Hormones and Anxiety: Understanding the Connection

Anxiety is one of the most common struggles within our community today, it is a syndrome that can affect anyone no matter their age, gender or upbringing. Anxiety can be triggered by past events and for some, it feels like we are made this way – stressed, anxious, panicked or depressed. 

How to disconnect the triggers 

So what can we do when our body sends us into a state of anxiety when triggers arise? How can we disconnect the wires in the brain and the central nervous system from activating flight/fight when it's not necessary? Essentially your mind and body have learnt from past experiences that it needs to respond in this way as a protective mechanism. Any time your mind and body experience something that is similar to past hurts, be it physical, emotional or mental, it turns on your survival mode – the physiological response to stress and anxiety.

Through kinesiology, I talk to your body to find out what your triggers are, when they occurred and where they are sitting in the body and energy systems. I look at your entire energy system through Traditional Chinese Medicine meridians and yogic-Chakras to explore emotions, thoughts, physical sensations and blocks that prevent you from being at your best. One of the key ways to balance your mind, body and spirit from anxiety is through the yogic-Chakra system. The energy of chakras penetrate through your endocrine system – the very hormones that are released when you're stressed! Understanding physiology and clearing the wired response of the brain then allows you to then understand the source and break the pattern of anxiety. 

Stay with me while I simplify the connection between hormones and the endocrine glands behind anxiety 

Once a stressful event occurs, a chain of hormonal messages start within your brain travelling through the hypothalamus to your pituitary gland and finishing up in your adrenal glands (which lie on top of your kidneys). It's your adrenal glands that release stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine as they help you to deal with stress. 

The HPA Axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) is a brain and hormonal feedback system within your body that regulates your response to stress. Unfortunately in a fast-paced world, or through long-term stress our adrenals can become locked on and continue to pump stress hormones even through times of attempted rest, sleep and normal daily events. It's often during this phase that you can become agitated, anxious or experience panic attacks. Your levels of stress hormones flowing through your body become too high. Eventually your body cannot sustain this level of survival mode and you can experience adrenal exhaustion where you're unable to release stress hormones. If you experience anxiety, can you think back to times of high level stress? Or are you highly stressed presently? So you can see the spectrum of why hormone imbalances occur these can be from stress ►anxiety ► panic ► exhaustion.

By working with the energy model of the Yogic-Chakras, kinesiology can restore your endocrine system to balance. Once back in balance your experience of daily life is different. Your old seemingly 'hard wired' response to stressful triggers is no longer dominant. Typically you will have insights about the source of old patterns and the awareness to create new more helpful responses to stressful events. 

3 Chakras & 3 Tips to calming anxiety

As I mentioned before, the seven major chakras each penetrate through glands of your hormonal system. By working to balance a chakra, you are in turn, balancing your body, mind and spirit. This connection is the foundation of kinesiology. Here are three tips you can try now to heal your anxiety naturally. 

Your Crown Chakra influences your hypothalamus gland – the first gland in your brain that responds to stress. Frankincense essential oil slows and deepens your breathing, treats fears and anxiety, nervous tension and stress. Place a few drops in a bath, on your pillow or mix 1 drop with 5mls of almond oil and place a drop on the top of your head directly on the Crown Chakra. 

Your Brow/Third Eye Chakra influences your pituitary gland – the second gland in your brain that responds to stress. Brain foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, nuts, and avocado nourish your Brow Chakra. Blueberries and strawberries can support our memory and ability to concentrate. The powerful antioxidants within berries help improve our cognitive thinking and reasoning which we can lose when anxious. 

Your Base/Root Chakra influences your adrenals – the glands above your kidneys that respond to stress. My favourite way to balance the Base Chakra and adrenals is connecting to Mother Earth energy by finding each person's 'off switch'. What brings you a sense of calm, peace and connection? Ideas include walking or sitting in nature (especially with your shoes off), gardening, music, baths, art, reading, yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and massage. 

You can read about my personal experience with childhood anxiety through to post-natal anxiety in a book I co-authored called Heart to Heart, The Path to Wellness which you can pick up at Live Well Spa and Wellness Centre and I have provided you with some of my previously written articles on anxiety that you may like to read.

Remember you don't have to do it alone. Don't let anxiety define you! 

Kate

kate

How to help your child through anxiety

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We just want them to be happy! We wish that they see in themselves what we see: brilliance, inner beauty, wit, compassion and love. These little people with whom we spend so much of our energy supporting their growth, safety and exploration through life. More and more I am seeing precious children come into Live Well showing signs of anxiety and sensitivity. Sometimes parents are aware of anxiety in their child, other times it is revealed in the session. Either way, no parent likes to see their child struggle with anxiety.

How anxiety presents in children

Anxiety has common characteristics among children and you may see one or more of the following:

  • sweating and a red face (excluding after running around!)
  • tense muscles, clenching hands or jaw
  • shallow or quick breathing, or holding their breath
  • sleeping problems – trouble falling asleep or waking often
  • loss of appetite or over-eating
  • verbalising or physical expression of worry, being scared, low self-esteem or confusion
  • wetting the bed or frequent toilet use
  • an increase in challenging behaviours such as tantrums, anger or frustration, or

Why is my child anxious?

