Money problems, health concerns, and an insecure political situation: there’s a lot to be anxious about in the modern world. If you find yourself spending too many sleepless nights with a racing heart while imagining one terrible situation after another, you might be suffering from anxiety.
There’s no reason to suffer any longer. Anxiety is increasing common, but it’s also treatable. There are plenty of natural remedies you can try to limit your anxiety in order to start feeling better, faster.
Anxiety: A Modern Health Crisis
As the most common mental disorder in the United States, anxiety generally affects one out of every five people, leaving them with debilitating symptoms that interfere with their quality of life. Even so, the social stigma against anxiety is so high that many people never seek out the treatment that they need. Anxiety attacks can be triggered in a variety of ways, including stress at work, moving somewhere new, getting pregnant or giving birth, family and relationship problems, or emotional shock after a traumatic event.
In many ways, we all evolved to feel anxiety as a safety mechanism. When early humans confronted a dangerous situation, the “fight or flight” mentality that their anxiety triggered allowed them to respond to the threat and save their lives. However, most of the things that stress us out today can’t be solved through violence or running away, so our biologic response of anxiety has become more harmful than helpful.
The causes of anxiety aren’t fully understood. Though some amount of anxiety is considered normal, most doctors believe that anxiety becomes a problem when it interferes with your sleep or ability to function in daily life.
What Are the Risks To Your Health?
The problems associated with anxiety are far worse than a racing heartbeat. Constant anxiety often leads to insomnia, digestive problems, high blood pressure, weakened immune system and full on panic attacks. It’s common for anxiety sufferers to have trouble concentrating on situations in front of them and to even feel like they can’t breathe or talk when faced with something stressful. Many anxiety sufferers turn to stimulants and depressants like caffeine, alcohol and even sugar to combat their feelings of discomfort. Others find themselves too stressed to eat properly and exercise, and instead turn inwards and hide away in order to reduce their exposure to stress situations.
Natural Ways to Treat Anxiety
The good news is that your anxiety attacks aren’t inevitable. Today there are plenty of medical options for calming anxiety and getting you back on track. Even better, dozens of natural remedies are available that are oftentimes just as effective for treating anxiety as any prescription. These safe, non-drug anxiety alternatives can get you feeling better without nasty side effects. Below is a list of some of the top ways you can work to control your anxiety so that it no longer controls you.
1. Get plenty of sleep: Lack of sleep makes it harder to keep your brain in check, which means that negative thoughts can sneak in and stress you out. Aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night in order to keep your body refreshed and strive to go to bed around the same time each night. If you need to nap in the afternoon, limit it to 15-20 minutes to prevent yourself from being too awake later on. It’s also best to expose yourself to lots of natural light throughout the day and to shut down all devices with screens at least an hour before bed.
2. Schedule Relaxation: Life is busy, so making time for yourself is more important than ever. Sit down with your daily schedule and find a place to add half an hour of time for yourself to do an activity you enjoy, like walking, meditating and even reading a book. Even a short time of intentional relaxation can calm you down and lower your overall heart rate.
3. Drink Chamomile Tea: Chamomile has long been considered a healthy way to calm down your brain receptors, so adding a cup of chamomile to your routine can make a difference for your anxiety. Studies have also shown that chamomile supplements can be effective for reducing your stress levels.
4. Take Some L-Theanine (Green Tea): Japanese monks were certainly on to something with their sacred meditation drink. Green tea contains the amino acid L-Theanine, a substance that keeps your heart rate under control and aids anxiety by increasing your brain’s alpha waves until you relax. For this reason, adding a few cups of green tea to your morning might make all the difference for your anxiety.
5. Sleep Better With Valerian: If you need some help calming your anxiety and getting to sleep at night, valerian is a supplement to consider. Often combined with other herbs like hops, lemon balm and chamomile, valerian is a natural sedative that might help you relax.
6. Try Lemon Balm Tea: Used since the Middle Ages for treating stress and anxiety, lemon balm in the form of supplements or an herbal tea can also help you get to sleep faster. Just be careful to watch your dose, as some studies have found that taking too much can actually make you more anxious.
