Anxiety is indicated by feelings of fear usually as a reaction to a current situation, a worry about future events or as a result of a previously traumatic experience. There are many different kinds of anxiety and people affected often have more than one symptom. We all experience anxiety at some point in our lives – it’s natural when we are faced with a situation that makes us nervous or that we feel is overwhelming – but it’s only when we find it difficult to control our worries that anxiety can adversely affect our day to day lives.
Conventional medicine has yet to fully understand the causes of anxiety but does consider various causes including hormonal imbalance, living with a long term physical condition or a history of substance abuse as contributing factors. It is likely there are still undiscovered causes for anxiety and we perhaps may not be able to address these until we consider the whole person; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
From a holistic point of view, and in my experience as a CAM Practitioner, many symptoms of anxiety have their basis in fear, whether real or perceived. I consider both to be very affecting and they are very real for the client. It can often be difficult for clients to verbalise exactly how they feel and this is also very frustrating for them. Anxiety can show itself in a myriad of ways, from an overactivity of the mind and obsessive behaviour to nausea and an overwhelming feeling of fear or an impending feeling of dread. The symptoms of anxiety can often be managed very successfully using complementary and alternative medicine approaches as part of a dedicated, ongoing treatment plan.
Reflexology is incredibly useful if anxiety symptoms are considered to be associated with hormonal imbalance or as a result of living with a chronic condition, as it can be used quite effectively in pain management.
Reflexology considers that our bodies have meridians throughout and that the free flow of energy through these channels are conducive to a healthy state of being. While this system of healing has been used for hundreds of years, scientists at Seoul National University have only recently discovered that these meridians do exist, naming them the ‘primo-vascular system’.
Reflexology considers that the entire body is reflected in our feet and we can pinpoint specific areas relating to the endocrine (hormonal) system, digestive and elimination systems and even the brain, using acupressure techniques to encourage these systems toward balance.
Reiki is a system of energetic healing, drawing from a universal life force energy to help initiate vibrational change within the energetic layers of our body, often called our aura. Reiki is considered by anxiety.org as an effective treatment in managing anxiety symptoms and in my experience, it is one of the most useful therapies in supporting clients with anxiety – it is often the first therapy I recommend for anxiety. It is also a gentle, relaxing and calming, non invasive therapy for clients who experience anxiety symptoms as a result of trauma or abuse.
Essential oils are the concentrated extracts from plant roots, leaves or flowers and are a wonderful addition to any holistic tool box. Essential oils must be used with care as they are incredibly potent, and should always be diluted in a suitable carrier oil such as almond, coconut or grapeseed oil. They are used in Aromatherapy as they have many levels to their healing properties. Scents speak directly to our olfactory system, chemoreceptors that form the sense of smell and that communicate with our limbic system which supports a variety of functions including emotion, behaviour and long-term memory. This is why smells evoke such emotional memories and responses in us. Clinical Aromatherapists use essential oils to not only surround us with beautiful scents but they choose oils that have specific properties that affect us holistically; our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects. Depending on your individual experiences of anxiety, a variety of oils can be used that are specific to your own symptoms.
Please note that all essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil before application to the skin (1 or 2 drops to 10ml of carrier oil) and diluted in water if vapourising.
Bergamot is the go-to when we are looking for an oil to help with anxiety, depression, SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder), a lack of self-confidence or feeling introverted and want to retreat from the world. It is especially useful during the winter, imparting its sunny nature throughout the year. It is a cheering oil with the ability to instill a sense of optimism on days that seems to be insurmountable, helping to encourage a positive outlook, that things can change for the better. Bergamot oil can cause photo-toxicity and it should not be applied to skin if you are going out in the sun as it can cause burning.
If you’ll allow me to indulge in a wee bit of horticultural geekery, Geranium oil is not technically geranium – it is extracted from Pelargoniums, commonly known as geraniums, but they are not actually geraniums. Now that I’ve got that off my chest, this oil can sometimes encourage strong reactions, both emotionally and physically. It can be sensitising to some, just as the plants are – the Pelargoniums we see in flower beds in the summer – and I’ve found people either love it or they don’t. There’s no middle ground with Geranium, which is actually quite contradictory to what Geranium has to offer. It is an uplifting oil that has a floral earthiness and a wonderful balancing effect on the mind, keeping us grounded and able to cope better with the day to day. It helps balance our emotions from a position of inner strength, relieving feelings of stress and anxiety and, working on the adrenal cortex, it has a balancing effect on our hormonal system.
