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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 October 13, 2020

How to Unleash the 4 Types of Creativity In You

How to Unleash the 4 Types of Creativity In You

Human history has no shortage of brilliant minds: writers, musicians, inventors, entrepreneurs, and more. Not everyone chooses a creative career, but all of us could use the power of creativity to live brighter, more fulfilling, and more successful lives instead of going through the same motions day in, day out.

Could one become more creative?

A one-size-fits-all answer is hard to give because there are different types of creativity. Do you want to know the least useful type?

1. Least Useful Type of Creativity

It is “Ideation creativity”—the good old coming up with new ideas.

Surprised?

There exist techniques for producing more and better ideas: idea buckets, brainstorming games, and first principles thinking. Those are specialized creativity tools used by composers, novelists, and serial entrepreneurs—not so much by the remaining 99% of the population.

Do you still want this esoteric knowledge? Then go straight to the masters:

  • Josh Waitzkin, a U.S. Junior chess champion and later a World Champion in the martial art Tai Chi Chuan, has written an autobiography.[1]
  • Gianni Rodari, an Italian children’s book author famous for his Adventures of Cipollino, outlined his approach to teaching fantasy in an actual manual on the subject.[2]
  • Twyla Tharp, a celebrated American dancer and choreographer, wrote a book explaining her creative process. We will revisit this book in a moment.[3]

What Distinguishes Creative People (Aside From Their Ideas)?

Anyone can have interesting ideas—would it not be nice to build a flying car, create a musical about South American tribes, cold-email the French president, or ask to get hired as the next prime minister?

Just like yourself, billions of people are also touched by beautiful sunsets and would like to double their respective incomes—but this does not automatically make all of them artists or entrepreneurs.

Only those who have acted upon their ideas or emotions and produced tangible outcomes can be labeled “creative.” Mozart and Jane Austen became so famous because of their results—the symphonies and novels that they had respectively produced—not because of their ideas.

Creativity Does Not Require So-Called Inspiration

A related misconception is that masterpieces are created in “Eureka!” moments—extraordinary bursts of creativity and otherworldly inspiration.

The exclamation “Eureka!” refers to the apocryphal story about the ancient Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes who was taking a bath and stumbled upon a solution to a difficult problem he had been thinking about.

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But consider that Mozart composed over 600 musical works in his lifetime including 50 symphonies.[4] He would have needed thousands of “Eureka!” moments to produce such a staggering amount of world-class music, which is about one per week of his short career. This is clearly absurd—extraordinary moments of inspiration are rare by definition.

Acclaimed choreographer Twyla Tharp believes it was all hard work,[5]

Nobody worked harder than Mozart. By the time he was twenty-eight years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose. . . . As Mozart himself wrote to a friend, “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.”

Creativity can only be manifested during a creative process, whether it is trying a new dish in the kitchen, composing a new symphony, or figuring out how to help your child get into a good college. If you have never played a musical instrument, you are not going to suddenly produce a symphony after doing a creativity exercise.

This brings us to the most useful but underrated type of creativity:

2. “Kaizen”: Finding Ways to Improve a Process

What would be a non-creative approach to any activity? It would be doing the same thing every day in the same way.

Therefore, a creative approach would be constantly varying what you are doing and the way you are doing it. Sometimes, it means adding complexity, such as experimenting with sophisticated dishes for dinner to keep your family happy.

Other times, it means reducing complexity. When mass production was still in its infancy, engineers at the Ford Motor Company used a great deal of creativity to speed up the process:[6]

In the past a worker—and he had to be a skilled worker—had made a flywheel magneto from start to finish. A good employee could make thirty-five or forty a day. Now, however, there was an assembly line for magnetos. It was divided into twenty-nine different operations performed by twenty-nine different men. In the old system it took twenty minutes to make a magneto; now it took thirteen.

Ironically enough, a few decades later Japanese car manufacturers ended up overcoming the big American ones including the Ford Motor Company itself. The approach that made it possible is often translated as “kaizen” or never-ending incremental, continuous improvement.

Kaizen type of creativity entails continuous improvements in your process:

  • today you research a new dish to make for dinner,
  • tomorrow you try making it in less time,
  • the next day you try varying the ingredients,
  • the next day you discuss your recipe with others,
  • the next day you take a class on that same recipe,
  • the next day you research the nutritional properties of the ingredients.

This is the mindset of an aspiring world-class chef and by adopting it, you will become very creative in the kitchen indeed!

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3. Transformational Type of Creativity: Change Your Life

You may be arguing that it is all good for Mozart, Jane Austen, or Twyla Tharp to be creative because they were engaged in creative activities full-time.

How could one find creativity in an uninspiring job? How could one creatively spend leisure after-work time?

A piece of common advice is to “work on your goals,” but most of us do not have clear goals, let alone a specific life plan telling us exactly how to employ the time at our disposal.

The time-honored answer is, “if you do not like something about your life, figure out how to change it.” Goals or no goals, this is your life. Take responsibility for it because nobody else will.

