Suffering from anxiety is a common complaint these days, even among children. It could be from the uncertain times we're in, coupled with the use of technology where everything going on in the world is accessible in a moments notice. Anxiety can also be the result of our busy life styles, economic pressure, dietary issues or an inherited trait. The causes appear to vary greatly, and for many people, the cause remains a mystery.
My father has suffered from anxiety, and for brief times, I have too. The information I'm sharing with you comes purely from my experiences and what I've learned a long the way.
The causes for anxiety that I'm familiar with are the following:
1 - Stress. When we experience continual stress, our adrenal glands get thrown out of whack. One of the main functions of adrenal glands is to produce adrenalin, giving us bursts of energy for fight or flight situations. Ongoing stress can lead us into a slow state of trauma where our adrenals get stressed. Anything from financial stress to relationship discord can over time put us in a situation where our adrenals are stressed and begin releasing adrenalin. This is the onset of anxiety, when adrenalin begins to course through our veins and we feel anxious, nervous and afraid.
2 - Trauma. I remember reading Peter Levine's book, Waking the Tiger. It was about healing trauma. He told a story about how when an animal in the wild gets captured by a predator and is able to get a way(fight or flight), once it's safe, the animal's body will shudder and shake to release the adrenaline and the pent up energy of fear and trauma. This natural response puts the animal back into balance.
We don't do this. Perhaps it's because we're too domesticated and we tend to follow a standard protocol that may involve talk therapy or often times, nothing at all. The trauma stays in our bodies and wreaks havoc on our health over time.
The trauma may be from a past event, or from an ongoing situation where you don't feel safe. The emotions that accompany the trauma get lodged in our bodies until there's a time in our life where we feel safe enough to express our emotions.
This dynamic is extremely stressful for our adrenals, and the lack of feeling safe alerts our adrenals to release adrenalin.
3 - Lack of Sleep. A lack of sleep can stress out our adrenals if it's an ongoing issue. This is tricky, because when our adrenals are stressed, our quality of sleep is effected. And if our quality of sleep declines, it can stress our adrenals. It's kind of like which comes first, the chicken or the egg.
I know there are a number of other reasons for people to have anxiety, but these are the few that I've dealt with successfully, and here's how:
My father was being treated by his doctor, but not finding any relief. He found comfort in a book that described the physiological process of anxiety. Understanding the role of the adrenal glands gave him some comfort, but nevertheless, he was still suffering from anxiety.
Until I showed him how to make oat straw infusions.
Oat straw and oats in general are very mild and have a relaxing effect. It is excellent for calming nerves and restoring adrenal glands. I showed him how to make an infusion by putting two large handfuls of dried oat straw(you can order in bulk from Amazon), into a really large mason jar, filling with boiling water, covering and let sit for 4 hours or more. Then strain the mixture and store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. He drank a few small cupfuls a day, throughout the day. It's not a sedative, so it isn't necessary to drink right before bedtime. Instead, drink small cups throughout the day, everyday. He said he felt better in just a week and continued with the oat straw infusions for about 4 months. I told him to continue with the oat straw until it no longer was appealing. This is always a sure sign your body no longer needs the herb.
I had suggested oat straw because I had personally used it with great success. Several years ago, I was working hard managing Hawk Circle while also managing the rest of the family's schedule. I got to a point where I felt like I had endless amounts of energy and I used the energy everyday to work harder and harder. And then I realized, I had tons of energy because I had adrenaline coursing through my body, in fact it might even have been cortisol. This was not good. I started making oat straw infusions, knowing that my adrenals were stressed from all the work I was doing over a long period of time. I continued with the infusions for about 6 months. Along with giving myself a much needed break, I quickly felt so much better.
Years later, when I approached menopause, I started waking in the night, startled. And overall, the quality of my sleep was declining - a lot of tossing and turning. My day to day activities were pretty balanced so instead, treated this situation differently. It felt more like unresolved emotions or trauma. The next time I woke suddenly in the middle of the night, I stayed present with the feeling. I was able to identify it as loss. I remembered back to when my daughter was born and was rushed to another hospital because of inhaling meconium during delivery. I went cold for fear I was going to lose her. I had never dealt with that moment of trauma and fear. I re-imagined her birth as being peaceful and beautiful and felt the energy of trauma leave my body. I stopped waking up suddenly in the middle of the night.
I've had other times since where I've felt anxiety. My heart races and I often feel I've drank something with caffeine. Most often, it signals to me that I have unresolved emotions surfacing. I "walk with awareness" over the next several days and if I feel any sign of emotion rising, I give myself the time and space to let it out. It's so easy to disregard our feelings and not take the time to stop and really lean into our rising emotions. But we must, because otherwise, the stuck energy will bring about anxiety.
Another excellent way to alleviate anxiety is by going outdoors. Walking through the woods, lying down on the ground, and walking barefoot help you to feel grounded, which counteracts fear that accompanies anxiety. Forest bathing has become a popular stress reliever and it's something that Ricardo and I have always done before it became a thing. If I begin to feel anxiety, especially during the winter, I usually can relate it to too much time indoors and not enough nature. Going hiking, lying in a snowbank or just walking down our road as much as I can relieves any feeling of anxiety.
I still have oat straw infusions now and then just to support my adrenals. Rubbing our lower backs, kidney area, with jojoba oil infused with fresh ginger or ginger essential oil is helpful also. I also buy unscented skin lotion and add my own fragrance. There are many fragrances that are grounding and relaxing. Find the one that works for you and apply it daily.
I hope some of my suggestions help you. Remember, the path to healing and wellness is about bringing what's out of balance back to balance and there are many ways to do this. Don't settle for just one way, try many to give you the support you deserve!