An increasing number of people are seeking natural remedies for anxiety treatment. Anxiety is a common issue worldwide — more than 18% of adults are affected each year in the United States alone.
Many factors can lead to anxiety, including genetics, environment, and lifestyle. Experiencing some anxiety is a part of life, but when it goes unchecked, your mental and physical health suffer.
The good news is there are many natural anxiety treatments that can potentially reduce your symptoms.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to situations that create stress. It often manifests as feelings of worry or fear in response to harmful stimuli, like the feeling you get when you narrowly miss a car accident.
In general, anxiety happens when your body senses danger. Higher levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone in the body, are produced to heighten your senses. It is your instinctual response to a threat.
Anxiety can present in different ways for some people, including nightmares and panic attacks, but common physical symptoms include:
- Elevated heart rate
- Difficulty concentrating
- Rapid breathing
As anxiety becomes more pervasive and uncontrollable, it becomes a mental health condition rather than just a reaction to specific situations.
If your anxiousness impedes your everyday life, you may have an anxiety or panic disorder. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to talk to a mental health professional or functional medicine provider about treatment options.
How can I cure anxiety naturally?
There are natural remedies that can help address anxiety. Some of them are as simple as adjusting your daily routines related to sleep, exercise, and diet. There are also ways to improve mindfulness, therapy, and herbal supplements with remarkable calming effects.
Caution: It’s wise to get medical advice from your physician or healthcare provider before starting a new routine, or making significant changes, especially if you are dealing with additional medical conditions.
Prescription medications, such as antidepressant SSRIs, anti-anxiety medications, or sedatives like benzodiazepines, can be used to treat symptoms of severe anxiety. These pharmaceuticals can be beneficial when other options have not been successful, but they can also be highly addictive. Medications like these are often accompanied by a laundry list of potentially dangerous side effects.
How do you get rid of anxiety naturally? For many people, you can naturally get rid of anxiety symptoms with techniques like therapy, supplements, and diet modifications.
1. Physical Activity
Physical exercise is critical for the maintenance of good physical and mental health. Regular exercise has been shown to significantly reduce potential health issues that lead to mortality in men and women by up to 27%.
Just a few hours of moderate- to high-intensity exercise each week can reduce the risk of symptoms of anxiety and depression. When you get moving, your body produces more serotonin, a chemical your brain releases to regulate your mood.
Hit the Gym
Any kind of workout is better than no exercise at all. If you’re headed to the gym, and looking for the best exercises for anxiety relief, be sure to get some cardio in.
Participants in an anxiety exercise study experienced significant anxiety reductions immediately following aerobic activity. Even when measured a week following, the aerobic exercise group continued to have less anxiety sensitivity compared to the control group!
Try Yoga or Pilates
If the gym is not your cup of tea, low-impact exercises like yoga and pilates can get your body moving. Exercises like yoga have meditation and relaxation qualities as well that help ease anxiety.
Signing up for yoga classes can be a way to keep you committed, but group exercise also helps people feel more comfortable during the workout and calmer afterward.
Go for a Walk Outside
Did you know that your exposure to sunlight can impact your mental health? It’s true! You can kill two birds with one stone by going for regular walks outside. You’ll get some exercise and exposure to direct sunlight, helping your body produce vitamin D.
Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient for a healthy mind and body. If your lifestyle keeps you out of the sun too much, your vitamin D levels may be low, increasing your risk for anxiety.
Some research has also found that spending just 10 minutes in nature can help reduce the effects of mental and physical stress and help you feel happier. While you should avoid excessive time in the sun without sunscreen, a moderate amount of sunshine promotes wellness.
2. Improve Your Diet
Diet significantly impacts health more than we often think.
Low blood sugar levels or mild dehydration can cause mood changes. Chemicals in many processed foods may also affect mood, and the inflammation caused by too much sugar has been linked to a wide variety of health conditions.
Foods can affect people in different ways. Pay attention to your eating habits and note how you feel after eating certain foods, even hours later. Ask yourself whether you’re getting enough fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, as these can help support brain and mental health.
Adding the right foods and natural supplements for anxiety can improve your symptoms. The following are specific vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients that help reduce anxiety.
Magnesium helps the body maintain a strong immune system, normal nerve and muscle function and supports bone and heart health. To get more of this mineral in your diet you can include:
- Dark chocolate
- Black beans
Zinc is an essential mineral involved in cellular metabolism and enzyme function. It is often recommended when someone has a cold and has been linked to a lower incidence and prevalence of pneumonia.
