" And into the Forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul "
~ John Muir
Never before have human beings been so out of tune with the natural world, and shockingly, apparently, 93% of Americans spend most of their time indoors!
If you have not heard of Forest Bathing, then you may want to do yourself a favour, and look into it, because it is hooking people all over, with promise of a new and effective way of reducing stress and anxiety.
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest Bathing or Forest Therapy was developed in Japan in 1980, so it is a fairly new concept, especially to the rest of the world.
Simply put, Forest Bathing, or it's more traditional name of 'shinrin-yoku' means 'taking in the atmosphere of the forest, and the idea is to simply sit, walk or spend time in a forest in a calm and relaxed way to nourish our senses.
Please don't get confused with exercising in nature, whereby you work up a sweat and your heart rate increases drastically.
This is not the idea.
Forest Bathing is a slow, relaxing and calming practice. It is designed to be therapeutic for the mind and soul, not exercise for the physical body (although as you will be walking, some light exercise will happen)
We all know how healing nature can be, but do you actually know why this is so?
Positive Ions vs Negative Ions
It's because nature gives off a host of negative ions, and this counteracts positive ions, which are emitted from things like TV's, computers, laptops, cell phones and all other electronics.
Considering most of us spend almost all of our time in close proximity to most of these items, we can quite see why we are in desperate need of these negative ions.
The sole reason why you feel so relaxed and rejuvenated in a forest environment is because there is practically nothing electronic within range, and even if you did happen to carry your smart phone with you while taking a walk, the negative ions within in the forest would be so great, that those negative ions would cancel out the smart phone's positive ones immediately.
However in saying this, it is best to leave all electronics at home or the office!
To read more about negative ions and how they can benefit you, please check out this insightful article by clicking here.
Shinrin-yoko has been scientifically proven to help with reducing things like immune functioning, blood pressure, stress, mood, concentration, provide more energy and better sleep patterns.
The trees and plants also create Natural Killer fighting cells (NK cells) These NK cells actually look for cancer cells and bacterial and viral infections within the body and destroy them!
In fact, in Japan, there are some certified trails to do Forest Bathing, as blood samples obtained from people on these trails showed the most increase in NK cells!
Now think about it.
Can you imagine what tree upon tree in a huge forest could do for you?
The Forest has been described as medicine for the soul.
Spending just 20 minutes fully engaging your senses in this type of environment, not to mention all the extra clean oxygen you will be inhaling, the Forest is truly a gift that is unfortunately not appreciated by too many humans!
How do I practice Forest Bathing?
Forest Bathing or Forest Therapy is using all your five senses to take in the healing and therapeutic powers of Nature.
As you walk through the forest, smell, listen, look, taste and feel everything around you.
Let yourself just walk in any direction of the Forest (safety first though) that comes naturally or right for you - in other words, go with the flow.
If you compelled to touch something in the Forest, then do it (use common sense though) don't try to touch a poison ivy plant, or an unfamiliar spider that you see!)
A weird thing that I love to do, and I'm always compelled to do whenever I am in any type of nature environment, is to pick up handful of soil.
It's so therapeutic and I love the feel of it in my hands!
How do I Forest Bathe?
You can Forest Bathe by:
- Walking slowly through a forest
- Sitting under a tree or lying under a tree in a forest
- Sitting and digging your bare feet into the earth
- Collecting something like mushrooms or berries
- Meditating in a quiet spot.
Whichever you choose to do, you have to practice Forest Therapy at a slow pace in order to entice your senses to take everything in.
Ideally, if you choose to walk in the forest first, you want to find a place to sit down for a while, in order to fully appreciate the natural environment around you that the Forest brings.
Remember it is no good Forest Bathing in a noisy place where there are children and dogs running around.
It has to be a quiet and peaceful place with no children or dogs with you!
You will not experience Forest Therapy at it's best if you are feeling rushed and/or running after children and barking dogs.
How often should I Forest Bathe?
As often as you like!
Even once a week Forest Bathes showed results, according to a Japanese study.
What if I have no Forests near me?
It's not a problem.
You can reap similar effects in any kind of nature area where there are a lot of trees. If you really struggle to find this, or live in a city environment and can't get to a forest, then you can just find a quite place at a park.
It won't be exactly the same, but you'll still get the benefits of nature.
if you are really stuck and simply cannot get outdoors, then I would recommend finding a place in your home that is clutter free. Place one or two plants around and set out some pictures of forests and trees around the space where you will be sitting.
Once good tip from the blog, Mama Natural, was to enhance the smells by using essential oils such as Pine, Juniper and Cedar Wood.
Placing a bowl of soil and if you are able to get some pine cones would be an awesome addition to your space as well.
However this is only a back up plan if you are seriously unable to get outdoors at all!
