We’ve all been there. Sweaty palms, shortness of breath, heart palpitations — Everybody’s anxiety takes a different form and comes with a set of symptoms that is unique to each individual. However, there is one thing that anxiety-ridden people can all agree on: It is uncomfortable.
Anxiety is kindred to fear. Our brains natural response to danger is to release hormones such as norepinephrine, adrenaline, and cortisol throughout our system, to set us up for fight or flight mode.
These hormones help us shift blood to our muscles, give us a surge in energy, and help us shut down functions that are unrequired at the time, such as the immune system. (This explains why stressed out people are frequently sick.)
Our fight or flight response is meant to be brief and only existent until the danger disappears.
However, the enhancement of circulation, speed, and reflexes becomes anything but helpful when we experience anxiety with no present life-threatening danger.
Our modern lives are stressful. From kids to relationships to money to responsibilities and pressure — There is a lot going on. And it’s okay to admit that you need a breather. In fact, you owe yourself one.
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If you’re not already familiar with kava, it is definitely time to get acquainted. A plant which has traditionally been used as a ceremonial drink and herbal remedy by natives of Fiji, Samoa, and Hawaii for over 3000 years; has now grasped the attention of the world. Kava promotes quick relaxation and can help ease symptoms of anxiety, stress, restlessness, and insomnia. In fact, research has shown that kava may be as effective as prescription anti-anxiety medications.
The kava I have linked in the heading above is the waka variety — the lateral root of the plant. This form of kava is much more potent than its counterpart, lawena — the base of the stem. If you have a milder form of anxiety or you seem to be sensitive to supplements, you may benefit from lawena, as it produces a gentler result.
Oh, and heads up: It tastes terrible.
Let me give you the low down, friend. When you’re stressed, your body uses up your magnesium reserves. And in turn, your magnesium lowers more, thus making you more anxious and more stressed. Your body then creates stress hormones that cause different physical ailments, which will also consume the magnesium you have stored in your system.
So, if you’re in a constant state of uneasiness, panic, or fear — magnesium may be able to help you.
Magnesium actually filters out the release of cortisol (your stress hormone) and prevents it from entering your brain. Magnesium is also in charge of 300 different enzyme systems in your body. Therefore, if you’re receiving enough magnesium, those 300+ functions will make your entire body feel much more relaxed and feel much healthier as well.
Don’t roll your eyes. I can see you rolling your eyes! Yes, I know somebody telling you to work out doesn’t exactly excite you or induce motivation. And… I know you’ve probably heard it a million times before. But just hear me out.
Our bodies are meant to move. When you’re inactive, energy gets pent up in our cells. This energy includes the anger, the frustrations, and the fears we experience in our day-to-day lives. These emotions stay within us and have no outlet, thus, the tension begins to build within our bodies.
Exercise also tires you out, which results in you having a better night’s sleep. Getting a healthy amount of zZz’s is essential for managing stress levels and relieving psychological strain.
4. Shinrin-yoku (Forest bath)
Shinrin-yoko translates into ‘forest bathing’ or ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’.
Forest bathing is the art of immersing yourself in a forest and reconnecting self with nature.
The essential oils found in plants and wood release aromatic chemicals that open our airways and improves our immune system functions.
It has been proven that forest bathing reduces stress, improves our mood, accelerates recovery from illnesses, increases our energy levels, reduces blood pressure, and increases our ability to focus.
Take a gentle walk for 30 minutes and I promise you, you will feel a difference in your spirit.
Ashwagandha is a medicinal Indian herb that has been used since ancient times for a multitude of different conditions; ranging from strengthening the immune system, stabilizing blood sugar, balancing thyroid hormones, and has even been applied to the skin to treat wounds and backaches.
The great news for stressed out people is that ashwagandha is also an adaptogen. Adaptogens are a natural substance that help the body adapt to stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning.
Ashwagandha can significantly lower cortisol (our stress hormone) and help us reduce our perception to stress.