What Is Anxiety? & My Top Natural Remedies (& A Few Other Pointers!) For Coping with Anxiety.
As promised, I’m bringing you munchkins my full post all about the nitty-gritty of anxiety & what natural remedies & other mechanisms I have used to cope with it throughout recovery.
As you guys know, eating disorders, at the root, are anxiety disorders. Generally, there will be triggers, precursors, events, & certain references that will trigger anxiety in people with eating disorders. Throughout recovery, you not only have to deal with the physical recovery & the re-feeding process, but you also have to deal with the mental aspect of things. I strongly believe that one cannot fully recover from an eating disorder if they are not only recovered health-wise & physically, but also mentally & emotionally. And believe it or not, a lot of the time, recovering mentally & emotionally can actually be harder than the physical part.
All this to say: Throughout recovery, there will be good days & bad days, and on the bad days, it does help to have a relief, something natural that you know will help you deal with whatever you are feeling, without necessarily having to take prescribed anxiety medication.
(Disclaimer: I have nothing against prescribed anxiety medication. I do acknowledge that certain individuals may reach a point in their lives where they need them & where they will help them get through their day-to-day activities. When I began recovery, anxiety medication was something proposed to me as a back-up plan if ever the anxiety got really intense & if ever the triggers really started to hinder my progress & my recovery. I decided not to take them because I had heard a lot of stories about people who had gotten addicted to these medications in the past & that was a genuine fear of mine. Basically, I reasoned with myself & told myself that I would do more research to find more ways to deal with the anxiety should the triggers become too intense to deal with & that I would find natural ways to cope with it & help with the anxiety in hopes that it would subside.
Throughout my research, I found ways to help me cope. I won’t lie, I did have very bad days, where the anxiety hit me really hard, where all I could hear were ED voices in my head, where all the triggers were more intense than ever & all the negative emotions I worked so hard to get rid of came to the surface. I am thankful to say that those days happen WAY LESS OFTEN NOW. I have made so much progress when it comes to the emotional & mental aspect of things & I do genuinely believe that I am really “THERE” & in such a good place. I have a lot of mental stability & I feel so serene, in a state of calmness, where I am so comfortable with myself, in my skin & with where I am at.
BUT, that’s not to say that it didn’t take hard work to get here. It took a lot of MIND WORK, speaking to myself, working on & teaching myself what works & what doesn’t for me in terms of facing reality, facing the anxiety, accepting that these are the cards you have been dealt & finding ways that help the anxiety go away & help you not deal with the triggers in the way that you anxiety, or your illness or disorder wants you to. You have to fight against all of those things. I won’t tell you guys that it’s easy. It requires a lot of mind work & therapy.
Therapy is key, as hard as it is to accept sometimes that we need it & that we need exterior help. It does not mean there is something wrong with us – It means we’ve reached a point where we need to expose our vulnerabilities, be strong & accept the things will not always be perfect & sometimes in order to attain the state of calmness, serenity, and comfortable in our skin, we may need the help of a professional & THAT’S PERFECTLY OKAY. ALL THIS TO SAY, FIND SUPPORT & REACH OUT! Therapy will really help you get to the root of the underlying thoughts in determine how you act & feel. It will help change your thought patterns & reactions so you can learn to better handle stressful situations, if your anxiety is affecting your quality of life.
Starting to EXERCISE has also helped so much with the anxiety, the stress & allowed me to disconnect. Research has shown that physical activity helps improve sleep quality, reduces inflammation, boosts confidence, improves energy levels & eases stress & tension. ALSO: Yoga can help promote relaxation & involves deep breathing techniques that help reduce stress & muscle tension.
But, I also do genuinely find that these natural remedies I am about to speak to you about have really helped make the process easier. I hope that these things can help you too but please keep in mind: what worked for me might not work for you & vice versa. Please feel free to share any other natural remedies that you have tried & that have worked for you! I love to broaden my knowledge & learn new things. A lot of the anxiety that I have dealt with has really subsided, so I don’t know that I would need to incorporate another natural remedy into my daily routine for the time being (& here’s to hoping I will never have to), BUT YOU NEVER KNOW! SO, DON’T BE SHY TO MESSAGE ME WITH YOUR SUGGESTIONS &/OR QUESTIONS!
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
FIRST THINGS FIRST, LET’S BRIEFLY TALK ABOUT ANXIETY. anxiety can be a very disabling condition that is often accompanied by long-term stress & a decline in overall health. It can even contribute to many chronic diseases, even if treated with conventional medications. For this reason, when faced with the option of taking anxiety medication, I opted for trying out some natural remedies, which would address the root of the problem as opposed to being temporary fixes. AND THEY WORKED!