Antidepressants, Anxiety Medication, Happy Pills....they're all used interchangeably, however, whatever you choose to call them, there is a lot of controversy surrounding them, and is still considered a very taboo subject.
Some people are dead set against using any form of conventional medication for Anxiety, but some can't use any because of religious reasons or bad side effects and then there are some people who can't do without it.
I simply say "Do what suits you!"
As someone who approaches Anxiety Disorder recovery holistically and in a complementary manner, I am a firm believer in the fact that Anxiety medication has it's place in the world of Mental Health.
However, I am also a person who favours the natural way over the conventional way, but sometimes, when we are in a life or death situation, or perhaps in my case, in the depths of a crippling and severe Anxiety Disorder, and having suicidal thoughts, medication for Anxiety can be the very thing that saves lives!
This does not detract from the fact that Anti Anxiety medication is very much overused, and is incorrectly looked at being a 'quick fix' when in fact recovery from Anxiety Disorder is SO much more than just putting a pill in your mouth!
Recovery from Generalized Anxiety Disorder is not linear, and it's not a fast process, whether you opt to take medication or not. Recovery is complex and requires great courage and determination!
Does medication help Anxiety?
Obviously when talking about methods that have helped a person, we need to always bear in mind the ever famous saying 'what works for one does not always work for another'
Although in theory, humans have the same basic physiology and biology, we can also bear similarities to one person, but major differences to another. This explains why you may be allergic to cats, whereas your friend is not, or why your neighbour can't eat wheat, but you can. This is true for everything, ranging from diets, hobbies that we enjoy, beliefs, allergies, and of course medications and recovery methods.
So when we ask questions like 'does medication help Anxiety, we have to look at both sides of the coin.
I have always described my own experience with Anti Anxiety medication as "being the hoist that lifted me up and off the cliff that I was dangling from, and lifted me up just enough so that I could help myself"
And that is exactly what it did! Anxiety Medication helped me so much!
I would go as far as to say it saved me from what I call sheer Anxiety hell!
My Anxiety Disorder experience was severe.
I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder in 2009, but I had been struggling with Anxiety and Panic attacks and irrational thoughts since 2001.
It got so bad that I was incapable of functioning normally, I couldn't do the simplest of tasks. I couldn't drive, I couldn't even feed my dogs, and after a while, I began to experience dissociation as well.
When all is said and done, I was basically a lifeless entity living inside a glove, just floating around the earth like vapour. It felt like I was viewing the world from inside a bubble, and the world I was viewing was foreign to me.
Long story short, I was put onto the correct medication for my Anxiety and Panic Disorder, but specifically relating to my person and symptoms, and slowly but surely, each of my 45 symptoms started to disappear, making the world less foreign to me, and making my life a bit easier to cope with.
Once I was rid of the dissociation and many of my Anxiety related symptoms had reduced, my brain fog lifted, and this enabled me to help myself further, perhaps without the use of long term medication, and as I began to explore other methods and treatments aimed at Anxiety Disorder recovery, I began to slowly withdraw from most of my medication.
However, that is MY story.
Another person may have a similar story of Anxiety medication helping them, but maybe their medication was different from mine. Then there are people who felt no different taking any medication and say it didn't help at all, and then you get people who say the side effects of the medication made them feel ten times worse!
And this is the problem.
There is no one correct answer because there are many different ways to approach Anxiety Disorder recovery and many different medications and Antidepressants available.
So, does Anxiety medication work?
Well, yes it can, and no, it can't, because it all depends on the individual.
All is all?
I believe that Anti Anxiety medication can do wonders for short term relief, because for me, medication saved my life!
How Anxiety Medication works
Once you have been diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, you will need to discuss treatment options with the doctor.
If you decide to go the conventional medication route, only the doctor will be able to prescribe this!
This can vary as well.
Sometimes people just go to their regular GP who prescribe some kind of Antidepressant and/or refer them to a therapist.
Sometimes the doctor will just refer the patient to a Psychiatrist.
Psychologists are therapists who can teach and help you deal with your emotions in a more healthy way, but they cannot prescribe medication.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the mind, and therefore can diagnose and prescribe medication for Mental Illness's such as Anxiety Disorders, Depression and Bipolar Disorder.
Which Anxiety Medication is the best for me?
Firstly, a qualified doctor is the ONLY one who can decide what might be the best Anxiety medication for you.
They will typically need a full medical history, and will need to know any allergies or current medication that you are taking in order to prescribe something that may help you.
Antidepressants are serious drugs, and their dosages are not to be played around with unless under the guidance of a doctor.
Unfortunately, it's not just as easy as asking 'which medication is best' because there are hundreds of different Anxiety medications on the market, and finding the right one may be a bit of trial and error.
This is no fault of the doctors or yours, but the simple thing of that we're all different and react to things differently.
