By April Schulte-Barclay Monday, September 12, 2016
Anxiety is prevalent in today’s high-paced, high-stress environment.
People who have anxiety may experience heart palpitations, incessant worrying and general restlessness and agitation.
The anxiety may come from a known root cause such as an impending job loss or having a sick loved one.
However, commonly anxiety may also feel “unrooted” in that the cause is unknown.
For anxiety of both kinds, patients are commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication, which can serve as a huge disadvantage for the patient.
Human emotions are meant to serve as a guidance system through life, similar to a GPS in a car. Your body provides clues via emotions to guide you toward a fulfilling, safe and healthy life.
By using medications to cover symptoms of anxiety, the opportunity to explore what can be changed to achieve greater outcomes diminishes. Appropriate questions to ask one’s self when experiencing anxiety may be:
■ Am I headed in a direction in my life that aligns with my life’s purpose?
■ Am I living in accordance with my value system?
■ Is my body asking me to pay attention to an imbalance in my health?
■ Do I believe I deserve to be nourished physically, emotionally and spiritually?
Anxiety in the body can be easily compared to a wildfire in nature. While a wildfire can be started by something as obvious as an explosive lightning strike, a minute spark of electricity may also ignite a fire. The degree to which the fire burns can be related to the conditions on the ground. The more well-nourished and moist the ground is, the less potential for the fire to run rampant and out of control.
Much like a fire, anxiety in the body presents as heat rising, resulting in frenetic energy. The physiological results may include insomnia, heart palpitations, hot flushes, upset stomach, trembling and more. The key to treating anxiety at its root is finding ways to anchor that unsettled energy by nourishing one’s physiological landscape.
Dr. Paula King, a psychologist and life coach for more than 30 years, has been clinically addressing the facets of anxiety her whole career. Having worked collaboratively with the practitioners at Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions for the past seven years, King recognizes “anxiety is a core issue for every patient we see in our clinic.”
By combining her work with complementary modalities, her patients receive much quicker and more efficacious results. While cognitive behavioral therapy can be useful, King also employs other tools, such as the emotional freedom technique, to immediately change the patient’s biochemical landscape.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also can immediately change the body’s biochemical landscape.Stress hormones that are out of balance, particularly from living in fight-or-flight mode for extended periods of time, are commonly at the root of anxiety.
Researchers at Georgetown University showed that acupuncture modulates the body’s production of stress hormones, inducing a state of relaxation.
Like so many other conditions, food can be used as medicine to both clear the heat of the internal wildfire and to nourish the body to make it less vulnerable to anxiety.
Hot-natured foods such as coffee (caffeinated or decaffeinated) and alcohol will heighten anxiety levels, as consuming it is like adding gasoline to a fire. Conversely, foods that moisten and nourish the body will serve to cool it. Those foods are especially cool and slippery in nature and include eggs, pears and asparagus.
Massage and other forms of bodywork are also excellent ways to calm the nervous system.
Rolf structural alignment practitioner Kirk Apt specializes in gently achieving musculoskeletal alignment.
He says, “Bodywork therapy can help a person tune into their physical bodies and step away from the stress racing through their heads. As we work together to release the tension in their muscles, mental tension in their heads follows suit, resulting in a calm and more efficiently operating body-mind connection.”
Craniosacral therapist Nykole Coombs also speaks to calming the body and mind.
She states, “Craniosacral bodywork allows the patient to sink into the heart space and away from the mental chatter.”
Throwing drugs at symptoms is quite often not the best answer for treating anxiety. Besides their side effects, medications can confuse the body, often blinding our ability to move forward.
Once a person is in a state of anxiety, navigating a plan back to health can be quite overwhelming. It is important to find a team of health care practitioners who are willing to hear your goals and think outside of the pharmaceutical box to help you re-establish balanced emotional and physical health.
Dr. April L. Schulte-Barclay is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine and licensed acupuncturist. She has been practicing in Grand Junction since 2004 and is an expert and leader in integrative and collaborative medicine. Dr. April L. Schulte-Barclay writes health related articles for The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, Colorado, every single week.