is safe to take up to 600 mg a day, but I am trying to stretch out my supply. This stuff isn’t cheap. I can report that I do feel like I am less reactive to stress most days.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a type of cannabinoid, a chemical found naturally in cannabis (marijuana and hemp) plants. Early research is promising regarding the ability of CBD oil to help relieve anxiety. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another type of cannabinoid, CBD doesn’t cause any feelings of intoxication or the “high” you may associate with marijuana. CBD gives you a wave of calm over the body that helps relax you but not make you loopy. It makes me think, “Maybe I won’t jump out of my skin today.”
5. Breathe Chile
Take moments to slow down, relax, and center yourself throughout the day. Deep breathing or enjoying a hobby can help break the anxiety cycle. Take a walk, listen to music, get a massage, or practice yoga on your lunch break. Taking mini-breaks will help take your mind out of stressful moments and make you more productive, too.
BREATHING TECHNIQUE FOR ANXIETY
Breathing and meditation techniques can manage anxiety and panic attacks when practiced regularly. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain. According to The American Institute of Stress, it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness,”. Breathing goes hand-in-hand with meditation. About 10 – 30 minutes of meditation each day may improve anxiety and depression.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Coping technique
The 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique for anxiety allows people to refocus their minds on the present moment and stop fixating on anxious thoughts by using their five senses: sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste. Start by taking a few slow, deep breaths and following these five steps to use this technique.
Look for and notice FIVE things you see around you. Examples: A person, place, or thing, like a pen on your desk.
Look for and notice FOUR things you can touch around you. Examples: The ground under your feet, your hair or your clothes.
Look for and notice THREE things you can hear. Examples: Music, people talking nearby, or birds chirping.
Look for and notice TWO things you can smell. Examples: Your clothes, food, a pencil on your desk, or soap in your bathroom.
Look for and notice ONE thing you can taste. Examples: Coffee, gum, or a sandwich from lunch.
In conclusion, it takes time to learn how to manage your anxiety because everyone is different. What works for one person, might not work for someone else, and that is okay. Be patient while you find out what works for you. Avoid blaming yourself or being harsh or judgmental if a certain strategy does not work. You are your own person, and it may take a bit of time to find the right coping strategies that work for you.
Do you have anxiety? What kind of coping mechanisms do you use? Let us know in the comments below!
Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and More. https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety
10 natural remedies for reducing anxiety and stress. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322396
Everything I discuss here is something I have used to help me. Breathe Chile is a movement to help the world through mindfulness, physical fitness, and positive motivation. I hope you will join me on the journey!