Recovery from Anxiety Disorder is a journey, a rocky journey, and you have to be patient!
Remember that Antidepressants are designed to have a direct effect on certain hormones and this can either agree with a person or disagree with a person, which can result in side effects.
If an Antidepressant does not agree with you, you must go back to the doctor and keep trying until you find the correct one that works for you!
There are four main types of Anxiety medication that a doctor could prescribe:
1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): These are drugs that help to prevent re-absorption of serotonin by the brain.
Well known examples of SSRIs include Prozac and Zoloft.
2. Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): These help to not only prevent re-absorption of serotonin, but another hormone known as Norepinephrine.
These are the most common type of Anti-depressants that are prescribed.
3. Benzodiazepines: These are more commonly known as Tranquilizers, and help to slow the nervous system down. The tend to work fairly quickly.
Xanax and Valium are two well known Benzodiazepines.
4. Tricyclic Anti-Depressants: Like SSRIs and SNRIs, Tricyclic Anti-depressants help prevent the re-absorption of serotonin, but additionally they help to keep other cell receptors from reabsorbing as well.
What are the side effects of Antidepressants?
I hate this question, because unfortunately, side effects from Anxiety medications are limitless.
Every one knows that all medications come with an insert which has a list of different side effects that a person might experience.
However, it doesn't necessarily mean that you will experience them, or if you'll even experience any side effects for that matter.
You could however, experience something that has not been listed in the insert, or you may find that they make you feel worse that what you felt before, or even that there is no change at all.
Although disappointing, this is nothing to get upset over, it just means that this specfic Anxiety medication does not agree with you!
A medication that is right for you, is one that helps to reduce your symptoms AND one that gives you no or very little side effects that don't disrupt your life.
Do Antidepressants make you gain weight?
Antidepressants have long had a reputation for making people gain weight, but again this is unique to every single individual.
This was true for me personally with one of the Antidepressants I was prescribed back when I was much younger.
However, some Antidepressants are more likely to cause weight gain than others, and about 25% of people complain about weight gain after taking Antidepressants for more than 6 months.
Some worth mentioning are:
Some Tricyclic Antidepressants such as Doxepin and Amitriptyline were listed as being big offenders, but some SSRIs like Paroxetine, Zoloft and Prozac were the worst for weight gain!
There is also a type of Anti-Depressant called Mirtazapine that doesn't really fit into any of the above mentioned categories, but it has shown time and time again to cause weight gain and increased appetite. However it's side effects are not as bad as other anti-depressants.
Experts say they don't really know the link between weight gain and Antidepressants. There are some theories that perhaps once the brains chemistry is more balanced and happier, the person feels more likely to eat as they associate food with pleasure.
Another theory is that a person who has lost weight due to severe depression may start eating more once their mood lifts.
Personally, I feel it's fairly obvious why weight gain happens.
If you know anything about hormones, you will know that they are what make up the endocrine system, which is a system of glands that produce hormones which are responsible for controlling many things such as weight, metabolism, sleep cycles and moods.
When one hormone is not working properly, the entire endocrine system is out of balance.
Antidepressants are chemically altering the systems in our bodies, which first and foremost affect the hormones - serotonin being the most common one!
So is it really that shocking?
According to an article in WebMD, experts say that switching drugs may help if you have an issue with major weight gain.
The problem however comes in when the drugs are actually working well with regards to lifting your anxiety or depression, but they are causing the weight gain.
Switching drugs because of weight gain may help, but you may not get the level of effect with the new drugs as well as the old ones.
So it really is just about trial and error.
You as the individual also need to decide if you are willing to have a bit of extra weight while you are recovering from mental illness, and tackle the weight issue once you are of more stable mind.
Registered dietitian, Samantha Heller says " The best thing you could do would be to head off the weight gain before it starts by switching to a more nutritious diet and increasing your daily exercise as soon as you start taking the Antidepressant.
Even if you don't lose the weight immediately, you can begin controlling the gain and help your body to stabilize for a while"
Heller also goes on to say that " The bottom line here is that not only can healthy eating and exercise help control your weight gain, they can also improve your depression, which in turn may help you cut down on your medication - and that in turn makes weight loss easier"
However, it is emphasized that for some people no amount of healthy eating or exercise is going to keep the weight off.
If you are one of these people, it's important to keep your eye on the prize - recovery from Mental Illness!
Can I take Antidepressants when pregnant?
In short - yes, you can take Antidepressants when you are pregnant, but this is a subject that needs very careful consideration.
It can be extremely tough on an expectant mother who is taking Antidepressants, to decide whether or not she will continue with them.
Do you stop taking them to reduce risk to your baby, but to the detriment of your own mental health, or do you carry on taking them knowing the possible risks of the drugs on your unborn child?
Pregnancy is a highly emotional time for many women, with hormones contributing to a lot of body changes and emotions.
