Don’t Worry, Be Happy: 5 Natural Ways to Kick Anxiety to the Curb

anxiety

Telling the truth about ourselves is a hard thing, especially when the truth doesn’t match up with our preferred version of reality. It’s hard to admit to weakness or mistakes. You have this image of what you want your life to be like and then are constantly trying to  reconcile all the messy bits that don’t seem to fit. It’s something I struggle with all the time – every day really.

One of my truths is that I struggle with anxiety. When you first meet me, I usually seem pretty laid back and low maintenance, which I am in a lot of ways. I can get ready in 10 minutes if needed and am usually happy to let others pick the restaurant or movie. I’ve also always gravitated towards high stress jobs that push me to the limit, which may seem odd for someone who gets anxious. Somehow I’ve become very good at showing a certain version of myself, but below the surface or in private, I promise you that I am quite frequently quietly freaking out.

Why share this now? I recently learned that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States, affecting about 1 in 5 people at any given time. That’s 100 people in my office or at least three of your close friends. It shocked me because you rarely hear it talked about. We talk about our allergies and injuries, but somehow talking about anxiety or depression is taboo. Or are we not talking about it because we think it’s normal to be stressed out and anxious? Stress is definitely normal, but at what point do we draw the line between normal and intolerable?

I’m starting to figure where that line is for me and what I need to do on a daily or weekly basis to make sure I’m on the right side of that line as much as possible. Here are a few of my strategies:
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1. Get your workout on
For me, cardio is one of the best ways to stabilize my moods and release tension. It can be hard to prioritize making it to the gym or hitting a trail, but I always try to remind myself of how relaxed and happy I feel once those endorphins start to kick in. Even a 15 minute walk around the block is enough to make a difference.
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2. Love that lavender
As my husband can attest, I’m a big fan of essential oils. I know this isn’t news to anyone, but lavender oil has an incredible calming effect on the body. It’s been used for centuries as a treatment for anxiety and depression and when taken orally has been shown to be as effective as certain prescription medications (1). I prefer to drink it in tea or to simply dab some oil on my wrists to take in its therapeutic effects.
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3. Sip on green tea (even in summer)
I know it’s hot, so tea is probably the last thing you want to hear about, but hear me out. L-Theanine, an amino acid present in green tea, has been shown to measurably boost moods and decrease stress (2). Personally, I like iced green tea with fresh mint leaves. It’ll make you feel good on a hot day in more ways than one.
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4. It’s all about the B’s
I take a daily Vitamin B-complex and for me it makes a significant difference in my energy levels and mood. Deficiencies in Vitamin B have been linked to depression, fatigue, and anxiety. While I take a supplement, I also try to eat foods that are rich in B vitamins as well. Dark leafy greens are one of my go-to sources; they’re easy to throw into a morning smoothie to get your day off to a good start.
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5. Make time for “me-time,” preferably in the sunshine 
It’s easy for life to become an endless whirlwind of events and responsibilities. Take the dogs out, go to work, hit the gym, meet friends for happy hour, make dinner, tidy up the house – it never stops and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s important to make time for yourself. It’s important to give yourself permission to do something just for your pure enjoyment and relaxation. Maybe it’s reading on a blanket in the park, or walking down to the coffee shop down the street for that one special drink you love. For me, I make sure that my relaxation time is out in the sun, which has been shown to be mood boosting.
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Bonus: Strike a power pose. If you haven’t seen Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on the power of striking a strong pose, you should watch it here. Adopting a strong pose in a moment of weakness can help increase testosterone and decerase cortisol levels, making you literally feel stronger and more in control. Plus, it’s fun. Before a tough meeting or phone call, I like to find a place where I can ham it up a bit with a couple “You Got This” poses.
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sunshineonbluemtn

The quadruple threat: exercise, me-time, sunshine, and a power pose. Victory is mine!

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How do you relax and manage your anxiety and stress? I know a lot of people who practice yoga for this reason, which I personally like better in the winter.
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XOXO,
Jules

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P.S. Please note that I am not a doctor in any way. This is simply advice shared based on personal experiences. 

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20 responses

  1. I always find fresh air (preferably with some sand and salt water) along with exercise can really boost my mood and relieve some stress. I always find myself having a harder time dealing in the winter because the days are shorter (less sunlight 😦 ) and less inspiration to be outside. Great suggestions – will definitely be trying lavender !

  2. Julia- When Emil and I got our new mattress, I got a lavender-infused pillow! It is wonderful- Christmas is coming!! 🙂

  3. Such a timely post. I too have been drinking iced green tea, taking my B vitamin, exercising, and getting some “me time,” all summer long. I should pick up some Lavender or oil and work on my power pose. I love your photo at the end! So inspiring.

    http://laceandpearlsblog.com

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