7. Get Plenty of Exercise: We all know how great exercise is for our bodies, and the benefits for your brain are pretty amazing as well. Exercising on a regular basis leads to higher self-esteem and general feelings of health, which dissipates two of the major causes of anxiety in the world today. Just 21 minutes of exercise is enough to flip your brain over and reduce your anxiety for the rest of the day.
8. Take a ‘Forest Bath’: Named ‘Shinrin-yoku’ by the Japanese, a forest bath is as simple as it sounds. All you need to do is take a walk in the woods. Even 20 minutes of time in a beautiful natural environment can lower your stress hormones and make you feel more relaxed than if you’d taken a similar walk in an urban area.
9. Learn Mindfulness Meditation: Originally a Buddhist practice that has gone mainstream, mindfulness meditation is a simple way to treat chronic anxiety. Practicing daily mindfulness makes it easy to experience every moment as it happens, rather than dwelling on future fears. To start your own meditation routine, give your entire attention to each moment you are in and strive to live as non-judgmentally as possible. For further tips on starting a private meditation routine, check out Meditation For Beginners by Yesenia Chavan.
10. Smell Some Lavender: The potent smell of lavender is often classified as an “emotional anti-inflammatory”. Studies have found that lavender scents, pills and even tea can lead to less anxiety in a wide variety of situations, including a hospital waiting room or before an exam. Keep a vial of lavender oil on you and take a whiff when you feel the beginnings of anxiety in order to restore yourself to a calm and relaxed state.
11. Control Your Breathing: Controlled breathing is an important part of many meditation routines, and the effects for your health are impressive. By taking fewer breathes and controlling each one, you can lower your stress levels and anxiety in a matter of minutes. Deep, even breathing makes it impossible for your body to experience feelings of anxiety, which slowly helps you convince your mind that everything is going to be okay.
12. Drink Kava: This Polynesian wonder drink has been used for centuries to calm anxious minds and keep you feeling fine. Though kava is a natural sedative, it won’t interfere with your mental abilities, making it a great alternative to alcohol in social situations.
13. Eat Healthy Snacks: A bout of anxiety is likely to inspire some stressed out snacking, because anxiety attacks cause blood sugar levels to plummet. The best thing to do is keep plenty of healthy snacks handy so that you have something to grab quickly when hunger strikes. Otherwise, you risk suffering a sugar crash when your vending machine treats metabolize into starch in your stomach. In the long term, eating a healthy diet can make a difference in your overall anxiety levels. By eating a diet based on whole foods and plants, you’ll keep yourself healthy and well equipped to handle the stress life throws your way.
14. Stop Catastrophizing: In the midst of an anxiety attack, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that everything is going wrong. This is called catastrophic thinking and it immediately makes every bout of anxiety much worse. What should you do to defend yourself? Experts recommend taking a few centering breaths and taking the time to think rationally about what’s happening. In most cases, your worst case scenario will never happen anyways, so don’t waste your time thinking about it.
15. Soak in a Hot Bath: there’s a reason why we all crave hot baths after a stressful day. Steamy air heats up your body, reducing muscle tension and anxiety in the process. Best of all, feelings of warmth can alter the neural circuits that control your mood and even release more serotonin into your bloodstream. Relaxing in a hot tub or sauna can leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed enough to cast off your anxiety and bring yourself back to the present moment. For even better benefits, add some soothing essential oils like lavender or vanilla into your water to relax your brain as well as your body.
Suffering from anxiety is more common than it should be, but there’s a lot you can do to keep your mind and body in check. Rather than turning to prescription medication to solve your anxiety problems, try out some of these natural solutions for treating anxiety in order to experience fast relief. Take time to be in nature, get some exercise through yoga, and spend some time meditating to ease your stress. You’ll be amazed at the difference that intentional living, herbal supplements, and healthy amounts of exercise can make for your anxiety.