GUIDE ::: TAMING ANXIETY
“We can be sure that the greatest hope for maintaining equilibrium in the face of any situation rests within ourselves.” – Francis J. Braceland
I am over the moon about this post as it's a joint post with the talented Caitlin Cooper of Caitlin Inspires. Caitlin is a Integrative Nutrition + Health Coach who specializes in chronic inflammation + pain management. And I am a Holistic Nutrition Healing + Detox Specialist, Massage Therapist, + Reiki Healer. Between the two of us, we've been on very intensive healing journeys and have both consequently suffered at the claws of anxiety. So we decided to collaborate on this Anti-Anxiety Handbook to introduce you to some really simple but super effective tools to help infuse a little more calm, stability, and peace into your daily lives.
Anxiety....it is just a beast.
Anxiety sinks in, little by little, twisting us up. It can be a drug for some – making us think we are sharper when we are wound up. But around this time of year, when everything builds up, internally and externally we truly realize - anxiety is our enemy. I’m sure you can think of a least a few reasons why this is true from your own life.
I have personally been coping with debilitating anxiety for what I now realize has been much of my adult life, which worsened since losing my mother to lung cancer and then healing from excruciating Late Stage Lyme Disease. Caitlin’s battle with anxiety has lasted most of her adult life as well, but has been exacerbated over the last 4+ years due to hormonal imbalances with severe endometriosis, healing from painful spinal surgeries, and the aftermath of nerve damage which causes her nerves to fire randomly creating sharp pain and feelings of inner chaos. With any intensive healing journey, the anxiety roller coaster can be non-stop. But even if you are not going through a healing journey, life is crazy stressful, especially during the holiday season when so many emotions can be heightened, anxiety can just take over.
We want to beat it. We want to be that calm, cool, and collected person unaffected by the craziness around us at the mall, or on the highway, or in whatever stressful situation you find yourself in this holiday season.
To be a true ANTI-ANXIETY WARRIOR, we must overcome 3 root causes...
1) Poor nutrition (I’ll just eat that Cinnabon in the mall)
2) Internal stressors (no one will like my presents, I failed)
3) External stressors (that crazy person riding your bumper on the highway)
Right now, in the most stressful season of the year, you want emergency solutions. Through both of our extensive research and experimentation, our ensuing routines and tool kits have expanded to include some pretty powerful tamers. Stress will always be a part of daily life. This we know. But having some solid daily self care routines in place can have such profound grounding and rooting effects that can really help to keep anxiety at bay. Our guide will help you overcome your anxiety short-term. However, to make lasting changes in your body and become a powerful Anti-Anxiety Warrior we recommend dedicated work with a health coach like Caitlin or myself.
Three of our daily protocols are completely FREE and those include BREATHWORK, EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE, and AROMATHERAPY. These tools are really quick and easy ways to stop an attack in its tracks. Imagine you are heading out to the mall to buy those last minute gifts. You steel yourself up for the experience, knowing anxiety will come. You can feel it building.
It’s a vicious cycle. STOP THE CYCLE.
1. A SIMPLE BREATHWORK ROUTINE FOR A CALM MIND
Alternate Nostril Breathing, or Nadi Sodhana
(Purification of Nadis or Channels)
The exercise produces optimum function + balance to both sides of the brain: that is optimum creativity and optimum logical verbal activity. The yogis consider this to be the best technique to calm the mind and the nervous system.
- With finger holding right nostril close, breathe in on the left
- Transfer finger to alternate nostril, exhale breath on the right
- Inhale deeply on the right, close right nostril, and exhale on the left
- Inhale deeply on left, close left nostril, and exhale on right
- Repeat 10 times each side for a total of 5 rounds
2. EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE TO CALM PEAK ANXIETY
You just finished your trip. Maybe someone was particularly rude. Maybe you couldn’t get what you needed and it feels like a disaster. Whatever situation caused this peak anxiety, you need a tool to center yourself and regain control. We practice EFT paired with deep belly breathing to weather these strong attacks. Try this therapy when you have a quiet moment to reflect.
Use the fingertips of your index finger and middle finger of one hand to tap firmly but not too hard on one, some, or all of the following places while breathing deeply from my belly. Recite a positive mantra while you do.
Caitlin's mantra usually sounds something like this: “I control my thoughts, anxiety passes through me. Power stays with me." Mine is "I am love, beauty, compassion, magic + joy." There's no room for anxiety in that!
1. Top of the Head (TH)
With two hands and fingers back-to-back tap down the center of the skull.
2. Eyebrow (EB)
Using two hands tap just above and to one side of the nose, at the beginning of the eyebrow.
