Have you felt more anxious lately? If so, you’re not alone.
More than one-quarter of all Ireland residents experienced signs of generalised anxiety disorder in 2020. Characterised by persistent worrying, irritability, restlessness, and an inability to concentrate, anxiety can rob the joy from life. Fortunately, help is available!
While prescription medication can help reduce anxiety, it’s a long-term decision with potential side effects that can impact your health in other ways. So instead, many people prefer to first try holistic methods, which are easy, effective, and affordable.
Let’s take a closer look!
CBD is the non-intoxicating cousin of THC, the psychoactive compound that creates the high associated with using marijuana. It’s growing increasingly popular throughout Ireland, used to help reduce anxiety, depression, muscle pain, insomnia, and many other ailments.
In Ireland, as long as CBD products contain no THC, they are not considered illegal drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1977. However, it’s also not classified as a medicine. Doctors can’t prescribe CBD products to patients, and it’s not allowed for sale in pharmacies.
Instead, CBD products require labelling as either supplements or food products. Fortunately, this makes them relatively easy to find and buy at many retail and grocery stores.
Most breathwork techniques originate from a Hindu yoga practice called Pranayama. Breathing in and out in controlled, specific ways helps calm both your body and mind.
Deep breaths activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, relax your chest muscles, and otherwise calm you physically. Additionally, breathing exercises help you access, control, and calm your emotions.
Examples of breathwork include:
- A focus on the movement of your chest and diaphragm as you breath
- Breathing at certain speeds or in specific intervals
- Paying attention to the temperature of your breath
Not only does breathwork help stop anxiety at the moment, but regular use of breathing techniques can also help reduce chronic anxiety.
Meditation is the ancient practice of sitting quietly and resting your mind. Multiple studies strongly suggest regular meditation helps reduce anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, and many other medical maladies.
Many different types of meditation techniques and styles exist. However, practically all of them involves these four key components:
- You’ll need a spot free from noises and distraction
- You’ll sit or lie down in a comfortable position
- You’ll focus on a simple element, such as a mantra, an object, or your breath
- You’ll allow thoughts to enter and leave your consciousness without judgement
Meditation is one of the oldest and simplest ways to reduce anxiety.
The Japanese practice of forest bathing, also known as shinrinyoku, combines a physical hike through the forest with a mindful meditation about Mother Nature. As you move, you’ll focus on the sights, smells, and other experiences of the wilderness.
While you can practice nature therapy independently, many people prefer to hike as part of a group. A guide shinrinyoku experience allows you to walk along a new trail without fear of getting lost. Plus, a guided tour helps introduce the meditation concepts of the therapy.
With an abundance of natural beauty, forest therapy is popular throughout Ireland. Nature, Health and Wellbeing Ireland is one of the country’s leading organisations dedicated to forest therapy awareness.
The technique comes from the Biophilia Hypothesis, which asserts that humans have a biological predisposition towards spending time in nature. So, at the very least, brisk exercise and fresh air help many people reduce their feelings of anxiety.
Like Pranayama, yoga is another ancient Hindu practice originating in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. It combines stretching, movement, breathing, and meditation. Numerous studies show how yoga helps reduce anxiety by decreasing emotional reactivity while boosting mental acuity and feelings of calm.
A variety of different styles exist. Some of the most popular include:
- Hatha – This basic type of yoga acts as a foundation for all others. It focuses on the core elements of breathing, movement, and meditation.
- Vinyasa – Although the term is used fairly broadly, vinyasa yoga is typically a fast-paced workout.
- Lyengar – This type of yoga emphasises balance and flexibility. It uses a variety of equipment such as straps, blocks, and blankets.
- Hot Yoga – Practicing yoga in a heated room is thought to help release toxins. The most popular type of hot yoga is Bikram yoga, which involves a sequence of 26 specific poses.
Yoga poses are called “asanas.” They’re often integrated with the Pranayamas (breathwork) described above.
Reiki is a healing technique created in Japan in the 1800s. Also called palm healing or hands-on healing, reiki focus on removing energy blocks from the body to allow for natural healing. “Reiki” is a combination of two Japanese words — “rei,” meaning universal, and “ki,” meaning life energy.
Reiki practitioners place their palms on or above the patient. The goal is to unblock energy from within the patient’s body. Basically, reiki practitioners believe physical and emotional energy can stagnate within the body, and removing it helps reduce pain, anxiety, and other ailments.
Does Reiki work? Unfortunately, no scientific verification exists for the practice, but many recipients report increased feelings of relaxation after a session. Plus, Reiki also includes several daily affirmations to help you stay positive and worry-free.
Do you ever find relief from stress by rubbing your neck or hands? You’re practising a simple form of reflexology, which involves applying light pressure to specific areas of the body.
Most reflexology focuses on the foot. The theory is that specific areas of the bottom of the foot connect directly to systems throughout the body. Using a foot chart, the reflexologist will massage the locations that help soothe your nervous system and then help reduce anxious feelings.
Regular exercise helps reduce both the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. Even a single short exercise session can make you feel less anxious. Practically any type of exercise is helpful, so feel free to pick whatever you find the most fun.
You can increase the benefits by exercising outdoors, which lets you incorporate nature therapy as described above. Another option is to exercise with other people, which introduces a social element that can also help combat anxiety.
How we frame issues in our mind helps us process them. Reducing internal expressions of negativity, and replacing them with positive self-talk, can help reduce both chronic and situation-specific anxiety.
Instead of saying comments to yourself such as “I’m going to fail” or “This situation will be a disaster,” use positive expressions such as “Even if this doesn’t go as I want, it will still be a valuable opportunity to grow.”
Switching from negative to positive inner monologue doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s not always an easy process, but the benefits are fairly well-documented. It’s used often as part of a more extensive psychotherapy process.
Listening to slow, relaxing music can reduce anxiety as effectively as many prescription drugs, but with none of the side effects. Research suggests listening to music with 60 beats per minute helps create alpha brain waves, which are the same type created when you’re relaxed.
Some popular types of calming music include Native American, Indian and even Celtic music. But, of course, your opinion matters, too. If you enjoy listening to the music, you’ll have an easier time experiencing its relaxing effects.
Anxiety can affect anyone, regardless of age, income level, or other factors. Fortunately, help is available for practically everyone. Breathing, stretching, and many other exercise options require no expensive equipment or complicated instructions. Additionally, products such as calming music and CBD oil are effective alternatives to harsh prescription medications.
No matter which techniques you prefer, you can find freedom from anxiety!