This is where transformational creativity comes into the picture. Transformational creativity is not decorating the wall of your cubicle with cute cat stickers to make the job tolerable; it is taking an evening course so you can move to a more enjoyable line of work.

Transformational creativity is not throwing random ingredients into a pot hoping for a miracle; it is befriending a gourmet chef who can teach you some serious kitchen magic. Transformational creativity is not trying all ice cream flavors at a local parlor; it is making up your own flavor, or better yet, opening up your own ice cream shop!

Transformational creativity is taking intelligent steps towards the life that you want and away from the life that you do not want. If Kaizen creativity helps you move forward and keep growing, transformational creativity helps you change course.

How Can You Unleash Your Transformational Creativity?

Eliminate the obstacles.

The first obstacle is not knowing what you want in life. A solution is to set goals anyway.

Success expert and bestselling author Brian Tracy recommends setting 10 goals for the next year, but you can start from three: one financial goal, one relationship goal, one health goal:

Your goals may be unrealistic—say, to double your income, go on a date with a celebrity, or complete a marathon, all before the end of the year. This is fine. Eventually, you will learn how to set goals that are motivating and appropriate for you, but you have to start somewhere.

The second obstacle is not wanting your goals badly enough. The solution is to act as if you did.

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You may decide to write a novel and yet not feel creative or committed because there is no strong emotion underlying this decision. This is fine. Just keep writing, rain, or shine. Your emotions will catch up with you later.

Of course, if you can increase your level of motivation, by all means, do it! One aspiring entrepreneur unleashed creativity and eventually achieved great success after moving from cold and wet Chicago to the sunny Phoenix, Arizona.

Want to know the last type of creativity? It is special in that it offers a shortcut to success. Mozart used it too!

The fourth and last type is named after Dr. Watson, the colleague of the great detective invented by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

4. Dr. Watson’s Type of Creativity

Sherlock Holmes himself commended his friend and ally Dr. Watson for exhibiting this type of creativity:

It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt.[7]

Even if you are not particularly creative yourself, you may be able to do great things by partnering up with someone vastly more experienced and insightful. At the same time, a close association with an accomplished master is one of the best-known ways to cultivate your own creativity—all types of it.

This association can take various forms:

  • a formal mentorship that you are paying for
  • an unstructured mentorship relationship combined with a friendship or a marriage
  • an Executive Assistant-type job that you are paid for
  • an apprenticeship whereas you work on your mentor’s projects without monetary compensation

How Can You Convince a Master to Let You Be Their Dr. Watson?

The single most important quality of Dr. Watson is that he executes on Sherlock Holmes’ ideas, sometimes even risking his own life in the process. It is only through immersing himself in the execution that he can come up with insights which—even if wrong —manage to stimulate Holmes’ powerful imagination.

A second equally important quality of Dr. Watson is that he accepts the overall approach as well as the daily mode of operation set by Holmes and does not question them, except in extreme circumstances.

A little humility and an exemplary work ethic go a long way, but you still need to ask for what you want. If you found a potential mentor online and were able to connect with them, how could you phrase your request?

Here are excerpts from messages sent to a potential mentor by an aspiring mentee that actually worked:

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  • Nothing short of an honor to be connected with you.
  • Is there any way I can work with you, [Dr. such-and-such]? It would be nothing less than an achievement.
  • I wouldn’t need any money. To be associated with you is a dream I hope I can achieve. Is it possible for you to lay down some guidelines for me, which if I follow, I’ll get to work under you?
  • I will follow all the guidelines and directions you provide, if you do. I can be your first apprentice in [city Y or country Z].
  • I will follow all your directions, guidelines. I want to be under your guidance. Please accept my proposal.

Believe in yourself. Napoleon Hill relates the striking story of Edwin Barnes who wanted to become a business partner of the great inventor Thomas Edison—and he eventually did! He had no money or education; his only advantage was his burning desire combined with persistence.

The book Think and Grow Rich is an absolute gem informed by conversations with some of the most successful entrepreneurs of the day, including Andrew Carnegie himself, with lessons in creativity sprinkled on every page!

Parting Words

The power of creativity to change your life for the better is undeniable.

Ideation creativity is the most overrated type: unless and until you specifically decide to become an artist, a book author, an inventor, or someone similar, it is irrelevant.

The most practical type of creativity is Kaizen, finding ways to continuously improve a process. Specific advice can be found in countless books on forming better habits including Leon Ho’s 74 Healthy Habits That Will Drastically Improve Every Aspect Of Your Life. So long as you have a process that you keep improving from time to time, you are on the right track.

Transformational creativity can change your life, though it does require courage, ingenuity, and most of all, persistence. Just keep making one little change at a time and your life will unfold like a piece of art. Even if you feel no motivation whatsoever, it is fine. Creativity is a state of mind and can override your emotions.

Perhaps the most empowering type is Dr. Watson’s creativity, which entails aligning yourself with a master whom you can learn from. Here, the sky is the limit. but you do have to give—sometimes a lot—to be able to benefit as greatly as Dr. Watson did from his association with Sherlock Holmes.

Pick one type of creativity that you want to develop and discuss it with a friend. And remember the words of the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

More on Thinking Creatively

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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