Holistic Healing for the Anxious Christian
I had anxiety. It's much better now. But I struggled. A lot. I worried about my child and money. Was I being a good wife? A good mom? Were my tools effective for my clients? Sometimes the weight was too much.
Then I escaped. On my phone. TV. Some people use drugs or alcohol.
I got to a point where I just did not want to deal with it anymore. It was taking up too much space in my brain. My adrenals were fatigued and my body was feeling the effects of stress.
I had enough.
So, I did a ton of research and trial on myself. I then came up with a protocol for the Christian client that suffers from anxiety.
I won't sugarcoat this. It takes some work. More work than just popping a pill. Which is what I did, initially. Most people do. It's easy and it usually works. But it does not fix or heal the anxiety. A pill masks the root of what is causing the issue. And sometimes the side effects are no fun.
What is anxiety?
Let's turn to the DSM-5 to see what clinicians are taught to look for. Side note: there are different types of anxiety. This article covers generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Worrying for more than 6 months
Excessive worry (worrying when there is no reason to worry)
The worry is hard to control
With the above, you must also have some physical and cognitive symptoms.
Most people worry, at least a little. Some worry is healthy. You know, you are walking to your car. Alone. At night. Worry can keep you vigilant.
To fit the diagnostic criteria, the anxiety is much more frequent and intense, rather than circumstantial.
To get a proper diagnosis, see a professional that can ask several questions to help formulate what is happening. Your anxiety symptoms can overlap other issues.
Okay, so you have anxiety. Maybe it is severe enough to have a diagnosis. Maybe it's not. But you know well enough that you want it to stop. That is the first step.
How Do You Get Anxiety? You will read many theories on this. Genetics, modeling from parents, scary events, food, circumstances, toxins, and/or medical issues. I will add in that it can also be spiritual.
I believe there is probably a mix of several of the above theories that create it. If you were in a car accident, it would be normal to feel fear the next time you got into a car.
If your mom was a worrywart, it would be natural for you to have picked up her tendencies because she modeled them for you.
If it runs in your family, there may be a medical reason (such as a deficiency in something or hormones are wacky).
Here is my protocol. There is nothing magical about these steps. However, I noticed working with my Christian clients that anything that had to do with energy medicine was uncomfortable for some of them.
I even had a client quit seeing me because I suggested acupuncture (by a Christian acupuncturist!) So, I get it.
In this list are some ideas that you may not be comfortable with. Ask yourself why. God created our bodies and the complexities and wonders that are part of it. Working with a holistic doctor may include homeopathy and acupuncture. Both of which have tons of research to back up their claims.
I once knew an acupuncturist who would use this tool on his sick plants. Yes, plants! This got them healed up! Wild, right?
I have been to Christian holistic docs and non-Christian. In my experience, neither brought up religion and focused solely on helping my body heal.
Be astute on who you work with. Get referrals. Look at Yelp reviews (that can help, but not always accurate).
11 Healing Steps to Heal or Manage GAD
1. Ask yourself if you are ready to make changes to get help. You have to buy into your healing and be an advocate for yourself.
2. Holistic Doctor. What is a holistic doctor, you ask? It's a doctor who looks at the person as a whole. They get to the root of what is causing your anxiety (or other issues) and treat it as naturally as possible. They help your body heal itself. God created our bodies to heal!
Your doctor (holistic or western) should perform a complete physical to rule out medical issues for your anxiety. Could it be menopause? Or another disorder that is causing the anxiety? A blood test may be in order. Rule out medical issues.
Side note: When I had all my anxiety, my western doc gave me a prescription. But then my counselor suggested a chiropractor to me. That doctor explained that my chronic stress caused some significant health issues. He treated the stress and the health issues and got me functioning again--with acupuncture, diet change, and supplements.
Your holistic doctor may use homeopathy, herbs, nutrients, acupuncture, etc. A holistic doctor may be a chiropractor with special training, a naturopath, homeopathic doc, or a functional medical doctor.
When you have anxiety, it causes all sorts of problems with your adrenals and hormones. That is why seeing a holistic doc is beneficial. They can help all parts of your body heal.
There is a growing theory that your gut has much to say about your mental health. In some holistic circles, it is actually called your "second brain." They say that healing your gut can heal your depression, anxiety, etc. This should be done with a knowledgeable doctor/nutritionist to get you going.
If you are not into the holistic side of things, that is okay. You can get a prescription. They can help. I am not anti-meds at all. There are just side effects and risks that some people experience with medication. I am just suggesting some alternatives for you.
For mild anxiety, you may not need to see a doc and can move into the following steps.
3. Read scripture and meditate. Verses that have to do with resting in His presence and not worrying. See this. Meditating on God's holy and living words. Check out a great website called The Christian Meditator. It is another great resource. I also created a few guided meditations you can check out on Youtube here.
4. Counseling. We all need a place where we can vent, dump and process life stuff. Everyone should have a counselor they can talk to. Ideally, this should be someone that is not your friend. If you talk to your friend about something jerky your spouse did, your friend may up looking at your spouse weird. Some churches have lay counselors through a ministry called Stephen's ministry if you do not want to pay.
5. Exercise. Walking, Christian yoga (skip regular yoga, stick with the Christian version), and pilates are all good places to start. Exercise helps release the extra energy that your body is creating with your thoughts. Here is a great article explaining the benefits of exercise when you have anxiety.
Listen to some upbeat Christian music while moving those muscles. Or listen to a podcast.
6. Inner Healing. Is there unresolved trauma? Generational issues? Do you have a false belief you are believing? There may be unresolved grief or trauma that is causing issues. Find a practitioner to help you. Here is a place to start looking.
7. Listening prayer. Read here if you do not know what that is. Before you dive in, make sure you know enough scripture to be able to discern God's voice. If you are not at that place yet, just pray.
8. Supplements. Look into adaptogens. These are herbs that when ingested, know what your body needs and provide it. Crazy neat that God created these! It does take 3 to 5 weeks to start noticing a difference (although I bet your body notices right away). Amino Acids are also a great help. Read here to learn more. Get proper medical advice if you are already taking meds. Some supplements can interfere with meds.
9. Plant-based food. Eating whole, natural living foods feeds your body the nutrients it is starving for. When you go back to the beginning, God created our bodies to eat plants, fruit, and herbs. Look here.
If you eat meat, I am not suggesting you stop. I am suggesting you add in much more plant-type foods. Think spinach in your morning smoothie. A large salad for lunch. A nice side of veggies at dinner.
10. Eliminate caffeine and sugar. Caffeine can exacerbate your anxiety. Start with drinking "half-caf" for a week or so and then going to decaf. Or instead of decaf, move to herbal teas (most herbals do not have caffeine). Regular teas (black, white, yellow, oolong, Pu'ers, and green) do.
I sometimes drink roasted dandelion tea. This does not taste like coffee, but it has several benefits which I like, such as cleansing my liver. This is the brand I drink.
Too much sugar messes with your body in so many ways. Read how here. I love sweets, so I use stevia, erythritol, and xylitol instead.
11. Water. Are you drinking enough? Most people do not. Drink filtered water. Limit drinking from plastic bottles. Why? The toxins in the plastic are leached into your water. Gross!
When you start your healing, start slow. Find a doc and start there. Then talk to them about exercise, eating, and supplements. A holistic doc will encourage you to take care of yourself to help your body heal.
Side note: my husband was on 8 different medications for various things. He decided to start drinking a healthy smoothy each morning.
His anxiety dropped significantly. He was also able to drop some weight, and was able to stop 5 medications (per his doctor's approval)! The smoothie idea was his. His body needed that living food to heal.
Cheering you on!