I know a little something about feeling anxious, and let me just say it sucks. Some days I can feel it creeping up on me, trying to take over and shut me down. And it seems to come out of nowhere, when everything else is going great, then BAM! It lets me know it’s still there, and it tries to make me feel stupid and ashamed. Obviously something is wrong with me if I can’t keep it under control, right?
It’s something I’ve dealt with and managed for over 10 years, and now I’m sharing my top 5 best ways to stop feeling anxious, or maybe 6 ways. My suggestions are from a more holistic, natural, non-medicated approach that’s worked for me. Hopefully you will find something that resonates with you, or something new you haven’t yet tried. I invite you to do your own research, and I’ve included links to help you get started on your journey to feel better, and not let anxious or negative feelings control you any longer.
Feelings are not facts
Your feelings are not facts, but they are chemical messages from your body. Good feelings like happiness, joy, peace, love, elation, contentment, euphoria, etc. are indicators that everything is going well, and make us feel, well, amazing. This is your ultimate goal: To feel as good as possible every day.
Conversely, negative feelings are there to let you know something is out of balance, something's not quite right, and it’s an opportunity for you to take action to change them. Here’s a little science to help explain how it all works:
Research shows that our cell membranes are lined with ‘receptor’ molecules that respond to energy and chemical cues by vibrating, and sending a message to the nucleus of the cell. Imagine that this looks something like a ‘lock and key’, with the receptors as the ‘locks’ and ligands as the ‘keys’. Ligands are defined as a type of molecule that binds with another receptor molecule, and there are 3 chemical types of ligands: neurotransmitters, steroids and peptides.
Receptor sites are specific, and can only select or bind with certain ligands. As an example, there is an opiate receptor that can only bind with or receive ligands that are members of the opiate group, like endorphins, morphine or heroin. There are both natural molecules created inside the body, known as endogenous, and natural or synthetic substances originating outside the body, known as being exogenous, that can bind with receptor sites. Endorphins created inside our body are endogenous ligands and morphine, the pharmaceutical drug, is an exogenous ligand, and both can bind with an opiate receptor. Interesting, right? This super basic explanation is derived from the book shown here: Molecules of Emotion.
So what does this all mean? Basically, that by changing the ‘keys’ or the ligands that are binding with receptor sites at a cellular level, you can influence the activity of your cells, and ultimately your brain, organs and entire body. Just as what we eat and drink influences how we feel, the same is basically true about anything we have on, near or around our body, whether we can see it or not. Think of a cold wind that hits your skin and triggers a shivering response, or the warmth of a camp fire that brings contentment. Pleasant aromas or scents can trigger emotional responses or even physical reactions. Also, what we watch on TV or read, especially if it’s scary, violent or gross literally creates a physical response that we can feel. We can actually influence our feelings or emotions, both positively and negatively, once we know what ‘keys’ to use to change the vibration in our cell receptor sites. Here’s a few suggestions to counteract anxious feelings.
Get outside and get some endorphins
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, even breathing deeply can cause your body to produce endorphins. And conventional wisdom holds that a workout of low to moderate intensity makes you feel energized and healthy.” Read article
Exercise also helps raise dopamine levels, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter and hormone. I love to walk outside and stretch, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It always makes me feel better. Go for a walk in nature or a park if possible, and focus your attention on the trees, birds, sky, squirrels, and notice how it takes you out of yourself for a bit. If you can’t get outside, put on some upbeat music and dance! Get on that treadmill, anything, just get your body moving.
While I’m walking I will sometimes repeat ‘I am’ statements to myself, to help my calm down if I’m feeling super anxious. I say things like: I am happy; I am healthy; I am wealthy; I am calm; I am safe and I am sane. Feel free to use these words, or find some that resonate with you and can change the negative thoughts you have floating around in your head, you know, the ones that are making you feel even worse about yourself. Enough already! Change it now! More on this below…
OK, it’s time to get real here, and I want you to take a few moments and think about how you talk to yourself on the regular. Do you berate yourself constantly, maybe saying something like: “You’re so stupid. Why did you do that?” or “You’re so fat (ugly, skinny, lazy, broke, dumb, etc.), that’s why you don’t have any friends, or a boyfriend, or whatever!”
Sound familiar? If so, you could be your own worst enemy, and contributing to your anxious or worried feelings. I’m suggesting that you stop immediately! Not joking! When you say negative things about yourself, you’re basically programming your brain to create more of what you don’t want. Your brain is working 24/7 and hears everything you say out loud and what you say silently to yourself. Your brain doesn’t judge; it’s job is to make happen what you tell it to do, and everything you want to be, have or do.
If you’re saying to yourself “I’m so nervous; I’m so worried; I’m scared…” your brain says OK, I can give you more of that. Instead, stop the negative self-talk right now, and start saying how you WANT to feel right now. Tell yourself that you’re happy, calm, focused, relaxed, whatever it is you want to feel, EVEN IF you’re not currently feeling it or you don’t believe it. Just do it! After a while it will become your reality, but you have to keep at it, all the time, every day.
