What is Anxiety and How Can You Cope?

anxietyAnxiety is a terrible thing. It can range from mild to severe. Anxiety is defined as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes.” Basically, anxiety causes a person to worry excessively about things that haven’t happened, or worry over things that have happened and what they should have done differently, or any of a million and one things. Everyone worries from time to time, but anxiety is an entirely different beast.

People with anxiety overthink everything. I personally have over analyzed past situations in my head, replaying them over and over and over, thinking about what I could have said or done differently, replaying the scenario if I had done something differently. I struggle in social situations. I usually do okay in small groups, but I hate being in large crowds. At parties, I end up being a wallflower. I don’t like to be awkward and I’m always afraid of interrupting other people’s conversations, so it’s easier to sit on the sidelines.

Sometimes severe anxiety leads to panic attacks. I have had a few of these and they are terrible. I’ve hyperventilated until my arms felt numb, my heart racing, crying uncontrollably, unable to catch my breath. There are various triggers for panic attacks, and a person can’t always predict what those triggers might be. This informative article from WebMD gives more information on panic attacks.

How can a person cope with anxiety and reduce the effects?

As always, please remember I am not a doctor and this article is presented for informational purposes only.

Calm Yourself Down

In the grip of anxiety, it can be difficult to calm yourself. Sometimes I experience irrational thoughts and it always seems to be worse when I’m alone. If my husband is with me, he seems to know exactly what to say and the best way to calm me down. It’s important to get your breathing under control. I tend to hyperventilate, but some people hold their breath in an effort to calm down. Taking deep, calming breaths can alleviate the symptoms much more quickly.

There are some methods that are helpful whether you are experiencing mild anxiety or a full-blown panic attack.

One technique that is helpful is the 54321 method. It goes like this:

  • Name 5 things you can see in the (such as a chair or photo)
  • Name 4 things you can feel (such as my feet on the floor, the air on my skin)
  • Name 3 things you can hear right now (such as the radio, people talking outside)
  • Name 2 things you can smell right now (such as food, perfume)
  • Name 1 good thing about yourself (such as I am strong)

There are other techniques that can help, too. If you Google “grounding techniques for anxiety” you will find plenty of ideas.

Reassure Yourself

The following statements can help when you’re in the grip of anxiety:

  • I know this will fade away.
  • I know a panic attack can’t hurt me.
  • I know that I am not in danger.
  • I know I will be okay.

A lot of my anxiety stems from self-esteem issues. This isn’t something that can be fixed easily. After a bad episode with anxiety, it can help to remind yourself that you are valuable. The following statements are a great way to reassure yourself:

  • I am not my mistakes.
  • I am proud of my accomplishments.
  • I am enough.
  • I choose to be positive.
  • I matter. I am allowed to say “no” to others and “yes” to myself.

Other Methods of Dealing with Anxiety

Sometimes you need a little more to calm your anxiety. There are several essential oils that can alleviate anxiety. You can put these oils in your diffuser or inhale directly from the bottle. These include:

  • Lavender oil is calming
  • Ylang ylang helps with optimism and soothes fearfulness
  • Bergamot relieves stress as well as helping with depression and anxiety

Another product I love is Rescue Remedy, made by Bach Flower Remedies. Amazon carries it here. It comes in drops, spray, cream, and a few other forms. I personally love the spray. When I’m anxious I just spray in the back of my throat and it helps almost immediately.

Make sure to get enough sleep and eat right. It’s hard to function when you’re tired or not anxietyproperly nourished. Make sure to give yourself some me-time. Take a walk, work on a hobby or project, or soak in a hot bath. Do something that will help you relax and leave you feeling refreshed.

What helps you with anxiety? Let me know in the comments below!

Natural Pain Remedies

painI have experienced chronic joint and muscle pain since I was about 16. Arthritis runs strongly in my husband’s family, so he also deals with pain issues. We’ve both taken our fair share of pain killers such as tylenol, ibuprofen, and aleve. But the more I learned about the dangers and side effects of taking excess pain killers, the more I wanted to find a better way to manage pain. Pain can be alleviated with essential oils and other natural remedies, without the dangerous side effects.

Please note, I am not a doctor and this article is intended for informational purposes only.

