Anxiety is often a very regular part of life. We are constantly presented with various stressors, whether it be work deadlines, taking a big exam, or personal stressors. Although the presence of daily stressors and anxiety can be normal, it does not mean it has to go unmanaged. There are many ways to manage symptoms and treat anxiety, including therapy, medication, TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), etc. There are also natural ways to treat anxiety, including lifestyle changes and coping strategies. Quality healthcare isn’t a one size fits all approach, it’s vital to find what works best for you.
Here are some examples of ways to naturally reduce anxiety:
#1) Stay Active
Staying active is a great way to naturally reduce anxiety. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, also known as the brain’s “feel good” hormones. You don’t have to overexert yourself, but just try some yoga or take a quick walk. Not only can it help you get your mind off things, but you might also be able to curb some anxiety.
Practicing meditation can not only promote relaxation but can also be used as a natural stress reliever. Research shows that there are many benefits to meditation, including stress management, increasing self-awareness, improved sleep, and symptom management for many mental and physical ailments. There are various ways to practice meditation, such as guided meditation, mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation, focused meditation, and many more. If you need a good place to start, check out Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. She has free yoga videos for all levels. If you’re brand-new to yoga, watch her Yoga For Beginners and Foundations of Yoga series. These are designed to give you the tools to build a happy, healthy at-home yoga practice.
Try setting 10 minutes aside to sit down in a quiet setting so you can focus on your thoughts, and breathing can be remarkably effective. Make sure to be open-minded with yourself, and allow your thoughts to pass through with no judgment. Just notice your thoughts, let them pass, and keep breathing.
#3) Avoid Alcohol, Tobacco, and Substance Use
Research shows that the use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, etc., can not only add to one’s anxiety, but they can often be a direct cause of it. The use of alcohol can affect many neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. The use of nicotine can cause a hindrance to acetylcholine production in the brain. When these neurotransmitters’ production is interfered with, the brain’s chemistry can become disrupted, resulting in increased anxiety or panic attacks. Avoid excess use of drugs and alcohol to reduce anxiety overall.
#4) Limit Caffeine Usage
The use of caffeine can also be a major contributor to anxiety. Caffeine can be a great tool if you’re feeling tired or drowsy as it is a stimulant that works by blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter that is key in the sleep drive. However, caffeine also works by releasing adrenaline to boost energy. A little adrenaline might help with morning grogginess, but excess amounts can contribute to increased anxiety levels.
#5) Deep Breathing Techniques
Research shows that the use of deep breathing can be used to stimulate parts of the parasympathetic nervous system, which handles the body’s resting activities. This works because deep breathing slows the heart rate, stimulates the vagus nerve, and promotes oxygen exchange.
Aromatherapy involves essential oils for various therapeutic benefits. One of the many benefits is alleviating anxiety through stimulation of the amygdala by using olfactory receptors. There are many ways to use essential oils, such as oil diffusers, body care, scents sticks, candles, etc. Common essential oils that are often used for anxiety include lavender oil for its relaxing properties, eucalyptus, and lemongrass oil for its mood-boosting properties. Try aromatherapy to induce relaxation and decrease stress and anxiety levels.
#7) Grounding Techniques
Grounding techniques are designed to help you connect or “ground” yourself to what is happening at that exact moment. Research shows that using distractions and current surroundings can reduce anxiety by distracting yourself from those anxious feelings. Some examples of grounding techniques are:
- 5-4-3-2-1 Methods: Try listing things that are around you with your senses, starting from 5. 5 things you hear, 4 things you see, 3 things you feel, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste.
- Run some water on your hands, alternating between cold and warm water
- Focus on external noises around you and see if you can recognize everything you hear.
- Bite into something with a distinct taste, such as a lemon or some coffee.
#8) Go Outside
Studies have shown that going outside can greatly benefit one’s mental health, linking nature to cognitive improvements and emotional wellness. The next time you feel some stress or anxiety coming on, try to go outside for a little bit. It can not only provide a change of scenery and a new environment to distract you from the present moment but can also provide overall mood improvements.
#9) Eat Nutritiously and Sustainably
Our brains need fuel too. Eating nutritious and sustainable meals can help maintain anxiety levels. Eating foods high in carbohydrates, such as oatmeal or whole grains, can be extremely beneficial as research shows carbohydrates being linked to an increased amount of serotonin in the brain. Try incorporating healthy, well-balanced meals that are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and veggies.
Journaling can be a highly effective way to reduce anxiety. Research shows journaling is an effective tool in reducing anxiety in children and adolescents. Whether you are venting about your day or jotting down a quick to-do list, getting your thoughts onto paper can be just what you need to relax your mind.
Overall, there are many natural ways to reduce anxiety through the means of lifestyle changes or techniques. Management of anxiety symptoms can look different for everyone. Some benefit from therapy, medication, or TMS, while others may benefit from natural remedies. Remember, mental healthcare is not a one size fits all approach. Seek professional help if you feel that you need it by talking to your doctor or another mental health professional.
About Salience Health
Anxiety disorders are the most common behavioral health disorders, affecting nearly 29% of the entire population. Anxiety is important; it is our brain’s natural way of protecting us. However, in many cases, anxiety goes from being a protective factor to being debilitating and intrusive into our lives and daily functioning. At Salience Health we created a specialized evidence-based and remission focused program to help get your depression and anxiety under control.
Our approach will help you address all the factors that contribute to anxiety including:
- Biological and genetic factors
- Stress-related contributors
- Co-existing medical illness
- History of trauma
- Social support
- Lifestyle changes (including diet and exercise)
Our team of specialists will construct a customized treatment plan based on the most current medical evidence. Depending on your medical history, current symptoms, and testing results, you and your care team will discuss all the options available that will best support your recovery. If you are interested in our program or want to learn more, visit our Anxiety Treatment Center page or call us at (469) 379-8222.