Before you go reaching for a medicine bottle to curb your anxiety, try this quick and easy fix that takes just minutes a day!
Stress is not only unavoidable, in the right amounts, it can be healthy. But if you are experiencing an extreme amount of it or don’t have the right coping skills to stave off its negative effects, it could be disrupting your life. Prolonged stress can lead to anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. And if you have begun to notice that it is starting to affect your health or your well being, then finding natural remedies to reduce anxiety is a must. Before you reach for a medicine bottle to cure your angst, try these 15 natural remedies and holistic anxiety aids.
Not only is exercise good for your body, but it is also an excellent tool to reduce anxiety. Research shows that exercising helps to enhance mood, promote good sleeping patterns, and improve your energy levels. It is also a way to release all the pent-up anxiety and tension that you might be feeling. And if your anxiety is coupling with depression, exercise is a great tool to chase the blues away. Exercise produces something called endorphins, which are chemicals that help to fight stress and pain. It also helps to desensitize the way that the body responds to anxiety and stress. That makes it an entire mind-body good thing.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King
Sometimes we can experience stress because everything seems and feels so out of control. To gain perspective on all the “things” that you have to do and take care of, write them down and make a physical action plan. Also, research suggests that other forms of journaling and creative writing take your mind off of the anxiety you feel and helps to immerse you in a calmer and more engaging activity far removed from the stress you are experiencing.
Mediation involves taking a “time out” mentally. Mediation, mindfulness, and yoga are all ways to clear your mind and to stop incoming stressors from making you panic. A 2010 meta-analytic review concluded that people who are suffering from mood disorders and anxiety benefited greatly from practicing different forms of meditation and mindfulness activities. So take a yoga class or sit quietly and reflect. Sometimes all you need is some mental downtime.
4. Cannabinoid Oil
Cannabinoid oil, or CBD oil, is derived from the hemp plant. Although it contains all the benefits that marijuana has to reduce stress and anxiety, it doesn’t have any THC. THC is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana that produces the euphoric “high”. Several studies have shown that CBD oil, when taken in the right dose, can have a significant impact on symptoms of anxiety.
Man’s best friend is apparently also an anxious person’s best friend. Pets not only offer unconditional love; they give people a sense of support and companionship that helps to reduce anxiety. A study released in 2018 concluded that pets can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental conditions like PTSD. And in 2015, studies with animals showed that they help to improve the psychological well being of the elderly.
6. Breathing Techniques
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
When you are anxious, your entire body reacts to it including your ability to breathe. Most people are completely unaware that they are taking shallow and quick breaths when anxiety is in full swing. Breathing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, or abdominal breathing, means that you consciously breathe deeply. When you do, you reduce carbon dioxide levels, lower your heart rate, and release muscle tension that might be driving your symptoms. Or in some situations, they might even be making things worse. Being mindful of both body and mind and learning to regulate and slow things down are key to living anxiety-free.
7. Commune With Nature
Your environment can have a significant impact on anxiety and stress. Things that you see, hear, and feel all affect the endocrine, nervous, and immune system. Being in nature helps to reduce fear, stress, and anger. And according to research, it might even help to reduce mortality. When you commune with the outdoors and go for a walk in the woods, it reduces the production of stress hormones, which contribute to symptoms of anxiety. A study conducted by Mind concluded that those who spent time outside were calmer, better able to problem solve, and felt more balanced than those who chose to forego the great outdoors. So if you are feeling especially anxious, strap on your hiking shoes and hit the trails!
8. Get Hot and Unbothered
“There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be diminished by a nice cup of tea.” Bernard-Paul Heroux
Evidence suggests that merely heating yourself up is a great way to chase away anxiety. Sensations of heat may help to alter the neural circuits that regulate mood, including those that influence neurotransmitters like serotonin. That is why sitting by a fire with a warm cup of tea or sitting in a sauna works to reduce anxiety. So when anxiety starts to creep in, fill up a tub of hot water and let it melt away.
Acupuncture is a practice that stimulates various points in your body that are imbalanced. Energy flows through the body along certain pathways but stress and everyday living can create blockages that prevent your body from functioning properly. Acupuncture seeks to activate channels that are blocked and maintain a positive energy flow that helps to reduce the tension that can lead to anxiety. A systematic review of over 400 randomized patients showed that their symptoms of anxiety were greatly reduced by acupuncture. And that the symptoms were reduced significantly more than using traditional pharmaceutical treatment options.
According to a 2016 study published in Cerebral Cortex, when participant’s brains were scanned while listening to hypnosis their brains showed focus attention, enhanced emotional and physical control, and less self-consciousness. That means that a great anxiety producer can double as an anxiety reducer. Your cell phone keeps a constant stream of communication open to the world, but with it can come a whole lot of stress-provoked anxiety. Hypnosis is an excellent tool to reduce that anxiety. By using mindfulness to reduce tension and increase breathing, you can see significant improvement in your anxiety symptoms. Download an anxiety reducing app on your phone, plug in your headphones, and get carried away!
Unfortunately, anxiety breeds anxiety. If you are tense and nervous all the time, then your muscles involuntary contract. When that happens, it lessens your breathing and can lead to a constant state of tension. The repetitious nature of muscle tension can lead to trigger points, which can be painful and can signal further negativity to your well being. Massage therapy is a way to help relax your muscles and to restore them to calm. Anxiety is like an avalanche; it picks up speed all on its own. Reducing the things that are setting it off will help to alleviate the symptoms of it.
There is a reason why most spas have the allure of lavender pouring out the door. Lavender is an essential oil that has been effective to calm people throughout history. The odor of the Lavender plant has long been used as a relaxation tool. Using it by spreading just a little around your collarbone can have an immediate effect on your feelings of stress and your ability to cope with it.
13. Be Mindful of Your Blood Sugar Levels
When you experience times of high stress, your body releases stress hormones. These hormones can cause your blood sugar levels to elevate. Before you head out for the day, it is a good idea to make sure that you don’t brave it on an empty stomach. Blood sugar spikes can make those anxious feelings that much worse. And they can push you over the anxiety top, making it hard to come back to earth and shed those nervous feelings. Also, eating too many high sugar and simple carbohydrate foods can lead to mood swings. So choose foods that will decrease blood sugar like lean high protein foods and keep them coming to avoid blood sugar spikes.
14. Supplement with Herbs
Along with lavender, other herbs have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety in some people. Kava, passion flower, valerian, chamomile, and Lemon balm all work in different ways to calm the nervous system and to reduce feelings of anxiety. But they can also interact with some pharmaceuticals. So it is essential to check the labels, and, if necessary, talk with your physician about supplementing with various herbs.
15. Supplement with 5-HTP
5-HTP is an amino acid that works in the body as a mood stabilizer. By supplementing with 5-HTP, you can effectively increase your production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps to alleviate anxiety symptoms. The cannabinoids found in CBD oil are just one way to supplement with 5-HTP. Although if you are going to supplement, make sure that it won’t interfere with any medications you are currently taking.
We all have stress in our lives, but not all of us know how to cope with it effectively, especially when it becomes too much. If you have noticed that your feelings of being overwhelmed or anxious are affecting your ability to cope, instead of reaching for a medicine bottle, try these 15 natural and holistic cures for anxiety. They are scientifically proven to work, and they don’t come with the same adverse side effects that traditional pharmaceuticals do.