Zinc deficiency causes anxiety-like behaviors. Oysters provide 673% of your daily value of zinc in a single 3-oz serving! If you aren’t a shellfish fan, you can get zinc in pork, beef, chickpeas, and other beans.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Salmon and flaxseeds are both rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It’s well known that these fatty acids are necessary for optimal brain health. People suffering from anxiety that incorporated supplements or more foods with omega-3 fatty acids seemed to experience reduced anxiety symptoms.
Fermented foods that contain probiotics can interact with neuroticism, a trait associated with negative mental health symptoms. Add kimchi, pickles, or sauerkraut to your diet for a probiotic boost.
B vitamins play a role in the synthesis and regulation of neurotransmitters. Many of the symptoms of anxiety come from neurotransmitter actions. A healthy amount of B vitamins help your body regulate mood and anxiety.
Oxidative stress is associated with mental health disorders. Antioxidants protect against this stress and are a potent natural anxiety remedy. Look for meals with spices and leafy greens for more antioxidants.
3. Natural Anxiety Relief from Herbs
Certain herbs and herbal teas (many of which are available in supplement form) have shown promising results in reducing symptoms of anxiety. Valerian and chamomile, in particular, have been shown to help with stress, anxiousness and improve sleeping habits.
Chamomile tea may be an excellent herbal remedy for treating anxiety, as it helps to reduce stress and improve sleep quality. The existing research on safety, while not extensive, does suggest that chamomile is also safe for long-term use. Some people do experience side effects, so make sure to self-monitor your physical response if you are trying chamomile for the first time.
If you’re wondering what natural supplement is best for anxiety, ashwagandha is high on the list. The calming effects this herb possesses have been compared to lorazepam. Supplementing with ashwagandha can lead to significant anxiety symptom improvement, comparable even to psychotherapy.
Drinking kava helps with mood and relaxation. Researchers are still working to understand the interactions responsible for mood regulation, but results are promising.
CBD is a compound found in cannabis and hemp plants. Unlike marijuana from full cannabis, isolated CBD oil (also known as cannabidiol) doesn’t have psychoactive components and doesn’t produce a “high” like its THC counterpart. This makes it potentially safer to use daily.
Studies have shown that valerian positively impacts stress and anxiety reduction. It may also have some sedative components, which is why it is often found as an ingredient in natural sleep aids. Some people report side effects of drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches, so be aware of how you respond if you begin taking this herb.
Not to be confused with passionfruit, this herb is believed to increase the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, making you feel more relaxed.
Lavender is a notable calming herb. It has long been used in teas and aromatherapies for its sedative effects. Lavender is generally safe to ingest orally. However some report constipation, so be mindful of lavender teas if you have IBS.
This herb contributes to several health benefits, including nervous system relaxation, antiviral support, and an aid for those experiencing anxiety. Take this herb before bed for a decrease in cortisol and overall relaxation.
Green Tea (L-theanine)
The amino acid L-theanine can be found in green herbal tea and some mushrooms. It is rich in antioxidants, decreases stress, and helps with cognitive function. Switching to green tea instead of coffee is a great way to get extra L-theanine in your diet.
4. Mindfulness & Relaxation
Being intentional about your mental state and mindfulness help manage your anxiety. There are plenty of methods to relax your mind, from sitting in a hot bath to setting time to meditate.
Meditation has been linked to many physical and mental health benefits. A consistent meditation practice can reduce stress and improve sleep, both elements that significantly impact the occurrence of anxiety.
A study from Johns Hopkins suggests that 30 minutes of meditation each day may help with anxiety and depression. Researchers found that some people may experience as much benefit from daily meditation as from medications.
Meditation can be challenging to cultivate, so consider this guide to make meditation a daily routine in your life.
Did you know you can calm your nervous system down by copying the relaxed breathing pattern of someone else? Breathwork can lower blood pressure and stress.
Writing can be surprisingly therapeutic. While you are free to journal about anything you wish, writing down your positive thoughts and emotions can help foster future positive thoughts and emotions.
When you are feeling stressed, take a deep breath and write a little bit to gain composure.
If you aren’t sure what triggers your anxiety, therapy with a licensed professional may help. A trained therapist may help you work through trauma at the root of your anxiety and help you develop coping skills for navigating triggers and stressors in your life.
