By Katherine Willow
This topic interests me personally. After decades of being driven by subterranean terrors, I find myself finally and concretely learning to feel my body, ground into safety and create a life based on realistic adult thinking. Along the way numerous therapies and naturopathic remedies helped maintain my body, daily functioning (sometimes barely) and relative sanity until I could start coming to grips with the intense feelings which threatened to sink me whenever there was a quiet moment.
All this is to say that treating anxiety and fear can be a long process, although I have seen some patients break a cycle of anxiety and panic attacks in a few weeks or months. Here’s the general treatment plan.
Overcoming anxiety and fear starts with strengthening the body:
- Restore nutritional deficiencies, especially protein. Eat easily digestible protein (powders come in handy) at every meal and snack. Take enzymes to help absorption if there is gas and bloating.
- Support the adrenal glands. Depleted adrenals lead to anxiety which in turn depletes the adrenals more. One needs to break this downward spiral or crash into chronic fatigue or depression. I suggest adrenal glandulars as well as herbs and homeopathic remedies and eliminating caffeine, which whips the adrenals into even more fatigue and prevents their recovery. Stop overworking.
- Move regularly, gently and mindfully to release muscular tension. Weight training is awesome for feeling stronger emotionally.
- Learn to sleep well to rebuild the nervous system.
- Acupuncture can help balance weak organs and systems.
At the same time, there is a process of becoming aware of one’s emotions and learning to feel without freaking out or needing to self-medicate.
- Talk to someone regularly: a therapist, co-counselling buddy, sponsor in a 12-step process or life coach.
- Bodywork such as massage or craniosacral therapy with emotional release is useful.
- EMDR, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, with an experienced therapist has a strong track record for healing trauma that lies at the root of chronic anxiety.
- Mindfulness meditation likewise is well documented to help anxiety as well as depression.
- EFT or emotional freedom technique is a safe and effective self-help technique which can move us out of anxiety in minutes. See www.thetappingsolution.com for instructions and inspiration.
- Energy work such as reiki, quantum touch or shamanic journeying can access soul strength that has been lost along the way.
Then we can learn to relax and defuse the anxious state on our own:
- Yoga, meditation and conscious breathing.
- Relaxing massage.
- The Nordik Spa.
- Socializing in a safe group of friends.
Sometimes one needs several modalities over many years to break through layers of habits, addictions, delusions and denial. Sometimes it takes generations.
Finally, we need to understand resistance when we do all of the above without seeing much progress.
Resistance is the biological survival mechanism which tells us it is not safe to relax and heal. It does not respond to rational self-talk, reading self-help books or many of our efforts UNTIL there is a solid sense of safety, usually with another person. Sometimes it takes one person reaching in and being present with our unbearable feelings to begin coming out of the isolation of living in chronic anxiety and fear. And this person doesn’t need a title…
It is common to suffer from anxiety and fears; let’s be gentle and patient with ourselves.