Anxiety is the leading mental health issue in our country. Though there is an estimated 18.1% of the US population that suffers from anxiety, only 36% of those are seeking help. Anxiety for people getting off of drugs is a significant factor in relapse. Anxiety and drug use is a chicken and an egg sort of thing. Are people using drugs because they are anxious or are they anxious because they are using? After we have gotten off of drugs, anxiety can be a symptom of our nervous system being out of whack as it is getting used to life w/o a drug and repairing itself. Regardless of the cause, it can drive many back to drug use. It is important to seek professional help if your anxiety is affecting daily life.
The first tip for dealing with anxiety is free and can be practiced anywhere: deep breathing. I have watched people come back from an anxiety attack from breathing alone. We tend to breathe into our chest instead of in breathing into our diaphragms. Short, shallow breathing can be a habit, but it can also be treated as a stress response in our bodies. Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, can take us out of the stress response and ground us.
I have written about passionflower before, and I write about it again because it is fantastic. Passionflower works on the benzodiazepine, or the GABAA, receptors in our brain. It gently eases anxiety. When using plant medicines, it is important to remember that a lot of them—not all of them—are subtle and they do not have the same intensity that a pharmaceutical will have, this doesn't mean that it isn't working, it will just work on a more subtle level.
You can drink passionflower tea or you can take a tincture. Tinctures are nice because they are ready to go straight from the bottle.
Tea: To make a medicinal tea (also called an herbal infusion), brew 1 heaping teaspoon of dried passionflower in 8 ounces of water. Steep covered for 15-20 minutes. Add honey to sweeten if you'd like.
Tincture: Take 2-3 full droppers up to 3x a day.
In Thai medicine, anxiety is linked to the wind element. Wind is light; it is movement. When we are anxious, and our thoughts are racing, wind is involved; we want to calm the agitated wind. The follwoing tips are from a traditional Thai medical theory lens.
Ya dom or an Thai herbal inhalers can work wonders. Ya dom is a mixture of herbs that help with anxiety, amongst other things. They can be carried around anywhere and smelled when need be. Some people use them when flying. I have given them to students to smell, and a few come to my classroom to ask me it they can use it.
Jasmine green tea. I have not personally used this myself for anxiety, but my teacher suggests it often so I thought I would put it on the list. The way it is prepared is important so that it flushes out the caffeine of green tea.
-Pour a cup of boiling water over tea and steep for 30 seconds.
-Pour out the water.
-Pour another cup of water over the tea and steep for 30 seconds again.
-Take out the tea bag or ball and drink the tea.
-Add honey if you'd like.
This tea should not keep you awake and can be drunk before bedtime. I just bought some today and made this tea. I wasn't feeling anxious so I cannot report on that, but it was quite lovely to drink.
Tip #1 - Check out this video on deep breathing.
Tip # 3 - Herbal Inhalers can be bought here.
Tip # 4 - Jasmine green tea can be found here or in the tea aisle of at your grocery store.
Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
Jacobsen, Nephyr; Salguero, C Pierce (2014-06-06). Thai Herbal Medicine: Traditional Recipes for Health and Harmony (Kindle Location 700). Findhorn Press
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