Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a persistent and very prevalent issue in our chaotic world. However, since it’s not a physical malady, people who endure GAD are often harshly judged and ridiculed. As an aromatherapist, I know how helpful essential oils can be when you live with anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety can take many forms and the information here is general in nature, yet gives you an excellent starting point if you’re beginning your search on this issue.
If you have more than three of these concerns for longer than a few weeks, it may be time to talk with your medical professional:
- Feel intensely nervous, irritable or on edge for more than a few days
- Your heart rate increases for no real reason (i.e. you’re not exercising)
- You’re breathing very shallow – not taking deep belly breaths
- You find it hard to concentrate
- Feel tired because you’re not sleeping well
- Find yourself worrying more than normal
It’s important to understand that sometimes, everyone goes through periods when you’re dealing with some or all of these symptoms. And that’s okay – really it is!
What’s not okay is when these concerns are ongoing or never seem to ease off.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says this about GAD:
GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected. The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. Although the exact cause of GAD is unknown, there is evidence that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role.
As women, we’re more prone to anxiety. Why? Honestly, in my non-scientific opinion, women carry far more of the day-to-day burdens when it comes to family, taking care of a home and a job. We bear a lot more of society’s burden of expectation as well and all of this adds up to anxiety.
It could also be brain chemistry – our chemical makeup is different than that of males. And of course, we have very different hormonal systems. If your periods have changed or you’re beginning pre-menopause, it would wise to talk to your medical professional and let her know what’s going on.
The journal Brain and Behavior published a paper that found globally, women and young adults are more prone to anxiety:
Olivia Remes, lead author of the paper and a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge in England suggests that women are almost twice as likely as men to experience anxiety. This gender gap might be a result of differences in brain chemistry and hormonal fluctuations, or how men and women tend to cope with stress differently.
Managing Your Anxiety
There are some simple things you can do to help yourself through anxious moments.
- Sweat – yep – good ol’ exercise in whatever form suits you. It could be pulling weeds in the garden, taking a brisk walk or working out at the gym. You get to pick what you like but just make sure you do it every day.
- Deep breathing. Chances are when you’re feeling anxious, your breathing becomes very shallow which makes the situation even worse. Put your hand on your lower belly and make sure you feel it expand and contract when you breathe.
- Check your diet. Stay away from all processed foods (including fast food), sugar and caffeine. These are major culprits that trigger anxiety attacks.
- Stay in the present moment. If you’re already stressing about what’s hasn’t happened yet, you’re setting yourself up for an anxiety attack. I don’t mean to be harsh here, but this is another trigger.
- Find a visual anchor. It may be a special keychain that you can touch, looking at the clouds to calm you, staring at a picture of the ocean to lower your heartbeat – anything that distracts you in the moment.
How Can Aromatherapy Help With Anxiety?
You should speak with a medical professional especially if your anxiety goes on for extended periods of time. As a certified aromatherapist, I can assure you that essential oils can be of great help to you.
I have a few products that I created for my case studies that are very successful.
- Anxiety Ease Aromatherapy Rollerball works to ground you to help you feel less anxious.
- Peaceful Ease Aromatherapy Rollerball is helpful when you live with both mild anxiety and depression.
- Sleepytime Lotion helps calm you, helps you relax more and fall asleep easier.
- Lavender Eucalyptus Linen Mist helps calm you and relax your mind. It’s safe to spray on your body as well.
Yes, there absolutely is help available through your medical professional. Yes, this may mean medication and therapy. Here’s the thing. That medication (no matter what it is) will have some serious negative side effects.
I believe the natural route of aromatherapy offers a viable and less toxic alternative as it’s much easier on your body in terms of side effects of medication. When you do talk to your medical professional, please be sure you know the full story on any medication prescribed – find out what the risks are before you start taking them.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.