Friday, December 3, 2021

7 Essential tips for Anxiety Instalment 3 – Time in Nature

 

Introduction

Anxiety is an extremely common problem, with one in seven Australians currently experiencing an anxiety condition. According to Beyond Blue, one quarter of Australians will experience an anxiety condition in their lifetime, while 26.3% of Australians aged 16 to 85 have experienced an anxiety disorder to date.[1] This is equivalent to 4.96 million people having experienced an anxiety disorder in the last 12 months, or 2.71 million people with anxiety right now.[2]

Anxiety is so widespread that it is the most common mental disorder worldwide.

This week we’ve been exploring natural remedies for anxiety, including those recommended by the ancient practice of Ayurveda, specifically the role excessive Vata dosha has on anxiety, and the need for grounding to bring consciousness back into the whole body.

7 Essential Tips to for Anxiety

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, an Ayurvedic approach will include looking at your whole life to reduce imbalance and bring energy out of your head and back into your body that may include:

1.      Diet: Avoiding sugary foods, take-away, junk foods like soda and I hate to say it - chocolate - as these foods can be overstimulating. Increase grounding, warm, moist, less oily foods, like, hot cereals (porridge), dairy products, bread and pasta or their gluten-free or vegan equivalents like almond milk and oats

2.      Structure: Staying warm, taking a hot bath with aromatic oils, and avoiding distracting or busy music, stressful work or study zones, or entertainment like violent programs or gaming. Create a sanctuary for yourself where you can control your environment

3.      Mindfulness Use mindfulness techniques, meditation or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, listen to grounding music or guided meditation tracks, learn breathing techniques to help eliminate the use of stimulants like nicotine, coffee, energy drinks, illicit drugs etc.

4.      Sleep: Keeping a regular sleep cycle in tune with your natural circadian rhythm, going to bed before 11pm and waking before 8am. Develop a wind-down routine to eliminate stressful activities like answering work emails or browsing social media at least an hour before bed-time, keep your sleep area free of blue light

5.      Nature: Spending time in nature to ground your energy, get your toes into the sand or dirt, create a small garden, talk to your plants, sit on a rock in the sun, hug a tree or look at pictures of nature

6.      Exercise: Undertaking exercise that grounds, strengthens and warms, hot yoga, weight training or hot pilates

7.      Essential Oils: Supplementing with plant-based remedies like essential oils that include concentrates of grounding ingredients including cinnamon, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, rock salt, sesame seeds, anise, citrus, lavender as either aromatics or ingestibles have been shown to support the parasympathetic nervous system to relax, reducing anxiety and stress

So far we have explored the role of Essential Oils and Exercise in the management of anxiety. If you missed these, you can find them here:

Essential Oils: https://cephyra.com/7-essential-tips-for-anxiety/

Exercise: https://cephyra.com/7-essential-tips-for-anxiety-part-2-exercise/



Today our topic is the wonderful benefit time in nature can provide to reduce our stress and anxiety.

Natural wellness treatments and lifestyle routines for anxiety

Tip Number 5 - Nature

Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical well being. For example, doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals can have lots of positive effects.[3] It can:

  • improve your mood - even a short time in nature can improve mood according to researchers
  • reduce feelings of stress or anger , the simple act of being outside in nature has been shown to reduce stress
  • help you take time out and feel more relaxed by switching off devices
  • improve your physical health through exposure to fresh air and movement
  • improve your confidence and self-esteem as it takes you focus off your problems
  • help you be more active, just through the process of getting outside
  • help you make new connections by getting you out of your house
  • provide peer support, through accessing a safe space where you feel accepted and understood

People “…are at higher risk for mood disorders as they age, from dealing with sudden life changes like health issues, the loss of loved ones, and even the new world of retirement," says Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance. "They may not want to turn to medication or therapy for help, and for many, interacting with nature is one of the best self-improvement tools they can use."[4] But it’s not just people in mid-life and retirement who benefit from nature. Anybody who is couped up in an office (whether at home or in a town or city) can benefit just as much from spending time out-doors.