Anxiety is an aspect of survival and 'fight/flight mode'. When a child doesn't feel safe or they're worried or uncomfortable about something, their body responds by releasing stress hormones from the adrenal glands to help them deal with the situation. Stress hormones cause a child's breathing to quicken, their heart to race, the blood to rush away from their logic brain and to their survival brain and their body gets ready to 'fight' or 'flight'. In fact, many of the symptoms you see in the list above are caused by stress hormones.

A child can start to struggle with anxiety because they don't know how to calm down at the end of the day, to feel safe again and to know that all is well. It could be stress around making friends, being bullied, frustration about learning something new or 'not being good enough'.

Frequently, the emotional and mental pattern is linked to how a child feels about themselves: Do they feel comfortable being themselves? Do they believe in themselves and accept who they are? Do they express self love and kindness? Are they confident?

What you can do for your child

I am sure that many parents reading this article are already doing a lot for their children in terms of expressing their love and support physically and emotionally. If there is a known source to your child's anxiety then it is important to address this: does the school and staff need to be involved, does your child need some tutoring or do they need to be supported to express how they feel? Emotional resilience comes from emotional intelligence and a life-long lesson is understanding and expressing our authentic self.

Whilst you are working through any external elements, you can support your child through anxiety from the inside out by using complementary medicine!

  • Acupressure: ask your child to make a loose fist and press or massage where the tip of their little finger rests – this will help relieve the anxiety and connect them to spirit/instinct.
  • Essential oil: place a few drops of Rose essential oil into their bath or on their pillow, or place one drop into a teaspoon of a carrier oil such as almond oil and massage into their hands and wrists, feet and ankles. Rose essential oil will help your child to feel love and to express love rather than feel isolated.
  • Nutrition: foods high in refined sugars and/or caffeine can set off stress hormones as the adrenals work to balance blood sugar levels, so it's important to give your children healthy treats that maintain their blood sugar levels. 

And remember, all of these techniques can also be used by adults who suffer with anxiety!

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If you would like help to understand what is happening with your child or support with helping your child through anxiety, then call Live Well and book your child in for a kinesiology session with me (Kate!). Kinesiology is gentle and safe for children of all ages – they end up having a great time learning and listening to their body! You will be given tools and techniques to take home which can be used as resources for life. Help your child to reach their full potential and to be happy and strong within themselves.

*Concession prices available for children and students

**Private health fund rebates available from participating health funds

***Weekday and Saturday sessions

Nutrients to Combat Anxiety

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When it comes to anxiety, nutrition can make a huge difference to your resilience and wellbeing. That means your diet, along with carefully chosen and professionally prescribed supplements, are key tools for reducing the symptoms and the effects of anxiety in your body and mind. Below is a summary of what your brain and nervous system are craving when you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety.

 

Magnesium

Supports:

  • Mood, wellbeing & relaxation of the nervous system.
  • Also needed for activation of B vitamins & vit D + decreases lactate in system

Found in:

Dark, leafy greens; whole grains e.g. brown rice, quinoa, oats; nuts & seeds e.g. almonds, cashews, sesame; eggs; legumes e.g. beans, lentils; avocados; bananas; brewer's yeast.

 

B vitamins

Support:

  • Nervous system health & function + necessary for brain chemistry production.
  • Many anxiety symptoms are associated with vitamin B & Magnesium deficiency .
  • Deficiency in B & Magnesium also increases lactate in blood;
  • Note: B vitamins + Magnesium both feed the & relax the nervous system

Found in:

Dark, leafy greens; whole grains –brown rice, quinoa, oats; nuts & seeds; legumes e.g.  beans, lentils.

 

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)

Support:

  • Healthy nervous system function (protects & nourishes).
  • Necessary for nervous system transmission (communication between nerves/brain)
  • + Healthy mental/psychological function including mood (EFA therapy is highly beneficial in treatment of anxiety & depression) 

Found in:

Avocado; cold-pressed oils (especially olive and sunflower); oily fish (salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel); nuts and seeds.

 

Adequate protein

Supports:

  • Rule of thumb: 1g protein per 1kg of body weight, per day
  • Protein provides us with amino acids (building blocks) that are the precursors (needed substances) to produce the brain chemistry we need

Found in:

Leanmeat, fish, eggs (try to get organic & free-range where possible); legumes e.g. beans, chickpeas, lentils; nuts & seeds…

Try to have protein as a part of every meal/snack, and you will notice a difference! J

 

Complex Carbohydrates

Support:

  • Smooth, sustained energy release; Balance blood glucose; High in essential nutrients & fibre.

Found in:

Whole grains e.g. brown rice, quinoa, oats; dark, leafy greens e.g. silverbeat, kale, bok choi, lettuce; sprouts; vegetables (root vegies like Pumpkin, carrots, turnips, Swede, sweet potato are esp. grounding in anxiety!); Sprouts (nutrient powerhouses! Loaded with essential nutrients e.g.  vits, mins, phyto(plant)chemicals, anti-oxidants..)