Types of therapy that may help relieve anxiety include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is often effective for people who struggle with anxiety, at least in the short term. The focus of this treatment is to help patients understand the connections between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Patients with anxiety who undergo CBT have low relapse rates of 0-14% up to a year after therapy ends.
It has been studied very little, but there is limited evidence that certain types of art therapy may reduce nervousness and anxious feelings.
Exposure therapy involves exposing the subject to the object of their fears to break cycles of dysfunctional anxiety responses. The practice of virtual reality exposure therapy seems to have significant benefits for many anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and agoraphobia.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR, is bilateral stimulation (usually side-to-side eye movement) used to help patients walk through traumatic experiences at the root of mental disorders. A 2020 meta-analysis of clinical trials suggests that EMDR may reduce symptoms of anxiety, panic, and abnormal behavior.
6. Complementary Therapy
Not everyone responds well to what is considered traditional or talk therapy. The good news is as we learn more about the brain and anxiety, alternative types of therapy are growing in popularity. If psychotherapy hasn’t been working well for you, or you aren’t ready for that step, consider one of these complementary therapy methods.
Essential oils have long been used for their aromatic properties. Recent science confirms that aromatherapy can improve sleep and lower anxiety and stress. With a relatively low cost for both oils and diffusers, this is a great option for reducing acute stress and anxiety.
Studies on the effects of bergamot and lavender oil, when used for aromatherapy, showed near-immediate improvements in stress indicators, such as blood pressure and heart rate. Participants also experienced improved heart rate variability, a signal of good sleep quality.
Lavender oil may cause a consistent short-term impact on heart rate variability and better parasympathetic regulation. Women who used lavender for aromatherapy in one 12-week study experienced better sleep.
Bergamot also appears to have significant immediate effects on perceived anxiety as well as cortisol and alpha-amylase levels in saliva.
What gets rid of anxiety fast? Essential oils, especially lavender and bergamot oils, relieve anxiety fast by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Breathing exercises combined with aromatherapy can provide rapid anxiety relief.
For some people, needles cause anxiety, but for most, the tiny needles used in acupuncture can positively stimulate the body. Acupuncture has the potential to reduce cortisol levels, thereby relieving anxiety.
Petting an animal releases oxytocin, reduces cortisol, and lowers blood pressure. Having social interaction with animals can reduce loneliness.
7. Lifestyle Changes
Certain lifestyle habits negatively impact both your mental and physical health. We’ve already touched on curbing a sedentary lifestyle, but it is also important to cut unhealthy habits.
Set a Sleep Routine
We cannot stress how important it is to get a good night’s rest. Your body takes this time to recover and regenerate. If you have trouble sleeping at night, try making a bedtime routine.
A better sleep routine includes:
- No screens – no nighttime scrolling
- Avoid a large meal before bed
- Going to bed at the same time
- A cool dark room
Many people turn to cigarette smoking as a stress-relieving activity. But the data suggests that rather than reducing stress, long-term cigarette use may actually worsen anxiety.
Research has linked smoking with the development of anxiety disorders. The earlier a person begins smoking, the more likely they will develop anxiety.
Certain chemicals in cigarettes, such as nicotine, may impact neural pathways and neurotransmitters in the brain that are linked to anxiety.
Alcohol is another habit that is culturally associated with stress relief. This may be true in the short term, as alcohol has a sedative nature. But just as with cigarettes, studies show that drinking alcohol may be strongly linked to anxiety, as well as a number of other health risks.
Many studies suggest a decrease in alcohol consumption can help reduce not only anxiety but depression, too. Alcohol can also disrupt your natural sleep habits, further contributing to anxiety symptoms.
If you think that your alcohol consumption may negatively impact your life, consider one of these strategies for reducing or eliminating your drinking habit.
Cut Excess Caffeine
Many Americans turn to caffeine daily for energy, but too much caffeine can worsen your anxiety.
Caffeine has been shown to increase alertness by increasing brain activity, which can be a problem if you are predisposed to anxiety. Caffeine consumption can even result in panic attacks in those who are susceptible.
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When to Seek Help
It is never a bad thing to seek professional advice when you are dealing with symptoms of anxiety, and we are always here to help.
For a holistic approach to addressing anxiety for patients in Colorado, set up a free consultation today.
Not in Colorado, but still want to learn more about how to improve your mental and all-body health? Follow us on Instagram for educational tips and information about upcoming group health coaching sessions (available to anyone in the US!).
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