I am so thrilled to share a blog by Leslie Edsall of Trifecta Wellness. She is a holistic health goddess and I had the pleasure of doing a workshop with her awhile ago focused on detoxing.
Leslie is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to food and health and she so graciously is sharing with us today how to use food to help combat anxiety. Food can be the cause of a lot of stress on our systems and it can also sometimes mimic anxious feelings. Check it out below and see how your diet can play a role in your holistic healing!
Managing Anxiety: Food & Mood Connection
While coping with anxiety can be difficult, making dietary changes can often ease the symptoms of anxiety. While diet alone cannot cure anxiety, healthy eating is one of the simplest ways to begin controlling anxiety and improving mood on a daily basis.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
The body is made up of 65 – 70% water and every cell in the body needs water in order to function properly. The brain, heart, blood, joints, kidneys and energy systems are most effective when the body is well hydrated. Hydration also flushes our systems of excess waste and the toxins which lead to illness.
Adding more water to your diet is one of the simplest things you can do to reduce stress. Many studies have found that dehydration affects as many as 25% of those with persistent stress and dehydration is known to cause increased anxiety. Drink up, your body and nervous system will thank you!
Crucial Foods to Avoid
Before we look at foods that help ease anxiety, it’s important is to minimize foods that contribute to anxiety. Examples of these foods include fried foods, stimulants like sugar and caffeine, and alcoholic beverages.
Why do these foods cause increased anxiety? According to the Association for Comprehensive Neurotherapy, hypoglycemia has been linked to anxiety, and it is important to keep blood sugar steady to avoid symptoms.
The concept is easy to understand if we look at the body in terms of regulating blood sugar levels. Every day, the main goal of the body is to be in homeostasis. For example, the body consistently and automatically regulates heart rate and body temperature, as well as eliminating toxins on a daily basis. When we are out of balance, heart rates increase or we might catch a fever from illness. The same holds true for blood sugar is it aims to be stable to maintain our energy levels.
When we take in foods that spike our sugar levels (caffeine, sugar, chocolate, etc.) or take in drinks that drop our blood sugar levels (alcohol), mood is effected and our ability to cope with stress is greatly impacted. In addition, some of these foods also cause dehydration (coffee, caffeine, alcohol) which effects mood, blood sugar and energy levels. As this happens, it leads to lower blood sugar, further increasing anxiety and impacting the body’s ability to stabilize.
Tryptophan – A Calming Natural Chemical
Tryptophan can produce chemicals in the brain that encourage relaxation and boost mood. Tryptophan is found in bananas, peanut butter, turkey, cheese, nuts, sesame seeds, seaweed, oats and milk. Adding foods with tryptophan may ease symptoms of anxiety by allowing you to relax.
Healthy Fats for a Healthy Mood
Omega-3’s - in the standard American diet there is a lack of healthy fats due to a societal fear of fats contributing to weight gain. In actuality, healthy fats are essential to a healthy brain, heart, joints and nervous system. A depletion of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain can be related to anxiety disorders, according to, "The Anxiety Book: Developing Strength in the Face of Fear." Adding sources of omega-3’s such as fish, flaxseed and nuts can help ease symptoms of anxiety.
Almonds - Rich in vitamins B2 and E, both help boost the immune system during times of stress. Just a quarter cup of almonds each day does the trick. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests adding a variety of B vitamins to your diet can help reduce anxiety.
Avocados - Avocados are also rich in stress-relieving B vitamins and high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, which help to lower blood pressure.
Calming Whole Grains
Whole Grains can have a powerful effect on anxiety. Eating whole grains can boost serotonin levels, which leads to relaxation and can help ease feelings of anxiety. Whole grains also work to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can lead to improvements in anxiety symptoms.
Studies have shown that true whole grains have several benefits because whole grains are:
Get Your Greens On
Seaweed is a good alternative to whole grains for those that are gluten sensitive. Seaweed is not only rich in nutrients such as iodine, but it is also high in magnesium. Kelp and other seaweeds appear to be very high in tryptophan content as well.
