Stress and anxiety can make you sick, ruin your day, and mess with your head. Anxiety can make your hands feel sweaty, your stomach feel nauseous, and your legs feel weak. You may feel edgy, apprehensive, and nervous about normal everyday events. Day to day living can become a challenge.

In fact, anxiety and stress can be downright frightening. When a person feels these emotions, their body responds physically by sending messages of “fight” or “flight” to the brain. This occurs through the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. The results can range from physical reactions like heaving breathing, an elevated heart rate, and digestive problems to a loss of appetite. Although the fight or flight reaction is a normal response in the face of danger, it can cause long-term health issues if the response persists over a long period of time.

Here’s a list of anxiety symptoms to watch for from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
  • Having difficulty controlling worry
  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

These anxiety symptoms can be indicators of specific disorders. And while many people experience general anxiety on occasion, some people’s anxiety-related disorders are more specific and ongoing, requiring long-term care.

The following list, also from the Mayo Clinic website, summarizes the various types of anxiety-related conditions:

  1. Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically.
  2. Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
  3. Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes. A person may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart.
  4. Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that’s excessive for the child’s developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
  5. Social anxiety disorder involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
  6. Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
  7. Selective mutism is a consistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work and social functioning.
  8. Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.

So what to do if you’re dogged by persistent anxiety and feelings of stress? Are traditional medications the only answer, or are there more “natural” and holistic ways to help you fight back? All too often, traditional meds have side effects that are unpleasant and troublesome. Sometimes, it’s important to take a step back and think out of the box. In fact, there are lots of lifestyle changes to help ease your daily stress that don’t involve ingesting prescription medication.

THE TRUTH ABOUT ANXIETY

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), more than 40 million adults 18 years and older suffer from anxiety orders, making it the most prevalent mental illness in the United States. That’s 18.1 percent of the entire population. Unfortunately, only 36.9 percent of those people seek treatment, the ADAA notes.

Risk factors such as genetics, personality, brain chemistry and life events can contribute to whether someone suffers from anxiety. General Anxiety Disorder alone affects 3.2 percent of the population in the U.S., or 6.8 million adults with women being affected twice as often as men.

Anxiety is a BIG problem everywhere. The World Health Organization estimates that one in 13 people globally suffer from anxiety, making it the most common mental disorder worldwide. That’s a lot of people.

But there’s good news! Anxiety is treatable! If you suffer from anxiety, your chance of recovering is very good. But you have to take action, and it doesn’t always have to be in the form of traditional prescription medication. Read on to find out more!

CBD OIL AND ANXIETY

Products containing CBD compounds (derived from hemp plants) are cropping up everywhere with positive reviews about treating anxiety, among other things. But does CBD work, and if so, how? To better comprehend CBD’s effect on anxiety, it’s important to have an understanding of CBD as well as the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

Although there’s still much research to be done on the ECS, this much is clear: CBD from hemp plants interact in some way with an individual’s ECS. As the term “CBD” becomes more widely known, people across the world are becoming more aware of this product’s therapeutic benefits.

Research indicates that the cannabinoids that are found naturally in CBD can bind to the body’s cannabinoid receptors and modulate body functions in the same way as endocannabinoids. Studies indicate that CBD binds both to receptors in the brain and throughout the body, helping to address mental conditions such as anxiety, as well as physical ailments such as muscle spasms, pain, and swelling. When we take CBD, we are supplementing a naturally-occurring cannabinoid system.

It’s important to understand that CBD from the hemp plant will not cause someone to feel high, unlike its psychoactive counterpart marijuana, which contains the active ingredient THC. In fact, the World Health Organization has declared products like CBD oil to be safe and worth researching.

CBD is often used by anxiety sufferers for help managing a healthy mindset. Studies suggest that CBD may help with promoting healthy sleep cycles, another common complaint of anxiety sufferers. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study showed promise in the areas of neuropathic and inflammatory pain. A survey of 5,000 people by the Brightfield Group, which compiles data on CBD and cannabis, found that more than 60 percent of CBD users have taken it to treat anxiety symptoms.

One of the strongest lures of CBD oil for anxiety are the long lists of unpleasant and sometimes dangerous drug-related side effects to medications commonly prescribed for anxiety. But with the introduction of CBD, new and innovative options for anxiety treatment are now possibilities. And although research is still limited, the promise that CBD offers patients is reason for great hope, with few or limited side effects, like fatigue and irritability.

CBD is available in oils, tinctures, sprays, balms, edibles, capsules, vapes, soaks and bath salts. It’s also available for your pets in the form of chews, sprays, and oil, and is mostly used in treating anxiety. Always make sure you choose a reputable company, like Bespoke Extracts, to ensure quality.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

While the benefits of CBD continue to be explored, this also opens up an unregulated market within the CBD industry, which offers a variety of products containing CBD for a variety of uses. It is of note that the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements, and not all states require manufacturers to properly label their products. Reading labels on CBD products is important so you have a clear understanding of how much CBD the product contains.