Antidepressants have been successfully taken by many pregnant women in the past, and continue to be taken by pregnant women and post pregnancy women as well who experience post natal depression.
In a nutshell, the decision lies with you, and if this is a dilemma you are faced with, you need to firstly weigh up the pros and cons of taking Antidepressants while pregnant, and then secondly and most importantly - this is something that has to be discussed with your doctor!
Regardless of whether you have been taking the medication for a long time, you have to inform your doctor that you are intending to become pregnant, so that they can suggest an alternative for you should it be that you cannot continue with your current medication.
In addition to your doctor or psychiatrist, it is also suggested that you speak with your OBGYN.
What are the risks of taking Antidepressants while pregnant?
It's important to know that no medication is 100% safe, regardless of whether you are pregnant or not, but research on Antidepressants and pregnancy have been mixed and inconclusive.
Some of the more common risks to the baby include:
Low Blood Sugar
Drug residue in breast milk
All in all, the risks are still pretty low, with only a 3% risk of having a baby with some form of birth defect from Antidepressants.
However on the other side of the coin, expectant mothers who have depression, and leave it untreated while pregnant can run the risk of passing the symptoms onto the baby! Shocking as this may seem, according to a study published in Biological Psychiatry, exposure to depression within the womb has been linked to malformations, heart problems, and premature birth.
The symptoms can also carry on as the baby grows up, presenting themselves as irritable, less active and developmental and behaviour issues in early childhood.
However, the possibilities of this happening are low.
It is also important to note that taking Antidepressants while pregnant holds greater risk in the first trimester, and according to Dr Nancy Byatt, (a physician and associate professor of psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Massachusetts), pregnant women who take Antidepressants in the second and third trimester have a much lower risk of affecting their babies.
The final thoughts here would also be to emphasize to never just stop taking your medication if you are already on Antidepressants.
Rather instead, be smart and if you want to stop taking them, then discuss with your doctor about weaning yourself off the medication before you conceive.
If you have an unplanned pregnancy, you still need to speak to your doctor, and they can work with you to decide the best course of action.
How to relieve Anxiety naturally
There are so many different kinds of natural and alternative remedies aimed at treated Anxiety and Depression naturally, and once again, it all comes down to what works for the individual.
When considering a natural or alternative treatment for Anxiety, it is very important that you consult with a trained professional.
Just because something is natural doesn't mean it is right for you, and if you are on other medication, this obviously has to be taken into account as well.
So lets look at the different categories of how to reduce Anxiety naturally.
Lets first break it down a bit to understand the different types of treatment available:
Alternative Medicine: When methods that are non-mainstream like Acupuncture are used instead of conventional methods. This can include natural medicine as well.
Examples are: Acupuncture, Herbs, Aromatherapy, Reiki and Homeopathy.
Natural Medicine: A form of medicine that uses a natural approach.
Examples are Herbs and Aromatherapy.
Complementary Medicine: When both natural and conventional methods are used alongside each other. While it is important to get advice from a professional with any treatment, it is especially important with complementary medicine, as some conventional medication doesn't mix well with herbal remedies, and thus can cancel each other out, and lose any benefits they have.
Examples of this could be a form of conventional medication and Rescue Remedy or a Bach Flower Remedy, Herbal Teas and Aromatherapy.
Traditional Medicine: Uses knowledge and skills from a time before modern medicine. These are usually passed down through generations.
Examples are: Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.
Holistic Medicine: Aims to treat the person as a whole, and treating the body, mind and spirit as one.
An example could be something such as treating a person with conventional medication, and suggesting counselling, a diet change, some form of exercise like yoga and meditation therapy.
As you can see, there are many routes that a person can try to relieve Anxiety naturally, and no one can really advise on the best treatment because it is all down to the individual.
One thing that needs to be made abundantly clear, is that, treatment is not just about what you put into your mouth in the form of pills - if you choose that route.
Diet, lifestyle and therapy for changing thought patterns and habits are crucial.
You can do this is the form of a reputable therapist, or else search on google for a Anxiety course or method that you can purchase.
There are quite a few out there that are really good at helping to change negative and anxious mindsets.
Just always remember, when shopping online, purchase wisely, and always research the reputability of someone first.
My personal favourite natural remedies for reducing Anxiety:
Here are a list of some natural remedies that I love for treating my own Anxiety.
Please remember to always consult your doctor before taking any kind of remedy or medication!
Also bear in mind that I do not use all of these at once!
Should I take medication for Anxiety?
This is a decision that only you and your doctor can make.
If you feel that you could be suffering from Anxiety or Depression, your first point of contact should be your doctor, as they are the only ones who can either prescribe medication for you, or refer you to a Psychiatrist.
Are Anxiety meds worth it?
From personal experience - yes, they are. However, some people don't agree.
