Blog#64: Anxiety – An Emotion of Our Times
The next seven blogs will address emotions, how they relate to our world situation today, and how to help balance them. By addressing emotions constructively, we not only improve our state of mind, we also improve our physical well-being, since emotional excesses and imbalances can help precipitate problems like insomnia, muscle spasm, headaches, constipation or diarrhea, ulcers, substance abuse, and can even suppress the immune system, resulting in an increased susceptibility to colds, flu, and possibly more serious ailments.
In the past six months or so, my colleagues and I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people suffering from anxiety. This is especially true of those in their teens and early twenties. Some people come to address physical complaints, but sometimes anxiety must be addressed along with the physical complaint for lasting improvement.
Much of the increased anxiety I have observed may be due to the current political climate and the increasing uncertainty about what is true and what is fabricated. Increasing conflict and division within our country helps foster this anxiety. In the state of Illinois, we face many uncertainties, such as our state budget impasse. For many people, the financial future is not as certain as it once was.
As parties and politicians war with one another and the country splits into more competing factions, these patterns impress themselves upon the conscious and unconscious minds of our population, especially our youth. Internalization of this divisiveness can result in anxiety, both for the world’s future and for our everyday existence. Overcoming differences and working for the common good may seem like a pipe dream in this increasingly divided country, but it is vital for the health and happiness of the individual and the nation.
There are many things we can do in our daily lives to address and alleviate anxiety. Improving our nutrition can help, since a healthy diet and nutritional supplements, if appropriate, can help the nervous system function better when under stress. Good nutrition, including sufficient B complex vitamins will help support the adrenal glands. And the better our nutrition, the more clearly we will be able to think. Getting regular exercise, whether this is walking, yoga, working out at the gym, or doing demanding housework, house repairs and/or gardening, will help keep the mind clear and the body healthier. Regular exercise can help strengthen the muscles and bones, balance the blood sugar, keep the heart strong, and oxygenize all the tissues. Getting sufficient sleep and rest can help keep the mind clear and the immune and endocrine systems functioning normally.
Certain ways of thinking and approaching problems and challenges can help us stay calmer. For example, when facing a problem, it can help when we take a moment to relax physically and mentally, and then look at each aspect the problem and envision ways to improve or fix that aspect. For example, the upstairs neighbors’ kids play music loudly and jump up and down early every morning. What to do? It will not help to get upset, nor will it help to bang on the ceiling with a broomstick. Instead look for attitudes or actions that can solve the problem in a conflict-free way. Earplugs might be in order. Self-hypnosis can help us learn to experience the racket upstairs as a signal to relax more deeply into sleep or as a signal to make us happy because the children upstairs are vital and active. A visit upstairs might be appropriate, maybe with some fresh-baked bread or an invitation to the family to share a light dinner or to look at some photographs taken on a recent vacation. During these interactions we also could mention how we like to sleep in on Sunday and Saturday mornings. It is important to have no expectations of a change in the upstairs neighbors behavior. Just build good will and then gradually, more and more often the kids might be quieter on the weekends.
Taking care of oneself holistically and approaching problems in a conflict-free way can help disperse anxiety and build a foundation of calm. When appropriate, structural alignment, acupuncture therapy and flower essence therapy are other modalities that can help reduce anxiety by balancing the body, reducing or eliminating pain, balancing the energy system, and calming and harmonizing the emotions.
This blog’s offer: consider coming in for chiropractic, acupuncture, or flower essence therapy, if you feel they are appropriate for you. Or come in for a few sessions of self-hypnosis and then apply the methods you learn in your daily life to alleviate anxiety, increase calm and confidence, become healthier, sleep better, or whatever else you might want.