Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Natural Anxiety and Tension Relief

This week a friend asked me for some tips on combating anxiety without pharmaceutical intervention. I gave her a few tips, and I thought those tips might be of interest to some of you. In this day and age, who doesn't have a bit of anxiety and nervous tension, right? These tips are not foolproof and sometimes it is best to seek a doctor's advice. If you have prolonged bouts of anxiety that lead to withdrawing from life and/or depression, please contact your doctor or mental health care worker.

Herbal supplements are a good place to start when it comes to relieving mild to moderate, occasional anxiety. Valerian root, kava and chamomile are three that I have tried with some success. They can all be taken in pill form or as a tea. The Valerian root has a very strong odor though, so I suggest taking it in capsule form instead of tea. Chamomile, however has a wonderful fragrance and is very nice and relaxing as a tea. These are all non-habit forming. The herbs may have some counter-indications with other medications though, so always check to make sure they are compatible with any regular medications you take. Also, if you are pregnant or nursing, it is always best to check for safety issues regarding herbal preparations during this time.

Homeopathic remedies are also quite effective in treating anxiety. Homeopathic remedies are based on the theory that 'like cures like'. So, the idea is that you take a small amount of a substance that would normal cause a problem, dilute that substance tremendously and then put it through a sort of shaking process. What you have left is (sort of) a vibration of the original substance that, when taken orally, will combat the symptoms you are displaying. Look in your local vitamin or health food store in the homeopathic section for remedies for anxiety, stress and insomnia. I have tried Hyland's brand for several different maladies, including anxiety and have been quite pleased with the results.

Guided relaxation is an invaluable tool to calm the mind and relieve tension in the body. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of relaxation CDs on the market. I did an iTunes search and I had an anxiety attack just looking at the shear volume of choices I had before me. I then entered 'Guided Relaxation' in the search engine and that narrowed the field down a bit. I listen to a few demos and narrowed my search even further by selecting the offerings that had a Christian slant to them, since that was a fit for me. Of course, for those of you who are not Christian, it goes without saying that you would find a different way to narrow your search. :) I have an iPod Touch and I downloaded a couple of apps for that. The one I use most is called Relax With Andrew Johnson. The man who guides you through the relaxation exercise has a soothing Scottish accent that I find very appealing . If you have an iPhone (or iPod Touch), you can type guided relaxation in the apps key word search to find other options.

Another great relaxation tool is deep
breathing. I use this in combination with aromatherapy probably more than anything else. My favorite oils are peppermint and lavender. It is important to get pure essential oils when doing aromatherapy, and not fragrance oils, in order to get the benefit of the healing properties in the oils. I mix the two oils together in a brown mixer bottle and inhale the scent on my in-breaths, or put a drop of the oil on my forehead, then do the breathing. To do a deep breathing exercise is very simple. Get in a comfortable non-slouching position first. Breathe in through your nose for two counts, making sure your stomach rises as you inhale, so that you know you are breathing from your diaphragm. Hold the breath for a second, then breathe out through your mouth for four counts. It is important to breathe out for twice as long as you breathe in because this releases the carbon dioxide from your body. I often recite a mantra, short scripture or one line prayer as I do this exercise. This allows positive thoughts to be in the forefront of my mind. An example would be - In: I am only human / Out: But, God is my strength and refuge. Or - In: Happy is as happy does / Out: I am in control of my happiness. Anything positive and affirming will work.

You may be thinking - where can I find all of this stuff she listed? Well, I'll tell you, the best on-line places I have found are Mountain Rose Herbs.com, Drug Store.com
and Vitacost.com.
Also, check your local Yellow Pages for Natural Health Food stores and vitamin stores to find all of the herbs, homeopathic remedies and essential oils you need to get started on your way to a happier, more relaxed life.
I feel I need to add that in the long run, these techniques are most effective and more likely to yield lasting, drug-free results, when used in conjunction with a solid anxiety recovery program or professional therapy.