Anxiety, as defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns and may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also suffer from physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness, or a rapid heartbeat.
Everyone feels anxious now and then. For example, you may worry when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Occasional anxiety is normal, but anxiety disorders are a completely different ball game altogether – they are a group of mental disorders that cause overwhelming anxiety and fear, which can make daily life difficult. Excessive anxiety can cause one to avoid work, school, family get-togethers, and other social situations that might trigger or worsen symptoms.
Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
The main symptom of anxiety disorders is excessive fear or worry. Anxiety disorders can also make it hard to breathe, sleep, stay still, and concentrate. Your specific symptoms depend on the type of anxiety disorder you have. Common symptoms are:
-Panic, fear, and uneasiness
-Feelings of panic, doom, or danger
-Not being able to stay calm and still
-Cold, sweaty, numb, or tingling hands or feet
-Shortness of breath
-Breathing faster and more quickly than normal (hyperventilation)
-Thinking about a problem over and over again and unable to stop (rumination)
-Inability to concentrate
-Intensely or obsessively avoiding feared objects or places
In conventional medicine, anxiety disorders have been classified into many types, such as:
Generalized anxiety disorder: Where you feel excessive, unrealistic worry and tension for no real rational reason.
Panic disorder: You feel sudden, intense fear that brings on a panic attack. You may break out in a sweat, have chest pain, and have a pounding heartbeat (palpitations). Sometimes you may feel like you are choking or having a heart attack.
Social anxiety disorder: Also called social phobia, this is when you feel overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. You obsessively worry about others judging you or being embarrassed or ridiculed.
Specific phobias: You feel intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights or flying. The fear goes beyond what’s appropriate and may cause you to avoid ordinary situations.
Agoraphobia: You have an intense fear of being in a place where it seems hard to escape or get help if an emergency occurs. For example, you may panic or feel anxious when on an airplane, public transportation, inside an elevator, etc.
Separation anxiety: Little kids aren’t the only ones who feel scared or anxious when a loved one leaves. Anyone can get separation anxiety disorder. If you do, you’ll feel very anxious or fearful when a person you’re close with leaves your sight.
The causes for anxiety disorders are many and can include:
–A history of mental health disorder: Having another mental health disorder, like depression, raises your risk for anxiety disorder.
–Childhood sexual abuse: Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect during childhood is linked to anxiety disorders later in life.
–Emotional or physical trauma: Living through a traumatic event increases the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can cause panic attacks.
–Negative life events: Stressful or negative life events, like losing a parent in early childhood, increase your risk for anxiety disorder.
–Severe illness or chronic health condition: Constant worry about your health or the health of a loved one, or caring for someone who is sick, can cause you to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
–Substance abuse: The use of alcohol and illegal drugs makes you more likely to get an anxiety disorder. Some people also use these substances to hide or ease anxiety symptoms.
–Low self-esteem: Negative perceptions about yourself may lead to social anxiety disorder.
Allopathic medications aren’t always the best means to address anxiety disorders. Natural treatments, such as the Bach flower remedies, can be effective in treating and helping to manage Anxiety Disorders. Below are a list of the Bach flower remedies that may be used for any sort of anxiety problems:
Rock Rose: This remedy is especially helpful when you experience acute panic attacks, such as terror or fright, which makes you feel frozen and unable to move or think clearly. It is used during any emotional emergency, such as when in an accident, in the midst of a terrorist attack, while hearing very bad news, etc. In short, this is the remedy for panic attacks.
Mimulus: This remedy helps when you feel fear that you can put a name on, such as fear of dogs, spiders, snakes, being alone, losing a job, illness, etc. It is also a remedy for shyness and nervousness.
Cherry Plum: This is the remedy for those who fear losing control of their thoughts & actions and for a deep sense of fear that they might do something against their own will. This is a good remedy for mania and a loss of emotional control.
Aspen: This is a terrific remedy for unconscious anxieties when one is always scared and fearful but does not know what of. The fear experienced is vague and unexplainable and may haunt the person day or night. It is especially good for a fear of the dark.
Red Chestnut: This remedy is to be used when you find it difficult not to be anxious for other people, especially loved ones, and are afraid that some unfortunate things may happen to them.
