If you’re feeling anxious, “chilling out” may just be the opposite of what you need.
Experts say warming up your body temperature somewhat could be a potential off button for stress. The technique, which stems from an ancient practice from India called ayurveda, has gained traction among some mental health professionals.
Practicing ayurveda — which is considered a form of complementary and alternative medication in the United States — comes with some warnings from the National Institutes of Health. For instance, some medicinal products used in ayurveda contain herbs, minerals or metals that “may be harmful, especially if employed improperly or without the direction of a trained practitioner, ” according to the NIH.
“I used to use warming when I was anxious myself, ” Aman said. “When I was in recovery[ for my own mental health ], I always eat my food warm: soups, stews, tea.” She also avoided ingesting items that exacerbated her anxiety, including sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
Eating warm food, putting a heating pad on your feet or getting your whole body under a blanket( bonus if it’s a weighted blanket, which some studies have shown to significantly reduce anxiety) are all warming activities that “help your brain feel safe, ” Aman said. Soaking in warm water may also help.
“I often prescribe warm or hot baths to my patients to calm them, ” said John Mayer, a Chicago-based clinical psychologist at Doctor On Demand. “The warm bath promotes the release of tranquilizing enzymes that physically treat nervousnes, and the solitude of the bath runs as a mindfulness exercise, so we have the physiological and psychological approach as best practices.”
Any physical sensation that brings patients to relaxation and into the present moment may be useful in nervousnes reduction. Christa Santangelo, clinical psychologist
Christa Santangelo, a clinical psychologist and an deputy clinical prof at the University of California, San Francisco, said the warming technique might specifically be effective because of the physical change a person experiences. When the body physically relaxes, that can then signal to your brain to calm down.
“Any physical sensation that brings patients to relaxation and into the present moment may be helpful in nervousnes reduction, ” Santangelo said.
But while warmth may be therapeutic in the moment, you still need to get to the root of your anxiety to assist treat it overall, said Roselyn G. Smith, a licensed therapist are stationed in Florida.
If used with a cognitive-based therapeutic approach, heat applications can be helpful since they are “contribute to an internal surrounding where someone may be able to position and construe anxiety-evoking stimuli differently, ” she said.
In other words, if you’re more relaxed after you get warm, you’re better able to focus on the big things that are causing your anxiety and to tackle them more calmly.
Of course, hot isn’t an nervousnes cure-all. Some experts even suggest that heat may worsen nervousnes. It’s important to employ natural methods like heating to supplement a treatment plan outlined by your physician, which could include talk therapy, drug or a combination of both. Habits like exert, confronting the triggers of your nervousnes, taking social media breaches and journaling also come highly recommended by experts.
That being said, warming your body temperature doesn’t necessarily hurt if you want to give it a go. The next time you’re impression high-strung or super anxious and you’re searching for something enabling you to calm down ASAP, try heating up. It’s likely more effective than being told to “just chill, ” anyway.
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