Medlineplus says “Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand.” These reactions can come in the form of a physical, emotional or mental issues. Financial challenges, relationship troubles, a car crash, the loss of a job – there’s tons of short term factors that can trigger a stress response.
When your body senses stress, the brain tells sends signals to the limbic system to turn on – aka fight or flight or freeze mode.
The limbic system interacts with multiple other systems:
- Autonomic Nervous System (regulates heart rate & digestion)
- Endocrine System (hormones & cell communication)
- Basal Ganglia (motor movement, learning and cognition)
- Prefrontal Cortex (decision making & cognitive function)
- Cerebral cortex (emotions & memory)
When your limbic system kicks in, the body offsets some of its normal functions to allow some necessary physical functions to surface:
- Heart rate increases
- Digestive system slows down
- Oxygen is diverted to the muscles to give you strength (in case you need to do some super human feat)
- You stop thinking cognitively and start thinking survival
For most people, this only happens when there is immediate danger or acute stressful situations. For some people, the body sense danger more frequently – meeting new people, a crowded room, change in conditions, driving and such – signaling the limbic system to activate when there is no significant danger or stress.
This is anxiety.
Fear is an appropriate, short term response to threat. Anxiety is a longer term physical response that may or may not have a specific cause.
What You Can Do
It is not easy to manage anxiety. It can be done, but it requires patience, persistence, and a whole lot of self-care.
One of the best books I can recommend is Beyond Shyness by Jonathan Berent. He digs into anxiety at the core and helps you master it.
Step 1 – acknowledge it.
Common body changes include:
- Feeling jittery
- Shortness of breath
- Intense emotions
- Muscle tightness
- Knot or butterflies in stomach
- Face flushing
Start paying attention to how your body changes when you are feeling anxiety.
If you are experiencing these symptoms frequently, during seemingly common situations or for no reason at all, you are likely suffering from anxiety.
If you can recognize the body changes, you can start using those changes for positive experiences.
Step 2 – Talk About It
I think you’d be surprised how many people feel the same way you do. You don’t need to share your anxiety with the whole world, but talking with a therapist, coach, close friend or family member may help ease your feelings about it and who knows, they may even have some suggestions for you.
Step 3 – Take Control
You may never get rid of anxiety altogether. That’s ok! What matters is whether anxiety controls you or you control it.
Below are some things you can implement to help reduce or manage your anxiety.
Practice self care every single day. Make a decision every morning about what you will purposefully do to care for yourself.
If you need to write it down, do it. Journaling is a good tool and can help remind you to take care of yourself.
Psychobiotics (pro and pre biotics)
There is a strong connection between the brain and the gut. When your gut biome is out of balance, the communication signals to and from the brain also becomes out of balance, resulting in anxiety, depression, and more extremely, disorders such as autism.
For many people, probiotics can significantly reduce anxiety, as well as depression and other psychological disorders.
Megasporebiotics is a blend of 5 Bacillus spores and works very well for most people. You may find other blends work better for you, just make sure the labels list multiple bacillus to better balance your digestive system.
For extreme cases or a more natural way of curing a multitude of symptoms and syndromes, check out the GAPS Diet.
Supplements – there are a ton of natural products that may be as or more effective than medications. Look for products that contain blends of at least 3, preferably 5 a or get them separately and see what combo works best for you.
- Passion flower
- Kava root
- B Vitamins (B12, B6, Thiamine, folic acid)
Use a diffuser, rub a drop or two on the top of your head and bottom of feet, add a few drops to your bath or the floor of your shower. You can find blends or by them separately to make your own blend.
- Yling Ylang
- Clary sage
- Melissa (lemon balm)
- Clary sage
Brain Retraining / Neuroplasticity
- Dr. Martin Hart – Helpful Videos
Rei “universal life” and Ki “energy”
Reiki energy flows through all living things. Connecting with this energy can bring healing.
We use Naomi Soulard – she is a kind and compassionate woman who has the ability to make you feel comfortable very quickly. You can also find someone close to you and do in person sessions.
* If you are skeptical, I get it, I was too. But we were out of options to help one of my daughters and reiki literally called her anxiety in the first session. Dwell on it, pray on it.
Medication – talk to your doctor if you think you need pharmaceutical intervention *
* I struggled with whether to list medications first or last. It would be great if you can manage your anxiety without medications, but some people need immediate, short term intervention before they can even start to create change. You know your body and lifestyle best, so you decide if and when to see a doctor.