I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone in confessing that I’ve been suffering from a heightened sense of anxiety throughout the last few weeks due to everything surrounding the Coronavirus situation. Our lives have been turned upside down and for me at least I’ve been feeling like we’re living in the twilight zone or some surreal movie.
Anxiety usually presents for me as insomnia, feelings of restlessness, lack of appetite, tightness in my chest or sometimes a short fuse and lack of patience particularly when dealing with my tiny humans. As I’m writing this now I’m surrounded by young children with a wailing soundtrack of ‘Mummy Mummy he hit me’ while another child throws food all over my keyboard and threatens to smash the screen with a water bottle - things that would trigger anxiety for me on a normal day let alone after 3 weeks of social distancing and boredom! So I felt that now could be a fitting time to share my thoughts on the matter.
I’ve often dealt with cycles of anxiety in times of overwhelm in my life particularly since becoming a mother and juggling a small business, but over time I’ve discovered a few natural strategies to help ease these feelings that I’ve found to work quite well for me. So I thought I’d share a few of these things today in the hope it might be helpful for anyone else feeling the same in these current circumstances.
1. Drop the coffee
This is a hard one because like most people I really, really love my coffee. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there’s a noticeable rise in feelings of anxiety and impatience on days I drink more than one cup. In times of stress I’ve found it best to limit my coffee intake to just one a day and only in the morning, or even better none at all. Instead I substitute for decaf, hot chocolate or a caffeine free tea such as Chamomile or Honeybush.
2. Herbal supplements
My two favourite herbs for relieving anxiety are Valerian Root and Passionflower. I’ve found Valerian particularly useful to relieve insomnia at times when I struggle to fall asleep due to a racing mind, and it promotes a deeper, more restful sleep through the night. Passionflower is also a handy herb being a natural relaxant for the nervous system; it works to boost GABA levels in the brain which in turn lowers brain activity which can also relieve feelings of stress, help you relax and sleep better too. Both can be taken as tinctures, in capsules or made into a herbal tea. However please note, both of these herbs are not recommended for pregnant or nursing women.
I’ve found taking a quality magnesium supplement can help keep anxiety at bay, as well as taking regular baths with magnesium chloride flakes or magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts). Magnesium chloride is the more effective of the two as it is more readily absorbed and utilized in the body than magnesium sulphate. Our Coconut Rose Milk Bath with magnesium chloride flakes is my favourite choice for a long, relaxing soak in the tub.
4. Breathing techniques
This might sound a little odd, but surprisingly the way we breathe can have a direct effect on our levels of anxiety. People in an anxious state will usually take rapid, shallow breaths which is called thoracic (chest) breathing. This type of shallow breathing causes an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body which can result in feelings of dizziness and muscle tension due to blood not being properly oxygenated, and can trigger a bodily stress response that increases feelings of anxiety. When I find myself breathing in this way I take a few minutes to stop and focus on changing to diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing, which requires taking even, deep breaths rather than short and shallow ones. I do this by breathing in slowly and deeply through my nose, feeling my abdomen expand while counting to 4, then exhaling slowly and evenly through my lips as if blowing out a candle while counting to 8. After a few minutes of breathing consciously in this way I will usually feel noticeably more relaxed and grounded.
Other things that may help and can definitely have a positive and uplifting effect on one's mood include:
- Getting outside daily for fresh air and exercise
- Steering clear of negativity both on social media and in entertainment choices - now might not be the best time to watch an edge-of-your seat thriller or a depressing war movie, instead perhaps choose something light hearted and 'feel good'
- Reaching out daily to friends and family in your support circle to remain connected and reduce feelings of isolation
- Spending time either chilling out or exercising with your pets - I know I always feel better after spending a few hours down at the paddock hanging out with my horses in the fresh air
So these are just a few ideas that I’ve personally found helpful in dealing with anxiety, if you’ve tried these things too or found something else that works well I would absolutely love to hear from you in the comments section below.
I hope you all stay safe and well through these trying times x
Disclaimer: This information is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your doctor or healthcare professional before taking any new medication or supplement, especially if pregnant or nursing.