It's a different experience for each person.
Are Anxiety meds safe?
It depends on how you define 'safe' in this regard.
Anxiety medication is just like any other medication. It doesn't come without it's side effects or risks. It could make you feel worse or it could bring on new symptoms.
However, if you mean 'are they safe' to ingest, then yes, they are all safe for consumption. If you mean 'are they safe' from an addiction point of view, then bear in mind that this is why these medication are so tightly controlled, and have to be under the strict guidance from a doctor. If you come from a past of addiction, inform your doctor, and again, they'll be able to prescribe a medication that won't be addictive.
Does Anxiety medication make you sleepy or Drowsy?
Yes, some can, but it depends on the medication and the individual taking the medication.
Should Anxiety be treated with medication?
No, it doesn't have to be treated with only medication.
This is a personal decision for the individual and their doctor to make.
There are many other routes that a person can take that doesn't not involve medication.
I also think it's very important to bear in mind, that even if you do opt for the medication route, you still need to make a conscious effort to treat the anxiety holistically.
Anxiety Medication is designed to take away the symptoms, not the cause of Anxiety!
Does Anxiety medication make you loose weight?
Some can make you loose weight, such as Lexapro and Prozac, however, I personally wouldn't take this information to heart, as any medication has the power to cause weight gain or weight loss. While some people reported weight loss on medications like Lexapro and Prozac, some reported weight gain!
There are medications which are more prone to causing changes in weight, however, it's dependable yet again on the individual and the medication used.
Disclaimer: Products that are highlighted in purple will take you directly to a link as to where you can buy them online. Please note that I do receive a small percentage of commission from these.
I have personally used and continue to use these highlighted products to keep my Anxiety stable and can recommend them!
When we talk about social anxiety, we commonly think of not being able to leave the house, fear of public speaking or staying away from crowded places.
But what about a fear of eating in public?
Anxiety over eating in front of other people is a form of social anxiety and can really make life frustrating and difficult, especially when you consider that social eating centers around a lot of life and work related events.
Do you say no to dinner dates?
Do you absolutely hate work functions?
Do you get anxious when you know that you have a family dinner?
Do you struggle to eat in front of people that you know well like friends and family?
If you can relate to any of these, then you may have social eating anxiety.
I have struggled with this at times, but it's not something that dominates my life.
However the times whereby I have experienced it, it has made me feel very awkward, and has caused me to do things such as eat as slowly as possible, be extremely mindful of table manners, make me chew as quietly as possible and cover my mouth while chewing, and even has caused me to leave a bit of food on my plate for fear of people thinking that I am gluttonous!
These are all normal feelings. I have heard of people who cannot swallow and some may actually throw up at the thought of having to eat in front of other people.
So what can we do to minimize these awkward symptoms?
1. Choose restaurants that are quiet. Go in off peak times. So don't opt to go for lunch during the peak rush hour. Rather choose to go for an early lunch or a late lunch instead.
2. When choosing a table, always choose the one at the back of the restaurant, in the quietest corner that you can find. If you feel nauseous, choose a table near the rest rooms
3. Try eating a meal in front of one other person who knows about your situation and you know will not judge you. This will build up confidence about eating in front of others.
4. When it comes to choosing a meal, go for something small, a light meal such as a starter or a salad or something very plain. This will enable you to take your time by chewing slowly, and because you'll have less food to have to eat, you won't feel pressured by being the last person who is eating.
5. Avoid foods like spaghetti, or very saucy and messy foods which are awkward to eat.
6. Eating slowly is your best friend in this situation. Not only will it help you to eat in a more controlled manner, but it will help those of you who struggle to swallow. Cut your food into small pieces and chew chew chew! It'll make swallowing a bit easier.
7. Mindfulness can really help here.Try and be mindful of what you are eating by really tasting the flavours of food and inhaling the smells. Take note of the colours on your plate. If you don't want the focus to be on your food, then focus on the colours and smells of your surroundings.
8. Take something natural and safe before you have to go out and eat. My go to natural remedy is rescue remedy, but you could also try something like st johns wort or any of the other natural products out there that works for you. Remember to consult your doctor first, especially if you're taking other medication.
I always carry a spork, stainless steel straw, hand sanitizer and tissues in my bag. For people, like me, who have quirky habits at restaurants with regard to germs and dirt in public places, I can always know that I have my own eating utensils and products to wipe down a table.
This is very similar to the spork I use.
I also love these on Amazon for people who live in the US.
These are just like the stainless steel straws that I use. Just like my set, I like them because it comes in a four pack and a handy little brush for easy cleaning.
The exact ones that I use can be found here, however these are only available in the UK.
Below is a video that I did on this exact topic.
I discuss these tips in a little more detail, and hopefully they will help you somewhat!
