There are many risk factors that can trigger anxiety from childhood trauma to stress from an illness, genetics, or general stress built up over time. Therefore, different anxiety triggers are given different names to easily diagnose.
You’re probably familiar with some anxiety disorders such as social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, agoraphobia, and generalized anxiety. Well, the list goes on and on. In fact, approximately 40 million adults are affected by anxiety disorders in the United States!
However, aside from substance or medication-induced anxiety, most anxiety disorders share the same root cause, which is our thoughts. When we have negative thought patterns, such as bad memories, self-doubt, or worries about the future, symptoms of anxiety are triggered.
You may experience uncomfortable sensations such as heart palpitations, hyperventilation, sweating, fatigue, brain fog, and digestive issues. These symptoms are actually caused by our body’s “fight or flight” response, which is useful when you’re dealing with a life threatening event.
However, it is debilitating and useless when in response to the mind’s negativity. This is why we need to retrain this response to only occur when necessary.
Retraining Your Fight or Flight Response
As briefly mentioned, the fight or flight response is activated when a person feels threatened. The sympathetic nervous system of the brain sends messages to the adrenal glands to release hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which prepare the body to either escape the situation, or fight in the situation.
This was very helpful during hunter gatherer times to flee from or fight predators, but in the modern day of first world countries, this isn’t as needed, aside from rare circumstances of natural disasters or violence.
Unfortunately, our minds can be irrational and view situations as life-threatening, even when they are not. We’ll go over some ways that the fight or flight response can be holding you back in life, and how you can retrain your fight or flight response by targeting each issue.
This will allow you to have control over experiencing the sensation of anxiety when it is necessary, and turning off your fight or flight response when it is not useful in the given situation.
5 Reasons Why Anxiety Kills Your Enthusiasm
Here is a detailed list of 5 problems you can experience when your anxiety is out of control. If any of these side effects relate to your experience, read the following list to learn 5 remedies for these issues.
When you can’t turn your brain off and your mind is continuously thinking, it’s impossible to get a good night’s sleep. Of course, this rapid thinking would be useful in a situation of danger, but when you’re in the safety of your bed at home, this can cause insomnia, which makes it hard to think clearly, lowers your immune system, making it easier to become sick, and it can damage your memory down the road.
- Digestive Issues
During an anxiety attack, the digestive systems are shut off, so your body can focus on your thoughts and actions. This can serve to be a problem over time, leading to health issues such as indigestion and acid reflux, which are painful and create an imbalance in the body. This can be embarrassing during social situations, and be downright uncomfortable.
- Body Aches
Body aches occur due to the muscles tensing up. Just like with animals, if we were in a fight with a predator, it may serve us to “play dead” to save our lives. However, that’s usually not the case, and the side effect is dealing with aches that can last quite a bit of time without a massage. This discomfort can make you feel unhappy and less motivated to be active.
- Social Isolation
Aside from negative thoughts, the symptoms of anxiety can be uncomfortable to experience around people due to them being obvious, such as getting flushed or sweating. Therefore, you may want to avoid social situations all together, which in turn can cause depression, loneliness, in addition to weakening your social skills.
- Memory Loss
In the midst of a panic attack, you can experience short term memory loss because your body is overwhelmed and releasing higher levels of cortisol. You can also suffer bad memory if you’re dealing with insomnia. Over a long period time, this can be permanently damaging to your brain, due to cortisol being a toxin to brain cells. This is considerably one of the worst side effects of anxiety.
Healing Your Anxiety Disorder With 5 Remedies
Now that you’re familiar with the seriousness of an anxiety disorder, let’s discuss how to overcome these issues and take control of your life again in a healthy way! Here, I will describe remedies for the issues I explained above, as well as other symptoms you may experience with anxiety.
- Acceptance Meditation
Meditation for anxiety is definitely a useful tool, but telling you to simply meditate is vague and mundane. I want you to focus specifically on acceptance. Accept that a lot of life is out of your control and accept that the future is uncertain. When you can recognize this and accept this message, it’ll be much easier to be calm in new or scary situations because you realize that the best you can do is your personal best with the given circumstances. When we crave too much control over our lives, or aim for perfection, we’re setting ourselves up to be stressed, when it doesn’t have to be that way.
