Stress is an alarm clock. It’s your body trying to communicate with you, sending you alert notices; but so few of us listen and I am no different from you. This is a very personal subject for me. Stress made its presence known to me in 2016, but I didn’t listen. I just ignored the signs. I was working like crazy for years and adding more and more pressure to myself. So many things were going on in my life, and I thought that as long as I had my cultured foods I could just keep adding more and more things to my life and I’d be fine.
Well, that was not happening, I had panic attacks and couldn’t control them. It scared me so badly that I followed my husband around like a puppy dog scared to be alone and afraid. It was my chiropractor who told me I had been working too much and my body was showing all the signs. I sat in his office and cried and cried. He told me he had been through the same thing and felt just like me. Here he was trying to help people get well and he couldn’t even help himself. He told me my mind was looking everywhere to find a disease or ailment that was causing all of this, but I needed to surrender to it and learn from it. I just cried harder and said, "It couldn’t just be stress, could it? How could this be?" And then finally after weeks of searching, I surrendered. I prayed, "Please teach me what I need to know, I'm ready." And then the dreams started. Every night I had dreams about people who had struggled with anxiety - friends, family, and even my dog who was traumatized when our other dog died and he didn’t want to be alone. Every night another person who had struggled, sometimes from twenty years ago, started showing up in my dreams. My heart filled with compassion and a desire to help those who were hurting. I didn’t understand what a panic attack was or a breakdown because I'd never experienced anything like this. Then everything switched inside of me.
I started doing different things and found things that helped me so much, and I thought I would share them with you. When we're desperate, sometimes we need tools to help ourselves, methods that are the bridge, and this is what I found worked so effectively for me. I couldn't just eat perfectly and expect everything to be all right and then run myself into the ground. Eventually, it all catches up with you. Lack of sleep, stress, and physical exhaustion will shut you down but will wind up teaching you so much if you let it.
10 Ways I found to Reduce Stress
Surrender and Listen:
First of all, you have to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. It's trying to get your attention and no matter how scary this is, you need to surrender and listen, because your body is going to win and shut you down if you don’t so you must pay attention. Surrender and ask for what it is trying to teach you, and then listen and find clues. Symptoms are only the warning sign and not the enemy. Make peace with whatever is happening and ask it to teach you what it needs to. This is one of the fastest ways to find the answers that are seeking you. I used to walk around telling myself the answers would come to me, and I was not meant to live this way. The answers did come and changed my entire life. I tuned myself to wellness and then hung on with as much faith as I could muster. I practiced faith with every thought and turned my mind away from sickness and disease, and then a tipping point came and the answers flowed in like a river. I still practice this to this day. Your mind is a powerful tool in your wellness and faith is ever present. You just have to reach for it and hang on for dear life, even if you're afraid. Fire cannot kill a dragon.
Meditating was the only way I found to calm my mind which is like a runaway train when I'm under stress. It took me a while because I couldn’t calm my mind down, so I only did five minutes a day and it was enough. Later on I did more; but in the beginning, this was all I could muster and then I did more. I'd find some calming music to listen to that lasted five to seven minutes or I'd use an app called Calm. It had ocean waves and other soothing sounds. Sometimes I needed a guided meditation to give my mind something to focus on. I tried a lot of different meditations and still do, sometimes I just focus on my breath; but whatever I do, I'm quieting my mind and stopping the chatter. Even five minutes was enough to stop my mind from going to the dark side that was telling me something was terribly wrong with me.
There are many different kinds of meditations out there and I encourage you to find what works for you. I had to start with something little because everything overwhelmed me and this was perfect for me. Fast forward many years later and meditation has changed my life and body in so many ways. I don't go a day without it and the effects are cumulative. Meditating has been found to calm the central nervous system and lower blood pressure1 . Something I have noticed is that every successful person I meet has a meditation practice. If I've learned anything from all of this, I realized I can't control all the moving pieces in the outside world, but I can control my response to them through meditation. I'm the happiest and calmest I have ever been in my life and I credit so much of this to training my mind to calm down at will. It's a skill just like learning a new task and you need to practice it. It can give you a tool to use when life around you seems crazy. Took me a good year to really get good at it, but I didn't give up and kept going and it has made all the difference. I love meditation like I do my cultures. It was part of the mind-body connection that I needed to complete my life.