Essential Oils for Pain

  • Lavender oil definitely tops this list. Its anti-inflammatory properties can relieve body aches. Mix a few drops with coconut oil and massage into the affected area. It’s great for headaches, too! Using lavender oil in a diffuser or warm bath can also help you sleep!
  • Peppermint oil relaxes muscles in the lower back, reduces tension headaches and even pain caused by fibromyalgia. Peppermint oil should definitely be mixed with a carrier oil before applying to the skin; otherwise it could burn.
  • Ginger oil is effective in treating pain caused by autoimmune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus. It can be used topically or inhaled. Ginger oil has been found to have no adverse side effects even when used for extended periods of time.
  • Lemongrass oil relieves aches and pains. It has anti inflammatory properties and improves blood circulation, relieving muscle spasms, back aches, sprains, and cramps. Try rubbing diluted lemongrass oil on your body or use it in a foot soak along with epsom salt.

Other Pain Remedies

  • The curcumins in turmeric are anti inflammatory and can be purchased in capsule form painto manage pain. It should also include black pepper, as it has properties that help the body absorb more of the curcumin rather than having most of it flushed from the body by the liver. I prefer to purchase organic powdered turmeric and add it to our eggs along with black pepper.
  • Arnica is a lesser known pain remedy but it works wonders. It’s used topically and reduces pain from insect bites, bruises, and even arthritis. It’s also great for pain caused by carpal tunnel. For some, the arnica helps enough that they were able to avoid surgery. It can be purchased as a gel or cream and used directly on the skin.
  • The old stand-by of a hot bath with epsom salts is great for relaxing sore muscles. You can even add in any of the essential oils mentioned earlier for increased pain relief and relaxation.

Homemade Pain Remedies

Try these homemade remedies to manage your pain:

What natural remedies help you with pain? Let me know in the comments below!

DIY Disinfecting Spray

personal care

This spray is great for use around the house and is made with only a few ingredients. I especially like to use it for our mattress and pillows.

DIY Disinfecting Spray

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 tbsp witch hazel
  • 50 drops tea tree oil

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a spray bottle and shake to mix. 

Recipe Notes

The witch hazel is important, as it is what allows the essential oils to mix with the water.

You can use other oils as well. Nature's Shield/Thieves/OnGuard have disinfecting properties. Citrus oils are great for disinfecting as well.

Battle the Flu Naturally

fluLast week, my husband and I battled the flu. He came down with it first, and a couple of days later, I was sick as well. It’s been miserable-fever, aches, coughing, sore throat. My husband needed a breathing treatment and was prescribed an inhaler because his lungs sounded so bad. So I began reading up on the symptoms and learning natural ways to treat them. I have learned a lot and would like to share what I’ve found with you.

I am not a doctor and this article is presented for information purposes only. It is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition.

Fever and Achesflu

A fever is your body trying to fight infection. If possible, letting a fever run its course can actually help you heal faster. That being said, a fever can be miserable. It often comes with aches and sometimes chills. It’s important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Chilled food such as ice pops or yogurt can help you feel cooler. A lukewarm bath can also be helpful.

I try to avoid painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen as much as possible; they carry too much risk of organ damage. I prefer a heating pad or heat pack when I’m achy. This time it was my lower back that ached the most and I just could not get comfortable, no matter what I tried. The heat pack worked wonders!

fluCough and Sore Throat

I have a great sore throat remedy here. Warm liquids, such as tea, are wonderful for a sore throat. Gargling with warm salt water is also soothing. These homemade cough drops made my throat feel much better. The article in the link is very helpful, as it explains why each ingredient is helpful for the sore throat.

The cough that went along with this flu was horrible and painful. It was a mostly dry cough that made the chest ache. The worst was trying to sleep at night. As soon as we would lay down the coughing would get worse. Trying to sleep sitting up is uncomfortable. So the result was a lot of tossing and turning and trying to get comfortable.

