Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness within the United States, as it affects over 40 million American adults. For many, life with anxiety can be debilitating, preventing them from doing normal activities in their daily lives. If you’ve ever experienced uneasiness or nervousness about an impending event, you’ve felt those feelings of anxiety that many adults are plagued with on a constant basis.
This disorder can take shape in various ways such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic attacks, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and phobias. Those who suffer from anxiety disorders find themselves dealing with uncontrollable feelings, feelings of panic for no apparent reasons, obsessive thoughts, and many other symptoms.
Because anxiety can come in all different levels of severity and can be difficult to manage, most people turn to prescription medications to ease their symptoms. These medications typically come with a long list of side effects that can sometimes make things even harder for anxiety sufferers.
If you’re looking for some natural remedies for anxiety, we have eight tips you can use to help make your anxiety more manageable…
Table of contents
- 1. Supplements
- 2. Essential Oils
- 3. Exercise
- 4. Meditation
- 5. Be in Nature
- 6. Reduce Foods and Drinks That Cause Anxiety
- 7. Take a Hot Bath With Epsom Salts
- 8. Change Up Your Diet
- Using Natural Remedies for Anxiety
If you’re seeking natural remedies for anxiety, a supplement (or set of supplements) might do the trick for you. There are many natural supplements available to over the counter today that can help relieve symptoms without increasing your dependence on it (as a prescription drug might). The best part is that, unlike prescription medications, many of the supplements you can take won’t give you crazy side effects or mess with your hormones. Below are five that may help with your anxiety symptoms:
Valerian Root has been used to treat anxiety for centuries. It provides those who take it with a relaxed feeling, which can ease feelings of uneasiness and distress. Scientists believe it works by increasing the amount of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is responsible for regulating nerve cells and has a relaxing effect. Prescription drugs such as alprazolam (also known as Xanax) and diazepam (also known as Valium) work in a similar way, by increasing the amount of GABA. If you want to try it for anxiety, take it in the morning or during the day to see results. While you can get teas that contain valerian root, you might find that taking it in a pill form is easiest.
Much like valerian root, chamomile has also been used to treat anxiety symptoms for centuries. The reason it works is because it helps to calm your mind and body, putting you at ease when those feeling of anxiety creep up. You can get a good dose of chamomile by drinking it in a tea or taking it in pill form.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to test the effects of chamomile extract in patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). They found that when compared with the placebo, chamomile may have some benefits for some people with mild to moderate GAD.
You’ve likely heard that lavender is often used to promote feelings of calm and relaxation. It’s why you find this ingredient in so many candles, lotions, and skincare products. In a multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of lavender oil, researchers found lavender has a positive effect in helping to treat Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) when compared to Lorazepam (a prescription benzodiazepine).
Green Tea & L-Theanine
It’s no secret that green tea provides a lot of great benefits for your mind and body. It’s been used in Chinese culture for centuries because of all of its amazing benefits. The reason green tea can work well to treat anxiety is because it contains various polyphenolic compounds such as flavonoids and the amino acid, L-theanine. Both of these work to help reduce stress and depression. Because green tea has caffeine in it, which can raise stress levels, you may want to consider taking an L-Theanine supplement instead.
Kava root is one supplement you might not be familiar with, but it’s definitely one to check out if you have anxiety. Various studies have shown that kava extract is superior to a placebo as a symptomatic treatment for anxiety. It’s been shown to relax your muscles, improve cognitive abilities, and act as a mild sedative. To promote relaxed, calm feelings, you can drink tea with kava root or take it in pill form.
2. Essential Oils
Essential oils have been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including anxiety. When choosing an essential oil to combat feelings of anxiety, you’ll want to choose ones that promote a state of calm and relaxation. The good news is, there are a lot that do this and they won’t leave you dealing with any nasty side effects.