Kefir contains the most probiotics of any cultured food. With 50+ good bacteria and yeasts (we need good yeasts, too) it is one powerhouse food and the one I get the most emails about. Sometimes it's hard for me to talk about kefir without getting emotional because it has helped me over and over again throughout the last seventeen years. When I was struggling, I drank 2 ½ to 3 cups of kefir a day. I normally only drink about a cup, but I needed the huge amounts of B12 in kefir. One cup has half the B12 you need in a day. This is so, so calming to the central nervous system so I drank three cups at least. A good friend of mine actually told me about how much this helps calm her down when she is stressed out. She drinks two to three cups and it makes a huge difference for her. I hear this over and over again. I even saw a post on one of my Youtube comments today that expressed how it keeps her anxiety at bay. If you come to one of my classes you will hear the stories of wellness from the people in the classes. I used to walk around my house holding my jar of kefir close to my heart knowing that it is always there for me when I need it. You'll never understand it till you experience it yourself, and I believe you wouldn't be here reading this if you didn't need it. Guidance and help for problems usually come in whispers and nudges. No worries, if you're on the fence it will keep showing up until you decide to try it.
For me, there were days that all I drank was kefir because I couldn’t handle anything else. The results were a deeper sleep and my body would calm down. I often had a hard time sleeping since cortisol seemed to be running rampant. On many occasions, I got up in the middle of the night and drank a half cup of kefir and within a few minutes, I was back to sleep. My husband does this too when he has trouble sleeping. Kefir is the best for relaxing the body. The calcium found in kefir will help the brain use the tryptophan to make sleep-inducing melatonin. 2
Have Probiotic Drinks For extra Help
Another wonderful thing that helped me was coconut water kefir. It has tons of electrolytes and a lot of potassium. Coconut water may contain more than 600 mg of potassium per serving - an amount higher than one serving of just about any other food or beverage. They even found it lowers blood pressure3 and can help with elevated stress markers. I loved the taste in the morning with a slice of fresh lime. I have a bunch of recipes for this on my blog: Love Affair With Water Kefir.
Kombucha is another drink that can greatly help you. Those stress hormones that are flooding your body can really mess up your digestive and immune systems. Kombucha will assist the body in removing those extra hormones and also strengthens the immune system to keep you strong. Kombucha is full of glucuronic acid which plays a part in one of the body’s most important detoxification processes: glucuronidation, a process in which glucuronic acid binds to toxins and transforms them so they can be easily eliminated by the kidneys. The liver produces this substance naturally, but sometimes the body can’t keep up with the number of pollutants and hormones that it comes into contact with. The extra glucuronic acid in kombucha helps make up the difference. 4,5
Herb Passionflower Vine:
Passionflower vine tincture was another thing I found that helped me so much. I took the liquid drops and I put them in a glass of water. It stopped that crazy circular thinking in my head and helped me relax. Indigenous Americans are the first people known in history to have found a use for passion flower. It's great for anxiety and contains many flavonoids. The flavonoids “chrysin” and “benzoflavone” may be the primary flavonoids in passion flower that are responsible for decreasing anxiety.
Chrysin and benzoflavone are believed to have the effect of increasing the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (often abbreviated as GABA) in the brain, in much the same way that standard anti-anxiety medications are known to do. It really helps me and is a wonderful way to help myself calm down. I checked with my health care provider before taking the herbs and supplements, and I suggest you do the same. You can get Passionflower vine tincture at most health food stores or click on the words above to take you to an online source.
Catnip capsules (3 capsules) or a cup of catnip tea is a fantastic way to reduce anxiety and stress. I just couldn’t believe how effective this was for me and it also has many applications besides just anxiety. This herb has natural relaxing and soothing properties. A cup of this mild tea made with catnip herb is said to help improve digestion, ease morning sickness, calm nerves, lower blood pressure, and help with fevers. Its relaxing properties also make it beneficial to those who suffer from insomnia.
You can get catnip in tea or capsule form and most health food stores carry it - or click on the words above to take you to an online source. I'm very thankful I found this wonderful herb. I checked with my health care provider before taking the herbs and supplements and I suggest you do the same.
