We all have anxiety from time to time such as when getting up in front of a crowd to give a presentation or your first day on a new job. This is normal and to be expected. Anxiety can become an issue when it interrupts with your daily routine and life. For instance, do you have fears that prevent you from doing things with friends, are you afraid to try something new or go to a new place or even to be alone or do you worry excessively that you cannot focus on anything else? This is when the anxiety becomes a burden and can isolate you from friends, family and new experiences.
As is with any chronic health issue, if left ignored, it only gets worse. Read on for tips as to what you can do to address your anxiety.
- Excessive worry about normal everyday issues (ex: did you turn off the stove, lock the doors, or do you worry every day that you will lose your job?)
- The excessive worry lasts 6 months or longer not just one day
- You can’t control the worry and you can’t focus on other things such as your job
- Anxiety can be mixed with depression, but not always
- You may have physical signs during times of heightened anxiety such as heart palpitations, tightness in chest, shortness of breath, sweating, tight muscles, dizziness/feeling faint, and blurry vision (ex: with a panic attack.)
- Other physical symptoms that someone may not think are related to their anxiety but can be include headaches, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, acid reflux, ulcers, hair loss and fatigue
- It can impact your sleep-you may not be able to “turn off” your mind when time to rest and unwind.
- It can look like ADHD or ADD as you may have restlessness, agitation and cannot focus on other important tasks.
- Anxiety can have low blood sugar, hypothyroidism, nutrient deficiencies and/or poor gut health (to name a few) as root causes
Herbs That Can Help
These herbs are known to be calming and soothing. Herbs are not a “cure” for anxiety. What herbs do is support the body so that the body can do what it needs to do and find its balance. When you have anxiety, your body is out of balance.
Always check with your health care professional before adding in any herbs to your regimen as they can interact with medications and may not be safe for some health conditions. Not all herbs are safe to give to children.
Hawthorne Berries: While you may know this berry as good for the heart, it is also a great plant to use for anxiety and the heart palpitations and irritability that can coincide with anxiety. It can be a useful aid for sleep, helping to relax the mind at bedtime. When making a tea of the berry, you may want to soak the berries first overnight as this will aid in the easy release of its’ beneficial properties.
Lavender Flower: This herb is known to calm the nerves. Have you ever seen a field of lavender flowers? Just the thought or picture of all that lavender can have a calming effect. You may see many products that are lavender scented or infused and for good reason since it is widely known to aid in sleep, stress and anxiety. Lavender essential oil on your pillow at night can aid in a restful night of sleep. If your child is cranky or fussy at bedtime, add some lavender flowers to the bath water or a few drops of the essential oil. Even just inhaling the scent of lavender can be calming and soothing and can ease anxiety and stress. Make a tea with lavender using 1 teaspoon per one cup of water. For a nice soothing tea blend, mix it with hops and chamomile.
Lemon balm leaf: This herb is a member of the mint family. It has a long history known for its calming and soothing properties. It can be a useful aid for sleep issues, anxiety, panic attacks and irrational fears (such as fear of flying, fear of closed in spaces, etc.) and nervousness. Use a tablespoon in a cup of hot water to make a tea. If you suffer from anxiety you can drink one half a cup up to four times per day. Lemon balm leaves can be added to your drinking water. Sip this throughout the day to aid in reducing anxiety. Avoid this herb if you have hypothyroidism.
Other Herbs: I have only mentioned a few but there are many herbs that are helpful if you are struggling with anxiety. Others to consider include Kava Kava, valerian, motherwort, passion flower, hops, and chamomile. If you have not tried any of the above herbs, use one herb at a time instead of blending so that you know what herbs works best for you, then you can combine to make your own special blend.
What Else You Can Do to Help Control Your Anxiety
- Eat to keep blood sugar stable: avoid sugar, processed foods, sugary drinks: just eat whole foods. When we eat the processed and refined foods we end up on a crazy and fast blood sugar roller coaster. Those highs and lows in blood sugar will impact your moods. You want your blood sugar to be on the kiddie roller coaster!
- Add in bone broth, green vegetables and fermented foods. The nutrients in these foods can be very calming for the body and support a healthy gut microbiome.
- Address gut health issues such as acid reflux, candida, leaky gut and more so that you can start to absorb the nutrients that you need. Because the gut and brain are connected, it is vital to have a healthy gut if you want to address your anxiety.
- Include healthy fats into the diet. Eat fatty fish such as wild caught Alaskan salmon and add other healthy fats to your meals such as “real” extra virgin olive oil (there are many fakes out there), avocado, raw nuts and seeds and coconut. Your brain is made up of mostly fat and to support a healthy brain you need quality fats in the diet.
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014). Therapeutic Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. VT: Healing Arts Press.
About The Author:
If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need.
Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC.
For more information visit www.trufoodsnutrition.com