To use essential oils, you can diffuse them in your home or apply certain ones topically (always check to see if they’re safe for skin). Below are five of the best essential oils to help with anxiety:
As mentioned above, lavender is pretty powerful when it comes to dealing with anxiety. It provides many benefits, such as giving you a relaxed feeling whenever you inhale it. People have used lavender oil to promote restful sleep, decrease irritability, soothe a nervous stomach, and also to ease panic attacks. Studies have also shown that inhaling lavender directly reduces stress, anxiety, and the heart rate.
Rose has also been found to provide many of the same results as lavender. It can help relieve anxiety, depression, and can also ease panic attacks. While it comes in second to lavender, it still provides great benefits for those suffering from anxiety, stress, or depression.
Research has found that using ylang ylang can promote a relaxing effect, which help to rid feelings of depression and sadness that people with generalized anxiety disorder often feel. Ylang ylang has also been shown to reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and also reduce blood pressure, both of which can be increased during anxiety attacks.
Another calming essential oil, bergamot has often been used to help with insomnia (something many anxiety suffers experience). It has also been shown to promote relaxation and reduce feelings of agitation. A study on rats also showed bergamot was effective in reducing corticosteroid responses.
This particular herb has been found to provide people with a tranquil energy and a reduction in anxiety by activating ion channels in the brain. A study done on hospice patients with terminal cancer found it helps with pain and depression as well.
It likely comes as no surprise that exercise is on this list because it provides tremendous benefits for both our bodies and our minds. While many people don’t want to take the time out of their busy lives to exercise, it can be incredibly helpful for those suffering from such things as anxiety, depression, and elevated levels of stress.
Regular exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety in both people and animals. A 2013 study found that there were differences in the hippocampus of running mice and the hippocampus of sedentary mice. For the mice that were able to run, they were able to handle stressful situations much better than those that had been sedentary. The study proved that running improves anxiety regulation by engaging local inhibitory mechanisms in the ventral hippocampus.
Although this study was conducted on mice, the positive impact that exercise has on the human brain is largely the same (other studies prove the same). Therefore, a regular exercise routine will give you the ability to handle stressful situations much more easily and can also work as a mood-booster as well as some of the supplements and essential oils above.
When you struggle with anxiety, you’ll likely find that your mind is constantly racing with worrying thoughts. This usually puts you in an even worse state of anxiety, forming what can seem like a never ending circle of anxiousness. This can be incredibly debilitating and overwhelming for many people. One way to combat this is to quiet the mind, which mediation can help with immensely.
Meditation allows you to calm your mind and body while also promoting feelings of restfulness and relaxation. A study that was published in the Psychological Bulletin showed that practicing meditation provided improvement for negative personality traits, anxiety, and stress. When practiced daily, your brain will develop new pathways that will help you combat feelings of anxiety.
It’s important to note that you might not get the hang of meditation the first time you try it. Don’t let it get you discouraged. Instead, keep practicing. The more you meditate, the better you will get at it and you’ll be able to reap the rewards. To make the process easier for you, search for some meditation CDs online or find meditation videos on YouTube that you can follow along with. There are also apps you can download to your phone, such as Calm and Headspace.
The best part about meditation is you can start it right now. If you’re feeling the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, use the guided meditation video below to help ease your mind.
5. Be in Nature
It turns out, being outside in nature has a positive impact on the symptoms of anxiety. In fact, a study that was conducted by the University of Queensland and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions states people may need a minimum “dose of nature.” The reason for this is that they found people who visited parks for 30 minutes or more each week were less likely to have high blood pressure or poor mental health when compared to those who didn’t visit the park.
Regularly visiting the park and being outside in nature have also been found to reduce the risks of heart disease, stress, anxiety, and depression. So, if you’re battling with anxiety, it would be worth your time to spend some time outdoors. Get outside during the day and go for a walk. If you have to work, move your office outside for the day and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. You’re sure to notice an improvement in your mood when you soak up a little vitamin D, making it one of the best natural remedies for anxiety.
