Living with anxiety can be debilitating. For some people, it’s a constant underlying worry, and for others, it can cause full-blown panic attacks. Anxiety can make you feel isolated and prevent you from doing the things you want to, like hanging out with friends, attending social events, or even routine daily tasks like grocery shopping.
The good news is, some natural anxiety treatments can help you overcome your anxiety and, most importantly, keep it from resurfacing.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that is naturally found in green tea. The benefit of L-theanine is its calming effect on the nervous system. Research shows that it can decrease the brain’s stress response, as well as decrease anxiety by its impact on the brain’s neurotransmitters. Taking L-theanine promotes relaxation by reducing brain excitation, which, when left unchecked, can result in feeling anxious. L-theanine is one of my favorite supplements to help naturally calm anxious thoughts at night (you know those nights where you are going over and over your lists!). It also gives a sense of calm yet allows you to feel focused — no drowsy feelings with L-theanine.
Kava Kava is one of my go-to’s for a natural treatment for anxiety. If you are someone who needs to relax their body, yet remain alert and focused, Kava Kava is well-suited. Research shows that it is as effective as benzodiazepines (think Xanax, Ativan, etc.) for anxiety and panic attacks! Most importantly, it is non-addictive.
For people that feel their anxiety in their muscles, such as neck tension, migraines, or tight lower back, Kava Kava may be helpful.
Magnesium is very calming for the brain as well as effective for relaxing tight muscles. This particular type of magnesium can cross the blood-brain barrier, which is the gateway between the brain and the rest of the body. Here, it can act to increase magnesium levels in the brain.
Since magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions (and many people tend to be deficient), supporting sufficient levels of magnesium is essential!
Your breath can significantly influence your central nervous system. Breathing shallow and rapidly can lead to your brain, believing you are in danger and cause your system to panic. On the other hand, slow, controlled, belly breathing (also called diaphragmatic breathing) can help to produce feelings of calm.
When you breathe deeply into your belly (yes, your belly should protrude out as your breath in!), it stimulates your vagus nerve. This nerve is from the base of your brainstem that runs down to your digestive tract. This nerve turns on your “parasympathetic” nervous system. This is the side of your nervous system that tells your body to rest, relax, and digest – the opposite of your “sympathetic” nervous system, which tells your body to fight, fight, or freeze.
Deep, controlled belly breathing stimulates the vagus nerve and effectively tells your brain that “everything is ok” “you can relax” “no worries here.” Although it seems almost too simple to be true, it is often an overlooked, powerful tool to naturally treat your anxiety.
Journaling is a great way to understand better where the feelings and emotions you have circling in your head are coming from. In most cases, our anxiety is related to a thought, belief, or situation that goes much deeper. Understanding these deeper connections is essential to resolving them.
A prompted journaling exercise for anxiety from our Naturopathic Doctors goes like this:
– Write 2-3 words that describe how you are feeling (ex. Overwhelmed, worried, scared)
- Next, start freewriting about what you are thinking and feeling – be as open and honest as you can.
- Use the following phrases to prompt more in-depth insight into where your feelings are coming from
- I am feeling this way because…
- These feelings are trying to tell me…..
- These feelings make me believe _____ about myself
- _____ triggered me to begin feeling this way…
- Although these feelings make me feel anxious, they are helping me to… OR the good thing about these feelings is…
- Instead of feeling (put in emotions here) a better way to manage my fears, worries, or anxiety is….
- Although I am feeling (put in emotions here), I believe I can overcome my anxiety by…
Our Doctors Get to the Root Cause of Your Anxiety
When treating anxiety, it is important to look at what may be causing your anxiety. In most cases, it is a combination of social and lifestyle factors, as well as some physiological imbalances.
Sometimes physical and biochemical factors are an underlying contributor to your anxiety. For example, imbalances n your gut flora, known as dysbiosis, can lead to anxiety through several pathways. In this blog, we go into detail.
Food choices and blood sugar control can also impact anxiety. A drop in blood sugar levels stresses your body and for some can lead to agitation, anxiety, or even panic. This is sometimes referred to as “hangry.”
For some people, the way their body processes and breaks down neurotransmitters – the chemicals in your brain that are signals for how you feel, is disrupted. There are ways our Naturopathic Doctor can test for this, such as using an Organic Acid’s Test.
Hormones, such as thyroid, adrenal (cortisol), as well as sex hormones, can lead to changes in your moods as well as anxiety. Working with a Naturopathic Doctor who can treat you as a whole person, and look for any underlying causes is the best way to find natural treatments for your anxiety, for you as an individual. We discuss how your hormones may impact your mental well-being here.
If you would like guidance on how to improve your health, schedule a free 15 minute phone consult with our Naturopathic Doctors to get started on your health journey.