As with any supplement, consult a physician before adding alternatives to your regimen. Some seemingly helpful options can contribute to lupus complications or have adverse interactions with necessary medications.
- Vitamin B. Thiamine (B1) promotes healthy cell growth and protects the immune system. Often referred to as “the anti-stress vitamin,” Thiamine has a major impact on anxiety. Inositol (categorized as B8 in some research) is effective at treating anxiety without the side effects of some anti-anxiety medications. Pantothenic Acid (B5) promotes healthy skin, helps resist infection, and is widely known to help alleviate chronic anxiety. Because of the close link between anxiety and depression, Folic Acid (B9) and Cobalamin (B12) may be beneficial as well.
- Valerian can help with stress and anxiety according to some studies, although there is a need for more research. Often taken to combat insomnia, small doses of this herb appear to be more effective when combined with lemon balm. However, this herb may have withdrawal symptoms, so tapering off is essential.
- Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea. Although there is not sufficient scientific evidence to show it helps treat anxiety, many who have taken it report feeling calmer. It reduces physiological responses to stress and raises levels of GABA, the calming neurotransmitter.
- Magnesium helps prevent anxiety, nervousness, restlessness, and irritability. It is a “calming” mineral and helps to nourish the nervous system and protect the heart and arteries.
- Tryptophan is an amino acid with a natural relaxation component that induces a calming effect when ingested (which is why you probably feel sleepy after eating turkey on Thanksgiving!) It helps control mood and plays an important role in maintaining serotonin levels, which aids in the prevention of anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Coping and Prevention
- Take action! If you find your anxiety is frequent or severe, talk with your doctor to find out the source and get proper treatment. Certainly having a chronic illness plays into our feelings of anxiousness and therefore this emotional state cannot always be avoided, but allowing it to immobilize you will only add to the problem. If medication becomes necessary, be sure to take it regularly as prescribed!
- Socialize. Whether you spend time with family and friends, join a support group, or involve yourself in social media, the more interactions you have with people the less likely the situation will disable you (unless they are the source of your anxiety, which in that case, be sure to make time for yourself!) Be open and honest with those closest to you and do something you enjoy that incites feelings of calm.
- Break the cycle. Journaling can be excellent therapy! Keep track of your personal thoughts and feelings. This can help you maintain a positive mental state. Taking a brisk walk or indulging in a hobby you enjoy can also be resourceful “cycle breaking” actions. Read self-help books or other genres you enjoy to get your mind on something else. Remember that anticipation is often worse than the real thing, so do not let anxiety keep you from engaging in an activity you are thinking about trying.
- Remember the 90/10 principle! We cannot control 10% of what happens to us – it is simply life and we have no control over it (a crowded waiting room, a traffic jam, etc.) However, the other 90% is completely within our control – it is how we react to the ten percent! When we react poorly, it can throw off our entire day and stimulate unnecessary stress and anxiety. Remain mindful of how you react to the situations in your life.
- Let it go! Easier said than done, I know. However, dwelling on the past or attempting to predict the future can create unnecessary anxiety. We cannot change past events, so the “if-only” conversation has no positive value. If you do find yourself “expecting the worst,” at least “hope for the best!” Live in the moment, day-by-day, and deal with the punches life throws your way as they come with consciousness. Certainly change what you can in life, but allow the rest to take its course and handle it accordingly.
Anxiety may be inevitable, but we can maintain a positive state of mind if we commit to it and realize the value and purpose of the situation at hand. “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” is a wonderful motto to live by. Will problems arise? Of course, they will! However, we already know that — we deal with a chronic illness every single day, which is debilitating enough; couple that with anxiety, and a downward spiral may be hard to avoid.
Smile, breathe, go slowly — and remember — laughter really is the best medicine! I recently read a quote on Pinterest that said, “Do not let the difficulties of life fill you with anxiety; after all it is only in the darkest nights that the stars shine more brightly.” Recognize those bright stars and relish in the beauty of them!
Next page: Barbara shares some thoughts on the things that trigger her anxiety.