7 Ways You Can Manage Anxiety Naturally
The best natural supplements, and tips to calm down anxiety quickly.
You’re found wanting in those moments when it’s hard to breathe, and your heart feels like it’s racing – you need ways to manage anxiety naturally. Anxiety can be useful in high pressure moments; however, when it happens regularly it can disrupt your day and effect your physical health. From commonly known strategies, like deep breathing, to less obvious ones, such as passion flower, here’s more than a handful of ways you can calm down and gain control over your anxiety.
What anxiety can do to your body?
Anxiety plays a major role in your ability to maintain good physical health. Mental health issues, including anxiety, can affect a person’s ability to participate in behaviours that promote health, from fulfilling relationships to healthy eating.
Symptoms of Anxiety
It’s common for adults to experience symptoms of anxiety in today’s society. When you feel anxious, it activates your body’s fight or flight responses. This natural ability to be on high alert, look for potential danger, can leave you feeling nervous, tense, and restless. Some people talk about a tightening in their chest, or feelings that they can’t breathe. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of mental illness, including anxiety, can vary, but could include:
- feeling sad
- extreme mood changes
- excessive worries
- reduced ability to concentrate
- low energy
- problems with alcohol or drug use
- major changes in eating habits
- excessive anger
- withdrawal from social activities.
How do you fix anxiety?
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in Canada and the United States. To calm your mind and relieve stress, medications are not your only choice. Here are 8 ways you can help address anxiety naturally:
Fragrant essential oils can promote a sense of calm and wellbeing. Whether added to a bath, diffuser, or applied topically, studies have shown essential oils can help you relax, sleep, and boost your mood. Bergamot appears to be beneficial at reducing feelings of stress in the workplace, says researchers. Some calming oils include lavender, ylang ylang, and bergamot. By choosing sustainably sourced essential oils you can breathe easy knowing your purchase helped make the planet a better place.
2. Try adaptogens or passion flower.
Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress – sort of like your wingman in stressful moments. Ginseng and ashwaganda have been used in Herbal Medicine as adaptogens to help increase resistance to stress in times of mental distress. Passion flower has been traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help relieve restlessness and nervousness. Health Canada recommends 0.25 to 8 grams of dried non-standardized extracts of passion flower for adolescents 12-17, and adults 18 years and older.
3. Be in the moment.
The practice of mindfulness, being present in the current moment, can help you let go of negative, or difficult emotions about a past experience or a future concern, that is weighing you down. Putting some attention on the sensations (smells, sounds, textures) around you can help you focus.
4. Bust a move.
Exercise is a powerful antidote to anxiety, stress, and depression. Exercise causes the body to release mood-boosting endorphins. In times of stress, you may find yourself avoiding exercise, opting to finish a long to-do list, or laze around on the couch instead. By making it a priority to be physical in an activity you truly enjoy (e.g. hiking, dancing, paddling) can be an effective way to improve your mental health.
5. Take a moment.
Sometimes the best thing you can do to manage anxiety naturally is to take a break. It could be as simple as spending a moment doing some slow breathing exercises. Simple breathing exercises help you improve your anxiety quickly. Close your eyes. Take 10 breaths. Let each inhale last to the count of 4, hold for a second, then slowly exhale for the count of four. In anxious times, people tend to breath only in their upper chest – deep breathing exercises can greatly improve both your mood and energy levels.
6. Hug a tree.
If you need a bit more than a few deep breaths to sooth your anxiety, head outdoors. Taking at least 20 minutes out of your day to stroll or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature can significantly lower your stress hormone levels, reported researchers in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology. Whether you simply wiggle your toes in the grass outside your door, or stroll through the trees in a nearby park, spending time in nature can help you alleviate emotions that are building up.
7. Eat more plants.
Your brain lives on food. It consumes 20% of your daily calories. As such, it’s no surprise researchers say your mood is affected by what you eat. Shifting towards a dietary pattern that is rich in whole foods can help your brain produce more of the neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine) that are needed for mental health.
What should I eat for anxiety?
When you think of brain food, fish usually comes to mind. Fish and seafood are one of the most nutrient-dense brain foods, containing omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins needed for optimal brain function. More specific to anxiety, munching on kale, figs, raspberries, chickpeas, and nuts may help. These foods are rich in magnesium and zinc. Not eating enough magnesium can increase anxiety-related behaviours. Eating food that is rich in zinc has been linked to lower anxiety. Eating these and other whole, plant-based foods is a great way to regulate your mood. Researchers at West Virginial University interviewed 1956 students and found those who ate more fruits and vegetables, and less sugar had better mental health. Whole, plant-based foods help regulate blood sugar and improve gut health, two major players involved in anxiety.
Can blood sugar levels cause anxiety?
A drop in blood sugar can leave you feeling jittery and moody. University of Guelph researchers looked into the effect of low blood sugar in rats, and found that nutrition does indeed play a major factor in anxiety and depression. Avoiding foods that cause instability in blood sugar, such as highly processed foods (sugar drinks, crackers, candy), can help. Eating regularly, ensuring the foods you consume are rich in nutrients, fiber, and protein can also help you avoid low blood sugar.
Can gut health affect anxiety?
There’s a strong connection between the brain and the gut. It may be possible to manage anxiety naturally by regulating your gut health. People who experience anxiety may find symptoms are alleviated with better management of their gut microbiome, according to a review of over 21 clinical studies, involving over 1500 subjects. You can improve your microbiome’s health in two ways: consuming probiotics and eating fiber-rich whole foods, which act as prebiotics (fuel for probiotics). You can imagine your gut as a dry, brown stretch of lawn, with the addition of probiotics being a new chunk of sod, and prebiotics working like fertilizer.
How do you calm down anxiety?
It’s okay, to not be okay. Everyone has days where their mental health isn’t great. Life loves to throw challenges at us; some we dodge with grace, while others leave us feeling overwhelmed or anxious. And, that’s okay. You’ve read about ways you can treat anxiety naturally, and now you’re ready to take action. The best is yet to come!
Written by Allison Tannis MSc RHN
Science geek turned writer, this mom is one geeky gal you’d want to have dinner with. The author of 5 internationally sold books on health and wellness, you can catch Allison's latest blogs at www.allisontannis.com and daily antics on social media @deliciouslygeeky.
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