3. Side of the Eye (SE)
Using two hands tap on the bone bordering the outside corner of the eye.
4. Under the Eye (UE)
Using two hands tap on the bone under an eye about 1 inch below your pupil.
5. Under the Nose (UN)
Using one hand tap on the small area between the bottom of your nose and the top of your upper lip.
6. Chin (Ch)
Using one hand tap midway between the point of your chin and the bottom of your lower lip. Even though it is not directly on the point of the chin, we call it the chin point because it is descriptive enough for people to understand easily.
7. Collar Bone (CB)
Using one or two hands tap the junction where the sternum (breastbone), collarbone and the first rib meet. This is a very important point and in acupuncture is referred to as K (kidney) 27. To locate it, first place your forefinger on the U-shaped notch at the top of the breastbone (about where a man would knot his tie). From the bottom of the U, move your forefinger down toward the navel 1 inch and then go to the left (or right) 1 inch. This point is referred to as CollarBone even though it is not on the collarbone (or clavicle) per se.
Aromatherapy is one of my absolutely favorite go-to's to quell an impending attack, to lift the spirits + redirect focus. I have bottles of rosewater spray that I've added drops of my favorite essential oils such as Geranium, Lemon, Orange, + Pine stashed everywhere: by my bedside, in my car, by my blender, in my purse. I'll spray these multiple times a day around my aura and space and do my breathwork routine along with it or simply take 10 very deep breaths. Sometimes I'll even just rub some Lemon Essential Oil on the inside of my nostrils, so I breath that in for a while. It shifts the focus, uplifts your spirit, unclouds your brain, and gently brings you to the present moment.
Our other incredibly effective protocols include using SUPPORTIVE TEAS, FLOWER ESSENCES, L-THEANINE, SOOTHING ADAPTOGENIC TONIC HERBS and using NUTRITION and our CALMING + GROUNDING RECIPES to set your body up for success.
4. SUPPORTIVE TEAS TO SIP THROUGHOUT THE DAY
Caitlin and I love Passionflower and Holy Basil, both a must to have on hand to help with stress and she also prefers Lemongrass. In addition, she suggests soaking goji & schisandra berries in hot water and drinking that throughout the day. For days that find her a bit more gloomy, she loves Kava Kava. I personally adore all things Rose and love to sip on Rose tea year round, which can help alleviate depression + fatigue.
5. FLOWER ESSENCES
It has become my belief that the answers to all healing for mind, body + spirit can be found in nature. Flower remedies are powerful, but subtle at the same time. They penetrate deep into the body, mind + spirit, but in a gentle way. They heal, but support while doing so.
I was introduced to the Bach Flower Essence line many years ago and have been using them on and off since. One that has remained as my go to savior over the past 5-6 years has been their RESCUE REMEDY, which has helped me immensely to manage my intense stress and anxiety issues. And lately I've been using a combination (they can and are meant to be used together) to help guide me through my healing roller coaster.
BUT IT'S JUST SO SUBTLE. One day you wake and realize, "huh, that feeling of deep worry and drowning fear that was all-consuming yesterday isn't with me today. My thoughts feel more manageable and are not spinning around like they were. My head doesn't feel quite so full of scary shit. I feel calm, and wow, do I feel content? I'm not sure I've ever felt that before. It is quite a powerful thing to feel!"
WHAT ARE THEY | There are 38 remedies in all, each with its own healing power. "The original Bach Flower Remedies is a safe and natural method of healing discovered by Dr. Bach in the 1920-30th in England. They gently restore the balance between mind and body by casting out negative emotions, such as, fear, worry, hatred and indecision which interfere with the equilibrium of the being as a whole. The Bach Flower Remedies allow peace and happiness to return to the sufferer so that the body is free to heal itself. The Bach Flower Remedies are made from wild flowers and are safe for the whole family including pets.
The remedies are preserved in grape based brandy and are gluten free."
HOW ARE THEY MADE | "The Bach Flower Remedies are made 100% naturally from spring water infused with wild flowers, either by the sun-steeped method or by boiling. The Remedies are hand produced exclusively in England. They contain 27% grape based brandy as a preservative. Or the alcohol free versions are preserved in glycerin made from sunflowers."
HOW DO THEY WORK | "The Bach Flower Remedies are a safe and natural method of healing. They gently restore the balance between mind and body by casting out negative emotions, such as, fear, worry, hatred and indecision which interfere with the equilibrium of the being as a whole. The Remedies allow peace and happiness to return to the sufferer so that the body is free to heal itself."