Depression is a common and serious mental /emotional disorder that is primarily characterized by feelings of sadness and negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It causes a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems that can decrease your ability to function at work and at home. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
-Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
-Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
-Changes in appetite- weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
-Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
-Loss of energy or increased fatigue
-Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, hand-wringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
-Feeling worthless or guilty
-Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
-Thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms must last at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning for a diagnosis of depression. Also, medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumor, or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression so it is important to rule out general medical causes.
Risk Factors for Depression
Depression doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone, even a person who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances. The below factors can be a cause for depression:
Biochemistry: Differences in certain chemicals in the brain may contribute to symptoms of depression.
Genetics: Depression can run in families. For example, if one identical twin has depression, the other has a 70 percent chance of having the illness at some point during their life.
Personality: People with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress, or who are generally pessimistic appear to be more likely to experience depression.
Environmental factors: Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty may make some people more vulnerable to depression.
Bach flower remedies for depression
The following Bach flower remedies may be used to treat and help manage depression.
Clematis: The go-to remedy for those who find their lives unhappy and withdraw into fantasy worlds. They are ungrounded and indifferent to the details of everyday life. This remedy teaches one to establish a bridge between the physical world and the world of ideas and may foster great creativity. Is also used to bring clarity and alertness to the present moment.
Honeysuckle: This remedy helps you to let go of past experiences or events. It is the go-to remedy to treat nostalgia and for thoughts that are in the past rather than in the present.
Wild Rose: The remedy for those who suffer from apathy and a lack of interest in life and. It helps you to take responsibility for your own life and feel a lively interest in life, work, and the world in general.
Olive: A great remedy for those who suffer from chronic exhaustion / total physical and mental tiredness. It helps you regain energy, vitality, and a renewed interest in life.
White Chestnut: This is the go-to remedy for when your mind is cluttered with thoughts, usually arguments, ideas, thoughts that you do not wish to have in your mind.
Mustard: This remedy is useful when you feel suddenly depressed without any valid reason. It feels like a cold dark cloud that destroys normal happiness and cheerfulness. This sort of depression comes and goes of its own accord.
A person’s self-concept (or set of beliefs about the self) can be made up of goals, interests, roles, values, their relation to others, and their ideas about their own attributes. Certain beliefs can be core or central to a person’s self-concept, while others can be peripheral. Many times, these beliefs about the self can be contradictory or even context-dependent. As time passes, a person’s self-concept will change as they gain new experiences, interests, interact with new people, and face new challenges.
This fact scares me quite a bit. I know that gaining new skills, interests and values is important, but at the same time, it also makes me feel like I am also losing something within me along the way.
For my first example, I would like to tell you guys about my grandparents and their gardens. All four of my grandparents come from rural Italy where as children they helped their families on their farms. Once they became adults and immigrated to Canada, they continued to till the land and grow their plants here. My grandparents have quite a few gardens, some in their backyards. However, I’m not talking about a quaint backyard garden with a few cucumbers and tomatoes. My grandparents, despite all being over 80 years old, have quite large gardens growing tomatoes (which they use to make their own tomato sauce), potatoes, carrots, lettuces, cabbage, beans, peppers, basil, zucchini, pumpkins, apple trees, prune trees, pear trees, mulberry trees and more! These gardens have always helped our family stay healthy and well-fed, even during the winter. However, a problem has arisen recently. My grandparents are getting quite old, and their bodies can no longer take the strenuous amount of labor it takes to keep up such a large garden, especially in this heat. They still get up at 6 am to go work on their gardens most mornings, however, I can tell that they can’t take much more of it. Despite the pain and strain on their bodies, they refuse to stop. When I asked them why they continue, they just told me that they have to do it. My personal theory is that as they have been growing vegetables and fruits since they were children, this pursuit has become part of who they are. If they lose their garden, then they will be losing an integral part of who they are as a person, which is saddening. And so, they don’t stop. Another one of my theories is that gardening provides them with a sense of purpose. They have a goal to fill their garden with tasty vegetables, which they work extremely hard to fulfill. When you are gardening, you literally see the fruits of your labor. If you work hard, then you’ll be able to feed yourself and your family. It must feel good to have physical proof of your work which you can then eat to gain energy. So, if they stop gardening, what is there to do? What is the point of life? Where should they redirect their time? I don’t think my grandparents want to think about these kinds of questions. I hope that they can find a sense of identity which is independent of gardening so that one day, if they hopefully do stop, they won’t feel like an important piece of themselves is missing.
