Acupuncture and 10 More Natural Treatments for Anxiety
Anxiety is a part of the normal ups and downs of life.
It becomes a problem when it’s unrelenting or severe enough to disrupt our life (like panic attacks, avoiding people, not being able to work, etc.).
My issue with using medication to control anxiety is this: with most medications, the need for it is determined from an objective test. Blood work, a scan, or some way to verify if something specific (a hormone, etc.) is out of whack gives the doctor an indication that it’s time for an intervention. With anxiety medications (also for anti-depressants), there’s no objective test involved.
I was put on medications when I was a rebellious teen. My parents had put me in an in-patient facility. I was suicidal. It was kind of a nightmare for all of us. I refused to take the meds, except in the facility where they checked your mouth after dispensing, and you lost “points” if you tried to hide them in your cheeks. Anything that went against their rules lost you points, and you could only graduate to being an “out-patient” (meaning you could go back home) after you accumulated enough points. Here’s what I learned from the whole 3 month experience: how to trick the system. I literally faked everything just to get out.
Eventually I got better, but it wasn’t through medications or “faking it.” It definitely wasn’t the $2000-a-day facility! It was through the new friendships I made (the one good thing I got out of rehab was new friends who were in similar situations as me), exercise (dance, in particular), and eating healthier.
*NOTE: if you’re currently taking anti-psychotic medications, please continue to do so. Only discontinue these medications with a doctor’s supervision. Truth be told, I’ve been suicidal twice, and I feel incredibly lucky to be here, and very grateful to the people who saved my life.
Acupuncture helps with anxiety by how it works on your nervous system. The needles are very tiny, and they temporarily shut down the “fight or flight” response in your body. It’s like re-booting your computer. Over time, your brain, mind, and nervous system learn how to function without as much anxiety.
Here’s 10 More Things Helpful for Addressing Anxiety:
1. Positive thinking. Easier said than done when you’re in a negative space, I know, but the cure to fears, worries, guilt, and perfectionism is gratitude. Fill your heart regularly, daily, with things you’re grateful for. It can be little things like a pretty flower, or big things like having a roof over your head, an education, and people in your life who care about you.
2. Write down your worries. This is extremely helpful to me. I write down worries; things that I need to do; things that I want to do; and things that I’m thinking about. It gets the things out of your mind and onto a paper. Another way to use writing: daily journaling. Also: writing letter to people that you don’t necessarily (or in some cases, shouldn’t) send.
3. Deep breathing. This is the essence of yoga – the breath. Yoga done for the movements only is NOT yoga. When you’re focusing on your breath, you can acknowledge the thoughts and let them pass on by. You don’t have to entertain them if you don’t want them to stay. This is the essence of meditation as well. Breathing brings you back in to your body. Qi Gong is another way to use breath-work to help you relax.
4. Counseling. Sometimes you just need to seek out the help of professionals. It could be a licensed therapist, or, if you’re a weirdo like me, a psychic or tarot card reader.
(4-b) Listen (sometimes) to the advice of friends and family. While in some cases, well-meaning loved ones can lead you away from trying something new that you’re scared of or something they don’t approve of, other people’s objectivity can give us valuable insight. It doesn’t mean you have to do what they say, just listen and consider their point of view. Research shows that having people in your life that you can count on is one of the best indicators of happiness.
5. Food. Some foods make me anxious and other foods calm me right down. If you’re new to trying out different foods, or if you’re not totally in touch with your intuition (yet), you may not notice this (yet). But trust me on this one – it makes a difference. Think of food as a way to power up your body. It’s fuel; plan your meals accordingly, and your mind-body-spirit machine will thank you. Oh, and have you downloaded our Healthy Eating Guidebook yet?
6. Slow down. Moving too fast and being in a hurry all the time, paradoxically, slows you down. By consciously slowing your movements; being mindful of what you’re doing and breathing while you’re doing it enables you to get where you want to go quicker. Slow down to accomplish more. Being in a hurry leads to mistakes (more time to fix), accidents (need I say more?), and stress. Slow down; move with positive intention, breath, and grace; preserve your Qi.
7. Fully experience it. When you’re in the depths of so-called negative emotions, the last thing you want to do is dive in deeper, but bear with me a moment. Every emotion has a vibration. When you notice the vibration associated with anxiety, acknowledge it and feel it. The only way out of something is through it. To fully heal from what each emotion is trying to teach us, we have to go through it. There’s no shortcuts. Once you fully experience the vibration, eventually your body will move on to a new vibration.
8. Exercise. It’s been proven in study after study that exercise helps relieve stress, tension, and anxiety. It releases feel-good hormones called endorphins – the proverbial “runner’s high.” You don’t necessarily need a gym membership. If gyms aren’t your jam, try going for a walk, taking a martial arts class, or having an improptu dance session in your living room. The possibilities are endless.
9. Go outside. Humans often forget that we’re a part of nature – silly us. Unplug and go outside, feel the wind in your hair (or on your bald head) and the sun on your skin. Being closer to nature lessens symptoms of anxiety and depression.
10. Herbs. There’s literally hundreds of plants you can use that can change your physiology. Here’s a free download to learn more about herbs for stress management.
And now, I want to hear from you.
What have you tried to relieve anxiety? Which technique listed above are you going to try?
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