First posted February 2017
Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday. ~Author Unknown
Most people use the term “stressed out” as an umbrella explanation for what is going on with them. What may be causing some of the confusion is that while stress & anxiety share similar symptoms, the causes are very different.
“Psychology Today” defines stress as, “Simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium.” According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, “Anxiety is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. The fear of the unknown & the uncontrolled situations in life & and the worry about how to handle it.”
What Causes Anxiety?
It has long been thought that brain chemistry, heredity, and environment may contribute to causing anxiety and anxiety disorders like Panic Attacks, OCD, and PTSD.
Brain Chemistry: Because symptoms of anxiety tend to be helped by medication, experts have long believed that brain chemistry may play a part in triggering anxiety. There are also contradictory studies that state that this is not the case. These findings definitely need more research.
Heredity and/or Genetics: While there is evidence that anxiety runs in families, research is showing that it is because of the handed down behavior and thought processes rather than the genetics themselves that is causing anxiety. Children often witness the ongoing anxious behavior of their parents, which they learn to model.
Environment: There are findings that suggest that people who come from challenging backgrounds are more likely struggle with anxiety. Poverty, as well as traumatic events like abuse, the death of a family member, witnessing violent events, or natural disasters, can trigger anxiety. More research and resources are definitely needed.
If you have anxiety you will find that in your everyday life, anxiety tends to ebb and flow. Some days you are doing ok, some days you are doing really well, and then you get triggered by a person or an event and your anxiety is back… sometimes a little or sometimes a lot. Managing your anxiety, for most people is an ongoing process. Don’t be hard on yourself because you think that you can’t keep it together. Being angry at yourself actually, makes your anxiety worse. In times of stress and anxiety, we tend to revert to familiar behaviors; so, try to come up with strategies that will help you to manage your anxiety, as well as get you through your more challenging days.
Some strategies you can use are:
IGNORE YOUR INNER CRITIC. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend. You don’t have to be perfect. You make allowances for everyone else in your life to make mistakes; everyone except yourself.
MINDFULNESS or be in the moment. “Pay attention to paying attention.” (I Love this!!!) You don’t have to plan and control every moment of your life.
DON’T FIGHT YOUR ANXIETY. Just quietly acknowledge to yourself that yes, I am feeling really anxious, and keep breathing through it. Sounds simplistic, I know. Worrying that you are anxious will only increase your anxiety. Just breathe… slowly if you can. Awareness, not judgment.
SLEEP NEEDS TO BE A PRIORITY. When you are tired, it is harder to cope with your anxiety. Find ways to get more rest.
DIET AND EXERCISE ARE IMPORTANT. Eat a well-balanced diet, be sure to drink enough water to keep hydrated and do what you can to get active. Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption as they can disturb your sleep, and may even make some people more anxious.
SELF-CARE IS ALSO A PRIORITY. it needs to be an essential part of your day. It may be time alone to journal, getting a massage or going for a walk.
ESSENTIAL OILS CAN BE HELPFUL FOR ANXIETY. The sense of smell is the only one of the five senses that is linked directly to the limbic part of the brain which is responsible for our basic emotions as well as how our body responds to stress. Essential Oils have many different properties, some are calming like Neroli, Frankincense, Bergamot, Clary Sage, Cedarwood, Sweet Marjoram, and of course the ever popular Lavender. Some uplifting or balancing essential oils to consider are Sweet Basil, Lemongrass, Geranium, Pine, Spearmint, Grapefruit, or Lemon.
Things to consider:
- If you find that you are having trouble getting thru your day due to your excessive worrying and over thinking, it may be time to consider getting support to deal with your anxiety. There are different types of anxiety disorders so it is important to get a proper diagnosis
- If you choose to use a counselor or a therapist, find one that is qualified and knowledgeable in dealing with Anxiety and as well as the appropriate therapies (like CBT or SRT).
- There are many people who offer healing modalities which may be a comforting part of your ongoing self-care. Sometimes, during a session, you may get triggered, or start to feel anxious. If this happens, it is helpful to have a counselor for extra support.
When you have anxiety, you may find that your strategies will change and evolve. It is a good idea to have a few different ones that you can draw from. Some days your strategies will work for you and some days maybe not at all. Taking small steps, self-care and having a good support system is crucial for the days that are hard. Because you need to remember that tomorrow may be a better day.
Bell Let’s Talk Day on January 31st to raise awareness about all types of mental illness. Check out their website at http://letstalk.bell.ca
My Blog is for information only & is not meant to diagnose or replace medical advice.Essential oils should not be ingested & always need to be diluted before topical use.
- Battaglia Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia, 2003
- Falsetto, S. Authentic aromatherapy: essential oils and blends for health, beauty, and home. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing. 2014