The most effective remedy we found for the coughing is eucalyptus oil. We found it to be more effective than my husband’s inhaler. There are several ways to use it for relief. When I was coughing uncontrollably, I would inhale it directly from the bottle. You can also put a few drops on a tissue or handkerchief and give it a sniff when needed. It would calm the cough and relieve my chest pain immediately. I would run it in my diffuser at night, and while it didn’t completely keep me from waking up coughing, it was a huge help. We also added a few drops of the oil to hot water and inhaled the steam. If you try this, remember to close your eyes the entire time your face is over the water to avoid burning them. I also mixed the eucalyptus oil with coconut oil and rubbed it on my chest. The relief was incredible.

You can read more about uses of eucalyptus oil here. A word of caution: eucalyptus oil can be dangerous if ingested.

Other Flu Tips

I had a slight earache after a couple of days. Lavender oil did the trick for me. It is important to never put essential oils in your ears. Put a few drops on a cotton ball or cotton pad and put the cotton in your ear. My earache was worst in the morning so I would use the oil at night.

Staying hydrated is important when sick. If you aren’t hydrated your body can’t heal. Get plenty of rest, as this will also help you heal.

cream of chicken soupHow many times did your mom give you chicken soup when you were sick? When I’m sick I usually don’t have much appetite. Chicken soup is easy to get down and nourishing. I make mine with homemade bone broth. (Read this article for more information on bone broth.) I make my bone broth and store it in the freezer so it’s ready to go when I need it. As soon as I realized we were getting sick, I pulled some out of the freezer and started a big batch of chicken soup in the slow cooker. It was nice to not think about cooking while we were sick.

Extra vitamins can help. As soon as my husband came down with the flu, I knew it was only a matter of time until I got it. So i tried to get ahead of it by loading up on vitamin c and echinacea. I drank 2 packs of Emergen C a day. (You can pick some up here.) Although I did come down with the flu, I don’t think I was as sick as my husband. If you can get ahead of the flu, it will help lessen the severity and duration.

After the Flu

Once we started to feel better, we kept up with the vitamins to make sure we kicked it. Of course, the cough is hanging on so we are continuing with the eucalyptus oil as well. One think I was especially concerned with was washing all of our bedding so we weren’t sleeping in our sick germs. I washed everything with tea tree oil to disinfect. I made a disinfecting spray (found here) for the mattress and pillows. It felt so good to get into a nice, clean bed after being sick. I have also been running some refreshing citrus oils in the diffuser to give our house a nice, clean smell. It’s very refreshing.

How do you combat the flu? Let me know in the comments below!

Homemade Personal Care Roundup

personal careI have been learning over the last couple of years how to replace products such as deodorant and hand soap with homemade versions. Today I want to share with you some of my favorites from around the web. Click on the titles to link to the original web page.

Hairspray

I can’t stand the smell of hairspray, not to mention all the harmful chemicals you breathe in. This homemade version is simple and customizable.

Deodorant

Deodorant is a difficult product to replace with homemade. It’s not hard to make, but it can be difficult to find a recipe that works for you. This recipe works great for both my husband and myself. One note: baking soda deodorants can cause some people to break out. This is because the baking soda disrupts the body’s ph balance. This can be remedied by applying a bit of vinegar under the arms and letting it dry before putting on the deodorant.

Hand Sanitizerpersonal care

Store-bought hand sanitizers are usually full of chemicals and fragrances. This recipe is easy to put together and a little goes a long way. You can even add different essential oils for different scents.

Bathroom Air Freshener

This spray has a clean, refreshing scent. I can’t find the webpage where I originally found this one; it seems to have been taken down. But it’s super easy:

  1. Fill a small spray bottle with purified water.
  2. Add about a teaspoon of witch hazel. This allows the essential oils to mix with the water.
  3. Add 6 drops each peppermint oil, lavender oil, and grapefruit oil.
  4. Shake to mix and spray when needed in the bathroom. (Or anywhere else you need it!)

personal careItch Relief Spray

My husband has horrible skin allergies, and this spray takes the edge off the itch for him.

What homemade personal care items do you use around the house?Let me know in the comments below.

 

Restore Your Teeth Naturally

dentalI think dental pain is one of the worst kinds of pain you can experience. Whether it’s from cavities or sensitive teeth, when your teeth hurt you’re just plain miserable. Our health insurance doesn’t cover dental, so I’m not even sure how long it’s been since I’ve seen a dentist. I’m thinking 8+ years? Gasp!

