Ailment: Anxiety /Panic
I know first hand how debilitating and scary anxiety and panic attacks can be. It seems as if they overtake you and your emotions and take you for a ride. Below are holistic remedies I have found helpful in short & long term solutions. It is important to address both so you can be functional in the short term, but just as important to address the root/underlying issue of anxiety in the long term
DNRS is a LONG term commitment to re-wiring your brain from flight/fight to rest/digest. It’s an amazing program that can be used to re-wire the brain from all sorts of STUCK PATTERNS like addictions, multiple sensitivity disorders & definitely anxiety
Weighted Blanket - it’s like a firm hug. “Because deep touch pressure stimulation boosts serotonin, sleeping under firm but gentle pressure can help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer and wake feeling more rested” according to SensaCalm
Gratitude Journal is a great way to rewire your brain out of the fight/flight & negativity into appreciation. I have this as a digital “journal” where I jot down little things that I appreciate throughout the day into my Evernote or you can also start a google doc & be able to access it anywhere. Once you wire your brain to notice these little things in life to be grateful for, the more your brain is going to WANT to look for them everywhere. It’s like a game for the brain!
The ACT method - "ACT is a mindfulness-based form of therapy that emphasizes building acceptance to cope with life challenges, as well as anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues," says Ellie Cobb, Ph.D., holistic psychologist. "Through the lens of acceptance, one can learn to stop denying, fighting, or criticizing their own difficulties and can choose new adaptive actions and develop new positive self-talk."
Acceptance: accepting your reactions to things and being present in the moment
Commitment: committing to stop fighting your emotions, and identifying your personal values and goals
Taking action: practicing more confident and optimistic behavior that's in line with your personal values and goals
The C.R.A.P. board - stands for Conflicts, Resistances, Anxieties, Procrastination and any other problem you think you have, and it's one of the most fun and useful strategies for stopping the brain from ruminating on your problems, fears, and weaknesses. For instructions on how to create your own crap board, click the link above
Improve Gut Health - New research from the BMJ found that people who experience anxiety symptoms may benefit from better gut health, which comes from regulating the microorganisms or good bacteria in your microbiome using probiotic and non-probiotic food.
I have a whole section on Gut Health, so please check out some of the strategies to improve its function
Neurofeedback - This is a form of biofeedback that uses real-time displays of brain activity to help self-regulate brain function. Research has shown its effectiveness for a variety of brain-related conditions, including anxiety. I recommend finding a local neurofeedback practitioner in your area who has one. I have been doing this type of therapy for several months. Recommended sessions are about 20 to see noticeable results
Turkey - contains tryptophan (or more accurately, l-tryptophan), the amino acid required to produce serotonin (the “feel good” hormone). Just 4-ounces of white meat from this sleep-lulling bird will calm you into a peaceful slumber and help you ward off stress-related depression.
Asparagus - This sulfur-rich vegetable contains the specifically beneficial B vitamin folate. Low levels of folate are linked to neurotransmitter impairment, which can lead to anxiety. Healthy dose of antioxidants which reduce the effects of oxidative stress. Asparagus is also rich source of tryptophan (a serotonin aid), and a food source that helps balance mood, supports healthy sleep cycles, and calms anxiety attacks and stress.
Pumpkin Seeds - just a small handful of pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which helps the body manage stress, balance mood and appetite, and supports immunity.
Shiitake Mushrooms - incorporating a vitamin C-rich food, like mushrooms, into your diet can be beneficial for reducing both psychological and physiological anxiety, as well as supporting the immune system, which can get run down when we are stressed out.
Swiss Chard - Foods rich in magnesium, like Swiss chard and other leafy greens, can soothe the nerves and de-stress the body so effectively that magnesium has been dubbed the “anti-stress” mineral.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil -a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, an oil especially rich in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, will soothe stress-induced inflammation.
Parsley -this stress-busting herb is rich in flavonoids, a plant-based antioxidant that safeguards the body from free-radical damage, which is brought on by stress. Easy to grow at home in a garden or planter
Tuna - a bountiful source of “healthy fats” acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, calming chronic stress and inflammation
Tulsi Tea - It’s true that this tea derived from the basil herb is considered sacred in India for it’s medicinal, healing properties. Steep a bag and discover the calming benefits (i.e., reducing stress and improving memory), which are supported via studies from the University of Massachusetts.
Avocado - contains Magnesium which is the ultimate chill pill. Avocados also contain beneficial B vitamins and monounsaturated fats that are needed for neurotransmitter and brain health.
Turmeric - Curcuminoids, the antioxidants in turmeric, have neuroprotective qualities and can help enhance your mood. In one randomized controlled trial, it was even shown to be an effective treatment option for major depressive disorder, which is closely linked to anxiety disorders.
