We’ve all suffered from an anxious thought once in a while — the unpredictable nature of life can bring forth a multitude of worries. But chronic anxiety that comes more often than not can be debilitating and prevent you from living out a full life. Additionally, chronic anxiety can be a sign of a generalized anxiety disorder, damaging stress, and a high risk of depression. These factors are all detrimental to your overall quality of health.
The good news is that anxiety is a treatable condition, and there may be natural options you haven’t yet explored. If you suffer from anxiety that greatly impacts your life, you can reach out to your doctor for treatment and prescription medications.
Additionally, you can find a great a deal of natural ways to support the prescription from the doctor. Many people turn to natural treatments of anxiety to avoid potential adverse side effects of certain medications. Whether you decide to support your medication with natural remedies for anxiety or just want to try alternative treatments, there are many readily available.
These natural anxiety remedies might also help you discover and address the root cause of your anxiety.
Before we dive into the specifics of these natural remedies, let’s look at common anxiety symptoms and causes.
Common Anxiety Symptoms and Causes
Anxiety stems from the same fight-or-flight response that triggers the stress response. It’s our body’s natural response to external stimuli that is seemingly putting our lives in danger. Our nervous system kicks into overdrive — sending our heart rates up, hiking up our blood pressure, causing muscle tension, and increasing our breathing rate so we can intake more air for the action.
So while worrying and panicked thoughts are huge symptoms of anxiety, it also affects our other internal systems by preparing us for “survival.”
Another anxiety symptom is panic attacks that make it hard for the sufferer to breathe or move. Anxiety also causes digestive issues, high blood pressure, chest tightness, irritability, and even increased sweating.
The problem is, in this day and age, we aren’t usually in chronic mortal danger — not the way our ancestors were.
It’s not that our worries are unfounded, but their importance is misplaced. Instead of hungry lions, we worry about deadlines and finances. And once in a while, it’s OK to be anxious about those things.
But when that anxiety is constant and unyielding, it becomes a bigger problem for our physical and mental health.
So it goes without saying that stress is a big symptom and cause of anxiety.
Other causes of anxiety include traumatic life experiences, genetics, hormonal imbalances, and an excessive amount of caffeine, sugar, or alcohol.
Address those last few causes of anxiety to start naturally managing the disorder. By adjusting other choices in your diet and lifestyle, you can find relief from the health condition.
Read on to learn other methods of anxiety relief.
For many, food is nature’s prescription for health. It makes sense — we can get a lot of nutrients and necessary vitamins from our food. What we eat affects how we feel, grow, and act.
For an anxiety disorder, sugar is a big culprit. We know that the excessive amount of sugar found in American diets contributes to physical health problems like obesity and diabetes, but now research shows that excessive sugar is detrimental to mental health as well.
One research group found that heavy sugar consumption was tied to an increased risk of depression. Another study found that rats who binged on sugar daily were more likely to act erratically and displayed symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
Decreasing sugar consumption is a good way to manage anxiety and support your mental health and physical health.
Eat a Nutritional Breakfast
In our fast-paced world, it’s too easy to skip a meal. But we need the energy — not just for physical tasks but to keep our brain fueled for cognitive processes. We especially need that energy at the start of our days.
Skipping breakfast is an anxiety trigger. It leads to unsteady blood sugar levels, low energy, and moodiness.
It’s important to not just eat breakfast but make sure it’s a healthy, well-rounded breakfast. Eating too many calories can trigger anxiety in the same way that skipping out on a meal does.
So when you’re starting out the day, reach for the right types of food.
Protein-rich food like eggs will keep you full and give you the energy you need.
Magnesium is an important nutrient that supports your fight against anxiety and other conditions like Alzheimer’s and hypertension. That means you should reach for leafy greens like spinach or swiss chard. Bananas, figs, almonds, and avocados are all great sources of magnesium as well.
Omega–3 foods are also important in the regulation of mood and proper neurological functions. You can find omega–3 in seafood like salmon, tuna, and sardines as well as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Try Dietary Supplements
While it’s best to get our necessary nutrients from whole food, we sometimes don’t get all the nutrients we need from our meals.
