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I suffered badly from anxiety for years and I know that lifestyle is the best way to treat it. I describe anxiety as the feeling you get if your mind is not anchored. The things make you feel solid and safe make chi descend. The things that make you feel anxious are things that make chi ascend. Just get chi moving downwards, so you feel grounded, and you will naturally cut off many triggers for anxiety. If you take an anxiety medication such as Xanax, it creates the impression of solidity and safety as it makes your chi move downwards (this is why it is called a ‘downer’). So, you might ask, why not just take Xanax (or another medication) for anxiety? Well it hijacks the descending mechanism and then it destroys it. So you can end up even more anxious.
If you suffer from anxiety you can do a lot with simple lifestyle changes. Firstly avoid what makes chi ascend such as: diet fads with insufficient protein (if you eat salads that ‘light meal’ feeling is chi ascending); harmful levels of stress, prolonged periods of intense concentration, physical overexertion, drug and alcohol abuse, violent movies and computer games. Permanent chi ascension harms the yin and creates the grounds for chronic anxiety. So always work on things that make chi descend instead. These include breathing techniques, exercise (weight training is a great anxiety buster), a diet with sufficient protein (protein three times a day for anxiety) and complex carbs; a calm and cooked breakfast because stomach chi grounds you. Never ever skip breakfast if you have anxiety, otherwise you’ll start your day in an off-grounded and vulnerable state.
Book a holistic lifestyle consultation to find out what is contributing to your anxiety and what you can do to combat it naturally. Look into the calming Chinese herbal formulas. The basics on preventing anxiety are covered well in my book Clock On To Health. If you have post-drug anxiety, which is very common, get my book The Rebel’s Guide to Recovery.
*This is a very simplified version of anxiety offering an intuitive approach to understanding it and a couple of simple things you can do. Anxiety is a complex symptom but in TCM the solution is always simple.
In TCM your organs have physiological functions but also metaphysical and psychological ones. Each symptom is associated with one or more organs. The organs associated with this symptom are:
TCM recognises patterns of symptoms affiliated with particular organs, and that these patterns can be reversed though treatment and lifestyle. The patterns associated with this symptom are:
Your heart is the primary organ involved with anxiety. Good heart function depends on blood. The heart houses the mind, but the blood anchors the mind. A healthy heart and abundant blood is the basis for a balanced emotional life. So the strategy is to build your blood. Acupuncture will immediately calm and settle your mind. Chinese blood-building herbal formulas will really help too, these anchor and settle the mind.
Your liver stores blood, so to treat anxiety we look at treating the liver as well. If it is functioning effectively it will assist in settling the mind. It is also responsible for the flow of chi around your body and if this is flowing freely you feel happy (think spontaneous laughter here), and in that state you can’t experience anxiety.
Your spleen houses your thoughts. A healthy spleen contains your thoughts. If it is weak you can get obsessive thinking, scattered thoughts and you can also talk yourself into anxiety. So we focus on building the spleen with acupuncture to enhance the ‘transformation and transportation’ function which then houses your thoughts properly. Add Chinese herbal formulas to strengthen your spleen and promote the production of blood.
Weak kidneys will generate fear and this can trigger anxiety. Chinese herbal formulas and chi practices combined will strengthen your kidney energies so you’ll feel confident not fearful. On top of treatments you need to look at your whole lifestyle. If you have too much sex, for example, it will deplete kidney energies and that, in turn, can lead to anxiety.
In Western medicine anxiety is both an emotional condition and a pathology, the cause of disease. Anxiety and nervousness can be seen as an instinctual response to threat and danger, but when anxiety manifests as excessive worry and is constantly present, particularly in circumstances where there is no apparent threat, it is considered a disorder. Anxiety is often accompanied by depression and can be debilitating physically as well as mentally. Sufferers of anxiety commonly avoid people, situations and places that trigger anxious feelings, leading to isolation and, occasionally, to more serious mental health-related disabilities such as phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and, if the anxiety is trauma-related, to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions and is on the increase in young adults. It is usually characterised by persistent unease and worry and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Anxiety is often accompanied by sleep disorders and the physical symptoms of fear: rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, perspiration – including sweaty hands, restlessness, muscle tension, headaches, diarrhoea and dry mouth. Feelings of unease and panic can, in extremity, lead to panic attacks. In Western medicine the actual cause of panic attacks is unknown but may be a bio-chemical response to either real or perceived threat.
In Western medicine treatments can vary widely. From changing diet and lifestyle to hypnotherapy, and counselling. Therapeutic approaches include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and other psychological, psychiatric and psychotherapeutic avenues. The Western medicine approach is often to medicate, using anti-depressants which aid in serotonin (a ‘feel-good’ hormone) uptake. If anti-depressants either take too long to start working or worsen symptoms, Benzodiazepines (such as Valium and Xanax), which have a sedative effect, are sometimes used.