REMEMBER, OUR BRAIN & NERVOUS SYSTEM ARE LIKE PONDS WE NEED TO KEEP TOPPED UP! 

Overwhelm is the New Black

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At Live Well we see so many people who, for one reason or another, find themselves feeling stressed, overwhelmed or anxious. In some ways it’s no surprise, modern life demands more and more of our attention. If you’re like me, when you have a spare moment, you’ll find yourself compulsively checking your emails or your text messages or reading something on your phone. Never before have we had such access to information and stimulation.

The consequence? We’ve trained ourselves to be switched on and ready to respond at all times. From a body/mind perspective this means we are perpetually in action mode. It’s interesting to note that you can be lying in a hammock on a tropical island sipping a cocktail but if you are thinking about work then, as far as your nervous system is concerned, you may as well be at work.

Generally speaking we spend way too much time switched on and not nearly enough time spent unwinding and relaxing. In fact most of us have become really good at ‘coping’ with being switched on for long periods and really bad at switching off and deeply unwinding. If you push yourself through the day with low energy and high stress, finding you need to rely more and more on stimulants like sugar and caffeine to keep you going through the day you will know what I’m talking about.

The solution? First to recognise where you find yourself. If you are overwhelmed but just keeping your head above water, don’t wait to see whether life’s going to get easier. If you’ve felt this way for a while, it probably won’t. If you’re already experiencing uncomfortable physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, episodes of panic as well as a feeling that you’re no longer able to keep a lid on things then you probably already have anxiety.

To break the cycle I suggest seeking professional help from someone who is going to offer not just short term relief but longer term holistic strategies. Psychologists, for example, will give you a range of mind tools and education. A naturopath can give you herbs and supplements to reduce symptoms, build resilience and restore balance. Acupuncture will reset your nervous system, helping you access deep states of relaxation perhaps for the first time in a long time. Kinesiology can help you understand the mental and emotional patterns that have been keeping you from switching off and of course a massage or pampering treatment creates a space and time where you can completely let go. Just remember ‘coping’ doesn’t have to be your norm, for your health’s sake it’s time to take action.

Breathing Techniques to help You with Anxiety

Hi Everyone!

I hope you've been enjoying the tips and strategies on natural ways to manage anxiety this month.  Even as someone who works in the health and wellness field, I've loved the opportunity to learn new ways from my incredibly talented colleagues here at Live Well to Manage the Madness that so often seems to get the better of me in daily life. We’re a pretty close family here and we regularly take advantage of each other’s talents and services to help us, walk our talk and look after ourselves, so that we can continue to give our best to you! So when you’re getting a referral to another practitioner you can be sure that we have experienced their healing skills ourselves!

If we haven’t met yet, I'm Ramone and I'm currently Live Well’s resident expert on all things Yoga! I teach yoga, meditation, pre and post natal yoga and also offer Thai Yoga Massage for all ages and during pregnancy. Today I'm here to offer some options for how breathing can change your body chemistry and therefore your relationship to feelings of anxiety.

Are you breathing or thinking about breathing?

You can try this exercise to experience how reflexive breathing works.

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If you take a deep breath in…. then exhale completely and hold your breath out for as long as possible…. you’ll eventually feel a build up of energy that will force you to take your next breath in – this is our reflex to breathe – and live!

There are many ways in which we can consciously regulate our breathing patterns and in yoga we call these techniques and practices Pranayma. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of Yoga, Prana is both the word for breath and for our essential life force. As you experienced in the exercise above, these are quite closely related! If you don’t breathe you die, fairly logical whether you’re a Yogi or not!

Through generations of experimentation the Yogis developed many different Pranayama techniques, and observed their impacts on the body and mind. In modern times scientists have developed instruments that can now measure these changes on our brain function and body physiology that back up what the Yogis had come to find through their experimentation. What spiritual seekers and scientists can both now proudly claim is that the way you breathe can change your body, your mind and therefore your life!

How breathing works and why what you think matters!

Automatic breathing is governed by complex interactions of neural and chemical mechanisms in your body, without you having to think about a thing! But sometimes, what you think can change the way you breathe! When you have thoughts, you usually attach a particular feeling or emotion to each thought through habit or conditioning. Each of these thought/feelings creates a physical response in your body.