Another key vitamin for stress, abundant in cultured foods, is vitamin C. It is also key in helping support your adrenal glands and myriad other processes in the body as well. Vitamin C is absolutely essential for adrenal function. Vitamin C will allow you to respond properly to life’s stressors and recover more quickly from them. Cultured veggies not only supply you with a ton of vitamin C (one cup contains 700 milligrams of vitamin C) but they also allow you to better absorb it throughout the body. Good microbes heal the gut and allow better absorption and digestion from all your foods. Cultured vegetables and kefir are abundant in vitamins C and B. Vitamin C has many, many functions in the body; and since it is water-soluble, not stored by the body, and is eliminated in urine, we require a continuous, daily supply in our diet. I love drinking the juice from cultured veggies. It a fast way to get that much-needed vitamin C into the bloodstream quickly.
Social anxiety: A study, published in Psychiatry Research, included 710 students taking introductory psychology courses at the College of William and Mary. 6They were given a questionnaire about how many fermented foods they ate on a regular basis and how much anxiety and social awkwardness they felt. In students with high degrees of anxiety, eating more fermented food was linked to fewer symptoms of stress and anxiety. Probiotics help to reduce inflammation throughout the body, and reducing inflammation in the gut is crucial to emotional wellbeing.
My chiropractor really, really encouraged me to do yoga. He told me that tons of yoga studies have been done. These studies have shown that yoga twice a day for fifteen minutes, done for a month, works as well as anti-anxiety drugs and you know what? I did it for fifteen minutes once a day and it made a believer out of me. It's like getting your mind-body connection going in some kind of wonderful way and even just doing a little bit makes a huge difference.
Sudha Prathikanti, M.D., an integrative psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, did several studies on the effectiveness of yoga on those patients who had mild to major depression. Earlier in her career, Dr. Prathikanti had run into some limitations when using conventional psychiatric techniques alone. “Whether I was using psychotherapy, medications, or behavioral interventions, there seemed to be little scope for addressing the spiritual dimension of my patients’ lives,” she says. “I also noticed an over-reliance on clinical experts to achieve and maintain health.” She believes that an integrative approach to emotional wellness helps overcome these limitations.7,8 Try it and see. I’ve always been into strength training and cardio and boy, did I need yoga. I could feel myself calm down.[
Loving Yourself or Mirror work.
You just gotta do it - stand in front of a mirror and love yourself. Louise Hay, the late founder of my publishing company, Hay House, built a whole company on these principles because they work. They helped her overcome cancer and then using her own life as an example, she went on to help thousands of others. Looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you love yourself and that all the problems you're facing are going to turn around is huge in self-recovery. I believe the cells of your body listen to everything you say. We have beliefs and habits and our body and mind are running a program each and every day. What you think about and how and where you put your focus governs just about everything you do. Most of it is subconscious. For instance, you never really think about putting your foot on the gas when you're driving. Your mind has neurons in place that you taught to do this automatically. We have thousands of things we do every day that are simply programs in our neuro-network that help us get about our day. But what happens when things aren't going so well? You want to program your mind to look for wellness. You want to love yourself into health and encourage yourself every chance you get. I read a book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It, by Kamal Ravikant that had a big impact on me when I was going through this. It might be a good read for you. It was a blessing to me.
Listening to those who have been there can inspire you. We need mentors. We need those who have walked through the flames and blazed a trail for us. Maybe I went through all of this so I could find the answers and hopefully help you, too. I’m so thankful my doctor had been through this. He told me to surrender, do meditation, yoga, and gave me some helpful supplements. Then he told me I needed to slow down and gave me some things to watch and read. I needed his wisdom. He had been through it and I am so thankful for his life that stood as an example to me. You will find your way and as you look towards wellness, those people who can help and inspire you will show up in books, podcasts, videos, and friends and family too. Seek it out and it will find you. And remember my friends, as the great poet Rumi says, "What you seek is seeking you." The pain will turn to wisdom and one day you'll be so thankful for the pain that made you change. I know I am! I have more compassion for others, I meditate and do yoga, and I have a peacefulness I had never known. I put systems into place that allowed me to work smarter and take more time for myself and spend more time in nature.
I believe that you're loved and watched over even when you can't feel it. What a journey this life is! The pain has made me grow in ways I otherwise wouldn't have. I wouldn't be here writing to you had I not struggled and found my way. Sometimes when you're running low on faith and you're scared, you just need a little grace; so I write this blog to hopefully send you a little hope and lots of love. It'll be okay — just you wait and see.
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All of us find ourselves in situations where we’re under tremendous stress which can cause anxiety. Here are the ten things that have helped me calm my mind and body in miraculous ways. It may not be what you think!