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5 Ways to Cure Anxiety and Depression Naturally

5 Ways to Cure Anxiety and Depression Naturally

Anxiety affects 18 percent of Americans. If you’re female, you’re 60 percent more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.

Even though younger adults are more stressed because they’re under pressure from performing well at school or getting used to their careers, the age bracket with the most clinical anxiety is between 30 to 44 years old. Anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals can carry harmful side effects, but natural anti-anxiety remedies can be effective while also being holistically healthy for you.

Mainstream Medications and Their Problems

Your doctor may diagnose you with an anxiety disorder if you experience any of the following symptoms for longer than a month:

  • Feeling restless all the time
  • Tiring easily
  • Having trouble concentrating or focusing
  • Becoming easily irritated
  • Muscle tension
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Episodes of suddenly becoming extremely afraid without any immediate reason
  • Feeling stressed around others so much so that you avoid places you know many people will be

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the common medications for anxiety disorders are benzodiazepines, like Clonazepam, Lorazepam, and Alprazolam, which have all been approved by the FDA.

Alprazolam, which you may know as Xanax, binds to receptors in your brain that affect your sleep, muscle relaxation, and safeguards against muscle convulsions.

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Despite Alprazolam’s effectiveness, it also poses significant risks. Some common side effects are clumsiness, depression, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, and muscle coordination loss. The uncommon and worse side effects include coughing, eye paralysis, memory problems, painful urination, and seizures! If you take the drug long-term, you could also experience a lowered sex drive, erectile dysfunction (in men), constipation, and weight loss. In fact, last year researchers linked long-term use of Alprazolam with the development of dementia!

It doesn’t stop there – taking Alprazolam while you’re pregnant can harm your baby because the drug can cross the placenta and permanently weaken your baby’s developing muscles. When your baby is born, Alprazolam also gets into your breast milk and is ingested by your newborn during breastfeeding, which can harm your newborn’s developing respiratory system.

5 Healthy Natural Alternatives

If you want to avoid the potentially devastating side effects of common anti-anxiety drugs, you can try these natural remedies. Always remember to do further research and check with your doctor before taking any medications.

1. Garcinia Cambogia

You’ve probably heard the famous Dr. Oz flaunt how garcinia cambogia can burn your fat. Researchers have also found it may help ease anxiety. Its hydroxycitric acid (HCA) content has been found to boost your serotonin levels. Since low serotonin levels can cause anxiety, taking garcinia cambogia may help treat your anxiety.

It’s best to eat the natural fruit rather than take HCA supplements. Garcinia cambogia supplements can cause serotonin toxicity, which can lead to rapid beating of the heart and high blood pressure because the amount of HCA is more concentrated than that of the actual fruit.

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The well-documented side effects of taking garcinia cambogia supplements are mild headaches, dizziness, and diarrhea. But these are associated with the supplements and not the actual fruit. If you stick to the natural fruit, there may be little to no risk of any side effects.

Almost all fruits are loaded with antioxidants, and garcinia cambogia is no exception. Its xanthones, benzophenones, and flavonoids have antioxidant properties, including lowering your overall inflammation. Abnormally low antioxidants levels have been found to cause dementia, so regularly eating antioxidant-rich foods may help protect your brain. Garcinia cambogia’s antioxidants have also been found to protect you from cancer.

2. Dogbane

Dogbane (formally named Apocynum cannabinum) is a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Native American remedies. It’s actually a poison that acts on the heart, but it’s mostly fatal to grazing livestock. For people, the plant was actually used as a heart stimulant.

It’s used to alleviate fevers, rheumatism, asthma, and many other ailments. Researchers also found it has mild dementia-preventing properties. It also has anti-anxiety properties because it produces a small amount of morphine and is a mild opioid.

Don’t take dogbane regularly unless directed by your doctor or a certified alternative health practitioner. Its toxic properties can harm you if taken without professional guidance.

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3. Probiotic-rich Foods

Scientists have discovered that probiotics are beneficial for more than just your tummy. Doctors have found that probiotics can also help alleviate anxiety. In a survey of college psychology students, it was found that students prone to high anxiety who ate more probiotic-rich foods experienced fewer social anxiety symptoms.

Remember that probiotics’ well-known health benefit is alleviating gastrointestinal symptoms, like upset stomachs and diarrhea? Psychology professor Matthew Hillmire, Ph.D., says that since anxiety is often accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms (like butterflies in your tummy before giving a big speech), probiotics help directly alleviate some of anxiety’s physical symptoms.

He also says that probiotics have been found to help your body respond to stress better, which also helps ease anxiety. How well your body responds to stress affects how susceptible you are to anxiety and other mental disorders.

You can take probiotic supplements or eat probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt and buttermilk.