That’s why it’s OK to take dietary supplements every once in a while. We’ve already talked about the importance of magnesium and omega–3 so here are a few more important supplements that act as natural anxiety remedies:
- Tryptophan: Tryptophan can be found in protein-rich foods. It plays a big part in the building of the mood-elevating chemical serotonin. It’s useful in reducing symptoms of general anxiety disorders and panic attacks.
- Fish Oil: Fish oils have a huge amount of omega–3s which, as mentioned, are important in healthy brain functions.
- Probiotics: Gut bacteria have a profound impact not just on your digestion but brain and mood as well. In fact, your gut bacteria make more than 30 neurotransmitters including serotonin and GABA (which controls impulses between nerve cells in the brain). Probiotics will help regulate gut bacteria and make sure they are in a healthy state.
Give Up Caffeine, Try Tea
Caffeine is good for keeping us awake but an excessive amount, just like sugar, messes with our brain and mood. Decrease the amount of caffeine in your day by foregoing the coffee or energy drink.
In fact, you can find a natural anxiety remedy in teas instead.
If you need caffeine, reach for green tea. It has a small amount of caffeine but is still more calming than stimulating. Green tea contains L-Theanine which reduces the response from stress hormones while sharpening focus.
Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon balm is a natural remedy for anxiety that has been used for many years. It reduces the stress hormone cortisol and strengthens the production of GABA, also known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, the neurotransmitter in charge of relaxation.
Chamomile tea is well known for its relaxing properties, which makes it an important adversary against stress. But it’s also extremely useful as a protectant against anxiety and depression.
There are many things in our everyday life that cause anxiety. So it makes sense to take a look at our routine and find out what activities we can change or add to provide anxiety relief.
Get More Exercise
Implementing regular exercise in your life can provide a positive boost to your overall health. But as we’ve written before, exercise is a great tool in managing anxiety.
It reduces stress by creating chemical changes in your brain and can act as a form of meditation. Your choice of exercise doesn’t have to be as extreme as CrossFit, either. Yoga, which can be done in a studio or your own living room, has shown to significantly decrease anxiety and stress.
Mindfulness Through Meditation and Breath
When we choose to be present with our thoughts, we spend less time worrying about the future or reminiscing about the past. That is the power of mindfulness.
It sounds simple but many of us aren’t trained to think that way. There are too many things pulling our attention.
Luckily we can practice mindfulness with the helpful tool of meditation and, even simpler, deep breathing.
Meditating helps us find our center and rediscover our breath.
Deep breathing helps us reset our breathing pattern, getting rid of the shallow erratic breaths from a panic attack and forcing us to focus on the present moment. Discover mindfulness with a few of our favorite deep breathing exercises here.
Practicing mindfulness and controlled breathing throughout the day is a powerful way to manage our anxious thoughts. It can be tough to do. If you need a helping hand throughout the day, try the Spire Stone. It was developed to sense shallow, erratic breathing patterns so you can become aware and correct it with a mindfulness boost.
Get a Restful Night of Sleep
Sleep is so incredibly important. Yet many of us still take it for granted. When we are well-rested, we are functioning at our very best. A restful sleep improves brain function, mood, the immune system, and more.
When we’re anxious, we can’t always get to sleep…and when we can’t get the sleep we need, we become more susceptible to anxiety.
Get the sleep you need. Exercise, meditation, and deep breathing can help you get there too. If you need more tips, you can find them here.
We’ve covered dietary supplements and lifestyle changes that can help with anxiety, but if you still need more support, there are a few herbal supplements you can reach for.
Valerian is an herbal supplement that dates back to Roman times. It’s known as “nature’s Valium” as it works to increase GABA levels in the brain. Take note: Valerian is strong, so don’t take it until you’re ready to go to bed.
Kava is a potent medicinal plant that many have found effective at treating anxiety. Like Valerian, it boosts the production of GABA which combats generalized anxiety disorder. Because of its potency, Kava should be taken carefully and should not be mixed with anti-anxiety medication.
Calm Down Naturally
Anxiety can be daunting but we shouldn’t feel powerless against it. There are many ways to manage and decrease its power over our lives. For some, prescription medication is the way to go and for others, a natural remedy is much better.
No matter which path you take, remember to do what feels best for you.