I have personally struggled with this idea for a while. The fact that the self is not a stable/immovable construct is a hard thought to accept. Who am I? If my values, interests, goals and attributes change over time, is that future self still me?
For my second example, I would like to tell you guys a personal story. Ever since I can remember, I have always been shy. Apparently, I used to be afraid to even get close to my aunt as a baby. In elementary school and high school, I had an extremely difficult time talking to people, socializing in groups, and making friends. Speaking to others has always filled me with anxiety. And so, being “shy” became part of my identity. It was part of who I was. Then, when I got to university, I realized that my shyness had been a hindrance. I was quite lonely and wanted to make new friends, but my inhibitions prevented me from doing so. And so, I decided to change. I joined the anime club, participated in club activities and discussions, spoke to others in and outside class. Slowly, as I faced my fear, my anxiety began to lessen. I became more comfortable speaking and ruminated less after each conversation. However, somewhat similar to my grandparents’ story, a problem arose. As I became less shy, I felt as though I was losing an integral part of my identity. This part of me had been with me since apparent infancy. Who was I if not shy? What parts of me made me who I am? In the end, becoming more confident and outspoken was the right direction to take. This direction brought more joy and quality relationships than shyness ever could. Maybe “who I am” is not just one thing, but many amorphous things that are ever-changing. And maybe that’s okay. A garden grows, so why can’t we?
Not originally being from Quebec, I only started exploring the local countryside in the last few years. Prior to this, I used to leave the province or even the country to go on vacation. I knew the Montreal region quite well, having studied and worked here for years. But I started yearning to discover the rest of this beautiful province. And so, I set out to organize a road trip to Gaspésie.
It was the summer of 2019, and I really had no idea what places to visit versus others. What activities I should do, and which were simply tourist traps. An embarrassing amount of research later, I finally made my selection. But then came the unfortunate discovery that Airbnb wasn’t really popular in the region at this time. It was slim pickings trying to find an Airbnb in places I wanted to stay. But I selected what I could, and set out on this 6 days/5 nights road trip through Gaspésie.
It was really exciting to see how much natural beauty existed just five+ hours away. And, although some of the activities I’d chosen were not nearly as good as what the locals knew to do, I learned from this trip what to do the next time around. As well as, where I should actually stay, and how to reserve these locales in advance, off Airbnb. I also vowed, in August 2019 that summer 2020 in Gaspésie would be amazing.
As we all know, the world changed in March 2020. With international travel strongly discouraged and countless countries enacting border closures, Gaspésie with its beaches, mountains and seaside towns, became a very hot ticket for summer 2020. Luckily for me, my vacation plans had been made in January, prior to these developments. So I simply maintained a cap, and set out for 8 days/7 nights as planned.
This time, I only stayed in L’isle-verte, Rimouski, Carleton-sur-Mer and Percé. Obviously, it was a lot more crowded than the previous summer had been, during the same period. A lot of Québécois, Ontarians, and international tourists were present. Altogether, us out-of-towners overwhelmed the locals, literally filling these tourist towns to the brim, with little notice to them that this might occur. Through it all, they managed to remain friendly and welcoming, all while maintaining strict Covid-19 sanitation protocols. Their diligence allowed us to escape the confines of the major cities most of us resided in, and temporarily forget our worries in the mountains, and by the sea.
After having such a lovely time, two years in a row, I definitely hadn’t had my fill of Gaspésie. So I set out to spend another week there in August 2021. To my surprise, from summer 2020 to 2021 there was quite a modernization of the region I had discovered just two years prior. Every restaurant and tourist attraction now had working phone lines, and online reservations, which hadn’t always been the case during my previous visits. But now they were equipped for us non-locals to reserve activities far ahead of our arrivals. These towns had also received federal investments to further beautify and expand their capacity to answer the growing demand for regional tourism.
