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
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:
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- Exercise: Undertaking exercise that grounds, strengthens and warms, hot yoga, weight training or hot pilates
- 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.
Yesterday we focused on contrasting plant-based essential oil natural remedies (tip 7) with pharmaceuticals. Today it’s all about exercise (tip 6).
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.
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. 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). 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
In the study, published in the journal Frontiers of Psychologyin 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!
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 practised. 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.”
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™: https://cephyra.com/product/sirius/
Regain your foundation and feel good in your body with Cephyra® Moon™:
Ground yourself and manage delayed onset muscle soreness with Cephyra® Earth™:
Tone your nervous system and improve your strength with 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,
Cephyra® & LeafCann® CEO and Founder