4. Tryptophan-rich Foods

Just like garcinia cambogia’s HCA, tryptophan raises your body’s serotonin levels, which is one way it protects you from anxiety. Studies also show that directly ingesting tryptophan lowered participants’ bad behaviors and boosted their moods. They also found that tryptophan is an “effective antidepressant.”

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Where can you get your tryptophan? You might automatically think turkey, but plenty of common foods contain twice the amount or more tryptophan than turkey. A serving of light or dark-meat turkey has between 250 to 270 milligrams of tryptophan, but a serving of spinach or eggs has between 600 to 700 milligrams.

5. Exercise

Would you rather take a potentially dementia-causing pill or go for a nice, relaxing walk? Researchers have found that exercise has antidepressant and anxiety-relieving effects. They also found that exercise boosts your brain’s serotonin levels and boosts your tryptophan levels long after you’ve finished your workout.

In fact, the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published a physician’s depression treatment guide that recommends telling patients with mild clinical depression to exercise rather than prescribe antidepressants.

Does it work? Here’s a convincing case study:

Sixty-four social anxiety college patients stared at a dotted outline of a person. The researchers said that people suffering from social anxiety would think the outline is facing them and perceive it as a threat. After walking or jogging on a treadmill for 10 minutes, the participants perceived the outline as staring at them less and their anxiety levels dropped down to the same levels as that of an average person. In fact, they felt far less threatened by their environment in general!

If you’re suffering from anxiety or depression, conventional anti-anxiety medications are costly and can have serious side effects, like dementia, if taken long term. Some of these natural remedies cost less than a dollar a day and not only help treat anxiety and depression, but some help prevent dementia and cancer too! Plus, they’re good for your overall health. If you give them a try and they don’t work for you, simply go back to your previous medications!

Featured photo credit: HASTYWORDS via pixabay.com

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Published on May 26, 2020

7 Most Effective Problem Solving Techniques That Smart People Use

7 Most Effective Problem Solving Techniques That Smart People Use

Problems are, by their very nature, problematic. There are life problems, work problems, creative problems, and relationship problems. When we’re lucky, intuition takes over, and we solve a problem right away. When we’re not so lucky, we get stuck.

We might spend weeks or even months obsessing over how to write that term paper, get out of debt, or win back the love of our life. But instead of obsessing, let’s look at some effective problem solving techniques that people in the know rely on.

Ideation Vs Evaluation

It’s important to first understand and separate two stages of creativity before we look at effective problem solving techniques. Ideation is like brainstorming. It’s the stage of creativity where we’re looking for as many possible solutions as we can think of. There’s no judgment or evaluation of ideas at this stage. More is more.

After we’ve come up with as many solutions as possible, only then can we move onto the evaluation stage. This is when we analyze each possible solution and think about what works and what doesn’t. Here’s when all those good ideas from ideation rise to the top and the outlandish and impractical ones are abandoned.

7 Problem Solving Techniques That Work

Everyone has different ways of solving problems. Some are more creative, some are more organized. Some prefer to work on problems alone, others with a group. Check out the problem solving techniques below and find one that works for you.

1. Lean on Your Squad

The first of our seven problem solving techniques is to surround yourself with people you trust. Sometimes problems can be solved alone, but other times, you need some help.

There’s a concept called emergence that begins to explain why groups may be better for certain kinds of problem solving. Steven Johnson describes emergence as bottom up system organization.[1] My favorite example is an ant colony. Ants don’t have a president or boss telling them what to do. Instead, the complicated organization of the ant colony comes out of each individual ant just fulfilling their biological destiny.

Group creativity can also take on an emergent quality. When individuals really listen to, support, and add onto each other’s ideas, the sum of that group creativity can be much more than what any individual could have created on their own.

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Therefore, if you are struggling to solve a problem, you may want to find a group of people with whom you can collaborate, so you can start riffing with them about possible solutions.

2. Regulate Your Emotions

The next of the problem solving techniques is to be honest about how you’re feeling. We can’t solve problems as efficiently when we’re stressed out or upset, so starting with some emotional self-awareness goes a long way in helping us problem solve.

Dr. Daniel Siegel famously tells us to “Name it to tame it.” [2] He’s talking about naming our feelings, which offers us a better chance of regulating ourselves. I have to know that I’m stressed or upset if I want to calm down quickly in order to get back to a more optimal problem-solving state.

After you know how you’re feeling, you can take steps to regulate that feeling. If you’re feeling stressed out or upset, you can take a walk or try breathing exercises. Mindfulness exercises can also help you regain your sense of presence.

3. Listen

One thing that good problem solvers do is listen. They collect all the information they can and process it carefully before even attempting to solve the problem.

It’s tempting to jump right in and start problem solving before the scope of the problem is clear. But that’s a mistake.

Smart problem solvers listen carefully in order to get as many points of view and perspectives as possible. This allows them to gain a better understanding of the problem, which gives them a huge advantage in solving that problem.

