More Than Essential Oils: A Holistic Approach to Treating Anxiety & Depression
By Jasmine Price | Feb 8, 2021
We have been in a pandemic for a year now and though there is a vaccine, there is no end date in sight. Initially, we planned to be in the house for two weeks. But, those two weeks quickly turned to months and we were forced to turn our homes into a work-space and for many, a school. As a therapist and mother of three, my household was no different. It is no secret that for the first time in a long time, therapists were experiencing the same discomforts as their clients simultaneously. As I experienced an influx of inquiries from people experiencing anxiety, depression, and overwhelming feelings, I knew this was as good a time as any to focus on their symptoms and implement a holistic treatment approach.
Holistic has joined the sea of buzzwords. People often hear the word holistic and immediately think of essential oils, herbs, and incense. While these things can be incorporated into anyone’s daily self-care routine, taking a holistic approach is much more than that. Simply put, holistic means treating the entire being; physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. When one is out of alignment, it impacts the other. Often, potential clients come seeking support for their mental well-being. However, because I take a holistic approach to treatment, I inquire about how they are eating, sleeping, and incorporating physical movement into their day. Their answers to these questions and my observations of presenting symptoms determine the course of treatment. The goal is to provide clients with practices that help with the daily maintenance of their symptoms. What does this look like?
Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Conscious breathing slows the heart rate which triggers a relaxation response. This is why breathwork must be incorporated throughout the day. I often encourage my clients to implement conscious breathing upon waking, before bed, and at a time of their choosing during the day. This is to create a habit of focusing on the breath. So, when they are triggered, feeling overwhelmed, or need a minute to refocus, conscious breathing is second nature. One tool that I have found helpful and have suggested to my clients is the Meditation Mixtape by Shelah Marie that can be found anywhere that you stream your music. On her mixtape, there is a five-minute track called, Four-Part Breathing. She does an excellent job teaching you how to complete your breaths and learn conscious breathing.
The body needs to move to keep blood and oxygen flowing through the body. This does not mean strenuous exercise or weight lifting. You could incorporate walking (inside or outside), yoga, dance, or stretching. Movement releases endorphins that can help decrease the intensity of depressive and/or anxious symptoms. It also helps release tensions in the muscles that would support relaxation.
Morning and Bedtime Routine
How you wake in the morning sets the tone for your day and how you end your day sets the tone for your resting state. Create a morning routine that allows you to slowly wake so that you are not jolting yourself awake, shocking the system. Upon waking choose to begin your day with an affirmation, prayer, yoga, or something that brings you peace. Then, set your intentions for the day.
Your bedtime routine is best started at least an hour before you get into bed. This way you are signaling to your brain and body that rest is nearing. Like your morning routine, this time should be filled with things that are relaxing and bring joy. Try incorporating a caffeine-free tea, bath/shower, and a good moisturizer. An important part of my bedtime routine is incorporating Moon Milk. It is a warm plant-based milk drink that aids in sleep and relaxation. You may try different things to incorporate until you find what works for you. Be patient, you will find what works for you.
Be consistent with your spiritual or religious practices. Incorporate your practices into your morning and bedtime routine. Some suggestions are, meditation, prayer, journaling, or gratitude salutations. These practices help with anchoring when negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions come.
It is no secret that foods can have an impact on your mood. So, make sure you are getting the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day. I encourage you to seek out a nutritionist that is trained in which foods and vitamins support mental wellness and which foods to avoid. This way you are managing symptoms from the inside out.
Getting through this pandemic is going to require intentional practices that ensure that the whole being is cared for.
About The Author
I am originally from Elizabeth City, North Carolina. I received a B.A. in Psychology from North Carolina A&T State University and a M.A. in Forensic Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Currently practicing in Maryland as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. My academic career prepared me for my work as a therapist. However, my life experiences made me a better therapist. My personal journey and healing process have aligned me with the clinician I am and the approach I take with my clients. I believe that your mental health needs are just as important as your physical and spiritual health needs.
Jasmine Price is the Founder/ Owner of www.pride-of-nyla-llc.com.