As a result, there were many more wonderful rentals to choose from. This time, I stayed in Rimouski, Carleton-sur-Mer and Percé only, as they had become my favourite cities to visit. I didn’t get through everything I had planned, as wonderful impromptu discoveries got in the way. Which often happens when you’re having a great vacation. What I got was the sound of the sea outside my windows every night, and seagulls providing me with a daily wake-up call. Sore legs, and sore feet, as I spent so much more time outside than I have gotten used to in the past 18 months. And constant daydreams of being closer to nature, and resourced by it more than just once a year.
Enjoy my amateur photography which illustrates this blog, I hope it does the region some justice. I highly recommend booking a local getaway, or organizing a camping trip to explore the beautiful province we’re blessed to call home.
Do you suffer from low self-esteem? Do you often feel that you are not as competent as and feel inferior to others? Are you plagued by the expectation of failure? And lack confidence in your ability to do things well?
Low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, which are more prevalent in the general populace than one thinks, can feel like a curse to most people, leading to a paralyzing hesitation in saying or doing things, a sense of impotency and even an unconscious melancholy in most cases. Luckily, there is a Bach flower remedy that can help you deal with such feelings and overcome a lack of confidence, thus enabling you to get more out of life!
This Bach Flower Essence is called Larch, and it relates to the soul quality of self-confidence and self-esteem.
The negative Larch state, which is characterized by low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority, usually has its origins from infancy, when the child takes on its parent’s negative attitude, or even before birth (reincarnation is a real thing, regardless of your religious beliefs, in my opinion). In any case, the child grows up with feelings of low confidence, lacks courage and believes in a certainty of failure. He or she doesn’t just doubt his or her abilities, but actually believes that he or she is inferior to other people and “can’t do what others can.” As a consequence, the person fails to learn and grow in life through new experiences, becomes impoverished and gets mired in feelings of discouragement and an unconscious melancholy. Most people are unable to recognize their limits, but the Larch person sees only limits and barricades in life, and this leaves them with a sense of impotency and incapability.
People in a negative Larch state will seem to act sensibly and even realistically when they refuse to take on projects or tasks. They will offer all kinds of excuses that appear sound and reasonable. However, if they did have the confidence and attempt to try, most would realize that they not only know more about the task at hand, but also possess more talents than most people!
When persons suffering from a negative Larch state begin to take Larch remedy under the guidance of an experienced Bach flower therapist, they will attain a different perspective on life altogether. They will slowly but gradually be able to assess things more objectively, and will also do so from a positive point of view. They will then, to their own surprise, be able to handle almost any situation that is handed to them and usually make a success out of it. The Bach Flower Remedy Larch allows the inner Vital Energies to rebalance and harmonize; as a result, the person is able to connect with and take guidance from his or her Higher Self.
It is interesting to note that a negative Larch state is not always a chronic condition originating from childhood. Many people can also be temporarily thrown into this undesirable state by a setback or situation which rattles their confidence and makes them doubt their abilities. Everybody is human after all, and nobody is immune from setbacks to his or her confidence.
Larch Bach Flower remedy has proven to be useful whenever an extra dose of self-confidence is needed. For example, when facing an exam, going for a driving test, giving a speech in public, during divorce proceedings, while having to stand up to a superior or a bully, etc. It is especially useful in children who are scared to venture on their own on any given task.
Larch Bach Flower remedy is also used in the treatment of alcoholics who drink to overcome their sense of inferiority and forget their failures. It has also proven to be helpful in problems with sexual performance and potency which stem from the expectation of the re-occurrence of the problem.
It’s no secret that we as humans crave affection. Whether it’s a hug from your niece, a reassuring touch from your partner, or the eager excitement as the neighbour’s dog bowls you down to deliver your second shower of the day, it’s the small moments that we take the greatest pleasure in. Moments that—before a pandemic—would have been taken for granted, all but lost in the motion of our daily lives.
By now, a significant amount of the Canadian population has been vaccinated. Positive Covid cases have declined, and we’re back in the green. Finally, comes the chorus of relieved sighs across the country.
But it was a long journey to reach this point. It was a year and a half of strict safety measures, exhausting health precautions, and enough hand sanitizer to fill the great lakes. It was a year and a half of not being able to see any of our friends or loved ones, and for those who switched to remote work, even our coworkers. It was a year and a half of missing that often overlooked sense of touch from our lives, unable to get something as simple as a hug while our social contact switched from people to pixels worldwide.
