Anxiety has become one of the most widely suffered health issues in the world. Nearly everyone is affected in some way by it, and its severity is increasing precipitously.
While anxiety technically refers to a diagnosed mental health disorder, you don’t need a doctor to validate your nagging feelings of worry and fear. Nowadays, it hardly even makes sense to separate those “who have it” and those who don’t (as though it’s some kind of disease), because anxiety has simply become an ever-present condition that comes along with living in modern society.
Just how prevalent is it? Some experts estimate that 800% more people suffer from anxiety than from all cancers combined. And that’s just counting those who have been officially diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
This should come as no surprise, since the lives we’re obligated to lead don’t exactly create conditions that are conducive to remaining anxiety-free. We work too much (and are told that we’re still not working hard enough), move too fast, and are made to labor under a constant slew of environmental toxins that cause oxidative stress and inflammation.
These psychological and physiological conditions ensure that the body and mind are kept in a constant state of anxiety. They affirm that the world is a dangerous, unpredictable, and uncertain place—and that we must therefore remain on high alert at all times.
If we don’t employ the proper tools and practices to alleviate tension, this state of high alert can become debilitating. Our bodies shut down, and we develop strong physical responses in association with stressful and anxiety-producing stimuli. For this reason, some researchers have called anxiety “a psychological allergy to uncertainty.”
Our worries and fears might all be in the mind, but their effects upon the body are very real. Stress—which can be thought of as a catch-all term for both diagnosed and undiagnosed incidences of anxiety—inflames the body, taxes the quality of your sleep, literally shrinks the brain, and is even said to be the cause of a whopping 60% of all human illness.
Something has to give.
And because it’s clear that our society won’t be reforming its frenzied pace of life anytime soon, we need to take matters into our own hands—we need to train our bodies and our minds, so that we can cope with the uncertainties of life.
It all starts with changing your perspective
Our materialism-obsessed medical system likes to think that anxiety can only be treated in one way: by messing with the physiology of the brain and body. Amazingly, the proponents of this ideology still deny that lifestyle has much of anything to do with balancing your physical and mental health. And even if it does, they say, you’re still just altering brain chemistry—a process which can be more efficiently accomplished by pharmacology.
While there’s certainly a physiological component to anxiety, and while there are some natural substances that can help alleviate your suffering, this shouldn’t be the beginning of your path to living anxiety-free.
Before you put your faith in any external medicine or supplement, you need to evolve your outlook toward anxiety.
Allow yourself to recognize your anxiety as an aversion to uncertainty. Now here’s the hard part: recognize that you can’t completely avoid uncertainty, and that’s okay! Learn to observe negative feelings of anxiety as they arise. Don’t suppress them, but don’t let them overwhelm you either.
Think of your fears and worries as a sign that’s it’s time to slow down…and listen to these signals! Take the time to do something nice for yourself, even if it’s just stepping outside and taking a few deep breaths.
This simple practice will serve as an excellent introduction to some more powerful practices that have provided relief from anxiety to a huge number of people.
Train your thoughts and emotions
The process of learning to observe your thoughts and emotions neutrally is central to meditation. This ancient practice is making a serious comeback, and for good reason.
The simple act of setting aside time every day to remain mindful of the present can be astoundingly beneficial for those who suffer from stress and anxiety. Studies have even demonstrated that 8 weeks of meditation can actually shrink the amygdala, the part of the brain that governs fight or flight response.
If you’re a fan of slightly more active practices, though, there are other options too. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)—which combines acupressure and positive autosuggestion to “reprogram” your emotional biocircuitry—has proven itself to be powerfully effective at overcoming anxiety.
EFT directly targets the amgydala and the hippocampus (which determines whether or not something is a threat to you), and has actually been shown to lower cortisol levels in the body (cortisol is known as the “stress hormone”).
Help your body help you
Lowering your levels of cortisol and other chemicals that exacerbate anxiety response can obviously be accomplished through physical means, as well.
Just remember not to put your faith in pills and external cures—overcoming anxiety needs to be a process of holistic lifestyle design.
Especially when used in conjunction with the practices discussed above, certain supplements can be immensely helpful for dealing with anxiety. A class of herbs known as adaptogens can actually teach your body how to process stress more effectively (“adaptogen” can literally be translated as “adaptation generator”). If you haven’t done so already, check out our article about the top adaptogens to try.
Many of our favorite adaptogens have been combined to create this excellent formula called Cortisol-Ease, which powerfully alleviates anxiety by directly lowering cortisol levels, decreasing oxidative stress, and supporting all of the bodily systems associated with stress response.
It’s affordable, easy to use, and made with meticulous attention to quality and detail…so give it a try!
And whichever path you choose, just know that you don’t have to live under the weight of anxiety. The solutions above, if applied with consistency and dedication, will allow you to reclaim your life and liveliness, so that you can walk through each day happily, healthily, and without fear.