I struggled for several years with debilitating anxiety.
Over the last year and a half my anxiety and depression have both subsided so substantially (the depression completely) that I have really begun to make it my mission to guide other people who are through suffering with one or both of these emotions. First, one thing I wish I had seen when I was researching like a mad woman trying to figure out how to find relief was someone, anyone at all, who could have told me it was possible to fully get my life back. Someone to say, “I know how truly terrible that is, but hey, I’ve been there and I’m NOT anymore.” I remember feeling like I would have to plan my entire life around it. As these things shifted, my life has shifted, and joy has crept back in. It’s beyond joy, really, but I want to just say that, yes, you can heal from this, one hundred freakin percent. Here are a few of the major changes I made in my own life that made all the difference. And, before you think that your anxiety has to be more severe than mine was for these things to have helped me, I can assure you, that is not the case!
Heal Your Digestion
I know that everyone thinks food won’t really have that large of an impact on his or her mood, but I am here to tell you otherwise. In fact, this alone is HUGE!! I learned about my food sensitivities mostly by experimenting with removing foods. I removed gluten, dairy, soy (huge for my anxiety), corn, and eggs! I eventually also removed all grains including meats that were not 100% grass fed. When you’re body is in a sensitive state, your food allergies may go beyond what you’ve conventionally been taught, so stay open to this. Yes, I ate eggs all my life but as soon as I removed them, my digestion, mood, and brain fog all improved. Following the Autoimmune Paleo diet radically improved my anxiety within a few months. Sugar is also a big no brainer when you have anxiety. Remove all sugar; I even removed fruit and that made a big difference. Stimulants in all forms (even chocolate) are a no-no when you’re healing your body from anxiety. Weird symptoms cause anxiety, and removing those weird symptoms that are often food related greatly decreases anxiety. This will also be the first step to healing your gut, which also has an impact on depression and anxiety. Start working to heal your gut by repopulating it with good bacteria and using herbs to soothe and heal the digestive lining. We’re big fans of Prescript Assist over here! Personally, it is the most effective probiotic I’ve used. I also eat fermented foods every morning with breakfast. Think sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, etc. Gut flora is directly related to your mood so don’t underestimate the power of this!
Re-Mineralize and Stock up on Nutrients
Magnesium is the relaxation mineral and is invaluable when teaching you bod to relax again! When you’re stressed, your body loses more magnesium than usual and since most of us don’t get enough through diet alone, this is a massively common deficiency. Focus on nutrients that support the adrenals, which regulate the stress response. Research the function of the adrenal glands to educate yourself on how these play a role in your anxiety and follow a Paleo diet to get them optimal again. Magnesium, Vitamin C, B-Vitamins, and Zinc are a great place to start! Adaptogen herbs are also something you ought to bring up with a qualified naturopath. And then duh, eat the nutrient dense foods! Fall in love with nourishing your body. This is not restrictive; this is the most giving thing you can do for your tired body.
Get out of Toxic Situations
So this is probably one of the most important things you can do. No illness with go away until it has taught you what it is there to teach you. My mantra lately has been a Terence McKenna quote. “The magic is done by hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it is a featherbed.” For me, this meant moving out and separating from my family for a few months. My nervous system settled down for the first time in years and I was finally able to start repairing some of that damage. For some people this means leaving a relationship, a friendship, a job, a city, etc. Just be brave and do it. Joy is surely on the other side. If you’re not sure what that toxic thing is exactly, ask yourself silently and listen to the first answer that comes to mind.
Retrain Your Stress Response
Unfortunately, although many of us think that zoning out in front of the TV is relaxing, it isn’t actually doing what we need to reset our body’s constant state of stress. You have to intentionally bring on the parasympathetic state and retrain your body to get out of a stuck sympathetic state. I use therapeutic grade essential oils daily to calm my mind and keep in a relaxed state throughout the day. This helps me take stress as it comes. Follow me on Instagram to find out how I use essential oils in my daily routine. I also regularly take warm baths at the end of the day with Epsom salts. Meditation and/or yoga nidra are excellent practices to do daily to reset your body’s homepage to a state of calm.
Create An Identity
Start here, with these five things and I promise you will be well on your way to recovery- for good! Think of all of the beautiful lessons that come from coping with something like anxiety. Things like compassion, self-awareness, and often some sense of spirituality all birth themselves in our lives through this emotion. It’s the emotion that inevitably leads back to serving ourselves first, but gives us the tools to then start serving others. It’s the wounded healer’s journey. It’s the emotion that raises awareness and will heal the planet. You are always part of something larger. As you move through these steps and you begin experimenting with how food can heal your mood, share what you learn with other people. Anxiety is an epidemic and it is totally treatable and preventable by earthly means. Lastly, use your intuition as a guide as you move through. It always, always, always, helps to find a superstar naturopath in your area to help guide you on your path.Retrain Your Stress Response: Unfortunately, although many of us think that zoning out in front of the TV is relaxing, it isn’t actually doing what we need to reset our body’s constant state of stress. You have to intentionally bring on the parasympathetic state and retrain your body to get out of a stuck sympathetic state. I use therapeutic grade essential oils daily to calm my mind and keep in a relaxed state throughout the day. This helps me take stress as it comes. Follow me on Instagram to find out how I use essential oils in my daily routine. I also regularly take warm baths at the end of the day with Epsom salts. Meditation and/or yoga nidra are excellent practices to do daily to reset your body’s homepage to a state of calm.
We often create illness identities for ourselves. Other people may not know, but anxious people often think of themselves in terms of their anxiety “disorder,” constantly planning everything around it. As you begin to heal, and your anxiety starts to lift, you may be shocked that you have to kind of fill in that space with something else. Who are you? What do you love to do? What are the things you like to do that have nothing at all to do with your limitations set up around anxiety. Start thinking about these things now!! Visualize that version of you and visit her often!