There is no other oil as versatile as dear Lavender – it is a long established favourite and with good reason. Lavender oil has a soothing and calming effect on the nerves helping to relieve tension, panic, hysteria and nervous exhaustion. It’s also beneficial for headaches, migraines and insomnia associated with anxiety. It can also help provide mental clarity and confidence, helping to reduce obsessive or compulsive behaviour that often accompanies anxiety. Some people do have a sensitivity to Lavender so care should always be taken when using it.
Rosemary oil has quite a marked stimulating action on our brain and central nervous system, increasing the circulation and clearing the mind, encouraging mental awareness, reducing over activity and improving cognitive function,clarifying our thoughts and cutting through mental fog, as well as improving memory. It can be wonderfully supportive oil first thing in the morning, lifting our spirits and sharpening our sense to support us throughout the day. Rosemary should not be used if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure or are living with epilepsy.
Crystals have been used for centuries to help heal and balance us. Alabaster, Gypsum and Malachite were commonly used in in Ancient Egypt and Malachite specifically was used to inhibit the growth of bacteria. These days crystals are used in energy medicine, applying their energetic qualities to affect change in our own energetic bodies. These amazing members of the mineral kingdom are our allies and great teachers.
Many crystals, including Tourmaline and specific forms of Quartz, exhibit strong piezoelectric qualities – they emit an electrical charge from their crystalline structure. As electrical beings ourselves, crystals can affect on us deep levels. Crystal Therapy is a complex, intense and powerful therapy often with lasting, positive effects.
Crystals are chosen for each individual client’s specific symptoms and one size doesn’t necessarily fit all but some useful crystals for anxiety include:
Chrysoprase is all about encouraging us in a three step process – acceptance, stillness and joy. Accepting ourselves is often the hardest step. Acceptance of everything about ourselves, what we consider the ‘good and the ‘bad’ – it’s about allowing ourselves to be who we are ‘warts and all’. When we accept ourselves we can let go of all the expectations of ourselves and these can often be unrealistic comparisons of ourselves to others – we are us, just us, and there is no one like us. This brings a stillness, a sense of peace, providing an emotional space that allows and encourages more positive feelings of ourselves and our situation. In turn, this offers a chance to feel positivity, contentment and joy. Chrysoprase is a stone that supports emotional self reflection, and is a strong ally indeed.
Clients often come to me with some experience of Rose Quartz – it is one of the most common stones that are carried or worn. And there are good reasons why we resonate with this wonderful energy. While many people’s perception of Rose Quartz is a gentle pink crystal, it is more powerful than we think. It is often considered a stone of love, strengthening relationships with others, but it is also a stone of unconditional love for ourselves, inspiring an appreciation of our own inner beauty. This stone is gentle and loving but it is also a powerful dissolver of sorrow and fear at our heart centre.
With its beautiful layers reflecting the light, Tiger’s Eye also encourages this in ourselves. It emboldens us to view things in a different way, sharpening our senses and preparing us to make alternative choices that we may not have considered before – it is a stone that not only encourages change but supports in making those lifestyle changes too. It can help reduce anxiety that is caused by feelings of isolation or inadequacy, by giving us strength for the journey of change. It helps us to change our patterns of behaviour by encouraging our will power, mental focus, emotional stability and by helping to give us a sense of groundedness.
Oh, the mystery of Labradorite! The Inuit people considered that Labradorite fell from the frozen fire of the Aurora Borealis – a stone of true magic created by the forces of nature. It is one of the most powerful protectors in the mineral kingdom, creating a shielding force throughout the aura and strengthening our inner natural energies. Labradorite helps to temper actions that are not conducive to our holistic health, the conditioned habits or actions that we perform without thinking that reduce our energy. Labradorite encourages introspection, bringing the clarity of intellectual thought and intuition to help determine the true, root cause of an issue. An uplifting stone, it helps to banish fears and insecurities while enhancing our faith in ourselves and in the universe.
Further Information and Appointments
If you would like more information on how treatments can help your own experiences of anxiety, or to book an appointment, please contact me using the form below. Appointments can also be booked online.
©Andrea Doran, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practitioner, Flourish