• 5 Lifestyle Changes for Treating Anxiety: Taking An Integrative Health Approach

    by Dr. Payal Bhandari
    on Aug 29th, 2017

Anxiety is a real condition, just like asthma or heart disease. When people with anxiety manage their symptoms with integrative health care, they can prevent their condition from worsening while living productive, happy lives.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 18 percent of the US population has some kind of anxiety disorder. Though only about one-third of people struggling seek treatments for anxiety, the condition is treatable — and can often be managed or even overcome.

In a nutshell, anxiety is the brain's overactive fight, flight, or freeze mechanism. When the brain perceives a threat, it pumps adrenaline through the body and, within a matter of seconds, decides which action to take. With anxiety, the brain becomes stuck in this hyperactive mode. If you're experiencing some of the following symptoms, you may have anxiety:

Integrative Health Treatments for Anxiety

More and more people are turning to integrative medicine to help treat their conditions. Integrative health looks at the whole picture — not just the current problem. For example, if you're suffering from a chronic illness, your doctor may develop a treatment plan not only with the objective of getting the disease under control, but to also better manage the associated anxiety and depression which can occur with many chronic illnesses. The treatment plan may include dietary modifications, meditation, as well as conventional treatment options.

Human beings are complex, with many organs and systems that interchangable work together.  Your mood shifts can be directly tied to your digestive system since a high percentage of calming hormones which control one’s mood are produced from the gut. Traditional medicine often will treat anxiety and other mood issues separate from digestive problems, like IBS and chronic constipation, whereas integrative health takes everything into consideration. By using integrative medicine, you're getting a whole-picture approach, which can make a world of difference, and get you feeling better overall.

Next time you're feeling anxious, try one of these natural ways to treat anxiety.

Start a Daily Meditation Practice

Did you know that you can meditate in as little as five minutes? You can use mindfulness meditation techniques to meditate even while you're doing dishes!

Meditation — sometimes also referred to as mindfulness — is the practice of being aware of your breath and surroundings. You don't even have to control your breath with deep inhalations and exhalations; you can simply let your mind step back and just pay attention to your breath.

The benefits of meditation are bountiful. Using mindfulness-based stress reduction is one of the best natural ways to treat anxiety because it teaches you to focus on the present moment, rather than what could happen in the future.

You can also use meditation to help quiet your mind before bed so that you can fall asleep faster and get a well-rested night of sleep.

Eat a Balanced Diet

In today's busy world, you might think you're saving time by skipping meals, but the price your health pays is not worth it. Not only is going without eating bad for your waistline, but it can also trigger anxiety. Plus, during a panic attack, your body depletes itself of blood sugar, making for a bitter cycle.

Getting back to basics and making sure you're eating at least three small meals a day can accomplish two things at once. You'll have more energy and fewer anxiety symptoms. You might even start to lose unwanted weight.

Keep a Daily Journal

Maybe you've never been interested on keeping a journal before, but doing a "brain dump" every morning before you start your day can help you clear your worries so you can focus on your tasks. If need be, you can also do one at night to help you put stresses aside so that you can sleep.

Try committing to writing three pages every morning. Give yourself permission to write down every thought as it comes, without judging yourself (or reading what you've written). When you've finished, put your journal — and your worries — out of your mind.

It is also useful keeping an “anxiety journal” and documenting when you have anxiety spikes. This will help you determine if there is a pattern to your anxiety and can provide useful information for your integrative physician.

Start a Gentle Exercise Regimen

Many people balk at exercise, but getting your body moving doesn't have to be a strenuous session at the gym. Enroll in a beginner's yoga class, or look up free videos on YouTube. If holding a Downward Dog pose isn't your thing, take a walk every day or try Tai Chi.

By exercising regularly, you'll not only get your body moving, you'll also release any negative or anxious thoughts from the areas of your body that they’ve settled in. Many yoga instructors say that stress, for example, tends to get stuck in the hips.

Even if you don't believe that stress can live in our bodies, at the very least daily exercise will definitely help take your mind off things.

Practice Radical Self-Care

Your well-being comes first. By making self-care your priority, you're giving yourself permission to take time for yourself every day.

Self-care encompasses everything already discussed in this blog post, but it's more than that. It can be as simple as making yourself a cup of tea every evening and ensuring you get a full night's sleep. Self-care can just mean taking your medications on time, or it can be treating yourself to a pedicure every week.

At the heart of it all, self-care just means taking good care of yourself.

Finding An Integrative Physician in San Francisco who can Effectively Treat Anxiety

Anxiety is a real but manageable condition that can be treated with an integrative health approach. Dr. Payal Bhandari, M.D is a highly trained integrative physician in San Francisco. She is happy to help you overcome the devastating effects of anxiety through her sincere devotion to science and providing outstanding, customized, and compassionate patient care.  You will receive the very best comprehensive medical care and personal support on your journey towards well-being.

Author Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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