Time in nature is grounding and inherently harmonizing. Try to put your bare feet on the earth, in the sand, or touch a tree for at least a few minutes (or much longer) every day. Get into wild nature at least once a week for a walk, hike, swim or picnic if your anxiety is severe. The restorative role of nature is a part of ancient Ayurveda, and it is also backed by science![5]

Spending time in nature can act as a balm for our busy brains. Both correlational and experimental research have shown that interacting with nature has cognitive benefits—a topic University of Chicago psychologist Marc Berman, PhD, and his student Kathryn Schertz explored in a 2019 review. They reported that green spaces near schools promote cognitive development in children and green views near children’s homes promote self-control behaviours.[6]

Adults assigned to public housing units in neighbourhoods with more green space showed better attentional functioning than those assigned to units with less access to natural environments. And experiments have found that being exposed to natural environments improves working memory, cognitive flexibility and attentional control, while exposure to urban environments is linked to attention deficits.[7]

Here are some top ideas for spending time in nature:

  • grow or pick food – either your own garden, a community garden or with a foraging group
  • bring nature inside – create an internal green space with pot-plants or a terrarium, the process of caring for them will provide time-out from screen-based activities
  • do activities outdoors – meditate, picnic, walk the dog, walk on the beach, do tai chi or yoga, swim, row, kayak or hike
  • help the environment – join a conservation group, plant trees, go plogging, volunteer as a guide at your local botanic gardens
  • connect with animals – volunteer to walk shelter dogs if you don’t have your own, go bird watching, care for rescue animals, or volunteer on a farm

Experimental findings show how impressive nature’s healing powers can be—just a few moments of green can refresh a tired brain. Australian researchers asked students to engage in a dull, attention-draining task where they pressed a computer key when certain numbers flashed on a screen. Students who looked out at a flowering green roof for 40 seconds midway through the task made significantly fewer mistakes than students who paused for 40 seconds to gaze at a concrete rooftop.[8] 

Even the sound of nature has a recuperative effect. In a study published in the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review in 2019, researchers found that participants who listened to nature sounds like crickets chirping or waves crashing performed better on demanding cognitive tests than those who were exposed to urban sounds like traffic and the sounds recorded in a busy café.[9]

In Summary

Anxiety is a complex problem and, thus, there are no simple solutions. The greatest improvements I have seen come with dedicated effort across multiple dimensions of life. |As a clinical hypnotherapist for over 30 years, I have seen people experience dramatic improvements in their anxiety levels if these suggestions are consistently and diligently practiced. Think: lifestyle change rather than one-time adjustment.

As Deepak Chopra says, “the journey of self-discovery, taken with an open heart, inevitably leads to healing.”[10]

At Cephyra® we want you to Be Better, Naturally.

You’ll see a symbiosis in the symbology and herbology of Ayurveda and Kabbala repeated throughout the Cephyra® Activated Oil™ products, which were designed to help us navigate our way through the challenges of the world and thrive, rather than struggle and just survive.

My favourite Cephyra® Activated Oils™ for managing anxiety include Sirius™ formulated to take advantage of the well-established anxiolytic properties of Lavender, Bergamot, Chamomile and Lemon Myrtle. This wonderful edible essential oil can be used in combination with Cephyra® Earth™, Cephyra® Moon™ or Cephyra® Mars™, designed to support grounding and to feel safe and strong in your own body.

To celebrate the release of these products we are offering 20% off store-wide.

Calm your overstimulated brain with Cephyra® Sirus™:

https://cephyra.com/product/sirius/

Regain your foundation with Cephyra® Moon™:

https://cephyra.com/product/moon/

Ground yourself with Cephyra® Earth™:

https://cephyra.com/product/earth/

Tone your nervous system with Cephyra® Mars™:

https://cephyra.com/product/mars/

 

Yours in Wellness,

Elisabetta Faenza

Cephyra® & LeafCann® CEO and Founder



[1] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/media/statistics

[2] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/media/statistics

[3] https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/how-nature-benefits-mental-health/

[4] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-019-0754-8

[5] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature

[6] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0963721419854100

[8] (Lee, K.E., et al., Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2015)

[9] Van Hedger, S.C., et. al., Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2019

[10] https://chopra.com/articles/an-ayurvedic-approach-to-anxiety

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The 7 Essential Tips for Anxiety - Part 2: Exercise

 

 

Introduction

Continuing on this week’s wellness theme of Anxiety, today’s tip is all about the benefits exercise can provide to anyone struggling with anxiety, but first let’s recap the 7 Essential Tips for Anxiety

 