Always remember, when you have to social eat, that SLOW is key! :)
If you can remember that, then you'll be on your way to making progress.
Back when I was in the midst of a severe anxiety disorder, I honestly thought I couldn't get any worse than what I was.
Symptom after symptom plagued me, and everyday it felt as though life was throwing me into a crocodiles den with the most awful symptoms that just debilitated me more each day!
However, I got more than I bargained for when my anxiety decided to distress me even further by handing me another grueling symptom that would prove to be my biggest and most challenging symptom that I would have to deal with!
This was Tinnitus!
It came out of the blue, and made me suffer for months, and bearing in mind that when I was going through this, mental health was not spoken about like it is today, social media was not the hot property that it is today, and information on mental health was not as wide spread as it is now.
What made it ten times worse for me was that the subject of 'Anxiety Related Tinnitus' just didn't seem to be very common, and I was starting to think that I would be stuck like that forever!
Years later, I was really surprised when I found out just how many people suffer from this symptom, and because I don't want you to go through what I went through, and have little resources or reassurance, I decided to make a three part video series on the subject.
Because the videos were so well received on Facebook, I uploaded them to YouTube as well and decided to write this blog on Tinnitus as well.
I will be covering three main parts:
1) The two main reasons why you could be suffering with Anxiety Related Tinnitus
2) Answering people's questions about Anxiety Related Tinnitus
3) My six tips for reducing Anxiety Related Tinnitus
All videos are included as well for each part.
But first let's talk about the obvious.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is characterized by a ringing, hissing or whooshing sound in the ears.
People who experience it often refer to cricket like sounds as well.
A person may hear these noises in one ear or both ears, and the sounds may come and go, and be worse on some days than on other days.
The noises do not come from the external environment but rather from the internal environment!
There are actually two types of Tinnitus:
Subjective: This is heard only by the person experiencing the Tinnitus. This is the most common type of Tinnitus.
Objective: This can be heard by someone else, and is very rare.
What causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be caused by things such as hearing loss, ear wax buildup, severe stress and anxiety, exposure to loud noises, medication side effects, Meniere's disease (condition of the inner ear) and injury to the inner or middle ear.
Our inner ear contain tiny little hairs that pick up vibrations and move in accordance to the pressure from these vibrations that they pick up. These are then directed to the brain for interpretation. If there is damage or injury to the little hairs, the sound that is emitted to the brain will cause distortion, which could result in Tinnitus.
Another thing to bear in mind is fluid and blood circulation to the inner ear. If this circulation is upset, it can also cause symptoms such as dizziness and hearing problems, and if the circulation is upset for long periods of time, it can lead to conditions such as Meniere's Disease and Tinnitus.
When understanding this, it is clear to see that blood circulation to the nerves is extremely important, so later on I will discuss two types of herbal remedies that could help with that, and may just be the actual cause of your Tinnitus to begin with.
What should I do if I suspect that I have Tinnitus?
In my experience with dealing with my own Tinnitus, I have found it to be a completely stressed induced issue, which is why for this blog, I am only referring to 'Anxiety and Stress Related Tinnitus.'
However, whether you suspect your Tinnitus is Anxiety related or not, I ALWAYS advise people to visit their doctor.
As stated above, Tinnitus can often be the cause of another underlying issue that can be treated such as wax build up and medication, so it is always recommended to see a medical professional who can rule out any other causes of your Tinnitus.
You may also be referred to an ENT (ears, nose and throat) specialist to rule out anything medically further.
Once you have been checked over, and the doctor has been able to rule out any other cause other than stress, then you can work at reducing the Tinnitus from a Stress and Anxiety related point of view.
Now let's get to what was discussed in the video series:
1) The two main reasons why you could be suffering with Anxiety Related Tinnitus
It is all to do with Flight or Fight!
Once you understand Flight or Fight, and how it works and how it can affect so many different aspects of and within your body, it makes it SO much easier to help manage symptoms associated with anxiety. (Please again, keep in mind, that I am discussing this from the viewpoint of Tinnitus which is caused by Anxiety and Stress!)
Although Flight or Fight is a mechanism that is of great use and importance to our survival, it can also be a right pain in the neck, as far as anxiety sufferers are concerned, because our Flight or Fight mechanism is permanently switched on!
This means that we are always in a state of angst, our cortisol levels are extremely high and our muscles are tensed up most of the time!
When our bodies go through the flight or fight reaction, a number of changes happen within our bodies, and hormones, particularly adrenaline are released and are responsible for an array of terrifying symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, dizziness etc.
These hormones put the body under major pressure, and it is said that this is the first reason as to why you may have ringing in your ears, because the pressure from the adrenaline and other hormones released during flight or fight is travelling up to the ears, and the pressure is what you are hearing.
