Anxiety is possibly one of the worst things anyone can experience.
Anxiety starts, for me at least, as this jumble of disjointed negative thoughts and a feeling of impending doom, like something just isn’t right in your head and you can’t really explain it. Have you ever seen a crystal form? All it takes is one little crystal “seed” –– the negative thought pattern –– which then grows and grows and grows until it forms a large crystal, the anxiety attack. Most of the time anxiety just comes out of nowhere. You just get this adrenaline rush and you start to focus on the anxious “feeling,” and it seems like you can’t think about anything else. Soon, the anxious thoughts start to affect your physical being. Your palms get sweaty, you feel like you just can’t sit still in your own body; you’re crawling out of your own skin; your heart rate and blood pressure increase, and your breathing gets heavy, labored and shallow. Sometimes it feels hard to take a deep breath, which leads to a type of hyperventilation, which then leads to a dizzy and lightheaded sensation. Nausea and indigestion are soon to follow, and you may even begin gulping air. If it gets really bad, you get these prickly sensations in your limbs, and sometimes your extremities can feel like they’re going numb. If you’ve never experienced an anxiety attack before, you may think you’re having a heart attack. Frankly, it feels like you are going to die.
I remember the time I had my first major “anxiety attack.” When I was an undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara, I was sitting in a seminar class and all of a sudden out of nowhere I started to feel weird and anxious. The feeling was so overwhelming that I actually had to excuse myself from the classroom to collect myself in the hallway. From that point on, I would periodically experience these anxiety attacks for seemingly no reason at all. My anxiety got so bad that I actually made an appointment with student health and visited a doctor on campus. Yet as expected, my doctor wanted to prescribe me an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax or Klonopin; he wasn’t at all interested in what could have been at the root of my anxiety. So as an avid cannabis user at the time, I declined the pharmaceutical route and chose a more natural approach. A major factor behind my reasoning to forego pharmaceuticals for treating my anxiety was that I had a very close friend who was highly addicted to prescription drugs. After being diagnosed with GAD - “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” by his doctor in high school, my good friend now cannot go a single day without taking his prescription or he risks having seizures and hospitalization for withdrawal. His dependence on Xanax has been debilitating for him, and his health has suffered because of his addiction. While I may have chosen the more difficult road, I am grateful that I trusted my intuition.
The underlying cause of anxiety, I believe, is STRESS. The saying, “Stress Kills,” rings very true. Our body reacts to stress just like it reacts to any other pathogen. Did you know that high levels of stress can cause elevated white blood cell count? The human body actually attacks itself when it is under high levels of stress. We produce much more Cortisol and Adrenaline, the stress hormones. When under high amounts of stress, our bodies are always in the “fight or flight” mode, and over a long period of time it can be detrimental to both our physical and mental health.
THE KEY TO MANAGING ANXIETY: 10 TIPS
The key to managing anxiety is getting to the bottom of what is stressing you out. Is it your job? Is it your relationship or your marriage? Is it another relationship? What is causing the stress? Taking pharmaceuticals for anxiety or depression only puts a band-aid on the problem. Here are 10 stress-reducing practices to help reduce stress in your life:
1) Meditation. Find some quiet time way from everyone else and just focus on your breathing. I am actually terrible at meditation, but even if you just do it for 5 minutes a day, you will notice a huge improvement in your mental state.
2) Do yoga or stretch. Breathe in and out, and let it all go. Yoga is actually a form of meditation. Massage is also a great way to relieve stress. Exercise is an excellent way to relieve anxiety as well!
3) Get outdoors and do something in nature. Head to the mountains or the beach. Get grounded. Walk in the grass without shoes on; feel the sand between your toes. Get some fresh air. Nature heals.
4) Do something you love, like a hobby. Dust off your guitar, or get out your art supplies and paint.
5) Gardening. Gardening is an amazing stress-relieving activity. Some describe gardening as a form of meditation. Any time you can think about something else instead of your stress or anxiety, it is a good thing!
6) Talk to a professional. Just talking about your anxiety and your stress can help. Trust me!
7) Get in touch with your emotions. A lot of times, anxiety can be the result of trapped or unexpressed emotions. Scream and cry into a pillow. Yell at the top of your lungs in your car. Just let it out. Don’t bottle it up!
8) Get on some wellness boosting supplements. One of my personal favorites for anxiety and stress-relief is Magnesium. We take a product called “Magnesi-Om” by Moon Juice. It helps with promoting a restful sleep as well.
9) Make sure you’re drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. Dehydration or lack of electrolytes can cause anxiety. It’s your body’s way of telling you something is off!
10) Reduce your intake of alcohol or caffeine. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it can aggravate anxiety and increase cortisol and adrenaline production. If you love the taste of coffee too much, switch to decaf. Or sometimes it’s just nice to take a break from caffeine, but watch out for the caffeine withdrawal! Caffeine withdrawal can actually induce anxiety as well, so it’s best not to go cold turkey.
‘Til this day, I experience some level of anxiety, sometimes even daily. I mean, look at the crazy world we’re living in. We are dealing with the COVID-19, our global economy is on the decline, there is major social unrest around the world, and we are inundated by negative news on the daily. Plus on top of it, I run my own business and there are so many daily stressors. Each day is a different battle. But when I employ some of the methods above, my anxiety is well-controlled and my anxiety attacks are very few and far in between.
Thanks for reading :) We would love if you would comment on some of your favorite ways to de-stress and cope with your anxiety. Take our CBD and it helps? We’d love to hear!