For example

Situation:      I'm not going to meet my deadline again today…

Thoughts: 1) I'm not good enough to do this job

       2) I feel bad for letting my boss down

       3) I'm terrified people will find out I'm a fraud and I’ll lose my job

Emotions: 1) Self doubt  2) Guilt/remorse  3) Fear

Response:  Fight or Flight – Particularly when fear is an emotional response or trigger, adrenaline kicks in to set your body up to either fight the threat of not meeting the deadline, or run away and hide yourself in the nearest cave to avoid the threat and humiliation of being fired! Unfortunately when it comes to fear, as intelligent as you are your brain still thinks like the cavemen did! When adrenaline fires you up to fight or flee a perceived danger, it sets off a whole chain of responses in your body including:

-          Increased breath rate (generally this means shallower and shorter breaths)

-          Blood moves to our muscles and away from our digestion 

-          Awareness sharpens

These are all great things when we actually need to defend ourselves or make a hasty retreat but in modern day society there are a whole range of reasons fight or flight isn't the socially appropriate response to a situation, or even possible! This leaves our bodies and minds pumped up for action which, in certain situations is fantastic for getting things done (like meeting that deadline!), but over time exhausts our system of vital energy and essential elements needed for healthy function.

Often quite unconsciously, we create habits of running negative thought loops in our minds. Without realising we are telling ourselves stories over and over again, our bodies respond by getting stuck in a holding pattern of pumping out hormones creating a cascading effect that you’re showing all of the physical responses you need to help you respond to a threat  - that’s not actually there - it’s just something we’re holding in our minds!

How can breath stop the anxiety train?

Well if the fight or flight response triggers short shallow breathing, maybe we could try consciously choosing to lengthen and deepen our breaths to try and trick our body out of it? We already tricked it into thinking there was a threat in the first place so it can’t be that hard right?! The beauty of conscious control of our breathing is that we have an avenue of returning the pace and depth of our breath back into to our personal power of choice. We can choose how long and how often we breathe and therefore begin to change our body chemistry out of fight or flight mode.

The first steps begin with learning to observe our anxiety signs and signals. Once you can identify some of the physical indicators of your fight or flight response, you can start using breath regulation like a circuit breaker. A tool to put in your anxiety management toolbox and use when needed!

From Fight Club to Rest Fest

The body has an inbuilt counter balance to fight or flight known as our relaxation response. Sometimes called our rest and digest system, our relaxation response is a biochemically-controlled response to the feeling of safety and security. It’s what switches on when our body needs to recover and heal; our blood pressure and pulse rate reduces, our breathing rate decreases and our brain activity changes to a frequency associated with feelings of relaxation.

One of the best Yogic breathing or Pranayama exercises for accessing this state of rest and digest is called Viloma Pranayama. In English you might have heard it called deep belly breathing, three part breath or diaphragmatic breathing.  In Sanskrit Viloma means interrupted or against the natural flow. The technique involves taking partial sips of air separated by small breaks in between each one.

It’s one of my favourite breathing techniques to teach because it has such a quick positive impact on people who try it; they are instantly calmer. It’s a simple technique that can be practised by anyone, any time, any place! Viloma breath gets you into a longer, deeper and slower breathing pattern that breaks the fight or flight cycle and sends your body and mind back toward balance with rest and digest.

Here are five simple steps to Viloma breath that you can try anywhere; from your bed when your head won’t stop working and you need to get some sleep, to the car when traffic is making you impatient, to inconspicuously in your office chair when the going gets tough and you need to stay sane and fight off the internal gremlins of self doubt and negative thought patterns!

1)     Find a place where you can sit or lie comfortably with a long, neutral spine. Place both hands on your low belly and close your eyes (if you can – not if you’re driving please!).

2)     Relax your core and inhale into your low belly until you feel it rise and expand under your hands (like a balloon inflating). Exhale and gently squeeze your core to expel all the air from your lungs. To encourage yourself to breathe slowly and deeply, you can count equal numbers for your inhale and exhale. 4:4 is a comfortable count for most people to begin with. Try at least three of these deep belly breaths first.

3)     Begin Viloma breath. On your next inhale, breathe deep into your core and feel your hands rise as your abdomen expands, stop for a moment and hold the first part of that breath in. Then continue to fill your ribcage with breath, feeling your chest expand (you may like to move your hands to the side of your chest to feel the ribs moving upward with breath), pause again. Finally fill the top of the chest with breath until you reach the base of the throat and pause for the final time (again you can move the hands to the front of the chest to feel this if it helps!).

4)     Release your breath as one long slow and controlled exhale. Take a normal breath before trying again if you need to. Repeat steps 3 & 4 at least three times but up to ten, as long as you’re not getting dizzy.

5)     Make sure you keep your breath relaxed and soft, you’ll lose the benefits of the practice if you try to force it. Go easy on yourself! The idea isn't to strive for perfection but to be deeply involved as an investigator of your experience; notice the speed, quality even the temperature of your breath and where and how it moves inside you as you slow down and shift your focus on the different parts of your torso.

Hopefully after a few rounds of Viloma Pranayama you’ll feel much more connected to your body, rather than stuck in the single gear of your mind-chatter! Our bodies are a deep well of wisdom just waiting for us to tap into and listen!

Once you've cultivated the practice of listening to the signals your body gives, you can learn to respond to those messages in healthy, healing ways and take back the power and wealth of wellness in your life! It’s a process and takes practice so remember to be patient and keep on trying even if it doesn't feel like it worked on the first go.

Good luck and please be in touch if you have any questions! 

