While anxiety and depression are not the same, they can both be the result of a stressful lifestyle. Your moods and emotions are regulated by a complex network of neurotransmitters and receptors. When your regulatory systems are thrown out of balance, the changes color the way you interpret your surroundings and respond to your environment.
While many people choose to rely on prescription medications to help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety, antianxiety medications and antidepressants are not right for everyone. For various reasons, many people prefer natural alternatives. For those who prefer a natural approach to alleviating their symptoms, we offer the following suggestions.
Practicing Mindfulness to Minimize the Impact
Your brain is likely in a continual cycle of random thoughts, memories, and distractions. As a result of depression or anxiety, you may spend a good portion of your day reflecting on past hardships or analyzing the many potential problems of the future. It's not your fault; it's just the way our brains are wired.
Research shows that we are at our happiest, most energized selves when engaged in activities that keep us focused in the present. This is known as mindfulness. Many psychotherapists recommend mindfulness meditation as a method of treating depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse.
While the techniques seem simple enough, living mindfully takes practice. Consider the following suggestions to help you live your life happily in the present, to live mindfully:
- Pay attention to the details of your experience, the sights, sounds, and physical sensations
- Breathe mindfully, focus on inhaling and exhaling through your nose naturally to minimize stress
- Focus on one task at a time without distraction
- Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings without judgment or self-criticism
- Practice accepting what cannot be changed rather than dwelling on the negatives
- Practice mindfulness meditation either in one 10-15 minute session or in shorter sessions throughout your day
When you live your life mindfully, you maintain your focus on life as it is at this moment. You observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment, and then return your attention to the present. You take the time to feel the wind on your face and the sensation of the ground beneath your feet. When you keep your focus on the present, the past that you cannot change is left in the past. The future that can't be predicted is left to unfold without worry.
Consider the Benefits of Essential Oils to Manage Symptoms
The use of plant extracts for health and healing has been practiced throughout our recorded history. Essential oils are often recognized for their ability to enhance the body's natural healing processes. Many plant essences provide actions similar to their pharmaceutical counterparts.
- Ylang Ylang For Anxiety - this sweet, fruity oil relaxes nerves, lowers blood pressure, and decreases the release of adrenaline that can escalate anxiety symptoms. Ylang ylang may also be beneficial for minimizing the impact of stress hormones and reducing the severity of panic attacks.
- Rose Geranium Oil For Depression - considered one of the most beneficial of the essential oils for alleviating the symptoms of depression. Rose Geranium oil can also stimulate circulation, enhance memory, and reduce stress as it elevates your mood.
- Lavender Oil For Anxiety – one of the most versatile of the essential oils. Clinical trials indicate that lavender has an anxiolytic effect, which helps calm the central nervous system. Lavender essential oils can also be used to sanitize surfaces, promote sleep, and reduce inflammation.
- Rosemary Oil For Depression - contains mood-elevating bioactive compounds that are shown to increase alertness and enhance memory when tested on volunteers. Test subjects reported feeling refreshed, more alert, and more cheerful than the control group.
Practicing Yoga for Symptom Management
Yoga has been practiced for centuries to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Until recently researchers had little understanding of why yoga appeared to be such a powerful health and wellness catalyst. With advances in technology comes improvement in our understanding.
Today researchers understand that yoga helps restore balance to your autonomic nervous system, the branch of your nervous system responsible for the automatic processes and functions that you do not need to consciously control. Your autonomic nervous system regulates your breathing, temperature, heart rate, stress responses, and more.
When your autonomic nervous system remains balanced, the areas of your brain that regulate your moods and emotions function more effectively. The practice of yoga includes:
- Movement (asana)
- Breathing (pranayama)
- Relaxation (savasana)
- Meditation or positive thinking (dhyana)
While it tones and strengthens your body, yoga also provides a natural method of increasing the serotonin levels in your brain. Seratonin is one of the chemicals (neurotransmitters) that helps your brain relay signals. Serotonin imbalances are now believed to cause depression and several other mental health disorders.
Consider the Many Potential Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a small shrub native to North Africa and India. This beneficial herb is one of the most significant components in Ayurvedic medicine, the Indian principals of natural healing. Today, ashwagandha is a popular dietary supplement due to its ability to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen; it helps your body adapt to stressors. This natural supplement is known to reduce cortisol production, your stress hormones, by as much as 30 percent. Ashwagandha stabilizes your body's stress responses while protecting your brain from degeneration. Ashwagandha supplements can help improve your focus and reduce fatigue without the risk of side effects associated with many prescription medications. You may also be interested in some of the many additional benefits, including:
- Inhibiting the growth of cancer cells
- Lowering triglycerides and cholesterol
- Enhancing male fertility
- Increasing muscle strength and muscle mass
- Providing antibacterial support
- Supporting the immune system functions
- Reducing inflammation and pain
In a study of 39 subjects, ashwagandha was shown to reduce anxiety levels by more than 88 percent when compared to the control group. While ashwagandha is considered safe for most, this herb should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have an autoimmune disorder or thyroid condition, consult with your physician before using ashwagandha.
When you are living with depression, anxiety, or both, a few simple lifestyle modifications could help alleviate your symptoms. Consider the benefits of mindfulness, essential oils, yoga, and natural supplements like ashwagandha to help battle your symptoms and reduce the impact of stress on your health and well being. If self-help is not effectively managing your symptoms, consider scheduling a consultation with your healthcare provider