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Anxiety, even in its mildest forms, can be debilitating depending on how it manifests in your life. While prescription medication may work for some, others may be looking for natural remedies for anxiety and stress.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, more than 40 million adult Americans live with an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety can include nervousness, fear, and worry. Still, many without anxiety disorders don’t understand that “just calm down” is not an effective treatment tactic (so just don’t say it, folks).
Managing anxiety, stress, and even panic attacks is all about finding ways to self-soothe in the moment. These natural remedies for anxiety may be your ticket to finding some calm in your stress storm.
Movement can be learning TikTok dances, water-walking with the SilverSneakers, mastering a new yoga pose, or hiking an uncharted trail. Exercise that you enjoy can boost endorphins, aka the “happy hormone.”
Sex also releases endorphins, so you decide how you want to move your body to find your bliss.
Time in the sun can do your body good. An ongoing lack of sun exposure, such as a lockdown and pandemic, can result in lowered serotonin levels.
Serotonin is a mood-boosting hormone that can make you feel calmer and more focused. If you can’t get direct access to sunlight and kiddie pools are still sold out at Target, you can try an at-home light therapy treatment.
If you find yourself scouring Facebook groups for cute dog photos, you may be craving the very real cuddle effect of a pet.
A 2015 study showed that sensory experiences like petting a dog can release oxytocin. This can help reduce stress and increase overall well-being. So tell Spot to settle in, you need some cuddle time.
For all of you who are team “But First, Coffee,” your java intake could be causing an increase in stress and anxiety. Jitters, anyone? A 2005 study found that caffeine increased anxiety, hostility, and symptoms among psychiatric patients.
To ease off the coffee, try incorporating an herbal tea into your routine. These caffeine-free beverages come in a wide variety of flavors.
Some herbal teas act as sleep aids while others serve as natural remedies for anxiety and stress. Chamomile and lavender are both known for their anxiety-easing benefits.
Despite what rise-n-grind culture would have you believe, sleep is actually good for you and not getting enough sleep can impact stress and anxiety levels.
The general recommendation is getting between 7 and 9 hours of restful sleep. Insomnia can be a common anxiety symptom. Limiting screen time and caffeine intake before bed along with setting a bedtime for yourself can help get your sleep on track.
Aromatherapy is a natural remedy for stress and anxiety that’s been in practice for the tune of thousands of years. Through both the sense of smell and skin application, aromatherapy comes in multiple forms.
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy recommends clary sage, lavender, neroli, roman chamomile, and rose as natural remedies for anxiety reduction.
Keep in mind that essential oils aren’t regulated by the FDA. Make sure to shop from reputable sellers.
One of the most common reasons folks try meditation is for stress reduction. Meditation as a mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce the inflammation response stress causes. A 2013 study found that mediation had the largest impact on those with the highest anxiety.
With a smartphone, mediation is at your fingertips. Mental health apps can provide specific guided meditations to tackle stress anxiety. Certain meditations can even be used to regulate your breathing during a panic attack and bring your body back to a more manageable state.
When a panic attack sets in, you may notice your heart rate increase and your breath becomes harder to catch. Box breathing is a technique that can serve as a natural remedy for anxiety attacks. This four-step process helps to reduce stress and improve mood.
- Sit upright and slowly exhale through your mouth to release all the air out of your lungs.
- Slowly inhale through your nose for 4 seconds as you fill your lungs back up with air, one section at a time until it feels like it’s moving into your abdomen.
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
- Exhale out of your mouth for 4 seconds, releasing the air from your lungs and abdomen.
- Hold your breath for another 4 seconds.
- Repeat the process about 4 times.
Chronic anxiety can chip away at your sense of reality, making you question yourself and those around you. Journaling can be an effective tool to help you get your thoughts back on track by focusing on facts rather than fears.
If you have chronic panic attacks, a therapist may suggest practicing a grounding technique called “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” that helps you get back in touch with the reality around you.
- Look for five things you can see around you.
- Observe four things you can touch around you.
- Listen for three things you can hear around you.
- Find two things you can smell around you.
- Think of one thing you can taste.
Cannabidiol oil or CBD is a derivative of the marijuana plant. Unlike it’s cannabis sister weed, CBD typically doesn’t contain THC (what gets you high).
For that reason, medical marijuana requires a prescription and CBD can be found readily at natural health stores in tincture or gummy form. CBD is still fairly new on the block, but initial studies have shown it can be a potential treatment for anxiety and stress.
Buyer beware: Sometimes trace amounts of THC can be found in CBD, which means you could fail a drug test.
Among the many natural remedies for anxiety that come in supplement form, the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha may be a standout. A 2014 study on the herb showed reduction in stress and anxiety both among patient reports and secondary measures.
Panic attacks can’t kill you, but try telling that to someone in the midst of one who is gasping for air. The experience can be jarring, intense, and frightening. Chronic panic attacks can create other long-term health effects.
When you feel that frenzy setting in, here are a few natural remedies for panic attack management.
- Name it. In the moment, a panic attack feels like a total loss of control. By labeling what’s happening as a panic attack, you can remind yourself that you have survived this before, and that it won’t last.
- Focus on your breathing. Getting in touch with your breath can be a strong grounding technique. Take deep belly breaths or practice box breathing and repeat until your body starts to become calmer.
- Shift your focus. Panic attacks can jolt your sense of reality. Focus on something within the room that is steady and get back in touch with your surroundings.
- Do something with your hands. Having a tactile response to anxiety or panic can also be grounding. This can be something as simple as holding an ice cube or as complicated as finishing an entire adult coloring book.
Anxiety disorders are common, but that doesn’t mean you need to suffer in silence. If natural remedies for anxiety don’t help and symptoms remain persistent, seek help from a medical professional for best next steps.
Major signs it’s time to reach out include:
- Your job or relationships are being affected by your anxiety or panic attacks.
- You’re regularly sick or in pain.
- You’ve started having anxiety or panic attacks after taking a new medication.
- You feel depressed.
There’s a plethora of natural remedies for anxiety. Panic, stress, and anxiety manifest in different ways for each individual so not every method will work for everyone. Make changes to your routine and see what remedies leave you feeling more chill and in control.