4. Don’t Label Ideas as Bad…Yet

The fourth of the seven problem solving techniques is to gather as many possible solutions as you can. There are no bad ideas…yet.

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Think back to the two stages of creativity. When we are in the ideation stage, we shouldn’t be evaluating each other’s ideas, input, and possible solutions.

When we evaluate, judge, and criticize during the ideation stage, we inadvertently hamper creativity. One possible outcome of evaluating during ideation is creative suppression.[3]

When someone responds to someone else’s creative input with judgment or criticism, creative suppression can occur if the person who had the idea shuts down because of that judgment or criticism.

Imagine you’re at a meeting brainstorming ways to boost your sales numbers. You suggest hiring a new team member, but your colleague rolls their eyes and says that can’t happen since the numbers are already down.

Now, your colleague may be 100% correct. However, their comment might make you shut down for the rest of the meeting, which means your team won’t be getting any more possible solutions from you.

If your colleague had waited to evaluate the merits of your idea until after the brainstorming session, your team could have come up with more possible solutions to their current problem.

During the ideation stage, more is more. We want as many ideas as possible, so reserve the evaluation until there’s no more ideating left to do.

Another trick for better ideating is to “Yes And” each other’s ideas[4] In improvisation, there’s a principle known as “Yes And.” It means that one improviser should agree with the other’s idea for the scene and then add a new detail onto that reality.

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For example, if someone says, “I can’t hear over your loud music,” the other person needs to go along with that idea and then add onto it. They might say, “Sorry, I’ll turn it down, but I don’t think everyone else here at the club will appreciate it.”

Now the scene is getting interesting. We’re in a club, and the DJ is going to turn the music down. Playing “Yes And” with each other made the scene better by filling in details about who and where the improvisers are.

Yes Anding also works well during ideation sessions. Since we’ve already established that we shouldn’t be evaluating each other’s ideas yet, Yes Anding gives us something we can do. We can see the merits of each other’s ideas and try to build on them. This will make all of our possible solutions more fully realized than a simple laundry list.

5. Approach Problems With Playfulness

Approaching problem solving too seriously can exacerbate the problem. Sometimes we get too fixated on finding solutions and lose a sense of playfulness and fun.

It makes sense. When there are deadlines and people counting on us, we can try to force solutions, but stepping back and approaching problems from a more playful perspective can lead to more innovative solutions.

Think about how children approach problem solving. They don’t have the wealth of wisdom that decades on this planet give. Instead, they play around and try out imaginative and sometimes unpractical approaches.

That’s great for problem solving. Instead of limiting ourselves to how things have always been done, a sense of play and playfulness can lead us to truly innovative, out-of-the-box solutions.

6. Let the Unconscious Mind Roam

This may seem counterintuitive, but another technique to try when you become too fixated on a problem is to take a break to let the unconscious mind take over for a bit.

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Our conscious brain can only handle a limited amount of information at a time. Plus, it’s energetically exhausting to use our conscious brain for problem solving. Think about a time when you were studying for a test. It’s draining.[5]

But we’re in luck. There’s another part of our brain that isn’t draining and can integrate tons more information at a time—our unconscious.

This is why you come up with your best ideas in the shower or on your way to work or while you’re jogging. When you give your conscious brain a break, your unconscious has a chance to sift through mounds of information to arrive at solutions.

It’s how I write my articles. With my conscious brain, I think about which article I’m going to write. My problem is how to write it, so once I think carefully about the topic, I take a break. Then, the structure, sources, content, and sometimes phrasing happens in fits and starts while I’m not thinking about the article at all. It happens when I’m lying in bed, showering, and walking in the woods.

The key is to get in the habit of practicing this alternation between conscious and unconscious problem solving and to absolutely not force solutions. Sometimes, you just need to take a little break.

7. Be Candid

The last of the problem solving techniques happens during the evaluation stage. If we’re going to land on the best possible solution to our problems, we have to be able to openly and honestly evaluate ideas.

During the evaluating stage, criticism and feedback need to be delivered honestly and respectfully. If an idea doesn’t work, that needs to be made clear. The goal is that everyone should care about and challenge each other. This creates an environment where people take risks and collaborate because they trust that everyone has their best interest in mind and isn’t going to pull any punches.

Final Thoughts

In order to come up with the best solutions for problems, ideation and evaluation have to be two distinct steps in the creative process. Then, you should tap into some of the above techniques to get your ideas organized and your problems solved.

Hopefully, these seven problem solving techniques will help your problems be less…problematic.

More Tips for Problem Solving

Featured photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Steven Johnson: Emergence
[2] Dr. Dan Siegel: The whole-brain child
[3] American Psychological Association: Creative mortification
[4] Play Your Way Sane: And What?: Yes And
[5] Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast and Slow

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