One of my patients recently emailed me the following question:
Question – How do I handle it when I have so much anxiety, I don’t know what to do with myself?Answer – Nothing is as fixed as you might think. Most of our symptoms DO have both a physical and emotional components, even if you are not always aware of them, or they are subconscious and below the surface. The body and mind cannot be separated. In general, it’s good to learn to “contain” your anxiety and not let it overtake you. It’s a discipline of learning to feel your feelings, and realize they are neither your enemy nor anything to fear. They are feelings. That is all anxiety is. Just another body sensation and feeling. You are choosing to label it as “bad”. Learn to sit with it, and label it as “background sound.”
On their own, there is no good/bad associated with anxiety. Just a different assortment of feelings and thoughts that try and trick you into thinking something bad is happening because of your childhood history and the “stories” you have learned to accept.
Certainly some urgent physical symptoms need to be acted on immediately, like going to the emergency room.
But most other feelings and sensations are only passing and will subside in a few minutes, a few hours, in a week or so, or when the situation causing the anxiety has passed. Learn to break your anxiety feeling down into its component part and physical sensations. Sit with them. They will pass. There are also great supplements and amino acids and herbs we can use to control anxiety and to lesson it’s frequency while you work on getting the situation under control that is causing it. Also, physical exercise and eating to keep your blood sugar stable is very important when dealing with anxiety.
Some of the supplements you can try are large doses of Calcium and Magnesium, 5-HTP, Tryptophan, Theanine, Rehmania 6 Chinese herbs, Relora, Rhodiola, Kava Kava and many others. I have great formulas in the office we can use to help you deal with anxiety.
But it’s important that you also learn to exercise more, and to feel your feelings without having to label them as bad.
Once on a plane trip, I became extremely anxious while seating in the plane. I was exhausted and, on the final leg of a trip to Asia, and I had not eaten. My blood sugar was diving, I felt like I was going to die, and my heart was racing very fast.
I had with me both natural supplements, which I could have taken, and also a tranquilizer my MD had given me for emergency situations. But instead, I decided to just close my eyes, explore my feelings from the inside, and go more deeply into my physical sensations.
By going inside and feeling my feelings, instead of running from them, I became aware of the emotional components of what was triggering the anxiety, and slowly after about an hour, it passed.
Going through this experience allowed me to understand and gain insight into what the Buddhists call “monkey mind.” Once on a two-week silent meditation retreat, I had a similar experience. After the first day of retreat, I felt I just had to escape immediately. I paced up and down, trying to get the courage to tell the meditation instructor, I was sorry, but I had to leave, at least for an hour or so. But I decided instead, to go into the meditation hall, join in the group meditation, and just observe my thoughts and anxious physical sensations. After a half day, my panic passed, and I was able to relax and enjoy the silence of the retreat.
Our anxiety usually has old “tapes” and “voices” associated with it, which try and convince us of their reality and truth. They try and convince us that we need to do something right away. But in reality, unless there is a real situation that is threatening you, it will usually pass. And the more times you are able to get through it without letting it overpower you, the easier it is the next time and the next time to not give it your power; to not listen to these negative old “voices” in our mind.
Lastly, I briefly mentioned blood sugar and eating earlier. But diet is a major component in reducing anxiety. Making sure you eat at regular intervals and don’t let your blood sugar drop is very important in controlling anxiety. For many people, it’s important to eat protein rich foods every three hours. If you are not sure of the best diet for you, just ask me and we can discuss it and work out something that fits your metabolic and Chinese body type.
Some of the homeopathic remedies that often work for anxiety are the following:
*Argentum nitricum – anxiety with desire for sweets; anxiety with depression; headaches; performance anxiety; divorce; emotional upset; obsessional – phobic thinking wiht compulsive avoidances; superstition; exhaustion from heat; indigestion.
*Ignatia – anxiety or insomnia from grief, loss, exciting news or sad news, like loss of a loved one
*Mag phos – muscle spasms, tension, neck and shoulder or lower back pain with anxiety; body feels very tense
*Kali phos – nerves are on edge; nervous headache, weakness following stress; diarrhea from nerves; Dread of some upcoming event
*Sepia – anxiety and weakness before the menses; severe PMS; feeling better after exercising; irritable and wants to be alone, yet often anxious after pushing others away
*Lycopodium – anxiety and anger combined or alternating; flatulent, bloating, gas and digestive problems; thinks they are always right; afraid to be alone; insecurity around the opposite sex; potency problems.
*Silica – weakness and fear with withdrawal; lack of self confidence in sexuality and fear of failure
*Arsenicum alb – very nervous about health; selfish; very organized and wants everything in it’s place or gets very anxious; lots of fears and worries; anxiety is worse at about midnight; inflexibility with tendency to deny problems; likes to look outwardly normal and confident despite inner turmoil.
*Gelsemium – Anxiety for future events; nervous diarrhea; this person does best with peace and quiet; does not want to be disturbed; works well for anticipatory anxiety with diarrhea and fear of being able to do it; lacks inner grit or courage.
(A great book on this subject is: The Homeopathic Treatment of Emotional Illness: A Self-Help Guide to Remedies Which Can Restore Calm and Happiness by Dr. Trevor Smith, Thorsons Pub.)