Anxiety. We hear it everywhere. It’s almost trendy. #butitsucks
I’ve struggled with a pretty serious anxiety disorder since I was a baby. I mean, I have my first memory of it affecting my life when I was maybe 4, but my mother assures me that it has always been there. I used to go to this super cute tap class when I was little. All of the little girls had to go to the front of the room with the big mirror, and do all of the steps. And at the end of class, we all got to pick out a lollipop. Well, I don’t like being in situations where people are looking at me. So I would dance at the back of the room, beside my mom, but still learning, still doing the steps. The teachers didn’t like this so they made a rule that only girls who stood up front in class could choose a PINK lollipop. WTF
And so started the thought process that something was wrong with me, and I had to hide it from people so that I wouldn’t be punished. I had to hide what I was feeling, and just act normal.
Fast forward through the rest of my life, getting physically sick before school everyday from anxiousness- but still not even knowing what anxiety is. I had no idea what was wrong with me. Eventually I think everyone assumed I was faking it. (I still get nauseous when I think about our old middle school ugh.)
In my early 20s I finally knew what anxiety was, and I decided to do something about mine. So I went on medication. The first day I took it, I ran into a parked car on my way to work and kept driving. I continued to make terrible decisions, like, big life changing decisions, while on this medication (the warning labels actually tell you not to decide anything important while under its influence.) I also remember the constant feeling of being ‘stupider’, my mind being cloudy, I even felt like I could feel my memory slipping away. Even so, I did feel better for a little while, anxiety wise- they were ‘working’, until they weren’t. And then they were just making me feel worse than I did to begin with.
When I decided to take myself off of the medication, I started doing research on how to slowly wean myself off, and this is when I started figuring out how scary these pills were. I was coming across stories of people who had such strange side effects. One lady had perfect vision her entire life, and when she was medicated she needed glasses all of a sudden. When she stopped taking the medicine, her vision came back. This just creeped me out so much. What are we actually doing to our brains? The answer is that we have no idea. Anti depressants and Anti anxiety meds have not even been around long enough to know what the long term side effects are. I was only on them for a little over a year, it was almost a decade ago, and my memory has still never been the same.
In the years since, I have developed an obsession with natural healing. There are so many things you can do to treat your symptoms without the crazy side effects. And these keep working, without making you worse. 🙌
I have done a lot of trial and error, and since everyone is different, the exact things that work for me may not work for you. But trust me when I say, the trial and error is worth it. You are taking the steps to feeling better, and taking steps is the only way to get anywhere.
No, I haven’t been on a diet for the last decade. But I am aware of what makes me feel good and what makes me feel worse. Diet drinks, anything with aspartame or sucralose- NONONO. Artificial sweeteners mess with your brain much in the same way that prescription medications do. Just say no. On the other hand, a handful of cashews a day actually work better than a dose of prozac. Eating fruits and veggies for a day instead of anything processed is a good way to reboot when you’re feeling a little upset. I recently went from just not eating meat to being entirely plant based and I’ve never felt better. Paying attention to little facts like this and eating the things that make you feel good is a great place to start.
There is a great documentary called Food Matters on Netflix (sometimes they take it off but you can find all the Netflix docs on YouTube). This movie was one of the catalysts for changing my life to a more natural healthy lifestyle. It talks extensively about vitamin therapy and how many things it can help and cure. Since this movie, I take huge amounts of Vitamin C daily, Vitamin D in a liquid form (and spend time in the sun!) and I now have a love for Niacin. Niacin is really just vitamin B3, and it is WONDERFUL for anxiety. It takes awhile to get used to the flushing effect it can have on your body, but just be aware of it and start with smaller doses. This is definitely what has given me the most relief over the years.
Herbs & Supplements
Other things I like to take for my symptoms are
Passion Flower- A natural sedative that some people take at bedtime to help them sleep. I take it in the morning to keep me calm throughout the day.
Cacao (Raw Cocoa)- Not only a super food, but also a mood booster! Studies have shown that after taking doses for 30 days subjects were significantly calmer and more content.
5 HTP- An amino acid that your body naturally manufactures. It converts into serotonin in your brain, which is the feel good chemical that many of us are deficient in. It also helps overall nervous system health.
Valerian Root- I only take this at night when I need some extra help falling asleep. It works really really well.
There are many many things I’ve tried over the years, and this is just the combination I’m currently using. Like I said, everyone is different and you may respond better to other things. It really is a trial and error experiment that might take some time. But it is so worth it to figure out what will work for you. Here are some other great options to try
St Johns Wort
My go to place for getting vitamins and supplements is luckyvitamin.com but some of these things are even at drugstores if you look hard enough.
We all know that exercise releases endorphins and makes you feel great. But for anxious people, I really feel that making your body tired helps tire your mind as well. It’s also just great to get moving and get the oxygen flowing. When your body feels really good, your mind feels better too. I do a lot of yoga every day but also walk as much as possible. When I’m going through a really rough time, I’ll supplement with other workouts and it has really really helped me.
Getting enough rest, relaxation, and alone time
This is easier said than done sometimes, I know. But we waste so much time that we aren’t even aware of sometimes by just scrolling away online or mindlessly watching whatever is on tv. What if you took that time to be mindful and quiet your mind instead? Worth a try?
I’m the first to admit I can be a total hippie sometimes. But I’m ok with that. I totally believe in the healing calming magical powers of crystals or gemstones and I have them everywhere. Sleeping with them under my pillow, keeping them in my pocket or bra throughout the day, wearing them, it all works. These days you can find any information and any product online. You can even find etsy shops that make cute little pre made packages of stones especially for anxiety. Or just throw on a bracelet and let it do its thing. Here are some companies I have used and love.
All of these things are like my little tricks for getting through life for myself, but I think the biggest thing I have learned is to avoid things, people and places that trigger me. I won’t go into certain stores if I’m by myself because I don’t like the vibe, there’s too much energy going on around me. Is this weird? Sure. But I listen to what I’m feeling instead of forcing myself to go in, getting into a situation where I feel like I’m going to lose my shit, and then feeling down on myself all week for being so broken. So I go somewhere else.
I really hate being in small spaces with crowds of people. So I rarely go to concerts or certain bars. Negative people who are always complaining and gossiping really exhaust my energy, so I avoid engaging with them. We all have our own things that get to us, my advice is to get to know yours, listen to your body, and treat yourself better. It will feel great, I promise! ❤