I’ve dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember.Maybe it goes along with the being oldest kid, but whatever the reason it’s been a part of my life for a long time. I never really had a name for those sick stomachs and overwhelming panic until I started going to counseling and Whitney shed some light on what I was experiencing. She had me fill out an anxiety inventory and the results helped me understand what I had been feeling. I knew that my anxiety had been affecting my relationships, my self-esteem, and honestly, even my quality of life so I decided it was time for me to start treating it.
I knew that I wanted to try to go about it at naturally as possible without a prescribed medication. I don’t want anyone to think I am being down on medication. I know that for some this type of treatment is literally life saving and I think that it is brave to do what needs to be done to help yourself. Whether that is medication or therapy, or some type of homeopathic method, or combination of them all, I think just seeking treatment is brave and doing what you need to do to help yourself is brave. In my personal journey towards being in anxiety “remission” I am choosing to pursue a more natural route, BUT I am NOT a doctor so what works for me might not work for you! This is not a one size fits all post, but just my personal experience.
I did a lot of research and exploration in the realm of natural treatment and came up with a few things that have helped me a lot so far!
One of the first things I learned about was a supplement called L-Theanine. Theanine is an amino acid that is found in green tea and it encourages relaxation and eases stress and tension. I read that it was originally discovered because people noticed how relaxed and tranquil monks were and made the connection between their demeanor and the mass amounts of green tea that they drank. In order to get that effect you would need to treat like 50 cups of green tea so I buy it in capsule form on Amazon. Love me some Amazon Prime! L-Theanine can be used to treat anxiety, Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure. Essentially it helps transmit nerve impulses, similarly to what glutamate does. The jury is still out in the scientific community as far as whether or not it is helpful for those with anxiety, but from my personal experience, I feel a difference. I take two capsules a day and since I started I have felt more chill and lighter for lack of a better word. My emotions have also felt less all over the place, and more even.
2.) Decrease in caffeine
Listen friend, I’m a coffee drinker to the core. If I could just constantly drink coffee all day long I totally would. It’s an experience for me, it’s honestly part of the reason I can push myself out of bed in the morning. Coffee is my happy place, so thus I am unwilling to give it up completely, however I have attempted to decrease my intake. Instead of drinking coffee throughout the day I try to drink it only in the morning that way the effects wear off before bed and I am able to sleep more soundly. Because caffeine (coffee) is a stimulant, it can make us feel more on edge which is no good for someone who struggles with anxious thoughts and feelings. This one is probably the hardest one for me to do, because I LOVE COFFEE, and I’m not legalistic with myself about it. For example last night Steve and I went to Starbucks and I got a latte, so there is grace for this coffee lover.
3.) Decrease in sweets
I’ve heard a few times that sugar affects the same part in your brain as cocaine, and because that means it’s very addictive and just not good for you I decided to follow something like the Daniel Plan. I still put some sugar in my coffee, and I eat a piece of organic dark chocolate here and there BECAUSE ANTIOXIDANTS PEOPLE… but outside of that I’ve been trying to stay away from sweets. Today I’ve been craving a donut something awful, but I’m staying strong! I’ve found that I feel better when I’m not putting junk in my body and that is good motivation.
4.) Lavender and chamomile
I keep a lavender diffuser on my desk at work, burn lavender candles at home like they’re going out of style, and have replaced most of my coffee drinking with chamomile tea. Let me tell you, both of these things are so relaxing! In addition to the relaxing scent, lavender essential oil has been shown to be a powerful way to treat anxiety. I haven’t started this method as much because I’m waiting on mine to arrive, but I have tried a sample of it and it really has worked well. It can also be used to help encourage a good night of sleep. If I start to feel overwhelmed at work I stop what I’m doing, pick up my mug and make some chamomile tea. The smell and the taste and just the whole experience is incredibly calming.
5.) Taking my thoughts captive and creating boundaries
Honestly this one is so important, and it’s one I’m still working on getting better at. When I feel overwhelmed or anxious I have to stop and speak truth to myself. Like, “You can do hard things Sarah” or “This isn’t forever” or “what could the worst possible outcome be?” or “These things you are feeling right now are not reality, the reality is that the Lord loved you and made you and sent His son to die for you, you aren’t a failure, you’re just human”. Sometimes the truth I speak isn’t really what I feel, but I say it anyway. I’m also learning to set boundaries with myself and with other. I am trying to remember what’s in my area, and what things I’m responsible for. Boundaries help keep anxiety at bay because it can keep you from taking on more than what you are responsible for!
These are five things that help me, but again they might not be what works for you, maybe taking medication is what works or maybe a good counseling session keeps the anxiety demons at bay. I think you have to figure out what works for you! My goal in writing this post was to help you feel encouraged and not alone. Maybe you know exactly the kind of anxiety I’m talking about because you experience it every day, or every week, but you feel alone and you don’t know where to start in treating it. Well friend, I want you to know you’re not alone and that sometimes it’s the getting started part that’s the hardest but YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS… WE can do hard things! We don’t have to live with anxiety, we can kick it’s dang butt and live in freedom! Whether that’s through natural ways or medicine ways it doesn’t matter! You do what you (and your doctor/psychiatrist/counselor) think is best for your health and keep on being brave you strong person you! In conclusion, here’s to freedom, and lavender, and being brave!