SUPPORT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH WITH NATURAL PRACTICES

As holistic options continue to grow in popularity, so does the emphasis on healthy living practices, which can also mitigate the effects of anxiety. Lifestyle changes can have a huge impact. Whether you spend time exercising, enjoying a quiet cup of tea in a peaceful setting, practicing yoga, or finding something to laugh about, the effect can be profound.

Exercise is effective because it spurs the body to produce serotonin and endorphins, which help fight anxiety and depression. “Releasing feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being,” states the Mayo Clinic website.

The AADA considers exercise essential for releasing stress and anxiety and maintaining mental fitness. When the body feels better, so does the mind, notes the ADAA.

Regular participation in aerobic exercise decreases tensions, stabilizes moods, and alleviates insomnia. What’s more, as little as five minutes of this type of exercise can have an anti-anxiety effect on the body.

Avoiding caffeine is a good choice for anxiety-sufferers. The bottom line? Caffeine is a stimulant and that’s not good for anxiety. It triggers our “fight or flight” response and could even trigger a panic attack. It can make you irritable and agitated, ramping up feelings of anxiety and causing you to react in more extreme ways than you normally would.

Avoiding alcohol changes serotonin levels in the brain and also affects other neurotransmitters, making symptoms worse. It’s tempting to reach for a drink when you feel down or anxious, but instead of helping you feel better, alcohol can have the opposite effect. Some people report feeling even more anxious after the effects of the alcohol have worn off.

Practice yoga for a calming mind/body experience. Yoga combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation. It combines physical and mental disciplines that can help someone manage their stress and anxiety. Using physical poses, breathing exercises, and meditation, yoga teaches participants relaxation techniques that benefit both body and mind. Benefits can include stress reduction, improved fitness, and management of chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety, and insomnia.

Laughter is the best medicine, it’s been said, and it definitely helps with anxiety.

“Even if you do a fake laugh, you get an instant hit of dopamine,” says LarenLynn Cassiday, PhD, president-elect of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Dopamine is a brain chemical that controls feelings of reward and pleasure.

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter actually produces physical changes in your body that have positive effects. For example, it stimulates many organs and increases the endorphins that are released in the brain; it activates and relieves your stress response, leaving you feeling relaxed; laughter soothes tension, stimulates circulation, and relaxes muscles. Long-term laughter may improve your immune system, help ease pain by spurring the body to produce natural painkillers, increase personal satisfaction, and improve your mood.

Sniff some lavender, an essential oil known for its calming properties. Lavender aromatherapy has been studied extensively for its anxiety-relieving effects and studies show both oral lavender and inhaled lavender may reduce anxiety. Lavender oil aromatherapy “has been shown to reduce the physical and emotional signs of stress, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, and increasing feelings of relaxation and calm,” writes Michael J. Breus, PhD, the “Sleep Doctor.”

Taking a bath can be both physically and mentally soothing. Because stress can cause the muscles in the body to seize up, taking a bath is helpful in getting them to loosen up. Submerging yourself in water also feels good, so it is healing both physically and mentally. Warm water increases blood flow to the skin, so a bath is both soothing and invigorating.

Turn off your phone. It’s a no brainer when it comes to stress. These days we are tethered to our phones, driven to instantly view every text, investigate every alert and constantly scan social media accounts, news sites, emails, and more. We need to power down and get away, and turning off our electronic devices and retreating for a few hours is key to relaxation. A phone can be a constant reminder of work-related stress, a stressful relationship or stressful world events. Turn it off.

When it comes to anxiety, there’s no quick fix, but there are a lot of options, ranging from CBD oil to yoga. But by gaining an awareness of what causes your symptoms and a knowledge of the various holistic treatment options, you can manage your symptoms.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO MANAGE STRESS

Prolonged stress is never good and can lead to long-term health issues that can be difficult to combat. Understanding how stress can impact your health is important. Health concerns can affect your immune system by sparking inflammation, causing heart problems and stomach issues.

Here’s a list from the University of Minnesota that highlights some of the biggest concerns.

study that followed more than 68,000 healthy adults over eight years found that people who constantly felt like they were under stress and experienced various symptoms related to chronic stress were more likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Another study showed a 40 to 60 percent increase in the risk of heart disease.

Digestive problems can cause stress and the ensuing stress can further aggravate the existing digestive disorders. Bloating, pain, and discomfort are often the result of stress.

Decreased immune function is another side effect of stress. The American Psychological Association has cited a possible link between loneliness and stress and the immune function, noting that people who don’t have a support system to lean on in stressful times wind up getting sicker more often.

Accelerated aging has also been linked to stress. Studies by a professor at the University of California showed that women with chronic stress in their lives aged nearly 20 times faster than women who did not have to deal with chronic stress.

Stress is everywhere in our lives. At work, at home, and at play. It can wreak havoc on our physical well-being so it’s important to explore holistic solutions like Bespoke Extracts CBD oil, and healthy, common-sense practices like yoga, exercise, and laughter to maintain inner peace and reduce our stress levels.