When it comes to well-being, we know a lot of people are looking for natural ways to heal and feel better. Many Americans suffer from anxiety ranging from mild cases to severe and debilitating disorders. If you are one of these people, discovering new ways to treat anxiety may be at the top of your list of things to do.
Here, we’ll show you some natural remedies to help treat or alleviate symptoms of anxiety. You’ll learn more about the symptoms and causes of the disorders and find out how to feel better using natural alternatives and medications.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders — including depression — affect more than 40 million adults in the United States alone (1). That’s almost twenty percent of the entire U.S. population. Research shows that anxiety disorders are largely treatable, but many don’t seek help due to the stigma surrounding the disorder.
Anxiety is a condition where fears and stress just don’t seem to go away. There are many different types of anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, and social phobia. Anxiety symptoms include panic attacks, excessive fear, and emotional responses to stressful situations. For each different anxiety disorder, there are unique triggers that may cause increased stress and fear levels. These can range from being around too many people to feeling trapped.
Anxiety attacks directly affect mental health. They can cause short-term symptoms including sweaty palms, dizziness, faint, numbness, and fear of dying. You may also experience an elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure.
Chronic anxiety can become so severe that it is difficult for people to leave their homes or accomplish basic tasks such as going to work or doing the grocery shopping. Chronic anxiety can also have harmful long-term effects on the nervous system by making it difficult to sleep or think clearly.
Best Natural Remedies For Anxiety Relief
1. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is known for having soothing properties that can induce relaxation.
There are two types of chamomile plant used to make chamomile tea: German chamomile and Roman chamomile. Both types of chamomile tea can help you distress and lower cortisol levels.
Compounds in chamomile tea inhibit the production of serotonin–the stress hormone. In fact, a randomized double-blind study conducted by Ph.D. researchers found that chamomile extract helped to significantly reduce anxiety when taken daily for a period of eight weeks (2).
2. Green Tea
Another potent beverage with anti-anxiety potential is green tea. That’s because green tea contains a powerful amino acid known as L-theanine that is responsible for increasing relaxation (3). Research shows that green tea inhibits a-amylase activity-a hallmark of stress. L-theanine can be deactivated by caffeine, so it’s best to limit your caffeine consumption if using green tea to minimize stress and anxiety.
3. Essential Oils
Fragrance has long been associated with memory and brain function. Smell is strongly connected to memory and can help you recall Christmas mornings and special occasions. Fragrances can also help to boost mood and increase relaxation.
Lavender oil is particularly useful for treating anxiety. Studies indicate there is growing evidence to back up the anxiety-decreasing effects of lavender essential oil in the treatment of nervous system disorders. Animal studies have shown that lavender oil may prevent or slow the onset of seizure and panic attacks. The evidence shows that lavender oil works to modulate GABA neurotransmissions and improves the production of dopamine (4).
4. Valerian Root
In Germany, valerian root has been used as a herbal supplement to help treat sleep disorders that may arise from anxiety disorders. A meta-analysis found that valerian root has few side effects and can alleviate mild to moderate insomnia (5). It may also boost blood sugar levels, helping to regulate spikes in mood and energy. Valerian root can be consumed in tea form as well.
5. Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon balm tea or Melissa tea is a popular herbal remedy for digestive issues and nervous system disorders. Drinking the tea can help induce relaxation and decrease inflammation. One study showed that lemon balm supplementation boosted mood and improved cognitive performance compared to a placebo (6).
6. Breathing Exercises
Controlling your breathing is an easy and effective way to decrease the chance of panic attacks or to minimize their impact once they’ve begun. Focus on breathing deeply using your stomach muscles to pull air deep into your lungs. Breathe in for four to eight seconds, hold for four seconds, and breathe out for four to eight seconds.
Focus on your breath and try to ignore outside stimuli that may be distracting or stressful. Listen to the sound of your breathing. Try turning off the lights or closing your eyes and sitting in a comfortable position to increase the relaxing effects.
Mindfulness meditation can help to decrease cortisol levels and improve relaxation. It can also help to take your mind off stress triggers and focus on being at peace within your own body and mind. Set aside twenty minutes every day to meditate. Settle into a comfortable position, play soothing music or nature sounds, and breathe deeply.
Recognize any negative thoughts and let them simply pass through your mind instead of dwelling on them. You can also take time out during the day for five to ten minutes of meditation if you feel particularly stressed out.
One of the best things you can do for your mind and body is to get regular exercise. Exercise releases endorphins—also known as happy hormones. Accomplishing a hard workout can also boost self-confidence and make you feel good about your efforts. Exercise functions as an outlet for you to work off your aggressions and frustrations in a healthy way. Try to do activities that increase your heart rate. Things like running, swimming, rowing, and hiking can all help ease anxiety levels and reduce stress.
9. Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods lack the nutrition you need to live a healthy life. People tend to experience anxiety more often when they are hungry or dehydrated. This is likely due to a decrease in your blood sugar.
Instead, focus on eating lots of leafy greens and healthy fats. Eat whole-grain foods and drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
10. Avoid Disastrous Thoughts
Many people who suffer from anxiety tend to think in terms of the worst-case scenario. When something goes wrong, they start feeling like disaster is about to strike and think of the worst possible outcomes. If you feel disastrous thoughts coming on, take a minute to do some breathing exercises or go for a short five-minute jog. Try to focus your thoughts on positive outcomes and don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by negative potentials.
Treating Anxiety With Natural Remedies For Stress
For severe cases of anxiety or panic disorders, prescription medications may be the only solution. Anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax and Valium can be obtained from a qualified healthcare professional. If you suffer from severe anxiety or no home remedies seem to help, consult your physician to explore your treatment options and consider taking anti-anxiety medications. While the medications may have side effects, they can also help you better manage your symptoms while finding ways to cope naturally.
It’s always a good idea to tell your personal care doctor about any herbal remedies you’re taking to treat serious diseases such as anxiety disorders and stress. Many herbs, supplements, and anxiety remedies can interact with other medications including those prescribed for anxiety. For minor cases, you can use natural remedies for anxiety to help ease symptoms.