This article will also be available on the Total Cleanse website
Sarah Reid, RHNC
Anxiety disorders are more common than you might think – in fact, it’s the top diagnosed psychiatric disorder type in the Western world. Regardless of the specific diagnosis, anxiety disorders share a common bond – sufferers endure periods of irrational, unrelenting fear. 1 in every 1000 Canadians develop this condition, costing $30 billion in direct treatment, lost earnings and work time, and other associated expenses including drugs and psychotherapy. Degenerative disease and eating disorders can also arise from untreated anxiety.
However, the daily stresses of simply living does not mean living with a lifetime of panic and anxiety attacks. Identification of your day-to-day anxieties and taking immediate actions to spot-correct them will go a long way in improving your overall well-being and your adaptability to change. Locating the root and exacerbating causes of your high stress levels, exercise, laughter, eating well and being able to forgive yourself (and others) are all steps that you can take to tackle anxiety head on once you realize it’s a problem in your life. How do you know it’s a problem? Take a look at your social life and willingness to socialize, your ability to work in groups, working against a deadline, your eating habits, energy and sleep patterns. If you see a lot of antisocial activity, avoidance of high pressure situations to a point where it’s affecting your performance at work or school, over- or under-eating and chronic exhaustion, it’s time to take action before it’s too late.
Finding the root cause of your anxiety can be as simple as making a list. Choose the major thing that is making you anxious in your daily life (or make a note of your major stressor every day for a week and choose the most common one), then journal every fear you have about that one item. For example, if it’s money, you might write down what would happen if you lost your job. Highlight the absolute worst thing that could happen in that situation, then score the rest of the items 1-10 – 1 being highly unlikely to happen, 10 being very likely. You’ll likely be surprised at how few items rank above a 5. However, if something does rank higher than a 5, treat it as a call to action that you can channel that anxiety into.
If you need a plan to detach from yourself and your worries, yoga or tai-chi are a great practices to get into. Without the price tag and time commitment attached to an organized class, I recommend the following yoga savasana practice every night about 1 hour before bed:
Lie down on the back, palms up. Let the feet fall out to either side.
Taking 3-4 deep, “belly” breaths, then let the breath occur naturally.
Beginning with your toes, contract and relax each part of your body, working up towards your face. Start to detach from any active thought, focusing on your inhale and exhale. Let the body feel heavy.
Centre yourself in each moment that passes – for example, feel your head upon the pillow, the back of your hands and heels on the bed or floor.
Focus on who you are, what you want to be and how you want to feel.
To come out, begin to the deepen the breath, then slowly move the fingers and toes, awakening the body.
Bring the knees into the chest and roll over to one side, keeping the eyes closed for about 20-30 seconds.
Slowly bring yourself back up into a sitting position.