I’ve had sensitive teeth most of my life, but have never so much as needed a cavity filled. Overall I am fortunate that my teeth are in pretty good shape. But a couple of years ago I started to experience pain in one my upper molars. At first I thought it was sensitivity, as it mostly bothered me when I would eat anything too chewy or too sweet. But it gradually got worse, to the point that I couldn’t chew on that side of my mouth and even needed to protect the tooth when drinking water.

If you are a regular reader, you know by now that I love to research any health problems we encounter and I prefer to care for myself and my family as naturally as possible. So I would like to share with you what I have found and maybe it will help you avoid costly dental care.

I am not a doctor and this article is presented for information purposes only.

The Foundation of Dental Health

In order to have healthy teeth, they must be nourished. Cavities are caused by a number of factors, including bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria loves sugar, so limit sugary foods and drinks to minimize bacteria in your mouth. Eat calcium-rich foods to strengthen teeth and enamel. If you don’t put the right nutrients in, it can weaken your teeth.

Good dental hygiene is also important to the health of your teeth. Flossing removes particles of food between your teeth that can lead to cavities. Brushing well cleans the surface of your teeth and gums, removing plaque. (If you have eaten something acidic, such as orange juice, wait at least 15 minutes before brushing. Otherwise you can actually damage your enamel.) A good mouthwash can rinse away particles that were missed. It is important to stick to this routine daily. I follow it twice a day, in the morning and right before bed. Preventing cavities is much easier than repairing them.

dentalWhat’s in Commercial Dental Care Products?

Flouride has been added to our water supply and tooth care products since the 1960s. There is much controversy over how safe this practice is. I won’t go into too many of the details here, but recent research shows that flouride could increase the risk of bone fractures later in life, is associated with a moderate cancer risk, could contribute to hypothyroidism, and other health concerns. So I choose to use products without flouride.

A common ingredient in many toothpastes is glycerin. Why is this a problem? Glycerin coats your teeth and prevents them from remineralizing. Even most natural toothpastes contain glycerin.

What about mouthwash? Many commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol, which can actually dry out mouth tissue and irritate sores in the mouth. They also often contain chemicals, dyes, or artificial sweeteners. Several contain acidic stabilizing agents so they will last longer on the shelf. Acid will eat away your enamel over time. Some people skip brushing and just use mouthwash, which does not clean thoroughly enough.

With so many potentially harmful ingredients in the toothpastes and mouthwashes out there, what can you do? Read the ingredients carefully. Try to find products that are all natural. Or better yet, make your own. It’s not hard to do and I include recipes for both mouthwash and toothpaste you can make yourself. They actually cost less than store bought, too. The best part of making your own is that you know exactly what’s going in the finished product and in your body.

My Dental Care Routinedental

Many people have stopped using toothpaste and mouthwash altogether and switched to oil pulling. It’s been around for thousands of years. Simply swirl a tablespoon of coconut, olive or sesame oil around your mouth for anywhere from 5-20 minutes. When you’re finished, spit it out and rinse. I didn’t care for oil pulling on its own because my mouth never felt completely clean. But I do like to start with oil pulling and then continue with flossing and brushing.

Another interesting topic that I found in my research is remineralizing. This is a process that many dentists previously thought was impossible, but new research shows it IS possible. Basically, with the right nutrition and hygiene, your teeth can restore themselves. Read this article for more details.

To make sure I’m getting the proper nutrients, I eat as healthy as possible. (That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the occasional unhealthy snack, but I limit how much I consume.) I also take a calcium and magnesium supplement to aid in remineralizing. A word of caution: too much calcium can cause other health problems, so do your research and use with care.

My dental hygiene routine (say that three times fast) begins with flossing. I’ve always had a hard time with floss, so I prefer floss picks. They make it easier for me to reach my back teeth. Make sure your floss isn’t coated with something harmful. Next I brush thoroughly with my homemade toothpaste, making sure to get the backs of my teeth as well as the front. And finally, I rinse with homemade mouthwash. I’ve been following this routine for about a year and the pain in my tooth is almost completely gone. If I’m not careful with very cold foods, I will still experience mild pain. My teeth are also cleaner and my breath is fresher than ever. The time and effort put in to care for my teeth is worth NOT having costly and painful dental work done.