Do not let a negative thought about yourself play on repeat in your head. If you catch yourself saying something negative, say out loud or to yourself ‘cancel that’, and then say the opposite, and make it something super loving and positive. Start right now, don’t wait. If you want to learn more about this, I love this book: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself.
Emotional Freedom Technique – EFT
The Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as ‘tapping’ is a fast and effective way to change your thoughts and feelings quickly. It is basically a series of taps along energy points on your head, face and shoulders that signals your vagus nerve to change the signals, and unblock the trapped energy or emotions. It’s easy to learn and can be done anytime you need a quick reset. Here’s a link to a short video by Nick Ortner, the EFT expert to calm stress and anxiety. Please watch it.
Whole Foods & Supplements
Are you getting enough whole foods in your diet, mostly from plants that are organic, free-range and non-gmo? Even if it’s 70 – 80% of the time, that’s great! Good for you! And if you choose to eat meat, I suggest that you only eat animals that are humanely raised, no antibiotics, free-range, and had a great life and one really bad day. Just saying, it’s important, as what you eat ate has a huge impact on your physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.
If you are eating food that has been sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or whatever, this passes straight into you. Many of these poisons are endocrine disruptors that mimic natural ligands or keys on our receptor sites, and create damaged cells that replicate and create inflammation and disease in our bodies. And if our receptor sites are clogged with synthetic ligands that mimic the real deal, the cell can not respond properly, in a natural, healthy way, and this can lead to imbalances, especially when stress is added to the mix. And the good ligands can’t get in. It’s all connected.
Since most of us don’t eat a super clean diet on a regular basis, and the soil is so depleted, it’s almost impossible to get all the foundational vitamins, minerals, omegas, amino acids, etc. that are needed for vibrant health. This is where whole food supplementation comes in. And I’m not talking about a compressed multi-vitamin tablet that you get in bulk at the warehouse stores… many of those are only about 8% bio available, and many pass out of our body the way they went in, as a solid pill that doesn’t break down. No health benefits and a huge waste of money. There is a better way.
I take a set of supplements called Lifelong Vitality, or LLV for short. It is whole food sourced and is over 90% bio available, and it’s the only supplements that I’ve ever taken where I actually feel the difference. It comes in Standard LLV or Vegan LLV formulas, and has a 30-day money back guarantee.
I also take Adaptiv Calming Blend Capsules daily, and I use it with the Adaptiv essential oil roller and diffuser EO blend. The Adaptiv capsules are an herbal supplement containing GABA, Lavender, Coriander, Wild Orange, Fennel, Ahiflower and Sceletium, which help the body’s natural dopamine and serotonin production. It’s a great way to stay calm all day, without feeling drowsy from the side effects of medications like Xanax or Valium. Been there, not doing it anymore.
Aromatherapy & Essential Oils
Aromatherapy and essential oils can work very quickly to alleviate anxious feelings. Citrus oils like Wild Orange, Neroli, Lemon or Lime when inhaled can help to increase dopamine and serotonin levels quickly, due in part to the limonene terpene constituents. Inhaling them straight from the bottle or from a diffuser can help relieve anxious feelings and help you feel calm and focused. Citrus oils should not be used topically without dilution, and are photosensitive, which means stay out of direct sunlight for 12 hours after application. Citrus oils are primarily used internally (in water or capsules) or aromatically.
Lavender, Cedarwood, Siberian Fir, Peace or Serenity blends are also very calming and soothing, when inhaled or used topically on pulse points, behind the ears, or on the bottoms of your feet. I use Lavender and Serenity every day, along with a plethora of other oils… OK, I’m a junkie.
I only use and recommend doTERRA essential oils, as they are CPTG – Certified Pure Tested Grade, and most of the single oils and some of the proprietary oil blends are safe for internal use. I have used doTERRA oils for over 7 years and have had excellent results. (PS: I don’t care if you you buy them from me or any other doTERRA rep, but please do not buy them off of Amazon or eBay, as some have been opened and resealed, and doTERRA will not warranty any oils or products not shipped directly from them.) Here’s the link to get dōTERRA oils.
Please do your own research for quality essential oils, as most are not therapeutic grade, and many are synthetic (lab produced for scent), and will not provide any health benefits or relief.
Getting a good night’s sleep is huge for every aspect of your health, including calming anxious and nervous feelings. Experts recommend 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and there are many natural ways to help you get a good night’s sleep. I personally like to diffuse essential oils in my bedroom, and I use Lavender, Peace and Melissa oils behind my ears and other strategic places. Here’s a link to my post on how to sleep without drugs, and what works best for me.
As everyone’s circumstances and body chemistry is different, it’s good to explore alternatives to see what works best for you. And maybe it’s incorporating all 5 of these suggestions, and creating a routine of self-care and self-love to keep anxious feelings in check.Or, you may need to make some big changes in your life, maybe change jobs, eliminate toxic people and relationships, clear out the clutter, or move to a new home… just be open to finding and eliminating the source or sources of your anxiety so you can feel better. And while you’re doing the emotional work, I hope these suggestions are helpful to you as well. Take care.