If you struggle with anxiety, you know how hard it can be to relax and fully enjoy your life. You may have a lot of nervous energy but this nervous energy eventually consumes your healthy energy, leaving you feeling drained and on edge. As a result, you may be finding it difficult to be effective at work, at home and in your relationships. Maybe you're not sleeping well at night. Maybe your heart is racing. Maybe you're shaky and nervous. Maybe you're having panic attacks and not functioning much at all. Maybe you are tired of popping sleeping pills or taking anxiety meds—the pills just aren't effective or you hate the side effects.
If this sounds like you, then you've come to the right place. There is a lot that you can do to start feeling better NOW.
For over 13 years we've been working with patients who are struggling with some form of anxiety. We want to share with you some things that can help you reclaim your health and your life. Below are 3 quick tips for overcoming anxiety and getting to the root of problem without side effects.
Tip 1 - Use the Power of Your Exhale
Spend 5-10 minutes every morning, either in bed or sitting comfortably in chair, just noticing your breathing. Feel your breath move in and out of your body. Don't change your breathing. Just notice it and allow the breath to move in and out, naturally. You can place your hands over your belly, if that helps. Kids can lie down and place their favorite stuffy on their belly to help bring their attention to the feeling of the air coming into and out of their body.
Now focus your attention on your exhale. Yes that's right. Really notice your exhales. You inhale and then you exhale... the breath goes out... it dissolves and dissipates into the room around you. You inhale again and then whoosh... your breath goes out...dissipating around you. You are not trying to breathe deeply. You are just trying to allow yourself to breathe naturally while paying particular attention to your exhales. If your breath is shallow and rapid due to anxiety, that is okay. Just keep paying particular attention to your exhale.
When you notice that your mind is wandering, worrying or thinking, just bring your attention back to each exhale and the feeling of your chest or belly emptying with each breath out. Whatever you are thinking about or notice while you're breathing—don't worry or judge it—just let it be there and come back to focusing on each exhale.
Now with each exhale, see if you can notice the space between breaths—after you exhale and before you inhale. What do you hear or smell or feel in those spaces? See if you can focus on the sensations of the moment. Are there birds chirping? Is the heat making noise? Does your chest feel tight? What scent is being carried by the air? Focus on what is happening right now and allow that to be okay.
If you are constantly trying to escape the anxiety, it will just intensify. Instead allow yourself to be aware of each moment...each exhale and each space between breaths. Even if it is uncomfortable. With each exhale, you will be able to let some of the anxiety and stress go. You are not pushing it away. You are accepting what each moment brings and during your exhale, that moment can include letting go, just as you are letting go of each breath.
Tip 2 - Nourish Your Nervous System
When your body is not properly nourished, your ability to be calm and grounded can be greatly compromised. Healthy food nourishes your body so that it functions optimally on all levels—both the physical and the emotional level. Improper diet is often a common cause of chronic anxiety.
It's important to eat a variety of warm and cooked foods. Foods which are important in treating or preventing anxiety include red meat, homemade broth, fish, whole cooked grains, beets, carrots, winter squash, avocados, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans. Eat these whole foods daily.
Calming teas such as chamomile and oat straw are nourishing to your nervous system and can be taken daily.
Foods to avoid include caffeine and added sugar. Caffeine actually robs your body of nourishment and increases the release of stress hormones in your body. If you struggle with anxiety, you'll need to kick the caffeine habit for sure. Sugar also depletes your body by weakening your digestive system. When your digestive system is weak, then your body does not properly extract the nutrients from your food. Diets high in refined carbohydrates and sugar are usually greatly lacking in nutrients. This doesn't mean you shouldn't eat grains at all. In fact, many who struggle with anxiety can benefit from including more cooked whole grains (not processed) into their diet as long as they are also getting plenty of the vegetables and proteins listed above.
Other non-food ways that you can nourish your nervous system is by getting enough sleep, taking warm baths and taking regular walks in nature.
Tip 3 - Try Acupuncture
We have helped hundreds of people with anxiety, using a combination of acupuncture together with the tips described above.
Acupuncture reduces stress and anxiety by naturally downshifting and calming your nervous system. Recent studies show that acupuncture often outperforms pharmaceuticals and psychotherapy in the treatment of anxiety. In one study acupuncture provided twice the reduction in both anxiety and depression symptoms when compared to conventional treatments. Unlike over-the-counter or prescription medications, acupuncture has little to no side effects.
With its holistic mind body approach, acupuncture has been treating emotional imbalances for over 3,000 years. Whether treating a physical ailment or an emotional ailment, acupuncture always looks at the whole person and takes both the physical and emotional into account when developing a individualized treatment plan.
It may be surprising to you, but getting acupuncture is actually relaxing. Many people fall asleep during their treatment. Others go into a state of deep relaxation. Acupuncture downshifts your sympathetic nervous system. This means that acupuncture takes you out of "fight or flight" mode and puts you back into "rest and digest" mode. This is enormously helpful if you are suffering from anxiety or stress. Over time, acupuncture reprograms your body and teaches you how to relax, how to be present and how to let go.
Below is a great example of how acupuncture helped one of our patients, we'll call him Jordan, with his severe anxiety.
Jordan's Panic Attacks
Jordan was 15 years old when he and his mom came to our clinic looking for help with severe anxiety. Jordan was struggling with daily panic attacks, cutting and depression. He was grappling with bullying at school and divorce at home. He was on a constant rotation of pharmaceuticals, but both he and his mom were not happy with the results and the side effects of these medications.
During his first acupuncture treatment Jordan was able to relax deeply. With each successive treatment he would go into a state of deep relaxation that would help reset his nervous system, clear his mind and release pent up tension. After 8 treatments, Jordan was experiencing fewer panic attacks and fewer cutting episodes. However, there were good weeks and not as good weeks still. He and his mom were also still hoping to wean Jordan off the pharmaceutical medications.
We decided to add herbal medicine to Jordan's treatment plan to further improve the results he was getting. Over the course of a year, we worked together weekly, with acupuncture and herbal medicine, to help support Jordan as he transitioned into adolescents and developed a healthy attitude toward himself and his circumstances. He incorporated the mindfulness techniques and dietary suggestions that he was given. By the end of our work together, Jordan was no longer taking pharmaceuticals and was no longer experiencing anxiety, panic attacks or cutting.
Jordan did come back to our clinic several years later, after graduating from high school, for several months of acupuncture and herbal medicine. He had moved away from home and was having some anxiety due to the challenges of his new life on his own. Very quickly we were able to eliminate his anxiety and support him through this new phase of his life.
Jordan's positive experience with acupuncture and herbal medicine at a young age gave him a tool box of effective holistic treatment options that he could come back to again and again, if necessary. Rather than meeting life's challenges with panic attacks and cutting, acupuncture's positive, holistic and healing experience greatly altered the course of his life for the better by offering him a naturally effective treatment option without unwanted side effects. He and his mom are most grateful.
This is why we love what we do and we'd love to help you too!
Here’s what to do next:
- Download our FREE eBook—The Ultimate Guide to Healing Your Body and Mind: 3 All-Natural Steps to Reclaiming Your Health Without Unwanted Side Effects.
- Then call our office at (978) 369-9400 to schedule your Initial Acupuncture Treatment or click here to schedule online.
- If you got value from this article, be sure to leave a comment below sharing your biggest insight. We'd really appreciate it!
If you or your friend or family member would like to take advantage of a 20 free consult to discuss how we can help, just call our office at 978-369-9400 or email us and we will set up a time. We look forward to seeing you soon!