Spinach is packed with magnesium, the mineral that helps regulate cortisol levels and promote feelings of well being. A cup of spinach fills 40 percent of your daily quota of magnesium. Adding spinach to your morning smoothie or an egg dish will start your day off right. You can swap spinach for lettuce in a sandwich or add it to a salad at lunch. At dinner, steamed spinach takes about 3 minutes to prepare and it can be used as a side dish. A handful of leaves can also be added to soup or stews.
Fruity Stress Busters
Blueberries are more than a delicious fruit because it is rich in vitamins an antioxidants that are beneficial for relieving stress. Just a handful of blueberries pack a powerful punch with the addition of vitamin C. When stressed, our bodies need vitamin C and antioxidants to repair and protect cells.
Peaches fall into this category as well because they have nutrients that appear to have a sedation (calming) effect.
Oranges - there's a reason orange juice is said to be part of breakfast because Vitamin C is known to lower blood pressure and the stress hormone, cortisol.
Bring on the Protein
Protein Sources. According to the Association for Comprehensive Neurotherapy, increasing protein intake can help alleviate feelings of anxiety. The Association reports that hypoglycemia has been linked to anxiety, and it is important to keep blood sugar steady to avoid symptoms. Individuals suffering from anxiety can add sources of protein to their diet, including chicken, fish, lean beef and vegan sources such as nuts and legumes or beans.
Herbs to the Rescue
Maca Root is not exactly easy to find, but the powder can be added to several foods, smoothies and beverages. Maca be found in a variety of health food stores. It's believed that this root has more phytonutrients than nearly every type of fruit and vegetable, including magnesium and iron – two important nutrients for controlling anxiety.
Herbal Teas - There are also herbal teas like kava, chamomile and passionflower that can be valuable for reducing anxiety.
Leslie Edsall loves to work with people to simplify the noise and develop healthier habits through nutrition, yoga and self care. She is a Certified Health Coach, Health Education Specialist and a Registered Yoga Teacher. Leslie offers a variety of online and in-person health coaching programs, teaches yoga, runs wellness workshops and leads wellness retreats, locally and internationally. To learn more about Leslie: www.trifectawellness.com
I am already a huge fan of some of these foods and I can't wait to try the rest!
For more info on Leslie, definitely check out her website!
I wanted to share this kundalini meditation with you to help settle nerves, restore emotional balance and release a little stress. It's super easy to do and the fact that its beginner friendly makes it a definite keeper for your stress less tool kit!
This meditation focuses on posture, breath and chanting. In kundalini, it's really important to focus on the details of the practice. Each one is specifically designed to have the most impact it can, so try to practice this exactly as it's suggested.
Start in a sitting position, in lotus or simply with legs crossed. You can also do this in a chair (nice to keep in mind if you're stressed at the office or on a long flight!)
Sit up tall with your spine straight and your chin slightly tucked. Rest your hands, palms up, on your knees. Close your eyes and focus your attention to your third eye center (the space between your eyebrows)
Now you can start the practice:
"SA" while touching your thumbs and index fingers together
"TA" while touching your thumbs and middle fingers together
"NA" while touching your thumbs and ring fingers together
"MA" while touching your thumbs and pinky fingers together
Everytime you chant one of those words, you press your thumb and corresponding finger together on each hand at the same time.
Once you get the hang of touching your fingers and thumbs together with the syllables, you can begin to visualize the sounds moving from the crown of your head through your third eye space.
Repeat this chant/practice for 2 minutes. Then whisper the chant and continue touching your fingers along with your whisper for another 2 minutes. Then repeat the chant silently while touching your fingers for 3 minutes. Then bring it back to the whisper chant for 2 minutes and finish with the full chant for a final 2 minutes. Complete the chanting at 11 minutes.
Once completed, take an inhale and raise your arms overhead. Shake them out! This is important for moving and releasing your energy. Exhale and relax for a bit.