7 Essential Tips for Anxiety

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, an Ayurvedic approach will include looking at your whole life to reduce the Vata imbalance and bring energy out of your head and back into your body that may include:

1.      Diet: Avoiding sugary foods, take-away, junk foods like soda and I hate to say it - chocolate - as these foods can be overstimulating. Increase grounding, warm, moist, less oily foods, like, hot cereals (porridge), dairy products, bread and pasta or their gluten-free or vegan equivalents like almond milk and oats

2.      Structure: Staying warm, taking a hot bath with aromatic oils, and avoiding distracting or busy music, stressful work or study zones, or entertainment like violent programs or gaming. Create a sanctuary for yourself where you can control your environment

3.      Mindfulness Use mindfulness techniques, meditation or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, listen to grounding music or guided meditation tracks, learn breathing techniques to help eliminate the use of stimulants like nicotine, coffee, energy drinks, illicit drugs etc.

4.      Sleep: Keeping a regular sleep cycle in tune with your natural circadian rhythm, going to bed before 11pm and waking before 8am. Develop a wind-down routine to eliminate stressful activities like answering work emails or browsing social media at least an hour before bed-time, keep your sleep area free of blue light

5.      Nature: Spending time in nature to ground your energy, get your toes into the sand or dirt, create a small garden, talk to your plants, sit on a rock in the sun, hug a tree or look at pictures of nature

6.      Exercise: Undertaking exercise that grounds, strengthens and warms, hot yoga, weight training or hot pilates

7.      Essential Oils: Supplementing with plant-based remedies like essential oils that include concentrates of grounding ingredients including cinnamon, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, rock salt, sesame seeds, anise, citrus, lavender as either aromatics or ingestibles have been shown to support the parasympathetic nervous system to relax, reducing anxiety and stress

You may or may not have come across these 7 tips. They work best when used in conjunction with each other, and many of them are common sense.

Natural wellness treatments and lifestyle routines for anxiety

Yesterday we focused on contrasting plant-based essential oil natural remedies (tip 7) with pharmaceuticals. Today it’s all about exercise (tip 6).

Tip 6. Exercise

Warming exercise is important for anyone with anxiety. Dozens of studies have shown the benefits, but to truly get the most out of exercise to reduce anxiety, remember you must stay warm. No exercising in freezing conditions for you. Ensure you are in an environment that will keep you snug as you exercise, or wear appropriate clothing so the cold doesn’t bite.

Yoga

For example, aim to do 15-plus minutes of yoga-type exercise every single day in a warm, comfortable space. Yoga has been proven by multiple good quality scientific studies to be helpful for anxiety.[1] Out of 35 studies looking at the link between yoga and anxiety, 25 of these showed a link between Yoga and improved stress and anxiety outcomes, although the authors note that larger better designed studies are justified.

Why does yoga work? Well, it is soothing for the nervous system, which is agitated when Vata is out of balance and/or you are anxious. Yoga increases glutathione, a natural antioxidant (helps you look young and radiant, prevents illness, and detoxifies the body).[2] It is also much easier to meditate after doing yoga, so consider doing 10–15 minutes of yoga followed by meditation first thing in the morning (and/or later in the afternoon as a work break, especially if feeling stressed or anxious). I’ll have more guidance on meditation later in the week.

Weight training

Several studies have found a positive link between weight training and mental health. Early studies used complicated work-out routines to elicit the benefit, however in recent times it has been shown that even quite simple weight bearing routines can produce significant improvements in anxiety levels.

A 2018 review of studies,[3] published by JAMA, concluded that adults who lift weights are less likely to develop depression than those who never lift. In another study, published in 2012, women with clinical anxiety disorders reported fewer symptoms after taking up either aerobic or weight training.[4]

In the latest study, scientists devised a simple resistance training routine, based around health guidelines from the World Health Organization and the American College of Sports Medicine. Both those organizations recommend muscle strengthening at least twice a week, and that’s what the volunteers began doing. After initial instruction from the researchers, the volunteers took up a basic program of lunges, lifts, squats and crunches, sometimes using dumbbells and other equipment.[5]

While the control group showed no improvement in anxiety symptoms, the weight trainers scored about 20 percent better on the tests of anxiety.