Ramone

 

Little Things You Can Do To Unplug

21 Ways you can Reduce Anxiety in Your Life

When anxiety has taken a hold, grasping onto something simple to help you out of that space and to recalibrate, can be immensely helpful.

Whether it's in the form of a ritual that supports your balance on a daily basis, or an emergency exit strategy, the key really,  is in having a few tricks to keep up your sleeve that are both super-easy and totally (fail-safe) doable. 

What are some small, key things you could do to throw yourself a lifeline next time you're heading out to sea in the rip of an anxiety tide?

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Putting together a little list for yourself of the kind of things that you feel could work for you, can be useful. Because when anxiety has taken charge it can be incredibly difficult to access that clear, wise, creative part of our brain that would otherwise be really helpful in that situation.

 In the list below, you'll find 21 simple ways you can reduce anxiety in your life. I encourage you to pick and choose whatever personally feels good and resonates with you. And perhaps even to have a think and see what other kinds of things might help you re-set next time you're feeling anxious and strung-out.

1. B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Just breathe... Bringing your awareness to the breath, drawing your inhalation in through your nose, into your chest, and down into your navel (imagine filling up a balloon in your belly) interrupts the stress response, and sends ripples of instant calm throughout your nervous system! 

 2.  Practice Acceptance, and just.. Letting go. Of whatever you can, whenever you can... Even if it just means letting go of a particular stressful thought, for even only a minute... It still counts!

Resisting what IS in our lives creates a physiological stress response in our bodies. It's like when the river (that is, life) is flowing one way, and we are busy busting our chops, trying to swim upstream against the tide, or clinging to the riverbank; but if we can learn to just let go a little, find acceptance in what is (our feelings, the situation...), there's an almost-instant relief to be found in just that shift, alone. We can then stop struggling, and deal with what's on our plate from a different, calmer space.

3. Nourish your nervous system and adrenal's with wholesome food choices. Top up on your dark leafy greens, healthy fats, quality protein sources (a steak of oily fish or bowl of dahl, for example), and root veggies, which have a grounding effect. Also, take care to chew your food well.

4. Prioritise. When things seem overwhelming, take a minute to (re)consider what is most important and at the very top of your agenda, and focus on just doing that...

 5. Be in Nature. Even if just for 5 minutes. Get outside, be in the elements, and bring awareness to all of your senses. Feel the sunshine or the fresh, crisp air on your skin; notice the colour of the sky or the shapes in the clouds; listen to the sound of birds singing or acorns crunching underneath your feet. Let your eyes soak up all the green they possibly can.

 6. Nip it in the bud. If there's something worrying you, and you can’t put your finger on it, pop your creative and strategic hats on, identify the issue, and do whatever is in your power right now to send it packing.

7. Ground yourself. Go and be in the garden; pull out a few weeds, plant something new; or simply take off your shoes and sit on the grass for a while. It's hard to stay too anxious in this space.

8. Tune in. Take your awareness past all the frenzy, and feel the sensations in your heart, throat and solar plexus regions... Can you feel tightness, knots, churning, butterflies, sinking, pulling...? What sensations do you get in these physical centres, when you're feeling anxious? Just bringing awareness to it can be enough to help the energy to dissipate and clear.

9. Listen up. Play some feel-good tunes or listen to a guided meditation, and let them help you to feel better.

10. Get physical. Discharge anxiety physically and get your feel-good endorphins flowing. Try walking, riding, jogging, rowing, swimming, lifting weights, dancing, stretching, yoga, pilates, kick-boxing, however  you like to get your body moving.

11. Tea time. Have a cup of herbal tea. Chamomile, Passionflower, Valerian and Hops are all great for calming and relaxing the nervous system. 

12. Burn or vaporise some soothing, uplifting essential oils such as Lavender and Peppermint, Sandalwood or Bergamot. They have the power to benefit your emotions by directly stimulating the limbic system.

13. Bring your creativity into play. Whether it's in a colouring book, painting, playing with kinetic sand, crochet, losing time on Pinterest, cooking up a storm… What gets your creative juices flowing? Being in the "flow" + engaging your creativity are two major anxiety busters!

14. Take time out. Book a holiday, a weekend away, or even just go on a day trip. Make an opportunity to get out of your usual surrounds, head to the beach, the mountains, the snow, the country or another city; maybe even abroad!

15. Light candles and have a bath (even just a foot bath!). Add a bunch of Epsom salts, and a few drops of your favourite essential oil/s. Tea, book, and music all optional.

16. Choose your thoughts. Take note of the quality of your thoughts/self-talk. Are they helpful? Supportive? Insightful? Critical and judgemental? Irrational? 

17. Detach from expectations and outcomes. When we can bring our attention to the present, and relax our minds from particular expectations and outcomes, we can also take a detour from the anxiety and pressure we might have been inadvertently placing on ourselves. 

18. Have an early night. Give yourself one of the best gifts of all: An Early Night... Giving your body adequate time to rest and restore at night is a vital part of re-setting the nervous system and encouraging greater resilience (ability to tuck & roll, bend with the wind and bounce back easily). And sometimes just “sleeping on it” really does help.

