I don’t know how you feel, but life. is. stressful. 

No matter how much I intentionally try to slow down, keep less off my metaphorical plate, make time for myself, things somehow continue to enter into my days/weeks/months. I’m sure it’s the same for you, and I know that it’s a challenge to create space for ourselves to slow down and stare out the window, do a puzzle, read a book, take time to enjoy preparing a healthy meal. Life is about go-go-go. 

Several years ago, that busy-ness of life caught up with me. I had a complete, what some might call ‘nervous breakdown’. I had severe anxiety, insomnia, and my nervous system felt raw and wound-up.

Those first couple of years were intense, until I started finding the life corrections that started making small improvements. 

If you’ve experienced anxiety or witnessed a loved one going through it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Heart palpitations, chest tightness, racing thoughts, overwhelming sensations that make it difficult to function in the moment. It’s scary for those experiencing it and for those helplessly witnessing a sister, child, friend or parent living with it. 

I know I’m not the only one….I hear this from every single person in my life. The overwhelm, the sense of that there’s never enough time in the day, the feeling that there’s always more to do and more keeps piling on when we haven’t even finished yesterday’s tasks. 

In my practice, and in my personal life, I witness anxiety and how it affects the daily life of people of every age and walk of life. From loss of work and school days to difficulty sleeping, health issues and increased sickness and injury or pulling away from the activities you love to participate in.

Anxiety is prevalent in our western culture. With the financial pressures related to health care, education costs, retirement and just pure living a nice life, along with the bombardment of social media and the news, it feels overwhelming and crushing just to live these days. It keeps all of us in a state of hypervigilance which, if left unchecked, can lead to feelings of stress and, over a long period of time, anxiety. 

What I DO want to share with you is that anxiety isn’t your fault. There are A LOT of contributing factors to an anxious state, and I’m here to share all that I’ve learned to help you make steps to change that state of being.

I’m going to spend the next 6 weeks sharing thoughts on the root of anxiety and tools for you to start extricating yourself from its’ hold on you. 

I’m going to cover: 

  • The physiological factors that contribute to anxiety so that you can be aware of how your nervous system responds to stress

  • Personal history and trauma that may lead to anxious states

  • Lifestyle changes to help you heal from anxiety

  • Foods that contribute to nervous system dysregulation

  • Foods that help with alleviating anxiety

  • Simple techniques to override your body’s stress response

In my own experience, there are layers of contributing factors that lead to anxiety, insomnia and depression…..and yes, I’m putting the 3 of these together because they usually rear their 3-headed self all together. All 3 tend to have roots in the same factors…..and I’m also going to throw into the mix, chronic pain. 

And because this is a HUGE topic, I’m going to take my time in unfolding what I know about it all, from a clinical perspective, as well as personal. 

For this week, what I’ll leave you with this:

Start breathing.

Really breathing. I mean the in-through-your-nose-and-out-through-your-nose-belly-breathing type of breathing. 

Watch yourself throughout the day. Notice if you’re holding your breath. If you are, stop and breathe (holding your breath is a way to protect yourself, and it becomes a habit when one has experienced trauma)

I’m including a short demo video, that I recorded few years ago, so that you can review the biomechanics of good long deep breathing technique to maximize the benefits.

Long deep breathing helps to:

  • Regulate your Autonomic Nervous System (calms your heart and breathing rates)
  • Bring more oxygen into your cells and blood stream
  • Calms your mind
  • Relaxes muscle tension

Five minute instructional video demonstrating best way to long deep breathe

Remember that you do have control. Taking baby steps, ones that you DO have control over can make a HUGE difference. 

I found a sweet book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living (from The Happiness Institute Series , to help me along my wrist break healing, and within the introduction, the author wrote that Denmark is considered one of the happiest countries in the world. He noted several reasons, and most of those were based on the socialist society in which living, higher education, social security and health care were covered for its’ citizens. This is a bit of a divergence from the point of this post but I wanted to share it because the book itself is very calming. 

And the point of this is trading out the sources of stress and anxiety and replacing them with uplifting, calming activities, reading materials, and friendships.

I’m wishing you a beautiful start to your year. I hope that you’re able to tune into your own inner rhythms and find those things that bring you peace and joy to you and those around you. 

Always, in healing, 
Dr. Arjan

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