IN A NUTSHELL (Because if I don’t limit myself, y’all know I can go on for days. Lez be real here), anxiety is a normal response to stress or a fearful/dangerous situation & it’s often referred to as the “fight or flight” response. It is also the most prevalent mental health condition. Some people deal with it just fine, BUT, it becomes problematic when it is constant or in reaction to inappropriate circumstances, or triggers, which overtime, can have a negative effect on your daily life.
There are a number of causes for anxiety, but there is no rule or specific cause for everyone that deals with it. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT & certain things may trigger anxiety for some, while they may not for others. Some of the most common causes include: stress, trauma, dysfunctional or imbalanced serotonin levels, excessive alcohol, caffeine or sugar intake, hormone imbalance, experiencing stressful life events in childhood &/or adulthood hood, family history of metal health disorders etc.
To any & all who suffer from anxiety, similar disorders, illnesses that bring about anxiety or who simply get VERY anxious in certain select situations, DO NOT DESPAIR! There is a solution – I promise. You just have to put in the work & the effort & you will see your symptoms subside in no time!
BEFORE WE GET INTO THE NATURAL REMEDIES (I know, I’ve been saying I was going to start for like MILLIONS OF WORDS NOW, but we’re almost there!), I just want to talk to you munchkins about the impact that your DIET can have in dealing with your anxiety! Let me explain!
By eating a clean & well-balanced diet that contains important nutrients & vitamins, like B-vitamins, magnesium & omega-3s, you will notice an IMMEDIATE difference in your mood, energy levels & sleep patterns!
There is definitely a connection between diet choices & psychology, physiology & behavior. Consuming too many or too little calories can increase anxiety symptoms & other emotional disorders. Also, poor diet can lead to many anxiety symptoms, such as moodiness, fatigue, abnormal blood sugar levels (cause nervousness & jitters).
For these reasons, eating anti-inflammatory foods can be a good start as a natural remedy for anxiety because they are important for the neurotransmitters responsible for synthesizing & balancing mood & stress response.
It’s also super important to eat healthy fats, unrefined carbs & lean protein, as well as vitamin B & magnesium-rich foods, foods high in calcium & omega-3s, such as: wild-caught fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, white fish, chicken, nutritional yeast, eggs, yogurt/kefir, leafy greens such as spinach, kale & collard greens, fresh veggies (celery, broccoli, beets), fresh fruits (blueberries, pineapple & bananas), healthy fats (avocado, coconut & olive oil), beans (black beans, chickpeas, fave beans), legumes (lentils & peas), nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans), seeds (flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp), unrefined grains, such as quinoa & barley.
LASTLY, before I get into the supplements, avoid sugary & processed foods! Foods that have a high glycemic index can contribute to anxiety & depressed. This is because sugar & refined carbs can lead to blood sugar highs & lows throughout the day, which in turn increases anxiety, nervousness & fatigue. These foods can therefore cause mood swings & alter energy levels, making it harder to get anxiety symptoms in check. They also contribute to inflammation & alter the brain structure & neurotransmitter function.
SO: If possible & whenever you can, stay away from refined foods, such as pastries & cookies, sweetened beverages, fast foods, processed meat & refined grains (cereals & packaged breas). This will help you have & maintain normal blood sugar levels & improve anxiety.
Ashwaganda is an all-natural Indian herb, whose main purpose is to help our adrenals (glands that produce hormones, one of which is cortisol) adjust to stress in our daily lives & stabilize the body’s response to stress. For this reason, it’s called an “ADAPTogen”. Basically, the way it works is it will produce stress hormones when our body needs them & stop producing them when it doesn’t. It therefore helps the body adapt its stress level to its “OPTIMAL” state.
Ashwaganda also protects the brain from degeneration & works to improve anxiety symptoms by destroying free radicals that cause damage to the brain & body.
It has a very calming and relaxing effect & can also contribute to lifting mood, reducing fatigue, improving focus, sleep & immune function!
When my anxiety was REALLY bad & consistent, I would take four capsules of ashwaganda daily, two in the morning & two at night before going to bed. Now that I’ve found other ways to cope with the anxiety & that the negative emotions & triggering thoughts do not come back as frequently as they used to, I only take ashwaganda when I feel I need it. WORRY NOT: It is totally safe to take it daily, if necessary!
