It is estimated that Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million adults in the United States. That is a HUGE number! The terms stress and anxiety are sometimes used interchangeably, but in actuality they are related. Similar to how a sunburn is related to a 3rd degree chemical burn. One is much more severe than the other.
We live in a go-go-go world. Stopping, resting, re-generating are usually frowned upon. We are fed negativity in multiple doses and avenues. We have timelines and agendas for everything. If we want to relax, we basically need to schedule a time to do so on our Google Calendars. This is the reality in which we live.
The problem is, our Nervous Systems are always on high-alert. We basically are running on overdrive at all times (and when we are getting close to being empty, we make a race to the local coffee shop for a boost to get us “over the hump). We are secreting stress hormones ALL DAY LONG. Is it any wonder our minds are jittery, excited and can’t let go?!
I’m not trying to minimize the problem, or to lessen the severe impact that Anxiety has, I am just trying to recognize it’s effect and look to ways we can step inside and work on the other side of the spectrum. Think of it as a teeter-totter in our mind/souls/hearts. Right now we are mostly all overloaded on the stress side of things. Not all stress is bad, stress is needed for growth to occur. But the other side, the relaxation, the calm, the just-being-there side is empty. Not too fun to teeter-totter when the guy on one side weighs a ton and you clock in at 180lbs…
So what can we do to help “balance the scales?” The stress is going nowhere… life is only speeding up and we aren’t going to be able to slow that turn ourselves. But we can do things to carve out some time to give our brains and our bodies some time to decompress, to relax, to chill out:
Drink some Chamomile tea (instead of your 4th venti double caff latte with a twist of another espresso). Studies show that Chamomile tea (and other herbal teas like Lavender) have a calming effect on our minds and our Nervous Systems.
Go for an Omega-3 rather than a Mega Coke (have you noticed how restaurants are charging the same for a small soft drink and a super large 64 ounce one? What is that about anyway?!?). Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil, wild caught fish (vs farm raised, read the label on the packages before you buy), flax seed and sea vegetables. Omega 3s have been shown to have HUGE positive health benefits, one of which is calming the Nervous System.
Mediate instead of Ruminate. When things are flying around in your head (did I do the laundry, when is that book due, is Jimmy’s field trip today, what is the square root of the total weight of a gaggle of geese), that is a large sign that you need to concentrate on concentrating on nothing, at least for a few minutes. You don’t need to wear yoga pants or sit on a fancy cushion and chant in order to meditate. Find a comfy, quiet space, listen to some relaxing music, don’t listen to anything at all, just stare at a candle, whatever it takes to actively disconnect from everything for a while, even if it is just for a few minutes. You can even “meditate” in your office chair for a few minutes: try box breathing: breathe in slowly for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4, hold for a count of four. Repeat. You own your mind, not the other way around, so from time to time you have to give it a mandatory break.
Get adjusted! Chiropractic helps normalize the nervous system. Chiropractic is actually about removing interference to the normal nerve flow in your body. Sometimes that interference shows up as pain, many times it shows up in other ways. Your chiropractor can help you handle life’s stresses without your internal wiring getting stuck on excess. Additionally, there are acupuncture points that help your body reduce anxiety 🙂
Sleep. Studies show a 20 minute nap in the middle of the day is good for your entire well-being. It’s not being lazy, it’s actually powering you up for your afternoon so you don’t slog through the last few hours.
Eat some blueberries or peaches or both :). Both of these yummy fruits have been shown to reduce stress and cortisol (stress hormone) levels!
The point is, stress isn’t going anywhere, we need to arm ourselves with ways to fight back and allow our minds to process, produce and promote peace 🙂
Joel Lindeman DC