10 Ways to Reduce Anxiety Naturally

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or worry that can be caused by what researchers believe is a combination of factors ranging from genetics to environment to brain chemistry.

Some common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • increased heart rate
  • rapid breathing
  • restlessness
  • trouble concentrating

However it is important to note that anxiety manifests in different ways for different people. While one person may experience butterfly sensations in their stomach another person may have panic attacks nightmares or painful thoughts.

That being said there is a difference between everyday anxiety and an anxiety disorder. It’s one thing to feel anxious about new things or stress but it can be an illness when it reaches an uncontrollable or excessive level and starts to affect your quality of life.

Some anxiety disorders include:

  • panic disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • separation anxiety
  • illness anxiety
  • phobia
  • generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • social anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorders can be treated in a number of ways. A common treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which helps give people the tools to cope with anxiety when it occurs.

There are also certain medications like antidepressants and sedatives that balance brain chemicals and prevent anxiety attacks. They can avoid even the most severe symptoms.

If you want to take a more natural route though there are ways to help you fight anxiety.

You can adjust habits like exercise sleep and diet. You can also try something completely new like aromatherapy or meditation. No matter what your lifestyle demands there is a natural way to help reduce anxiety for everyone.

1. Stay active

Exercising regularly isn’t just about your physical health—it’s also great for your mental health.

A 2013 study found that people with anxiety disorders reporting high levels of physical activity were better at preventing anxiety symptoms.

There could be multiple reasons for this. Exercise can take your attention away from the things that make you anxious.

Raising your heart rate also changes brain chemicals creating more room for anti-anxiety neurochemicals such as:

  • serotonin
  • gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
  • brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
  • endocannabinoids

According to the American Psychological Association (APA) regular exercise can improve concentration and willpower which can help relieve some anxiety symptoms.

When it comes to what type of exercise it’s more of a personal preference. If you’re looking to really raise your heart rate something like a HIIT class (high-intensity interval training) or running is your best bet.

However if you want to start with less impactful exercises like Pilates and yoga they may be just as good for your mental health.

2. Steer clear of alcohol

Because it is a natural sedative drinking alcohol may provide some relief at first. However

research showed a link between anxiety and alcohol use with anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorder (AUD) co-occurring.

A 2017 review. A study of 63 different studies showed that reducing alcohol intake can improve anxiety and depression.

Heavy drinking can disturb the balance of neurotransmitters which may contribute to positive mental health. This disturbance creates an imbalance that can lead to certain anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety may increase temporarily during early sobriety but improve in the long run.

Alcohol has also been shown to disrupt your body’s natural ability to sleep by interfering with sleep homeostasis. As we’ll point out later getting a good night’s sleep can be very helpful when fighting anxiety.

3. Consider quitting smoking cigarettes

Smokers often reach for a cigarette during times of stress. However like drinking a drink and taking a puff when you’re stressed it’s a quick fix but can increase anxiety over time.

Research shows that the earlier you start smoking in your life the higher your risk of developing anxiety disorders later in life. Research has also shown that nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke alter anxiety-related pathways in the brain.

If you want to quit smoking there are many different ways to get started. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends finding a safe alternative to cigarettes such as toothpicks.

You can also develop habits that may distract you to create an environment that works for your smoke-free life. Plus you can create a plan with a support system that can provide everything from encouragement to distraction.

4. Limit caffeine intake

If you have chronic anxiety caffeine is not your friend. Caffeine can cause jitters and jitters neither of which is good if you’re feeling anxious.

Research suggests that caffeine may cause or worsen anxiety disorders. It can also cause panic attacks in people with panic disorder. In some people eliminating caffeine may significantly improve anxiety symptoms.

Similar to alcohol caffeine and anxiety are often associated with caffeine’s ability to alter brain chemistry.

For example, a 2008 study. It has been shown that caffeine increases alertness by blocking the brain chemical adenosine which makes you feel tired while triggering the release of adrenaline.

To sum up caffeine is safe for most people to consume in moderation.

However if you want to reduce or completely cut down on caffeine you need to first slowly reduce the amount of caffeine you drink each day.

Start quenching your thirst by replacing these drinks with water. Not only does this satisfy your body’s need for fluids it also helps you flush out caffeine from your body and keep you hydrated.

Cutting down on caffeine gradually over a few weeks can help adjust the habit without causing the body to quit.

5. Prioritize a good night’s sleep

Sleep has been shown time and time again to be an essential part of good mental health.

Although a 2012 survey found that nearly a third of adults get less than 6 hours of sleep a night the CDC recommends adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day.

You can make sleep a priority by:

  • Only sleep at night when you are tired
  • not reading or watching TV in bed
  • Not using your phone tablet or computer in bed
  • If you can’t sleep don’t toss in bed or go to another room
  • Avoid caffeinated meals and nicotine before bed
  • keeping your room dark and cool
  • Write down your troubles before bed
  • Go to bed at the same time every night

6. Meditate and practice mindfulness

A major goal of meditation is to be fully aware of the present moment including noticing all thoughts in a non-judgmental way. This can bring peace and satisfaction by improving your ability to consciously tolerate all thoughts and feelings.

Meditation can relieve stress and anxiety and is a major aspect of CBT.

Research by Johns Hopkins shows that 30 minutes of meditation a day can relieve some anxiety symptoms and act as an antidepressant.

7. Eat a balanced diet

Low blood sugar levels Dehydration or chemicals in processed foods such as artificial flavors artificial colors and preservatives may cause mood changes in some people. A diet high in sugar may also affect temperament.

If your anxiety increases after eating check your eating habits. Stay hydrated avoid processed foods and eat a balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates fruits and vegetables and lean protein.

8. Practice deep breathing

Shallow fast breathing is common in anxiety. It can cause a fast heartbeat dizziness or lightheadedness and even panic attacks.

Deep breathing exercises — the deliberate process of taking slow even deep breaths — can help restore normal breathing patterns and reduce anxiety.

9. Try aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a holistic healing method that has been used by humans for thousands of years. The practice uses natural plant extracts and essential oils to promote physical mental and spiritual health and well-being. Its goal is to enhance physical and mental health.

Essential oils produced from natural plant extracts can be inhaled directly or added to a warm bath or diffuser. Aromatherapy advice:

  • help you relax
  • help you sleep
  • boost mood
  • reduce heart rate and blood pressure

Some essential oils thought to relieve anxiety are:

  • bergamot
  • lavender
  • clary sage
  • grapefruit
  • ylang ylang

10. Drink chamomile tea

A cup of chamomile tea is a common home remedy to calm tense nerves and promote sleep.

A 2014 study suggests that chamomile may also be a powerful ally in the fight against GAD. The study found that people who took German chamomile capsules (220 mg up to 5 times a day) had a greater drop in scores on tests that measure anxiety symptoms than those who took a placebo.

Another 2005 study found that chamomile extract helped sleep-disordered rats fall asleep. Researchers believe that the tea may act like benzodiazepines bind to benzodiazepine receptors and have benzodiazepine-like hypnotic activity.

If you’re feeling anxious the thoughts above may help you calm down.

Keep in mind that home remedies may help with anxiety but they are not a substitute for professional help. Increased anxiety may require treatment or prescription medication. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.

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