My favorite combination of essences is RESCUE REMEDY (this is just one of many, so be sure to take a look at all 38 of the remedies HERE.)
Dr. Bach created an emergency combination of Remedies which he called Rescue Remedy. It contains five different Remedies: Star of Bethlehem, Clematis, Impatiens, Cherry Plum and Rock Rose. Rescue Remedy is worth carrying with you in case of emergencies or everyday stress. Rescue Remedy helps you go through difficult situations, stressful events, and an exam or job interview in a calm and relaxed matter.
6. ARM YOURSELF WITH L-THEANINE
This supplement, sometimes referred to as “Herbal Zanax”, comes from an active ingredient in green tea. Take this herbal remedy during high-anxiety situations and feel much more relaxed. L-Theanine reduces anxiety by increasing GABA levels in the brain. GABA, a neurotransmitter, helps regulate brain activity by slowing down the firing of the neurons. Many other popular modalities of anxiety relief like alcohol, cannabis, and some sedatives get their effect from boosting GABA in your brain. Taking GABA on its own would be seem the obvious solution, but GABA is inconsistent with breaking the brain/blood barrier and can be ineffective for many.
WHY L-THEANINE? | People who are prone to anxiety tend to naturally have more beta wave activity (beta waves are associated with alertness ), and less alpha wave activity (alpha waves are associated with a more restful, relaxed state). There are some studies* showing that L-Theanine increases alpha waves and therefore reduces anxiety.
Insider Tip on L-Theanine: For an extra anti-anxiety boost, Caitlin pairs her L-Theanine with other balancing adaptogenic herbs. Her favorite anxiety cocktail for daytime use is 400mg of L-Theanine, a ¼-1/2 teaspoon of Ashwaganda, and one pill of Rhodiola for a smooth and powerful focus.
Be Advised: Rhodiola fights fatigue, so if it’s closer to bedtime avoid taking it.
7. CALMING + SOOTHING TONIC RECIPE
I concocted this soothing warm beverage with my favorite supportive, calming, tonifying adaptogenic powders.
12oz raw Cashew Mylk or your favorite substitute
1/2t Ashwaganda (harmonizes the mind, body, + spirit)
1t Macuna Pruriens (soothes the nervous system, elevates mood)
pinch of nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon
pinch Himalayan salt
warm very slightly | breathe in | breathe out | savor
8. CAITLIN'S GROUNDING BEET BURGERS
Make these delicious Beet Burgers with Avocado Sauce to set your body up for success. The beets ground your energy and help reduce feelings of anxiety. The fat from the avocado satiates you and keeps your mind sharp. This meal lays the groundwork for your anxiety free trip by giving your body just what it needs and is perfect for leftover cooked quinoa and roasted veggies. Caitlin uses beets because of the effect they have on grounding our energy. Feel free to substitute with any other root vegetable combination.
1 cup roasted beets cooled to room temperature (see notes for instructions)
1 cup cooked quinoa cooled to room temperature
1 onion sautéed until soft or just roasted along side the beets
3 Tbl Flaxseed Meal
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Korean chili flakes
1 tbl Lemon Juice
Zest of 1 lemon
½ tsp Pink Salt
15 sprigs basil or ¼ cup firmly packed
1 tbl lemon juice
2 Tbl Olive Oil
¼ tsp pink salt or to taste
10 turns freshly ground pepper
Butter Lettuce Leaves
Raw Veggies Sliced Paper Thin (carrots, zucchini, tomatoes
FOR THE BURGERS
In the work bowl of a food processor add the cooled beets, the cooled onions, egg, and lemon juice and process until a smooth mixture is formed.
Transfer the beet mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Form into small burgers about the size of your palm. (they fit better inside lettuce wraps when they are smaller) and set aside on a plate.
Heat a skillet up with 1-2 tbl of macadamia or coconut oil over medium high heat.
Add the burgers to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
Transfer the burgers to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes each side.
FOR THE SAUCE
Remove the pit of the avocado, scoop the flesh out of the shell and add it to your food processor or blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blend/process until smooth.
Allow to cool and add one or two inside a big lettuce leap, smear with some avocado sauce and stuff as many veggies as you can to create this lip smacking, energy grounding, nourishing burger feast.
To Roast Beets and Onions – Wearing gloves to avoid staining your hands, peel the beets and remove the outer layers of the onion. Chop into similar size pieces and toss with melted ghee, macadamia oil, coconut oil or another oil that stands up to high heat. Roast on a sheet pan for 20 minutes in a 400F oven, toss and cook for another 10-15 until softened and starting to gain color.