You’ve heard the usual combatants for stress, exercise, taking a walk or a hot bath. But this year has been taking a toll more than ever, and unprecedented stressors in our lives call for new approaches to melt away the daily worries and possible anxiety. Here are some ways to help combat anxiety during a time of mental health care and awareness.
Mindful Breathing Exercises
This past year, with such a collective upheaval of normality, we’ve really seen the taboo around talking about mental health and anxiety begin to dissipate. With people becoming more attuned and accepting of their mental states, the need to address this problem is being reflected in consumer demands and behavior. More and more, people are discovering ways to manage worry and stress in their daily lives rather than letting it disrupt productivity and happiness. Two easy fixes that require nothing but your own body are breathing exercises and meditation.
The compounded stresses and worrying in our complicated lives puts a strain on our nervous system, with natural stress responses having harmful effects on the body’s normal processes, especially breathing. Anxiety often causes shortness of breath that can amplify the negative feelings and even lead to a panic attack. Additionally, people can suffer from tightness in the chest and shallow breathing, but something as simple as controlling your breathing could be a solution. The way we breathe has a profound effect on our overall well-being and how we feel and react to the world around us, more than many realize. Stressed breathing can cause an imbalance in oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange, which can change the way your body reacts to stressors, resulting in possible panic attacks.
Fortunately, controlled breathing can counteract anxiety and reduce its severity. Being conscious of your breath and monitoring it calmly and mindfully can slow down heart rate and facilitate a calmer state. Essentially, if you make your body work in a normal, relaxed way, it will trick your mind into following suit. Controlled breathing shifts the focus from the illusion of panic to your purposeful breathing, occupying the mind.
The key to this is simply counting as you breathe, measuring inhales and exhales in a uniform fashion, slowly extending the counts as you calm down. Sit in a comfortable environment, relax the body and face, and inhale for 3 seconds, hold the breath for 3 seconds, and exhale for 4 seconds.
To implement this breathing practice, sit somewhere comfortable where you are able to feel fully relaxed. Then, close your eyes and try to relax your mouth. Inhale for a full two to three seconds and hold your breath for two seconds. You will then exhale for a count of four seconds.
You can begin to work your way up to higher counts on both your inhale or exhale as you become accustomed to the technique. By doing this, you will be able to trick your body and mind into a complete state of relaxation, fighting off or preventing any possible anxiety or panic attacks.
These exercises can be easily paired with and strengthened by the use of essential oils.
Specific Stress Melting Ingredients
There are a few natural remedies that have been used for centuries for their calming properties.
An amino acid found in tea leaves, L-theanine promotes a feeling of focused calm without drowsiness, it is thought to reduce blood pressure and relieve stress, an anxiolytic that works to specifically reduce anxiety. It’s been described as inducing a state of “wakeful relaxation” through enhancing alpha brain waves.
Chamomile has been used for thousands of years to help people relax, improve sleep and settle upset stomachs. Passionflower also is thought to boost GABA in the brain to relieve anxiety, valerian root also affects GABA receptors to have the same effect, and is also thought to relieve headaches.Essential oils are awesome for combatting anxiety, with lavender being by far one of the best. It’s known to be one of the most effective remedies for stress, the perfect natural solution for relaxation. It’s also known for providing pain relief, especially from migraines.