The “A” Word



One of those terms that can mean so many different things to so many different people.

Something that steals from life.

The most common mental illness in all of Canada.

A rising burden on young people…

in 2014/2015, 1 in 12 youth were placed on a

mood/anxiety or antipsychotic medication!

Can such a multifactorial and individualistic symptom be dumbed down to a Title to be treated by a handful of different medications?

I don’t think so.

I think there is more to it than that. And that it is worth discovering what that is.

I believe it is something worth fighting against.

That it is something that does not belong.

That we can break the chains and be free from it.

That we can embrace the good and the bad in life without it.

It is for ailments like anxiety that I am so proud to be a part of the Naturopathic Medical profession and to be able to use such a variety of different tools in my treatment approach. Each individual’s treatment plan must look different – how can it be the same? There could be roots in any of the mental, emotional, social, physical, or spiritual arenas. For example, specific physical treatments might target things like the HPA axis, neurotransmitters, the digestive track, inflammation, or just a totally overwhelmed system. And to do this modalities such as lab testing, acupuncture, massage therapy, counselling, nutritional medicine, botanical medicine, or auricular acupuncture may be used. In this way we can slowly, and one step at a time, begin to heal the greater picture.

Here are 10 simple yet powerful anxiety busters. Pick your favourite one and start there!

  1. Eliminate stimulants where possible (caffeine, screen time, alcohol, loud chaotic environments, triggers)
  2. The basics – eat well, sleep well, exercise, drink water. (‘blah’ ‘blah’ ‘blah’ I know, but if the basics aren’t there, there is nothing to build on unfortunately!)
  3. Breath deep and long. In emergency medicine, ‘vagal maneuvers’ are used to slow a deadly fast heart rate. These work by stimulating the vagus nerve. Some ways to do this are to take an ice cold shower, to hold your breath or to ‘bear down’. Or you can just take some nice long deep belly breaths to switch you from “fight or flight” mode to “rest and digest” mode.
  4. Connect with nature. Walk barefoot in the grass. Smell a flower. Hug a tree. Bring a plant to work. Believe it or not there is a lot of science behind this! It works!
  5. Ground yourself in acute situations. Feel your feet on the floor, feel your body touch whatever it is touching, focus on the immediate things around you, and breath.
  6. Get involved in something in your community to help others.
  7. Express yourself through writing, art, music, and/or comedy.
  8. Get together with girlfriends/guyfriends, have a good laugh and/or a good cry
  9. Take a bath with chamomile, lavender, oats and epsom salts.
  10. Try progressive muscular relaxation therapy at bed time (contract each muscle one at a time from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet for 10 seconds and then relax it)

Know that there are many specific nutrients such as GABA or L-theanine as well as multiple herbal options such as passion flower or lemon balm that can also be very helpful in addition to the various other treatment avenues I alluded to earlier. But most importantly know that no therapy will work without your involvement. You are the only one who can take the steps you need to take. You are more powerful than you think.

My hope is that you will soon (metaphorically, or not) dance barefoot and carefree in the rain and that the “A” word will no longer hold any power over your life.bare-feet