More and more of us turn to the acquisition of objects to numb our less than pleasant emotions. Shoes, clothes, gadgets, even cars - you name it, we'll buy it. Time and again research tells us that once we have the basics covered: food, clothes and shelter, extra wealth and the endless variety of stuff we can buy with it really doesn't make us happy. Yet, when anxiety levels go up, many of us get the urge to indulge in "retail therapy" for relief.
Ironically it's the sheer volume of shop-aholics spoils that prove the point that buying stuff doesn't make you feel better. If it did, you'd feel good for some time, and that's where the buying would end, but it doesn't; it only makes you feel good for a short while and then you need to repeat the behaviour for another brief burst of relief. Maybe it's the anticipation, the planning, or the stepping out of a shop with the item of perceived desire that gives diversion from anxiety for a while. But whatever it is that drives the desire to acquire is not addressed by the act of accumulation. Soon that purchase becomes just another thing, another debt increasing, space decreasing object. And then comes the urge to do it all over again.
It's the same with most habits, for example: smoking can relieve anxiety for a minute or two, then the anxiety comes back and so you smoke again and again... All the time aware of the health risks, which increase anxiety, and the expense, which increase anxiety, and so it goes on.
The trouble with all anxiety driven habits is that we have to repeat them constantly to get relief. And because many of the popular habits we use for diversion actually end up increasing our anxiety (by developing debts, or health concerns etc) it's easy to fall into a vicious and all consuming cycle of anxiety, poor choice of action, more anxiety, and repeated poor choice of action until things feel really horrible and hopeless.
Ayurveda offers Lasting Answers for Anxiety
Ayurveda has some interesting advice on dealing with the underlying anxiety that drives most unwanted behaviours. Rather than going "cold turkey" and trying to stop dead with shopping, smoking, or any addictive behaviour, Ayurveda focuses on developing natural and healthy ways to reduce the underlying anxiety. Ways that work and ways that last, so that eventually the anxiety levels subside to a point where you naturally feel more comfortable, calm and in control and the desire to shop, drink, smoke, or whatever else you do to numb feelings of anxiety, becomes less appealing and feels less like a solution and so the unwanted habit begins to naturally fade away.
By nurturing yourself with Ayurveda's recommendations for relaxation and meditation, supportive nutrition, and naturally calming herbs and foods, you can enter into a self-supportive regime that calms anxiety and simultaneously builds self-esteem thus filling the internal void that drives the need to look outside for relief.
To achieve effective permanent relief from anxiety with Ayurveda requires some one on one support and guidance from a qualified practitioner. But here are some general guidelines that can help anyone reduce their anxiety load the Ayurvedic way.
make sure you're drinking enough water
Yes, it's nothing new, every health writer goes on about drinking water. But it really is essential to keep the body hydrated if it's to run smoothly. Your body is a machine and it doesn't like friction. Dryness in the body causes all kinds of problems and it affects the nervous system and mental processing too. According to Ayurveda it is vata types who are most prone to anxiety and one of the qualities of vata is dryness, this often manifests as dry skin, so water counteracts that dryness and helps keep vata in check.
learn some natural ways to reduce anxiety
There are plenty to choose from, you could pick one or two and try them out or you could adopt several anxiety relief tricks and experiment with using them in your life.
These are simple ideas and it may seem ridiculous to pit them against an all consuming anxiety driven habit. And it would be. But that's not the idea, the idea is to gradually adopt self-supporting habits that will turn the heat down, and gradually and genuinely reduce your anxiety over time to the point where those habits fade away.
These are not fire-fighting tools to be used when the negative feelings that drive the urge to shop, smoke etc are running high. These are self-supporting acts of kindness that can be used anytime anywhere to start feeling calm and in control naturally. They work best if used regularly and made part of your daily routine, but they don't have to take ages - here they are. Remember you don't have to do them all, just pick a couple that appeal most and fit them into your day however best you can. You can always improve on things later, as you begin to feel better, for now it's a matter of making a start.
Try and walk every day, even if only for 10 minutes will help get you out of your head and feeling more calm and positive about your life try energy walking for maximum results.
Learn some simple anxiety beating breathing techniques that you can use anywhere and anytime you choose to reduce anxiety on the spot. You can hear about how your breathing and anxiety levels are connected in this podcast or try the relaxing breath free guided mp3 download and get started now with a simple technique for stopping feelings of anxiety with your breath.
- learn to meditate
Even I'm amazed at how many blogs are endorsing meditation these days, I've been practising meditation for over 20 years and am well aware of the benefits, now I'm discovering that many otherbloggers get up early and take care of themselves before they take care of their work too.
I fully understand that when you feel anxious the thought of having to learn something new can feel just too much. So I've made a series of guided meditation mp3s, some are free, some cost a couple of dollars and then there's the full Beautiful Calm collection for those who like some variety in relaxation and meditation options, it's an audio chocolate box of natural ways to feel calm, there are 16 MP3s in the collection designed specifically to create a sense of calm in your life that will stop stress and anxiety in their tracks.
Guided meditation is a great way to reduce anxiety, all you have to do is listen and follow along as your guide coaches you through the exercise.
- try EFT
more and more professional health care specialists are recommending Gary Craig's Emotional Freedom Techniques for reducing anxiety and dealing with unwanted habits. EFT is super easy to learn and it really does work, you can find out more here
eat for peace of mind
Ayurveda offers fascinating information on diet and it's effect on the mind. Foods that are processed, overly spicy, fermented or dead (i.e. meat) are not good for your mind or your moods. They either directly increase anxiety or are dulling to the consciousness.
Good foods for feeling positive, nourished and calm are fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, raw nuts and seeds, and milk. This doesn't mean you have to go on a raw food diet to get rid of stress and anxiety. There is a world of variety contained in the above and it's quite easy to start experimenting and adding more fresh fruit, lightly cooked vegetables etc to your diet to increase your feel good factor. Over time you can make a shift to a very healthy and supportive way of eating as you will more than likely find it appeals to you more and more. You can find out more about food and your mind here.
Other articles natural anxiety relief that might be of interest to you:
5 Natural Ways to Stop Anxiety & Calm Your Mind
Get Calm with the Quick Anxiety Stopper
How to Control Anxiety by Changing Your Breathing
Podcast: Anxiety? Blow it all Away...
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