Scatter Spiritual S.E.E.D.S. – A Natural Approach to Anxiety

 

With violence in the news on a regular basis, it seems like there is more to worry about today than ever before.  The internet gives us easy viewing access to what seems like new weekly incidents of terror attacks or gun violence.  Even though it does seem to be a stressed filled world, there are ways to help those who suffer from anxiety.  The method described here suggests the best way to cope with anxiety may be the all natural way.  I’m not opposed to medication, and I always recommend an evaluation by your family doctor, but it’s always good to learn about your brain’s natural resources for coping with stress and anxiety by changing how we think and developing new habits.

Reviewing decades of research, psychologist John B. Arden identified five key factors that lead to long-term health, less anxiety and depression, less sickness, and less chance of developing dementia later in life.  He combines these factors in the acronym S.E.E.D.S. which I’ll summarize below.  I added my own element to this acronym – putting the “spiritual” in S.E.E.D.S.

Arden considers his approach brain based, meaning the S.E.E.D.S. factors support the brains natural role in nurturing our health and vitality throughout life.  But there is also a growing body of literature showing how spiritual practices, meditation, and faith not only changes our brain but helps us become more compassionate.

This article will summarize the Spiritual S.E.E.D.S. factors related to health and anxiety, with future articles expanding on this approach.

S – social connectivity.  We are neurologically hard-wired for social interaction.  If we cultivate our brain’s social architecture with healthy intimate relationships, we’ll reap the health benefits.

E – exercise.  We’re designed to move.  Exercise, at least 30 minutes a day, starts a brain enhancing biochemical process that strengthens the best natural antidepressant and anti-anxiety agents we have, better than medication.

E – education.  By learning something new every day, we’re building our brains infrastructure.

D – diet.  What we eat can calm us down or make us more anxious.  Our diets have a big impact on how our brain functions, providing the building blocks for the neurotransmitters that help us feel good and relax.

S – sleep.  Getting deep quality sleep is vital for our brain and body’s health.  I wrote about quality sleep in THIS article.

Spiritual practices like meditation also boost our health and can lead to greater empathy and compassion while changing our brains architecture.  Dr. Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman at the University of Pennsylvania have done great research in these areas; they show how we can create greater warmth and empathy depending on HOW we contemplate God.  Contemplating an angry God and hearing consistent angry messages that portray a wrathful God does damage, but meditating on a compassionate loving God leads to greater empathy and compassion in our own lives and a sense of peace.  As Psalm 48 says, “oh God, we meditate on your unfailing love.”  I think Newberg and Waldman would have to agree with that mindset.  I personally include meditation on other scriptures in my own spiritual practice, including those that talk about viewing God as a safe haven in times of trouble, God’s patience and forgiveness, and God carrying our burdens and anxiety.

We can easily apply the spiritual S.E.E.D.S. approach to anxiety by examining the things we do to self-sabotage our efforts to bring peace and calm to our lives.  Alcohol and other substances are no good for our brain.  Alcohol, mainly drinking on a regular basis, can increase depression and anxiety and disrupt our deep sleep cycle.  Alcohol has been called anxiety in a bottle. Even over the counter sleep aids can disrupt quality sleep and lead to tolerance and withdrawal.  Our own thinking can also lead to anxiety.  Cognitive behavior therapy approaches aim to teach us how to evaluate our perception of events and how to change distorted thinking.

Using the spiritual S.E.E.D.S. factors we can develop a natural brain based, spiritual lifestyle that can lead to lasting health and greater compassion.  We can make changes from what we eat and drink to how we pray and meditate.  Science and spirituality work together here for our benefit.

 

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