If you're going though an especially challenging and stressful time, practice this 11 minute version everyday. You can work up to 31 minutes if needed.
a few things to note
This is considered one of the most important meditations in kundalini yoga and if you only do one, this should be it. so take your time and focus on the practice.
always visualize the energy moving from the crown of your head and out through your third eye center with each syllable. this is important! you don't want that energy to become stuck.
practice for a minimum of 11 minutes.
what do the syllables actually mean?
SA: the beginning, the infinity, the totality of everything that ever was and will be
TA: life, existence and creativity that manifests from infinity
NA: change and transformation of consciousness
MA: rebirth and regeneration
Ready to try it?
Get comfortable. Close your eyes. And chant along with this music to help you get started!
A couple of weeks ago I went in for my very first acupuncture treatment!
Since I didn't know what to expect, I went in with an open mind... and a ton of questions! My acupuncturist, Tom, was more than generous with sharing his knowledge and I geeked out over everything acupuncture can offer. I wanted to share my experiences with you and give you some background on this holistically hot healing practice.
When I first entered the mindfulness spa I immediately became relaxed and a bit nervous. I was filled with anticipation. The setting inside though was super peaceful and full of books, brochures and other materials that offered a lot of info on acupunture and theraputic message. When Tom came out to sit with me he explained the process of acupuncture and began to list a myriad of things people can treat with this practice. He was super tuned into my energy and right away picked up on some of my nerves. He offered to run an analysis, called an Acugraph, that would chart out my balances and imbalances and see if I had any energetic blocks. He explained that the findings would help him plot out the actual acupuncture spots on my body when it came time for my session. It was a painless process in which he used a little electronic sensor on different meridian points on my hands and feet.
here are two of my charts:
Ok, let's just check this out for a second. Tom was able to read from my energy, before he even looked at this chart, that I seemed predisposed to anxiety, stress and worry. Then I saw it for myself right in black and white. My PC, pericardium meridian, was high. You can see that the PC influences your blood, heart, mental and emotional states. An imbalance here can cause depression, anxiety, irritability and restlessness. I had way too much energy here!
Here are some more charts of my readings:
In addition to excess enery in my PC meridian, I was also high in the small intestine meridian and that influences mental clarity with making decisions.
I had split energy in my spleen and liver meridians. Imbalances here create obsessive feelings, over-thinking, worrying and frustration depression and anger, respectively.
Lastly, I was high in my kidney meridian and low in stomach meridian.
After this reading, I had my session and we focused on these specific energy centers to balance them out and bust through blockages. I left feeling pretty amazing! I'm excited to go for my next treatment. Tom told me it takes a few sessions to open up those blocks and imbalances. I'm down- let's do it!
So if you were ever curious about acupuncture, there's a little background. I don't know if every office offers that graph reading, but most acupuncturists will ask you about your health, background and intentions for the session to determine how to proceed. I loved knowing exactly why he placed a needle where he did, I enjoyed understanding how these points internally connect and influence my mental wellbeing and overall health. I definitely believe our bodies and minds are connected. You know that saying "worry yourself sick?" Well, I believe there's total truth to that. And if our minds can influence how our bodies feel, why can't the reverse be true? I'm eager to see after a few more sessions how my chart looks and how I feel once I'm balanced out on the inside!
Have you ever tried acupuncture? Have you wanted to? Would love to hear your experiences.
sat nam xo, b
here's a great article from MindBodyGreen on 3 herbs that help relieve anxiety
Do you take herbs or supplements to alleviate anxiety? I personally take daily doses of maca (an adaptogen) in my morning smoothies and make sure I get my daily B12.
sat nam xo, b
For a lot of people Sundays can stir up some stressful and anxious feelings about the upcoming week. I know I used to dread them because it meant the start of a new week and the start of things I found very stressful- like commuting, traffic, work deadlines and big projects. As Sunday drew out, I used to become more and more aggitated and soon my entire Sunday was wasted on my constant anxiety about the week ahead.
