Are you feeling stressed? Strung out? Wound up? Can’t sleep?
Are you grinding your teeth? Do you have neck and shoulder pain? Irritable bowels? A racing heart or even full-blown panic attacks?
It could be that you are experiencing some anxiety in your life.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is the body’s response to stress or pressure. It is what happens when our sympathetic nervous system is stimulated and we engage in what is called the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response.
The fight or flight response is nature’s way of protecting us from threats. It is designed to make us very mentally alert for quick decision-making and gives us the ability to run away from the threat.
While this response is very useful as a short-term response to stress or a threat (especially when we are in the jungle and there is a tiger approaching!), it becomes harmful to the body over a long period of time and can turn into anxiety.
When you are anxious, you are quite often responding to stress that is not even there! You may feel those fight-or-flight feelings even when there is no tiger or even when the stressor is minor – and this is no fun at all.
Luckily, there is plenty that we can do to reduce the feelings of anxiety in the body and the mind.
How can natural medicine help anxiety?
Natural medicine is extremely helpful in the management of anxiety symptoms because we have so many herbs and nutrients available to us that can help calm the nervous system and reduce your sympathetic nervous system response.
Another benefit to using herbs and nutrients to assist with anxiety is that they are unlikely to produce any negative side effects such as drowsiness or poor mental performance.
Whilst it is important to address the physiology of your anxiety symptoms with calming herbs and nutrients, it is also important to take a look at your health on a holistic level – addressing some of the external and internal drivers of your anxiety.
It is also important that you are managing your internal environment – your brain! This is no easy feat, but there are some simple tools you can use to help keep your brain machinery clean and working well.
How can I reduce my anxiety naturally?
In addition to therapeutic treatment with herbs and nutrients, here are some things you can do to reduce your anxiety:
1. Balance your blood sugar through diet.
Clean up your diet by ditching refined carbohydrates. These foods can cause a spike and then dip in your blood glucose such as pastries, biscuits, cakes, white bread, and white rice. Anything that’s been stripped of the fibre and nutrients through the refining process.
Instead, opt for blood glucose-balancing complex carbohydrates like fruit, vegetables, whole grains (such as brown rice, oats, barley and buckwheat), and lentils and legumes.
Include good fats in the form of avocado, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and seeds: sesame and pumpkin and adequate protein like tuna, egg, chicken, lamb, pork and beef.
Avoid or reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and can lead to the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This can make you feel jittery and anxious.
2. Get your Zen on!
Do some daily meditation. Even if you can only manage 10 minutes per day, do it! Sit down, switch off and meditate. There are so many great guided meditations online to help you get into the zone or you can access our free meditations online here. Meditation has been shown to change the way our brains are wired and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Practice gratitude. Being in a state of gratitude calms the nervous system and radiates positive energy. Start a gratitude journal, or spend 10 minutes per day acknowledging the things you are grateful for in life.
Consider these techniques as part of your mental hygiene plan – just the same as cleaning your teeth is part of your oral hygiene plan. The brain needs looking after just as much as the rest of the body!
Can naturopathy help with anxiety?
Yes! Naturopathy works to help anxiety by using herbal medicines and nutritional supplements which calm your nervous system, without any side effects. Naturopathy can also help you to sleep better and work on your energy levels too.
Our naturopaths look at your health using a team approach – we use naturopathy as well as some emotional wellness support as the very best way to tackle anxiety and work on the underlying issues while treating your symptoms.
Want to book in with a Shift naturopath?
Are you having trouble managing your anxiety and want to see a Shift naturopath to improve your health?
We recommend booking an initial Discovery & Diagnosis Session with our team here. During this 90-minute session, we will give you insights about where your health is at right now and take a holistic approach to understand you. We will give you dietary recommendations based on your specific needs, a prescription with natural medicine recommendations to support your anxiety and a plan with options to move forward.
GO DEEPER: Want to listen to our podcast episode of The Shift on ‘Stress, mindset, your internal dialogue and your health’ with Katherine Maslen and world-renowned women’s health experts? Head here to listen.