19. Blow it all off. When it all gets too much and life feels like it's getting on top of you, take a more radical approach to the whole situation; if you need to, take the day off or give yourself an early mark, but take some time out to abandon responsibility and do something that sweetens the deal for you and helps you take your mind of things for a while... 

20. Hugs and laughs whether it's a dog, a cat, a human, a gift or your favourite funny movie/TV series. Hugs and laughs are real, good medicine. 

21. See your Naturopath to have a chat and get some much-deserved wellness support.

I encourage you to pick and choose whatever personally feels good and resonates with you. And perhaps even to have a think and see what other kinds of things might help you re-set next time you're feeling anxious and strung-out.

 Shanna

Hormones and Anxiety: Understanding the Connection

Anxiety is one of the most common struggles within our community today, it is a syndrome that can affect anyone no matter their age, gender or upbringing. Anxiety can be triggered by past events and for some, it feels like we are made this way – stressed, anxious, panicked or depressed. 

How to disconnect the triggers 

So what can we do when our body sends us into a state of anxiety when triggers arise? How can we disconnect the wires in the brain and the central nervous system from activating flight/fight when it's not necessary? Essentially your mind and body have learnt from past experiences that it needs to respond in this way as a protective mechanism. Any time your mind and body experience something that is similar to past hurts, be it physical, emotional or mental, it turns on your survival mode – the physiological response to stress and anxiety.

Through kinesiology, I talk to your body to find out what your triggers are, when they occurred and where they are sitting in the body and energy systems. I look at your entire energy system through Traditional Chinese Medicine meridians and yogic-Chakras to explore emotions, thoughts, physical sensations and blocks that prevent you from being at your best. One of the key ways to balance your mind, body and spirit from anxiety is through the yogic-Chakra system. The energy of chakras penetrate through your endocrine system – the very hormones that are released when you're stressed! Understanding physiology and clearing the wired response of the brain then allows you to then understand the source and break the pattern of anxiety. 

Stay with me while I simplify the connection between hormones and the endocrine glands behind anxiety 

Once a stressful event occurs, a chain of hormonal messages start within your brain travelling through the hypothalamus to your pituitary gland and finishing up in your adrenal glands (which lie on top of your kidneys). It's your adrenal glands that release stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine as they help you to deal with stress. 

The HPA Axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) is a brain and hormonal feedback system within your body that regulates your response to stress. Unfortunately in a fast-paced world, or through long-term stress our adrenals can become locked on and continue to pump stress hormones even through times of attempted rest, sleep and normal daily events. It's often during this phase that you can become agitated, anxious or experience panic attacks. Your levels of stress hormones flowing through your body become too high. Eventually your body cannot sustain this level of survival mode and you can experience adrenal exhaustion where you're unable to release stress hormones. If you experience anxiety, can you think back to times of high level stress? Or are you highly stressed presently? So you can see the spectrum of why hormone imbalances occur these can be from stress anxiety panic exhaustion.

By working with the energy model of the Yogic-Chakras, kinesiology can restore your endocrine system to balance. Once back in balance your experience of daily life is different. Your old seemingly 'hard wired' response to stressful triggers is no longer dominant. Typically you will have insights about the source of old patterns and the awareness to create new more helpful responses to stressful events. 

3 Chakras & 3 Tips to calming anxiety

As I mentioned before, the seven major chakras each penetrate through glands of your hormonal system. By working to balance a chakra, you are in turn, balancing your body, mind and spirit. This connection is the foundation of kinesiology. Here are three tips you can try now to heal your anxiety naturally. 

Your Crown Chakra influences your hypothalamus gland – the first gland in your brain that responds to stress. Frankincense essential oil slows and deepens your breathing, treats fears and anxiety, nervous tension and stress. Place a few drops in a bath, on your pillow or mix 1 drop with 5mls of almond oil and place a drop on the top of your head directly on the Crown Chakra. 

Your Brow/Third Eye Chakra influences your pituitary gland – the second gland in your brain that responds to stress. Brain foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, nuts, and avocado nourish your Brow Chakra. Blueberries and strawberries can support our memory and ability to concentrate. The powerful antioxidants within berries help improve our cognitive thinking and reasoning which we can lose when anxious. 

Your Base/Root Chakra influences your adrenals – the glands above your kidneys that respond to stress. My favourite way to balance the Base Chakra and adrenals is connecting to Mother Earth energy by finding each person's 'off switch'. What brings you a sense of calm, peace and connection? Ideas include walking or sitting in nature (especially with your shoes off), gardening, music, baths, art, reading, yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and massage. 

You can read about my personal experience with childhood anxiety through to post-natal anxiety in a book I co-authored called Heart to Heart, The Path to Wellness which you can pick up at Live Well Spa and Wellness Centre and I have provided you with some of my previously written articles on anxiety that you may like to read.

Remember you don't have to do it alone. Don't let anxiety define you! 

Kate

 

How Natural Therapies Help Anxiety

What is Anxiety? Anxiety can be defined as a sense of unease, worry, fearfulness and/or nervousness. 