To nix this problem, and find some enjoyment out of my weekend, I started some Sunday night rituals that helped me keep the peace and relax. So regardless of whatever Monday held, I actually was able to look forward to the close of another weekend because I created things to look forward to and keep me present.
If you find yourself stressin' away your Sunday because you dread the week, here's some things you can do to stay grounded, connected and in the moment on Sundays:
-sunday night yoga class
-warm bath infused with lavender essential oils
-10 minute mini meditation, envision how your week will go MANIFEST IT!
-catch a movie with some friends
-brew some chamomile tea
-if you enjoy making food, bake something delicious to have monday night or prep some healthy meals to grab and go for the week
-spend some time unwinding with a book in bed before you actually go to sleep
-5 minutes EFT
-take some time to set goals for the week- mini-goals to practice stress relieving techniques, meditation or how many yoga classes you'll hit up this week
Here's to the start of a brand new week! How will you make it amazing?
sat nam xo, b
When we're dealing with anxiety, we're often plagued by fear as well. Anxiety causes fearful thoughts and reactions and that fear can make us hesitant to continue on our healing journey. I've touched before on the topic of how we can almost abandon our journey because this fear is so ingrained on our minds that we begin to justify the anxiety thinking its serving a purpose and protecting us (that's the Ego!). So I wanted to share a heart opening practice and mantra with you that helps bust through those fearful blocks, open your heart to love and turn away from fear.
start with sitting up comfortably on your mat and press your hands together at your heart center. rest your thumb knuckles into your chest and begin to deepen your breath while meditating on the power of the heart center or chakra. set your intention here to release yourself from the grip of fear.
roll over onto your hands and knees and move through a few rounds of cat/cow. on the inhale, drop your belly toward the ground and lift up through your head and tailbone. focus on lifting up through your chest. on your exhale, pull your bellybutton up, round your spine towards the sky and tuck your chin and tailbone inward. take as many as you need to warm up your body and spine.
from hands and knees, walk your hands out past your shoulders and start to sink your chest towards the ground. move slowly, and lower down with your exhales, taking your time and moving into a place where you feel a comfortable sensation. if your body allows, melt your chest down until it comes to the ground. hold here for anywhere from 3-5 breaths.
after those few breaths, walk your hands further out until your belly rests onto the floor. relaxing your legs, lift yourself up onto your forearms and press your chest forward. move up only as it feels right for your body. sit here for another 3-5 breaths.
press back onto your hands and knees and move through a few more rounds of cat/cow.
afterwards, roll onto your back. bend your knees and bring your heels in towards your hips. reach your hands down by your sides. roll your shoulders underneath your chest and lift up your lower back. (placing a block underneath your back is a wonderful variation that feels amazing!) stay here for as many breaths as you comfortably can and focus on keeping your heart open.
When you're done, finish with a few stretches, rolls and twists. Then surrender into Savasana- lying flat on your back and closing your eyes. Be present with your breath and focus your mind on your heart.
When your practice is complete, come back to sitting on your mat with your hands at your heart and either mentally or out loud repeat this mantra:
Chattra Chakkra Vartee
Seal your practice with 3 deep, cleansing breaths.
sat nam xo, b
*all images are yogajournal.com
*always consult a physician before introducing a new fitness/yoga routine into your life
“Conquer your mind to conquer the world.”
According to Yogi Bhajan we all have 3 minds. Sometimes it can feel hard enough to find peace with just one, but three? How do we accomplish that? And how exactly does each mind effect us?
If "I think, therefore I am" shows us anything, it's that we really attach our identities to our minds. Our world is not actually a collection of experiences, it's actually the culmination of the thoughts and perceptions we have about said experiences.
In the Kundalini tradition, each person has 3 minds and each mind works to serve a specific purpose. We have the Negative Mind, the Positive Mind and the Neutral Mind.