Recipes for Mouthwash and Toothpaste

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Homemade Toothpaste

Author jcantral

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup bentonite clay
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 15-25 drops essential oils (see notes)

Instructions

  1. Put bentonite clay in a bowl.

  2. Heat the water on the stove, then stir in coconut oil until it is melted.

  3. Add the water/coconut oil mixture to the clay and mix thoroughly. It may take a little time to get the right consistency!

  4. Add the salt and choice of essential oils and mix thoroughly.

  5. Keep in a covered jar. I like to use clean baby food jars. Dip your toothbrush in the paste and moisten before brushing.

Recipe Notes

Don't use metal with your bentonite clay. It will change the properties, so always use plastic or ceramic bowls and utensils.

You can give your toothpaste any flavor you like using essential oils. Peppermint and spearmint are good options. Cinnamon is also tasty. Tea tree has antibacterial properties. I also like to use Nature's Shield/OnGuard/Thieves. You may need to experiment a little to find what works for you.

I do not like to add baking soda to my toothpaste, as overuse can actually damage your teeth. I do, however, add it to my mouthwash.

 

5 from 1 vote
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Homemade Mouthwash


Author jcantral

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces purified water
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 15-25 drops essential oils (see notes)

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a glass bottle and shake well.

Recipe Notes

Peppermint or spearmint oil are great for freshening breath. Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties. Cinnamon adds great flavor. Nature's Shield/OnGuard/Thieves oil are wonderful blends for health and boosting the immune system. You may need to experiment a little to find the flavors you like best.

What does your dental care routine look like? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below!

 

 

Get Rid of Stress with Essential Oils

stressWe all get stress from time to time. Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Simply put, stress can cause us to feel overwhelmed. We are busier than ever in this day and age and it can be tough trying to keep up with the demands of caring for a family, working, keeping up with friends, and the million and one things on our to-do-lists.

It’s hard to make the time, but it’s so important to de- stress once in a while. Stress can affect so much of your life, from your emotions, behaviors, and thinking ability, to your physical health. We all handle stress differently, so we can be affected in different ways. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, either. What helps one person unwind may not help another. The key is to find what works for you.

I love using essential oils. They have so many uses. Let’s talk about why essential oils are great for reducing your stress level and why they work so well.

How Do Essential Oils Reduce Stress?

Essential oils have a fragrant molecules that can have a direct effect on the areas of our brain in charge of controlling feelings of stress, anxiety and even panic and depression. In a sense, essential oils “adapt” to what we need. If you are restless or agitated, essential oils can have a calming effect. If you are depressed, the same oil can uplift your mood.

How to Use Essential Oils

  1. Inhale directly: I like to inhale directly from the bottle
  2. Rub directly on the skin: Mix with a carrier oil to avoid skin damage and rub into your temples, wrists or anywhere, for full body relaxation.
  3. Use on-the-go: You can buy an essential oil inhaler to carry with you. I like these ones. Or put a few drops in a handkerchief for stress relief on the go.
  4. Add to your shower: Use a few drops in your shower or bath.
  5. Use a diffuser: (I use this one.) Use a diffuser to make your whole room a stress-free zone. This is my personal favorite!

Which Oils Should You Use For Stress?

Keep in mind that you may need to experiment a little to figure out what works best for you. What works for one person may not work for another. Some oils have a strong fragrance that is too much for some people. So just keep tweaking it until you figure out what you like. It would be counterproductive if your oils were stressing you out more!

Here is a list of oils that are great for stress and some symptoms they help with:

  1. Ylang ylang: anger, confusion, depression, irritability
  2. Orange: anxiety, fear, frustration, depression
  3. Geranium: agitation, discouragement, mood swings
  4. Lavendar: anxiety, concentration, depression, grief, irritability, mood swings, panic, restlessness
  5. Peppermint: concentration, confusion, mood swings, frustration, forgetfulness

Essential Oil Blends to Reduce Stress

The following blends contain the oils above and can be used in any of the methods listed. Download the chart to keep it handy!

stress

What essential oils help you unwind? Let me know in the comments!