Research has shown that magnesium deficiency can increase symptoms of anxiety & depression. Magnesium helps relax our muscles & is vital to help regulate certain hormones that are crucial for calming the nervous system. The reason for this is because when our magnesium levels are deficient, cortisol levels soar.
Briefly, cortisol is a stress hormone & our bodies need a balanced level of it. Too much cortisol, which is generally triggered by stress &/or anxiety is obviously not a good thing. BUT, if we don’t have enough, our bodies are unable to handle stress & anxiety effectively. Taking magnesium supplements daily will help balance cortisol levels & keep them in check so our bodies can respond to stress OPTIMALLY!
P.S. It can also help with muscle soreness & muscle recovery!
I take three magnesium soft gels in the morning with my breakfast! When looking for a supplement, look for magnesium in citrate, chelate & chloride, which are forms that our bodies absorb better. (I take citrate!).
B vitamins are essential for proper energy production & stress management. They serve as a natural remedy for anxiety because they work to boost mood, balance blood sugar levels & maintain a healthy nervous system.
Keep in mind that ALL 8 FORMS OF B vitamins are necessary for proper brain functioning. Research has shown that those suffering from anxiety &/or depression have lower levels of all B-vitamins.
When looking for a B-complex vitamin, always make sure that it is made without ANY synthetic or artificial colours & fillers & MAKE SURE that it contains all 8 forms (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12).
P.S. Two of the most crucial B-vitaminsa are B-6 & B-12.
- Symptoms of B6-deficiency include anxiety, irritability, depression, mood swings, muscle pains & fatigue.
- B12 is essential for fighting chronic stress, mood disorders & depression. It also helps improve concetration, energy levels & allows the nervous system to function properly. (So many of us are deficient in B12, because we’ve eliminated so much of the foods that contain it from our diet, sometimes, for very good reasons, such as red meat & the issue is that when we are not compensating for that with other foods high in B12, we end up being deficient!).
I take two B-complex vitamins in the morning with my breakfast!
Vitamin D deficiency is actually a common occurrence in most people (especially during the winter due to the fact that in most climates, we are less exposed to the sun, which is the a common natural source of vitamin D). Vitamin D, however, plays a vital role in mental health & well-being. In fact, people suffering from seasonal affective disorder or depression during the winter months have been found to have very low vitamin D levels during this time. Unfortunately, anxiety is often a symptom of said disorders & recent studies have shown that vitamin D has receptors in the brain that play a part in overall mentality & mood.
& I mean… if you can go on vacation & get a real dose of vitamin D, DO IT. & TAKE ME WITH YOU!
I take two vitamin D gummies in the morning with my breakfast!
Natural sources of the essential fatty-acid, omega-3, which is found in oily fish such as salmon & mackerel, can help balance mood & cure the symptoms associated with anxiety. Basically, if we look at it from a scientific perspective, these fatty acids prevent neurotransmitters from over-firing in the brain, preventing leakage of these hormones & regulating their flow. The oils stabilize the walls of the cells in the brain so that they are better able to communicate messages & in turn, better able to deal with stress &/or anxiety.
In addition, inside the brain, there exists a structure called the amygdala, responsible for processing fearful thoughts. It is a part of the brain that is absolutely essential given that without a sense of fear, we would all be oblivious to everyday risks. HOWEVER, some people have an overactive amygdala, which results in constant fear, stress, worry & anxiety. Studies have shown that the chemical DOPAMINE affects the reactions in the amygdala, with low levels associated with increased activity, in other words, the dopamine will have an effect on how the brain perceives fearful situations. Fish oil will also help NORMALIZE the dopamine levels in the body, which in turn helps regulate the amygdala function & help us be better able to deal with fear, anxiety & all that comes with it.
I take two Krill Oil capsules in the morning with my breakfast! P.S. There exists various forms of omega-3 fatty acid supplements. ALSO, keep in mind that you can get a large amount of these essential fatty acids through your nutrition, if you eat the right foods!
As I am sure you are all aware of, chamomile has been used in herbal medicine for YEARS. It has been shown to be effective at helping reduce anxiety, ease insomnia & soothe stress. It has a very calming, somewhat sedative effect & can also help relax your muscles & reduce overall irritability.
Some compounds in chamomile (Matricaria recutita) bind to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium. CRAZY, right?
My FAVE chamomile tea is the one by Pukka Herbs (It contains vanilla & Manuka honey, as well!).
ALL DONE LOVIES!!!
I hope this was helpful!
Please feel free to message me with any suggestions/recommendations or questions!
I’m ALWAYS HERE!
Love you all! <3