To start this meditation, come into a comfortable, seated position, particularly inside a room that is quiet, or outdoors where there isn’t hustle and bustle. Take a couple deep breaths and then repeat to yourself, “I accept the present moment and whatever occurs in the future.”
Repeat this mantra, and continue to say this mantra in your mind during everyday life when situations seem stressful. Thinking the mantra will also block the ability to think negative thoughts simultaneously.
- Relaxing the Five Senses
Relaxing your body with sensory stimulation of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell is an easy stress relieving exercise to distract you from negative thoughts, and even trigger positive thoughts. Of course, I would never suggest that someone eats emotionally or binge eats to deal with stress, but there’s nothing wrong with have a small, high-quality dark chocolate treat to calm the nerves, or sipping a calming cup of chamomile tea. Favorite foods and warm beverages can be comforting, and as long as you’re not overdoing it, it is a healthy choice.
You can also enjoy the scents of incense, essential oils or candles. Essential oils are great to dab under the nose, and they may trigger positive memories. They can also calm the nervousness system or alert the nervous system, depending on the scent. Incense and candles, on the other hand, are great to light in rooms where you’ll be spending time for a while, such as an office or living room.
If you enjoy feeling the texture of items, or are interested in the healing powers of crystals, holding a crystal that helps with anxiety, such as amethyst may be suitable for you. Sometimes it’s nice to hold the crystal, and move it in your hand, meditating on the rainbows, and reflections on the different faces of the crystal.
For those who have a liking for sound, listening to a beautiful, meditation song may be an appropriate choice. You can find tons of meditation songs on YouTube, or you can play it on your TV or phone through a speaker. Notice how spas often have tranquil music in the background? That’s because it’s relaxing!
- Promoting Good Sleep
Getting your 7 to 9 hours of sleep is important for proper brain function, a strong immune system, and an elevated mood. If you’ve been dealing with insomnia and can’t get to bed at a decent hour, try taking melatonin tablets to help you sleep quicker.
You can also create an evening routine of what was mentioned earlier, which is lavender essential oil under the nose and a cup of chamomile tea. If your muscles ache from anxiety, taking a warm shower at night with tea tree oil or epsom salt is helpful too. Be sure to turn off all electronics an hour before sleeping and dim the lights, as well, in order to trigger the natural melatonin hormone in your brain. If you read books before bed, try using a candle on your bedside table for dim lighting and a relaxing ambiance.
- Do Mentally Challenging Activities
If your mind is wandering a lot, try distracting yourself with an activity that challenges the mind. Some ideas could be working on new yoga poses, learning a new language, drawing a picture, or watching a documentary about a topic you’re unfamiliar about.
Choose an activity that is interesting to you. When you are learning, your brain is actively focused on the task, your interest in the topic boosts your mood, and you’re less likely to focus on anxiety-provoking thoughts.
- Socializing with Positive People
It may be beneficial to socialize with other people that struggle with anxiety in structured settings, such as support groups where you can relate and feel a sense of connection, but it’s important to spend more time with positive and laid back people. This could be family members, friends, or even acquaintances that you meet at a Meetup.
We are influenced by the five people we spend the most time with, and by spending time with optimistic people, it will be easier for you to starting thinking that way as well. Optimistic people are more prone to have healthy habits such as eating nutritious food, exercising, and practicing gratitude than less optimistic people, they live longer, and they are less likely to develop cardiovascular issues due to their lack of worrying and stress. Plan some time to socialize with kind, calm people, and you will start to see those traits in yourself.
Beginning a Holistic Life With Inner Peace
If you have been dealing with anxiety for years, it’ll undoubtedly be a process to heal from your negative thought patterns and decisions influenced by your anxiety. However, start by implementing some of these ideas gradually, and be sure not to overwhelm yourself. That will simply backfire and cause you more stress.
Also, if you start adding these habits into your routine, but find yourself returning to old habits, don’t beat yourself up. Recognize that you are struggling, let go of judgement, and calm yourself using one of your new, healthy methods, or talk to someone who can give you emotional support. The journey to an anxiety-free life can be challenging and is not a straight line, so be sure to give yourself empathy and space to make mistakes and continue overcoming your anxiety in an enthusiastic way.