6. Reduce Foods and Drinks That Cause Anxiety
Studies have shown that the foods and drinks we consume can cause anxiety. While many foods provide a sense of calm, others act as stimulants and can exacerbate problems that those with anxiety deal with. To help prevent symptoms of anxiety, you’ll want to avoid these foods and drinks:
- Coffee and Other Caffeinated Drinks: It’s pretty obvious that coffee and other caffeinated drinks, such as sodas, are stimulants. If you’re dealing with anxiety, drinking these aren’t doing you any favors. Many people rely on these drinks to boost their energy levels, but it also inhibits the levels of serotonin in your brain. When your serotonin levels are suppressed, it can cause depressed feelings and make you irritable. Research has shown that excess use of caffeine leads to much more than just anxiety. It can disrupt your sleep schedule, lead to depression, and make you even lose your appetite.
- Candy: We hate to break it to you, but that sweet tooth is bad news for those who have anxiety. The reason it’s troubling is because sugar gets quickly absorbed into our bloodstreams, which causes an initial boost of energy. Your body has to produce extra insulin in order to remove the sugar from your bloodstream, which ultimately results in a crash. When you have crashed, it leaves you feeling tired and dealing with low mood levels. This applies not just to candy, but also to anything else with a lot of added sugar, honey, and corn syrup.
- Alcohol: While many turn to alcohol to relieve the stress of their daily lives, it may actually be making matters worse. Alcohol is a depressant and also a diuretic. Research has shown that heavy drinking made it impossible for mice to control a learned fear response. This creates a direct link between alcoholism and anxiety disorders. If you’re going to drink alcohol, do so in moderation and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and flush out your system.
- Processed Foods: Researchers have found that eating a diet that contains a lot of processed and fatty foods can increase your risk for depression. One study found that people who primarily ate fried foods, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and sweetened desserts had a 58% higher risk of depression than those who ate a diet that was rich in fish and vegetables.
7. Take a Hot Bath With Epsom Salts
Is there anything more relaxing than taking a nice, hot bath? Probably not. That’s why it has made our list of natural remedies for anxiety. However, you don’t want to just take any old bath. You’ll want to take one with Epsom salt.
Epsom salt baths can ease feelings of stress and put you in a relaxed mood, which is perfect for calming the worried minds of those with anxiety. When you’re stressed, your body gets drained of magnesium. Dissolving Epsom salt in water allows your body to absorb the magnesium it contains through your skin. It’s the magnesium that promotes feelings of calm and relaxation, thus easing the symptoms of anxiety. You may find that it also gives you an energy boost and reduces irritability.
8. Change Up Your Diet
We previously mentioned some foods and drinks to avoid when you have anxiety, but now we’re going to share some foods you should try to incorporate into your diet to combat feelings of anxiety:
- Asparagus: Many of those who have been diagnosed with depression had low levels of folic acid. Asparagus is great for replenishing this necessary vitamin.
- Avocado: Avocados are proof that you shouldn’t be scared of adding fats into your diet. Healthy fats, that is. Your body needs the nutrients that healthy fats provide. Avocados provide you with this, plus plenty of B vitamins. B vitamins have been shown to be stress-busters, which is great for anxiety sufferers.
- Blueberries: Packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, blueberries are also a great way to reduce stress. Our bodies need both antioxidants and vitamin C to repair and protect our cells.
- Salmon: Salmon is jam-packed with omega-3 fatty acids. It’s important to make sure you get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet because it helps to ease anxiety.
- Turkey: Turkey contains tryptophan, which tells your brain to release serotonin. Serotonin is the chemical that boosts your mood and can even make you feel calmer. In fact, you might find that the tryptophan in turkey makes you feel tired.
Using Natural Remedies for Anxiety
Before adding supplements into your daily routine or making any drastic changes, you will want to consult with your doctor first. It’s also important to never stop taking your prescribed anxiety medications without talking to your doctor.
All of the remedies in this post have been used to help reduce anxiety symptoms in others and they may work for you, however there is no guarantee. All you can do is research and try certain remedies to see how they impact your symptoms.
If you have any questions about the remedies or supplements mentioned in this article, feel free to leave a comment below!