This effect was “larger than anticipated,” says Brett Gordon, currently a postdoctoral scholar at the Penn State Cancer Institute at Penn State College of Medicine, who was a co-author of the study. The benefits for mental health were also greater than those often seen in studies of aerobic exercise and anxiety.

Dr. Gordon says. “There are numerous ways to strength train with little to no equipment,” he says. “Try common body weight exercises, such as push-ups, sit-ups or squats, or use household items as weights.”[6]

As Dr Gordon says, you don’t need to go the gym, there are lots of exercises you can do at home, or in the park that will stimulate the same toning of the nervous system and release positive, uplifting natural chemicals throughout the brain and body. The New York Times has some great tips for those just starting weight training: https://www.nytimes.com/guides/year-of-living-better/how-to-build-muscle-strength

Outdoor Exercise

This type of exercise combines 2 of our Key Tips – Exercise and Nature. The idea that exercise can help to reduce anxiety has been researched extensively over the last 50 years. But while there’s plenty of scientific and anecdotal evidence in support of this, putting a figure on the benefit has, until now, been a mystery.[7]

No longer. A recent study in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry puts a number on it. And it’s a big one: about 60%.

Swedish researchers analysed the data from almost 400,000 people, concentrating on the differences between those who were more active compared to those who were more sedentary. The researchers used a wonderfully Scandinavian criterion for identifying the active from the non-active: participation, or lack thereof, in Vasaloppet, an annual cross-country ski race of some 56 miles that has been running since 1922.[8]

In the study, published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology in September 2021, skiers in the race and matched non-skiers from the general population were studied after participation using the Swedish population and patient registries. Skiers had a significantly lower risk of developing anxiety during the follow-up compared to non-skiers.

I think the take-home message from this study is the combination of outdoor activity and long-slow-distance exercise. Studies of long-distance walkers or runners have also shown positive results in quality of life and reduction in anxiety. One interesting observation from the Swedish study, is that the highest performing athletes had lower benefits than the slowest and more average participants. The message here is that exercising for fun or for your health, or as part of your community is better for you than training and competing in elite sports. So, it doesn’t matter how well you do it. It matters just that you do it!

In Summary

Anxiety is a complex problem and, thus, there are no simple solutions. The greatest improvements I have seen come with dedicated effort across multiple dimensions of life. |As a clinical hypnotherapist for over 30 years, I have seen people experience dramatic improvements in their anxiety levels if these suggestions are consistently and diligently practiced. Think: lifestyle change rather than one-time adjustment.

As Deepak Chopra says, “the journey of self-discovery, taken with an open heart, inevitably leads to healing.”[9]

At Cephyra® we want you to Be Better, Naturally.

You’ll see a symbiosis in the symbology and herbology of Ayurveda and Kabbala repeated throughout the Cephyra® Activated Oil™ products, which were designed to help us navigate our way through the challenges of the world and thrive, rather than struggle and just survive.

My favourite Cephyra® Activated Oils™ for managing anxiety include Sirius™ formulated to take advantage of the well-established anxiolytic properties of Lavender, Bergamot, Chamomile and Lemon Myrtle. This wonderful edible essential oil can be used in combination with Cephyra® Earth™, Cephyra® Moon™ or Cephyra® Mars™, designed to support grounding and to feel safe and strong in your own body.

To celebrate the release of these products we are offering 20% off store-wide.

Experience the calming power and get out of your head with Cephyra® Sirus™:

Learn more about Cephyra Sirius 

Regain your foundation and feel good in your body with Cephyra® Moon™:

Learn More about Cephyra Moon

Ground yourself and manage delayed onset muscle soreness with Cephyra® Earth™:

Learn more about Cephyra Earth

Tone your nervous system and improve your strength with Cephyra® Mars™:

Learn more about Cephyra Mars

Join me tomorrow when we’ll take a deep dive into the benefits of time in nature to manage anxiety.

Yours in Wellness,

Elisabetta Faenza

Cephyra® & LeafCann® CEO and Founder

 



[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22502620/

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18166119/

[3] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2680311

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22116310/

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/04/well/mind/anxiety-stress-weight-training-lifting-resistance.html

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/04/well/mind/anxiety-stress-weight-training-lifting-resistance.html

[7] https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/health/mental-health/a37973236/outdoor-exercise-reduce-anxiety/

[8] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.714014/full

[9] https://chopra.com/articles/an-ayurvedic-approach-to-anxiety