The second reason is that when our bodies are under constant stress and in flight or fight, the hormones again cause our senses to heighten. So your will hear, taste, see, feel and smell things differently or at a much more intense level.
This happened to me.
I heard things that were not there, and I heard things that other people could barely hear.
Watch the video below for a more in depth explanation:
2) Answering people's questions about Anxiety Related Tinnitus
People want reassurance. They want comfort. They want to know that everything will be okay in the end, and that is what I want to give them, because I am living proof that you can get over this and you can be happy again.
I remember when I was going through my worst time with my anxiety disorder, and the Tinnitus was in full swing, all I wanted for everyone to say 'it's going to be okay' and I didn't care how many times I heard it, I just needed that reassurance from people who understood what I was going through.
In the video below, I gathered some questions that have been coming through to me since I released the first video in this series.
One of the most asked questions was "Did your Tinnitus ever go away?" and the answer is YES! It did! :)
Watch the video below to see more questions get answered.
Maybe you have a question that I will answer here:
3) My six tips for reducing Anxiety Related Tinnitus
Before you read my tips, please read this awesome update that my be a possible source of hope and help for you:
I also recommend the book 'Rewiring Tinnitus' by Glenn Schweitzer.
It's a great read and offers a lot of hope and comfort.
I don't want to give away Glenn's recommendations, but with a bit of an open mind, I am quite sure this book can help you and your Tinnitus.
You can also get in contact with Glenn via his website. Click here.
Back to the six tips....
I made use of every possible thing I could think of when I had Anxiety Related Tinnitus. Some of them may sound crazy, but I didn't care about that, all I cared about was getting relief.
Below are the exact things that I did to ease the Tinnitus:
Isochronic Tones and Binaural Beats:
I started to sleep with these on at night.
These audio 'tones' are not music as such, but rather frequencies that are played out to induce what is called 'brainwave entrainment'.
These audio frequencies which stimulate the brain, can help people with a number of problems, and Tinnitus is one of them.
Isochronic Tones are regular beats of a single tone, so think of a tone that is being turned on and off at an extremely rapid rate.
Binaural Beats are when a frequency is played out into one ear, and another frequency is played out into the other ear. The brain then makes up the difference between the two frequencies and that is what will be audible to the person.
For Binaural Beats to work properly, you need head phones.
I personally find it very uncomfortable to fall asleep with headphones in my ears, so I really like this product, which will give a very comfortable feeling as it's not a bulky thing that sitting in your ears. It's completely wireless and will connect to your blue tooth.
If you can afford to splash out a bit more, I really like lavender headband. It's also wireless and connects to blue tooth.
To this day, I still use some kind of tone or noise at night, and even though I don't have Tinnitus anymore, I find it so relaxing to fall asleep to one of these audios.
Another one which I love using is brown noise.
You get white noise, pink noise and brown noise - these are the most common, but you can also get blue and violet noise.
White Noise is when sounds of different frequencies are combined and sound plays evenly on all frequencies that are audible to the human ear.
White noise sounds like heavy rain or static.
If you prefer something
Pink Noise is also played out on all audible frequencies but the strength of the high frequencies have been lowered.
Pink Noise sounds like a rushing river or stream.
Brown Noise is like pink noise but the lower frequencies are more of a humming sound.
Brown Noise sounds like a deep gushing river.
Brown Noise is my favourite. This is my favourite one on YouTube.
These are also some of my favourite sounds to listen to.
I love to listen to the sound of rain or thunder while sleeping.
You can get many apps that you can download onto your phone and with the app that I have, you can choose which sounds you want to listen to, and you can also combine them.
I would highly suggest reading up on these more and taking a listen to every one on YouTube, and see which one you like best.
Not only are they great at blocking out the noise in your ears but they great at stimulating the brain for sleep.
My favourite one that I am using at the moment is Relax Melodies, which is an app that you can download directly to your smart phone.
Always keep your ears precoccupied
Another thing that helped me a lot was playing music in the background while I was at work or at home. Whatever I was doing, I would play some music, and obviously I would first and foremost recommend some soft relaxing music, as this will help to create a tranquil environment.
I suppose you could call this a mild form of sound therapy, which will help you focus more on enjoying the music that is playing, instead of the Tinnitus, helping to block it out.
You have to avoid stimulants because these activate the flight or fight response, causing hormones like adrenaline to be released into your body - which is precisely what we don't want!
It is this flight or fight reaction that can solely cause or greatly contribute to Tinnitus.
I would highly recommend cutting out all the coffee, tea, cola, chocolate and anything else that has caffeine or stimulating affects.
I would also drastically cut down the sugar and refined carbohydrates, and eat foods that contain natural sugars like fruit.
You don't want anything that can release more adrenaline into your already anxious body!
It's not worth it guys, and especially stay away from these kinds of foods at night time!
