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Conquering Anxiety the Natural Way!

by Elizabeth Girard, MS, L.Ac.

    Whole Body Healing treating anxiety naturally.      If you suffer from anxiety, then you know the feeling of dread, worry and the sensation in your chest and stomach, all too well. For me anxiety “attacks” can happen almost anywhere and at any moment whether I am in a stressful situation or just sitting watching TV. Sometimes it’s triggered by an action or thought I have, other times it seems completely random. Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives,  but for some of  us, it becomes part of our daily lives. I don’t believe in taking antidepressants for anxiety because for me, I’m not depressed when I’m anxious ( I do realize that antidepressants are helpful for some people and I fully support that). I tried all different antidepressants and nothing came close to helping my anxiety. The only pill I ever took that “masked” my anxiety was Xanax; however it also masks all your emotions. When I entered into the alternative health care field, I made it my mission to conquer my anxiety naturally. That was quite a few years ago and I still occasionally get anxious but with some self discipline it is completely manageable.

     It starts with BALANCE!! Yes I said it. A “hippie” term that is thrown around every alternative medicine practitioner’s office. Creating  balance in your life takes effort and time, something which not many Americans are willing to do. Balance needs to be carried out in every aspect of your life, from the food you eat, to the job you do, to your own inner thoughts and pressures. I think the first and easiest things to address are lifestyle changes. For some this is a huge task, but it can be controlled so here is where I like to start. One very important etiology for anxiety in Chinese medicine is not having enough blood or “yin” in the body to nourish the “shen” or spirit. I myself see this as a cause of anxiety often. Our body makes blood from the foods we eat. Our whole system is run by the foods we put into our body on a daily basis. It is very important to eat a proper diet with clean, nutritious foods and plenty of water. Once you get your diet in order then you can move on to the next step, movement aka exercise. I don’t like using the word exercise for many reasons. One reason being that immediately you think gym or running on a treadmill. I mean taking a walk or doing something you love like dancing on a regular basis. I encourage you to try new things (while at first are scary and anxiety causing) can be very rewarding and bring a new dimension into your life. I recommend some form of exercise 3-4 times a week for about an hour each time. Exercise releases endorphins aka feel good chemicals in the brain. Also I feel exercise moves any excessive or stagnate qi or energy in the body. So get moving! Next it’s time to take a deeper look at where this anxiety comes from. Is it excessive guilt you feel or pressure? Where and who does this guilt or pressure come from? If the answer is you, which it most likely is, then ask yourself why? This is the hardest part because you need to look deeper within yourself and find those answers. I recommend doing short meditations on a daily basis. This can be as simple as taking 5 minutes before you go to bed. Close your eyes and just focus on your breathe, inhale, exhale. Another great idea to keep in mind whether you are currently experiencing anxiety or not is to remain in the present moment. Ask yourself “right now at this very moment, what is going on?” Often times when you do this during an anxiety attack you realize that nothing is going on. That you are worrying about the future or not letting go of the past, that is why you have to focus on the now. You can NOT change the past and you can’t control the future. Have faith that everything will work out if you stay calm. Plus what does getting anxious accomplish?
     There are also Chinese herbal formulas that can help to balance “qi” or energy, benefit your digestion and build blood. I also find that a small course of acupuncture treatments can stop anxiety and often allows you to feel well enough to implement the lifestyle changes mentioned above. 

If you have other questions or comments, please feel free to contact me! 

To Health, Healing and Happiness.