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What are your natural and holistic approaches for anxiety?

I've been having some issues with anxiety lately and don't plan to do any kinds of meds.   I am in the process of testing to see if there are any underlying medical causes (thyroid, etc).  
What drug-free approaches have you used to bring your initial body response down, that have been helpful?

Here's what I've been doing, with mixed success:
Talking it out with someone
Journaling to vent and  identify fears
Television for an hour or two (to stop the squirrel cage)
Oddly enough, artwork (along the lines of "Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain") seems to help
Grounding (identify things around you)
Hot, herb tea

Have not been as successful at:
Meditation (have to actually engage my brain in something like a project)

Exercise does not seem to release the pent-up energy although longer exercise might release some endorphins?
I usually go for chocolate, which is counterintuitive because caffeine makes it worse - but chocolate and whipped cream always make me feel better in that moment, so it's usually "chocolate -1, me zero."  With regrets.

Some other things that have been helpful once things calm down a bit:
Looking at the underlying fight or flight fear
Cleaning up any messes made with others (although I've learned the hard way that it's best not to do anything until returning to baseline - best to return to baseline before deciding what to say/how to approach someone).  
Forgiving myself - mixed success on this as well.

Would love to hear what has worked for others.  Thanks
11 Responses
15439126 tn?1444443163
Proper meditation should greatly help (but it took me several days of perseverance before my sessions became meaningful).  I like having something non-engaging but active in my field of view while I chill out concentrating on slow, even breathing [I play a fireplace DVD].  I use an electronic timer so I don't need to worry about when to stop (22 minutes has turned out to be my best duration).  When you're too wired for a session, you might try very simple puzzle books as a grounding activity to focus your mind away from rambling out of control.

Avoid TV/PC for the last hour before bedtime (switch to reading).  You might try wearing sunglasses or yellow tinted sunglasses for the couple of hours before bed (filters out the blue light component from any non-incandescent light emitters/sources).  Try to fit long walks into your day (perhaps as part or all of your commute?).

I've posted innumerable tips about anxiety coping on this site, but the above seem most suited for you.
Avatar universal
Thank you for those tips.
Wow that sunglasses tip is interesting.   Never thought of that.
I try to get off the computer at nine, but don't always make it.  Incidentally, there's a program called flux that will adjust your screen based on the time of night and progressively make it more yellow.    But getting off it early is best.
Avatar universal
Question:  what herbal teas?  Some are calming, some are not.  There are a lot of natural remedies that can help, if you need more help.  Meditation isn't easy -- that's why they call it meditation practice.  Nobody ever gets it right, and there is no right.  I've been meditating for years, but lately I just can't get into the meditative state and I really miss it.  Which means, I need to move to a different form of meditation.  There are tons of different methods, but a key is not to judge it.  As to computers and TV and reading, everyone is different.  Find what works for you.  But the key to anxiety control, and I've never been any good at it but those who get it get over it, is to learn not to think anxious thoughts.  If you can get there, you're over it.
Avatar universal
Meant to suggest a book, Natural Highs, by Hyla Cass, a psychiatrist at UCLA.  The book's getting old, but it's a good overview of natural remedies for depression and anxiety.
15439126 tn?1444443163
Camomille tea is an excellent herbal tea for its calming effect.  On me, it behaves like 2-3 mg of oxazepam(serax), a very light dose of a strong and well proven anti-anxiety med.

However, I find I can only tolerate one or two cups, else the tea itself starts to get me feeling wired.  I usually buy Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time tea which has other herbs as it seems better value for the price than pure camomille tea, and on those infrequent occasions when I use it, I'm often having it in the evenings to settle me down for sleep.  ((But, perhaps it's the other components that are limiting how much of it I can tolerate.))
Avatar universal
Honestly, just looking at your user picture with the different shades of blue was a bit calming for me. Also the tea and fireplace sounds good too
Avatar universal
I have been on alprazolam for over 15 years,lowest dose, for my panic/anxiety. It has saved my life . and I will undoubtedly be on it for the rest of my life. I have anxiety very little anymore, unless my afib acts up, then its high!! I love this fall weather. It allows me to be outside and go for walks and just sit and breathe in the cool fall air. Sitting by the lake and long drives in the country also help. I make  dolls that I sell and it helps! Anything to keep the mind busy and the hands....I am a widow and live alone so its easy to get bored, then anxiety and then the panic.......so I keep busy! Its not bad to take meds if you need to. Just don't abuse them....My family all have the panic/anxiety/depression.....so it is hereditary...
15439126 tn?1444443163
Environment plays its role too, as family practices and habits of thought and ways of coping with stress can readily become learned behaviours by children who tend to pattern aspects of their personalities later on in adulthood after their parents.  
Avatar universal
You're very lucky that something as weak as chamomile tea does the trick for you.  My personal nut is too hard for that herb to crack.  The effects you're getting could be allergy related, as the chamomile flower could be an allergen for you in high quantities of consumption.  But you might try plain chamomile tea without the other things that are in Sleepytime -- Celestial Seasonings also has a relatively new habit of putting in some things that shouldn't be there, as it's now owned by the Hain conglomerate.  There are a couple of good companies that make plain herbs in teabags you can find at any good health food store, just to see if that solves the side effect problem.
Avatar universal
I wish there was a magic tea that would do the trick, but it's just one thing along others that is sort of comforting.   The teas I drink are Tazo wild sweet orange, peppermint (although peppermint actually supposed to be energizing), chamomile, sleepy time, Tazo passion, and anything without caffeine.

Distraction seems to be the most effective strategy to calm the body response - to completely engage the mind elsewhere to allow the body to stop reacting to looping thoughts.

Expanding on the original post, drawing seems to be the only way I can truly pull off any kind of meditation.  Sometimes can't do it.   The Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain book has exercises (for artists and non-artists alike) that force you to "shut off" your "left brain" and that put you into a deep state of relaxation as you make the shift.  You can feel the shift although it can be frustrating at times but can be achieved with practice.  

Also what really helps, after the initial body response comes back down to normal, to identify the underlying situation/fear that your head is stressed about and resolve it mentally (and sometimes externally if something needs to be straightened out with someone else).

I've had mixed success, but not full success, with all of these strategies.
15439126 tn?1444443163
You're absolutely right trying just plain camomille tea (it's foolish of me to think I'm getting better value just because the price is the same for the version that includes additional herbs, so I perceive it as better value somehow).  Not that I see being able to drink more than a cup or two as a high priority, but the principle's sound (avoiding unneeded components).

I think we largely make our own luck.  A cup of camomille tea works for me much of the time because I've laid the groundwork (a keen alertness for my mood level so I can take steps before it slides out of control, healthy diet, taking care to avoid stressors, good sleep (lately, wearing yellow tinted sunglasses a couple of hours before bedtime has deepened and lengthened my sleep--by blocking blue light in the evening it really does allow my body's own melatonin to settle me down nicely), start taking meditation breaks and doing calming routines whenever I'm sensing my nervous tension is heightening), so something very mild like camomille doesn't have much of a challenge to tip me back into a mellow mood.  

There've been plenty of times earlier where nothing but a prescription bandaid med will do the trick, typically when I've neglected my mental hygiene for too long or encountered a series of setbacks without time to recuperate.
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