Organ meats - If you eat meat, organ meats are some of the best sources of zinc and vitamin D, essential nutrients needed for beating anxiety
Leafy greens - are great source of yet again magnesium, the ultimate chill pill. If you struggle with stress and anxiety, go for the greens! Plant foods like Swiss chard and spinach are rich in magnesium, the natural "chill pill." Magnesium is essential for the proper functioning of GABA receptors in the brain. GABA, short for gamma-aminobutyric acid, is your body's "calm-down" signal, promoting relaxation and lowering stress. Magnesium also helps regulate the brain-adrenal axis for added stress relief.
Rose - historically prized for its medicinal and gastronomic properties, and modern studies confirm its anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects. But do not eat the roses you get at the grocery store, since those are typically loaded with pesticides. I recommend getting dried rose or rose water
Blue Vervain - calming herb, great for sleep but it’s not sedating and can be taken during the day
Kava - muscle relaxant, could be a little bit sedating, so time this herb towards the evening
Valerian - turn the volume of stress down
Chamomile - great as a tea
Hops - calming, sleep-inducing, so this would be perfect for sleep anxiety or anxiety at bedtime
Lemon Balm - would make a great tea if you could grow or buy fresh lemon balm or you can buy a tincture
Hawthorn - this herb is known for its heart health benefits, but it’s also great for the metaphorical heart - for grief, sorrow, depression
Tulsi Basil - elevating herb to lift the spirit. Another herb you can grow in your garden/pots and make it into a tea
Scullcap - quiets the monkey mind. Has natural serotonin & melatonin
Visualize the anxiety provoking event and then go 15 minutes PAST the event with a successful outcome of steady breaths & even composure. The visualization of this sort will help you retrain your brain to think of the event in a positive & successful way.
Ashwaganda herb - ancient adaptogen herb, great for the depleted, exhausted, anxious body, steadies the brain, supports the body during daily stressed
L-Theanine - this has probably made THE biggest difference in the levels of my anxiety while I was working on getting to the root cause
Magnesium - known as “the relaxation mineral,” magnesium also plays an important role in soothing tension—both in the body and the mind. When you’re relaxed, your body and brain can focus on attaining better quality sleep.
CBD oil - Scientists have some biological explanations for how CBD may affect both sleep and anxiety. Recent studies have shown that cannabis compounds interact with receptors throughout the body—endocannabinoid system—including in the brain.
Jasmine - According to a 2013 study, inhaling jasmine oil can promote a sense of well-being and romance. Unlike some other essential oils used for anxiety, jasmine oil is thought to calm the nervous system without causing sleepiness.
Lemon Balm - it has a soothing, restorative effect.
How to use these oils:
In the midst of a panic attack, ANY physical movement is better than none. Moving your “issues through your tissues” is a great way to move stagnant energy, but here are some ideas to get you started
Start off with a few San Salutations. I have found 3-4 rounds of these and the anxious energy has already moved
Forward fold - hold this for as long as your back can tolerate, maybe swaying from side to side, maybe grabbing opposite elbows. Let your head hang, lengthening the back of the neck. VISUALIZE your anxieties & worries leaving your body from the top of your head into the earth
Cat/Cow Pose - this is a good one just to move the spine. You can even do an all around the world cat/cow, where you take your hips back and side to side. Explore here, close your eyes & listen to where your body wants to lead you
Triangle Pose - an amazing side body opening, extend & reach up with your upper arm. Reach to the sky, to the universe, let go and trust that your anxieties are here to teach you something, don’t be afraid to lean into them. Deep breaths here!
Child’s Pose - activates your parasympathetic nervous system
Bridge Pose - Lift your hips as much as it’s comfortable. Repeat as many times as you’d like. Press into the feet, maybe bind the hands underneath your hips. Tuck your chin
Legs up the wall - finish up with legs up the wall as restorative pose. Stay here as long as you feel comfortable. Put your hands on your belly & feel your belly rise & fall.
Parasympathetic response: Inhale …Short hold and LONG exhale. Example: Breathe in 4, Hold 2, Exhale 6 or more: Breathe in 4, hold 6, exhale 8
Alternate nostril breathing: breathe in left, short retention: breathe out right
Sa Ta Na Ma - one of my favorite active meditations which combines movement of your fingers with a chant, which stimulates the vagus nerve
Insight Timer Meditation App - this is one of my favorite apps as it has a variety of meditations from different teachers on variety of subjects
Develop a consistent meditation practice, even its if’s only 5-10 minutes/day. A time/space for you to sit or lie down to take a few deep breaths will do miracles for your health & stress levels in the long run
Commit to resolving unresolved trauma. Trauma is a tricky thing as it can sit in our tissues for YEARS, revealing itself (at the most inconvenient times) as anxiety. Working with a practitioner, developing a spiritual practice, EFT tapping, gratitude journaling will all be the ways to rewire the brain for love instead of fear
DNRS - a scientific approach to rewire the brain through relaxing the limbic system part of the brain
Build your own tribe - when we have support in our lives, we feel less disconnected from the whole & feel more connected to the universe and have less anxiety. Work on surrounding yourself with supporting people. I found this practice alone being very beneficial as making friends in adulthood is difficult. I use the app called Bumble where you get to meet local friends