Strategies for easing anxiety

Whether speaking in public or starting a new job, we all experience anxiety from time to time.

Part of the fight or flight response that I wrote about last column, anxiety is caused by various factors — environmental, chemical, genetic — and is often triggered by stress.

Though more common among women, anxiety and associated disorders can afflict anyone at virtually any age. Wide-ranging symptoms can be emotional and/or physical, including feelings of apprehension and dread as well as irritability, restlessness and fatigue.

Generally, anxiety is considered a disorder when it persists for an extended period of time and it occurs when most people wouldn’t normally experience it. If you’re concerned about anxiety, checking in with a health practitioner will help determine if you’re just drinking too much coffee or whether there is more at play.

A naturopathic doctor will typically begin with a thorough assessment of your diet and overall health to get to the root source, be it depression, low serotonin or GABA levels or lifestyle factors.

Strategies shown to ease anxiety include limiting coffee and sugar, which can play havoc with the body’s norepinephrine and insulin levels; increasing relaxation and exercise time; and eating and sleeping well. Simply taking a few moments to breathe can also be beneficial – ten deep belly breaths at intervals through the day will automatically cause your body to relax and refocus.

In addition to suggesting lifestyle changes and herbal remedies, all naturopathic doctors receive clinical training in counselling, so we may discuss other strategies, such as the use of powerful positive language to boost self-resilience. We can also help assess disorders and suggest further treatment options if necessary.

Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing; it can work to motivate us. But if it’s starting to interfere with your day-to-day life, it may be time to do something about it.

Dr. Erika Kneeland is a Naturopathic physician and owner of Braidwood Naturopathic Clinic in Courtenay. For appointments, call 250-334-0655 or visit

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