The negative mind focuses on protecting us. It assesses danger in a situation. It's the part of us that signals not to cross the street when cars are coming. It also gives us a desire to belong, which is great, except if it's underdeveloped this can lead us to engage in destructive relationships or be overly unfluenced by others. With trying to protect us, the negative mind is what gives us negative and fearful thoughts and worries.
Then we have the positive mind. This mind is responsible for us seeing possibilities in all situations. There's a level of trust and faith that comes with these thoughts. It keeps us playful. If it's underdeveloped though, it can lead us to almost be too trusting with outcomes and blind us to warning signals or red flags.
Then we have the neutral mind. This mind is our most powerful tool. It is intuitive. It looks at the thoughts and interpretations from both the positive and negative minds and makes a decision after carefully weighing both sides. When we're fully engaging in the neutral mind, we find a way to step outside of the mentality that we are our thoughts. We find a place of non-attachment and stability. This grounding comes from understanding that our identities don't fluctuate with our flowing thoughts. Fears don't call the shots from this place.
When it comes to our anxiety, we are living in the negative mind and letting our fears and insecurities dictate our decisions and shape our world. When you find yourself spinning with negative chatter, try to find your neutral mind. Take a moment to step away from these thoughts, knowing they aren't you, and look at them from a place of non-attachment. Be a witness. And once you start operating from the neutral mind, you'll find that worries don't hang around as much. The neutral mind creates a balance for us. Let the neutral mind break down your fears and offer you control over those stressful thoughts!
sat nam, b
happy weekend friends!
We talk a lot here about yoga, breathing and meditation to help with anxiety, but there are many alternative therapies that help us heal from stress and compliment our yoga/meditation practices and I wanted to share a fun one with you today. Aromatherapy.
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses volatile plant materials, known as essential oils, and other aromatic compounds for the purpose of altering a person's mind, mood, cognitive function or health. *from wikipedia
You may have already heard of helpful essential oils and perhaps even used some. For example, eucalyptus is a popular one to add to steaming water to help you break up congestion. But what are some, if any, that can help ease our anxious minds?
7 Essential oils to help ease anxiety
The scent has a calming effect which aids in relaxation and the reduction of anxiety and stress
2) ylang ylang
Ylang ylang is extremely effective in calming and bringing about a sense of relaxation, and it may help with releasing feelings of anger, tension, and nervous irritability
Studies have shown that a sniff of this essential oil can be effective at helping to reduce the psychological stress responses, serum cortisol levels and blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
One of sandalwood’s most important uses is to sedate the nervous system, subduing nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, and to some degree, reducing nerve pain. Researchers have found it relaxes brain waves
Mandarin calms the central nervous system
6) Roman Chamomile
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) has a warm, sweet, herbaceous scent that is relaxing and calming for both mind and body
7) Geranium Rose
its aromatic influence helps release negative memories and it has been used traditionally to support the circulatory and nervous systems
How do you use aromatherapy?
aromatherapy helps keep us present! you can dab a little on your wrists or under your nose, you can add a few drops to a tissue and take a whiff or even to a hot bath. I use lavender essential oil on my wrists and temples before i go to sleep at night and i even have lavender scented epsom salts for baths. i'm a big fan of adding drops to a tissue and sealing the tissue in a baggie so i can sniff as needed! You can even add some drops to a body oil and massage into your skin for a whole body treat!
Where to get essential oils?
I have a bottle of lavender essential oil body spray from Trader Joe's that I love and use daily and you can find most of those essential oils in the starter pack from Mountain Rose Herbs.
have you ever tried aromatherapy? do you use essential oils?
*as always, please consult a physician before using any of these oils or treatments to make sure its suitable for you
I'm a formerly anxious chick that found my zen on the mat. I used yoga, pranayama and yogic philosophies to alleviate my debilitating anxiety and get my life back on track. Now, I spend my time teaching yoga, coaching others and helping people find a more peaceful path in life.