It was a long year and a half. We couldn’t see anyone. We were lonely.
So what did we do? Well, what any sane person would do when they’re stuck at home and can’t see their loved ones. We brought our loved ones home to us—we got puppies! After all, our contact with people was limited, but nobody said anything about Rover and Fido!
Nationwide, everyone and their grandmother were adopting new pets, so much so that the colloquial term “pandemic puppy” was coined. And chances are, you know somebody who was taken in by its thrall as well. Countless shelters were thrilled to announce empty kennels for the very first time, and breeders were suddenly faced with an overwhelming demand for furry friends. We had found a solution, and by the heavens, we were sprinting towards it with open arms!
Bringing home these new bundles of joy, we were only too happy to puppy-proof our homes and spoil these critters rotten, overjoyed for a new pet project to keep ourselves busy with. Things were finally looking up. We’d cracked the code. We had found a faithful companion to stay by our side, one who would spend those long and lonesome quarantined days together with us. All was smooth sailing… at least for a while.
There was just one small detail that the vast majority of us had overlooked in our search for companionship. Because puppies don’t stay puppies forever, now, do they? And they, like any other babies, are most certainly not immune to the terrible twos!
We were quickly finding out the hard way that puppyhood, with all of its sleepless nights and exhausted days, was actually the easy part. Because now, doe-eyed Clifford had lived up to his namesake and grown to the size of a small house. And suddenly, we were finding ourselves getting dragged around on walks, coming home to find destroyed furniture, and trying to quiet down an endless cacophony of barking. The gremlins had sprouted up and become all too mobile, faster than we could ever hope to keep track, and we were facing challenges unforeseeable and innumerable. The chaos never ended! It was all we could do not to just pack up and ship out, in the hopes of finally having some peace and quiet once again.
If this is starting to sound familiar, you’re not alone. Not by a long shot. Many people who adopted during quarantine were first time dog owners, and a lot of the challenges that make even seasoned owners hang their heads in defeat have quickly become a unanimous discussion around the watering hole of local dog parks. Constant barking, jumping, yanking on leashes, nervous peeing, and, although rare, arguably the most notable: aggressive behaviour. But why was all of this happening now? And what could we do to fix it?
You may have heard by now that the various challenges that many families are facing due to Covid have been having a distinct impact on the social and emotional development of children. What we didn’t expect was for the same thing to happen to our precious pooches. Just like children need face-to-face social contact to develop in a healthy way, so do our dogs. And during that critical period of development as our puppies started growing up, they just weren’t getting it. We were keeping ourselves safe by quarantining, and maintaining social distance even while outside, which meant that for many dogs, the only way they could meet other four-legged friends was at a distance. They never got the chance to develop those proper social skills—just like what our kids are facing. And often, they developed some frustrating habits that feel impossible to break.
The good news is that there’s still hope! Whether your dog is still in the throes of puppyhood, or has long outlived this pesky pandemic and is already a seasoned senior, it’s never too late to start training out those undesired behaviours. The core tenets of any successful dog training rely on consistency, clarity, timing, and — most importantly — rewards! After all, don’t you like a well-deserved treat for a job well done?
Finding a trustworthy dog trainer to guide you can be difficult, but it boils down to finding a qualified and experienced trainer who shares your values and treats you — and especially your pup — with respect. Many trainers still promote archaic methods like prong collars, shock collars, and penny cans, or who criticize the use of praise or treats as a reward for good behaviour. But the downside to methods like these is that they intimidate your dog, damaging your bond with them, and don’t teach what it is they should be doing instead. Conversely, methods such as positive reinforcement and clicker training make training your faithful friend leagues easier. They do this by increasing the dog’s motivation, which makes them want to pay attention to you — and, more importantly, what it is you want them to do.
So even if your pup has fallen victim to bad habits brought on by the quarantine, the most important thing to remember is that it’s never too late to fix it. And by working together with a qualified trainer and your handsome hound, you can learn the tools to turn those terrible twos into something significantly more enjoyable.
So, go ahead. Teach an old dog new tricks. And who knows, maybe one day your perfect pup will be the talk of the town!