Anxiety may arise from a multitude of factors. It may result from ongoing work or home stress, grief, change in life direction, dietary or lifestyle factors. Some people have a natural genetic tendency to experience anxiety, it may run in the family.  In other cases it may be triggered by worrying about something or be part of other conditions such as insomnia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It's important to remember that people’s individual experience of anxiety can be quite varied and may coexists with other issues or symptoms.

Anxiety can be greatly helped with homeopathic and herbal medicine, as the approach taken is to understand how you personally experience anxiety, what else it is associated with and what factors predisposed you to it.

I'd like to share two stories with you to show how homeopathic and herbal medicine helped with Anxiety.

Worry was the trigger to her Anxiety 

I worked with a lady in her mid forties who had just been diagnosed, with cancerous changes to tissue in her left breast, after experiencing menopausal changes over the previous year. 

From this diagnosis she began to experience intense panic attacks from her fear of the surgery.  She was prescribed an anxiolytic antidepressant to subdue her anxiety which did not prove effective. On my first consultation she described to me that her anxiety would turn to panic very suddenly. Her heart would race and she would be overcome by a real and overwhelming feeling that she was going to die at that very moment, that her life was over. I prescribed her the homeopathic medicine Aconite, which significantly subdued her acute and intense feelings of fear and panic.

On her follow up visit she was able to provide me with a more complete understanding of her state. She had actually been of a nervous disposition her whole life and had always had anxious dreams. She was quite fastidious by nature and was sensitive to cleanliness and a sense of order in her environment and could become quite irritable. She was also very sensitive to cold and had a history of digestive upsets. I prescribed her homeopathic Arsenicum album to be taken daily and she reported that her nervousness began to improve. She was also able to go through her medical tests and procedures coping much better than she could have expected. She was still anxious about her medical condition however she was no longer having panic attacks and her racing heart symptoms had stopped. She was feeling much better and able to cope after only a relatively short period of time. Looking to continue working to understand the Anxiety in her history and to gently further disables the controlling effect anxiety has had over her life. Homeopathy can work harmoniously alongside orthodox medical interventions to improve people’s overall health outcomes and support them through life's unexpected challenges and health issues.

Alice's mother explained she had always had anxiety and mood swings

According to her mother 8 year old Alice had always been an anxious and moody child. As she had aged her toddler tantrums gradually turned into intense episodes of screaming abuse and tears. She needed constant attention and the intensity of her behaviour had taken a toll on the family and there was a constant underlying sadness about Alice. Occasionally the happy, bright Alice that her parents knew would emerge, only again to be overtaken by this intense state. Underlying her emotional outbursts and sadness was a constant, background anxiety.

Alice’s mother experienced unusual anger during the pregnancy and intense fear during her labour. From a young age Alice had recurring scary dreams of fire, witches and/or of being neglected and abandoned. Clearly, her state was inherited. Other ongoing or recurring symptoms included difficulty getting to sleep, sore tummies, darkness under her eyes, itchy bottom, fear of spiders and storms. 

This was a complex case but a successful homeopathic medicine (Crotalus cascavella) was found. From the first dose a noticeable change came over Alice. She became brighter and happier, as if a dark cloud had been lifted. Whenever she slipped back, the medicine would be repeated which progressed her improvement. Over time Alice emerged from this anxious, dark state that had engulfed her for so long and wreaked havoc on her family. The homeopathic medicine works with the body-mind as an integrated unit. Hence the whole person benefits at all levels at once, both physically and psychologically.

One of the joys of working with children is that when given the right stimulus, they usually have the innate vitality to move on quickly, freed up to grow and develop normally. 

Gerry

Gerry Dendrinos is Live Well's Herbalist and Homeopath 

 Read more about Gerry.

Understanding Anxiety

You’re not just stressed

Anxiety is different to just feeling stressed. It’s the frequent or sustained experience of discomfort in the form of hot and cold flushes, a racing heart, nausea, dizziness, the shakes, panic, spiralling negative thoughts or compulsive behaviour. 

Anxiety is a symptom

Anxiety can take many different forms and have many different triggers, however regardless of the symptoms or the pattern of your anxiety one thing is true: anxiety like any other symptom is a clear sign that your mind-body system is out of balance. 

Your nervous system is the problem

What leaves you vulnerable to developing anxiety is a nervous system that is overwhelmed and exhausted. The path that leads to that state of nervous system exhaustion is different for everyone, sometimes it’s a particular traumatic event, sometimes is the incremental build up of stress that builds to become overwhelm and then becomes anxiety. 

Restoring balance is the key

Natural therapies help with anxiety, not by masking the symptoms but by addressing the imbalance that is causing the symptoms. Remarkably, sometimes very simple changes, such as making sure you're accessing the right nutrients in your diet, or learning to breathe correctly can go a long way towards resolving symptoms of anxiety. Some people will need intensive support to feel better at least initially, however it’s important to know that if you have anxiety you’re not broken, you’re just out of balance and that imbalance can be addressed.

