10 February 2016
Treating anxiety, depression, and stress
the Wise Woman Way
So many people are experiencing mood disturbances these days. While the choice to use anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication is a valid one, the increase in use over the past decade has doubled, along with our stress levels. How can we address this issue in our lives on deeper lifestyle level and create more sustainable solutions? My favorite interpretation of the Wise Woman Tradition, which speaks to the heart of this issue, is to:
Live in your body. Speak your truth. Love yourself.
Living in your body is all about nourishment, the foundation of the Wise Woman Tradition. If we’re not deeply nourished, it’s very difficult for us to deal with the situational anxiety and depression that comes our way. Most women suffer from a lack of healthy fats in their diets. Healthy fats, like raw organic butter and coconut oil, contribute to a healthy nervous system unlike anything else. A robust nervous system helps us be less emotionally volatile or prone to extreme bouts of anxiety. Reducing or eliminating stimulants will also help get you off the up and down wheel of anxiety.
Speaking your truth. The Wise Woman Tradition teaches us to embrace both the light and dark sides of ourselves – even those so called “negative emotions” such as grief and rage. Women and men have often been taught to suppress these parts which, stored in our bodies, can create anxiety and illness. Name the fears and dark emotions with your loved ones. Be vulnerable and real about who you are and what you feel. Try expressing this dark stuff in a safe way by lying on the earth and letting your tears and anger flow . . . the earth can take your pain and turn it into food and medicine!
Loving yourself. Where in your life are you being nourished? Accentuate those parts and begin to look at what drains your energy. Your job, your relationship, your community? Is there a way to live more authentically who you are? Is there a way to live more simply to reduce economic stress? Can you reach out to others to create more community in your life? Can you find a way to get nourishing non-sexual touch such as massage or cuddling? Can you do a daily movement or writing or art practice, which grounds your energy and frees your soul?
Herbal remedies for anxiety and depression
Herbs alone, just like prescription medicine alone, will not be a miracle cure. In combination with the lifestyle issues above, herbs will encourage your body and mind towards wholeness.
Three of my favorite herbs to soothe the nerves and ease anxiety are lemon balm, skullcap and catnip, all gentle, safe herbs in the mint family. Lemon balm is known as a mood elevator--if you've had a sniff of a leaf from the garden, you understand what that means! Skullcap is used to ease nervous tension and help with headaches and sleep disturbances. Catnip is used to for calming, pain, and bellyaches, which often accompany mood disorders.
May you discover yourself more deeply on your journey through the light and dark spiral of life.