Pillows at night are your new best friend
As strange as this sounds, this greatly helped me, and this was one of my 'survival hacks' to help me sleep, along with my brown noise or isochronic tones.
Lie on your side, with the side of your head on one pillow, so that your ear almost closes, then place another pillow between your legs, this is just an added extra to help with relaxation and to help you out if you not used to sleeping on your side.
By positioning my head like that, the Tinnitus was reduced in that ear, and the ear that was at the top benefited from the tones that were playing.
I use an orthopedic pillow for added neck support, and I find it binds better to my ear when lying on my side.
This is the exact pillow that I use and have been using for quite a while now.
I can highly recommend it!
Silence can be golden - yes it can!
Now completely opposite of what I said in tip #2, but this happened to me by total accident and I talk about this in much more detail in both video 1 and 2, but long story short, what I am telling you to do, is to confront your fear of the noise you are hearing!
I am of the opinion that we cannot treat or heal anything unless we have fully and truly accepted and acknowledged that problem in the first place.
This happened to me by total accident, but it really helped me gain perspective, and by sitting in a room of silence, just me and the Tinnitus, made me stronger in the sense that I no longer wanted to fear it and be bothered by it, but I wanted to overcome it!
Watch the video at the bottom more on this.
Even more tips to help you...
I want to just stress again, that when I was suffering with Anxiety Related Tinnitus, I was a severe anxiety sufferer who was barely functioning at that point in time.
Also, as I said before, there was no social media like there is today, no YouTube like today so awareness and knowledge on mental illness was not as spoken about as it is now.
Had I perhaps had these resources, I would have been able to handle not only my Tinnitus, but my whole anxiety disorder and my depression a lot better.
And I can guarantee that if I was still suffering, I would be trying out some, if not all of these resources.
Therefore, I am going to list some additional suggestions for you that come highly recommended by current Tinnitus sufferers.
Explore them, try them - you never know!
I am a believer in 'what works for one may not work for another' and I don't go along with studies or reviews. I go along with what worked for me.
Therefore, I encourage you to explore all options. Don't worry about what other people have said and how something hasn't worked for them!
You will only know if you try it!
Watch the video below for more and then read on to find out about some additional tips:
Ginkgo Biloba - This Herbal remedy repeatedly comes up when suggesting natural remedies for Tinnitus. It apparently helps Tinnitus by improving blood circulation overall but also to the nerves surrounding the ear. Ginkgo Biloba does take some time before people notice any difference. Remember that improper circulation of fluid and blood to your ears can affect them, and contribute to hearing problems.
To purchase this on Amazon, click here.
Lipo Flavonoids - I thought this was worth mentioning as I found two people who left comments in an article about natural remedies for Tinnitus, and they raved about Lipo Flavanoids as being an effective treatment for the ringing in their ears.
You can read the link here but you need to scroll down to the bottom to where the comments are to read the two people who left these comments.
You can buy Lipo Flavonoids off Amazon, and here is one such product.
The Finger Drumming Technique - A technique developed by Dr Jan Strydom which can help relieve the ringing in the ears by stimulating the 8th cranial nerve - which affects our hearing and can contribute to ringing in the ears if there is a problem.
Watch this awesome video that I found about it here.
Acupuncture and/or Acupressure - Attempts to remove blockages in the body by placing pressure on various pressure points. With Acupuncture, it is done with needles.
This must be done by a trained professional.
Sound Therapy - A person will listen to other sounds to distract them from the Tinnitus and help them to see the Tinnitus as an unimportant sound that can be ignored.
This is often done through headphones.
This is also often combined with Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) - This is a habituation therapy which helps people to manage their Tinnitus by changing how the brain reacts to the Tinnitus.
It will teach a person how to almost 'tune out' the sounds by making the Tinnitus seem like a natural part of everyday life, and that there is no need to focus on it.
TRT is done in two parts: Sound Therapy and then Couselling
TRT is done by a trained professional.
Read these helpful links on TRT:
Sound Therapy to relieve Tinnitus
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy Info
The bottom line is that there is hope, and I am living proof that you can get over Anxiety Related Tinnitus.
The most important thing that you can do as well is to RELAX - easier said than done, but it is so important to reduce the flight or fight reaction that your anxious body and mind is always under, because that greatly affects Tinnitus - as discussed earlier.
I really hope this has helped some what, given you a little ray of hope and encouraged you to go and research because there are so many more tips and suggestions that have helped people over the years.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor! This article is to provide information only, and any advice followed is to be done at your own risk.
Any links provided are there to help you to try and help your tinnitus.
Some of them I have personally used myself, and some are just there to give you some ideas as to what is out there.
None of these suggestions are guaranteed to help tinnitus.
I do earn a small commission on some of the products that are linked in this article.
Follow me on Facebook
Subscribe to me on YouTube
Follow me on Instagram @myanxietycompanion