The good news is, if given the right support and the right tools, your body is exceptionally good at finding its balance again and once that happens, symptoms of anxiety drop away.  

We’d love to help

So if you’d like help overcoming anxiety and you’d like an approach that doesn’t just mask the symptoms but can help you truly restore your ease and enjoyment of life then we wold love to help. 

Wes Smith

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Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Post-natal Anxiety and Depression: How to Shift Your Suffering

“Enough!” she cried as she fell to her knees exhausted with the effort it took to persist with the act. Each day on the outside she smiled, tightly. On the inside she screamed, painfully.

Those around her thought she was managing well. She usually did; that’s what they expected from her. When asked, she parroted words she thought were those you should say in these situations. It seemed to make everyone happy to hear “I’m great. It’s amazing”. But it wasn’t. She was a failure. Most of all, she was ashamed about how she felt and the thoughts that muddled and darkened her experience of what everyone called ‘new motherhood’.

Now, four years later, I can confidently tell you that to say “I’m not OK” or “I’m not coping” or “I don’t think I can do this” is not shameful. You’re simply saying “I am human”. I decided that it was more painful to keep battling internally than it was to speak up and say “I’m not coping”.

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One day I would like to try and paint the internal landscape of post-natal anxiety and depression as perhaps others would truly connect with imagery rather than attempted vocabulary.

It was easy to be ashamed; women have been mothering since, well, the beginning of time! It’s a natural physiological process, including the release of hormones to help with nurturance and attachment. Women across cultures have long, traumatic labours – it’s nothing new. I could go on as it’s easy for me to tap into the justification for why I ‘should’ be ashamed.

Apart from actually managing to make it through that first year of parenting, the best thing I ever did was to speak up and essentially admit that I was human. I did not have super powers of perfection and total adaptability in each and every moment. This is what I was expecting of myself. This is what I saw in every other mother. Yes, they were sleep deprived and sometimes confused as to why their child was crying, but I applied the double standard approach – it was OK for them, but not for me. But it was more than that. I was in pain.

Once I spoke up something happened within me and consequently, around me.

I accepted my experience and therefore accepted myself. I gave myself permission to grieve. I allowed myself an immense amount of room for mistakes which I now consider as lessons. And I let those around me in. Imagine if every time you made a mistake someone whispered in your ear “It’s OK”. Imagine if every time you tripped and fell, someone helped you up and said “It’s OK”. Imagine if every time you felt despair, someone told you “It’s OK”. This is what happens when you speak up and let people in. Eventually, the person to whisper in your ear becomes yourself. This can be applied not only to post-natal anxiety and depression, but to any experience in life where you feel defeated, battling or alone.

Alone. Isolated. Internal or external isolation – either way it can be painful. It’s easy to feel that you’re just a small fraction of the Universe and therefore devalue your own importance. Yet, within you is the Universe exploring consciousness and life. The human experience is multi-dimensional. We’re made up of interconnecting layers of complex vibration from the physical plane of the body and structure to the etheric layers of the aura and the higher vibration of spiritual dimensions. You are spinning particles of light which cross and connect to all around you. You are literally never alone. Your pain is my pain. My joy is your joy. It’s the magnificence of connection.

The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.
— Carl Saga, Cosmos

Know that when you despair within the confusion of motherhood, there are many despairing with you. When you meet another parent and they smile at you, give them the gift of understanding and appreciate that they are also multi-dimensional and experience much within their internal landscape too. Be lifted by the knowledge that those who share joy, happiness and laughter will touch you in your time of need.

So, go ahead – be a life change artist. Start by being honest with yourself. Be open. Have compassion for yourself and your valued, unique experience. This in turn intensifies your compassion for others and expands compassion in our Universe. It is the greatest of gifts you can give.

Whether it’s a vibration, a wave or a ripple; admit that you’re human. It will change your life.


Simple and natural techniques to help relieve anxiety and depression

  • Lime essential oil is a beautiful oil which brings about a sense of calm. It’s excellent for agitation and is often used to help children sleep. Put a few drops in an oil burner or in the bath. If you use it on the skin, be sure to mix a drop with about five mls of carrier oil such as almond or coconut oil.
  • Massaging the palms of your hands is a technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In the centre of your palm is an acupoint which treats anxiety and calms the mind. Again, you can also give your children a lovely hand massage.
  • Remember that a gentle walk or swim can help clear your mind, get you outside and relieve feelings of depression, frustration or constriction. There has been a lot of research into the benefits of exercise for depression. Vitamin D from the sun is a great way to lift your spirits!

Resources for post-natal anxiety and depression    

If you need support or information about any mental health challenge, contact a counsellor, psychologist, complementary medicine practitioner or general practitioner

  • Find your local post natal anxiety and depression support group – ask for help if you have trouble finding your nearest organisation
  • Visit PANDA, the Australian organisation for information and resources
  • Read

Author: Kate Pamphilon is Live Well's resident Kinesiology practitioner, and the creator of Holistic by Nature.

This blog first appeared at Reflections From a Redhead