Anxiety disorders are mental health illnesses that can be severely disabling. Often, these conditions are characterized by long-term stress, declining overall health, and symptoms can come in many forms causing worry, fear, unease, or panic.
It is known that anxiety disorders contribute to many chronic diseases and mental distress even when treated with medication.
This is why several people prefer natural remedies for anxiety symptoms as their preferred treatment options instead of conventional medications.
Luckily, several natural treatments for anxiety that are effective exists and don’t trigger side effects as certain medications do.
1. Regular Exercise
Living with an anxiety disorder may make you feel that you don’t have time or the energy to go to the gym or work out frequently. In this case, you can opt for some exercise, such as taking a short walk or a quick jog.
Many of the mild symptoms of anxiety can be managed by indulging in regular exercise.
For instance, a simple 20-minute daily walk is beneficial for the mind and body, stimulates the brain to go offline, and tells the body that it’s safe to relax and enjoy the environment.
Other gentle exercises include Tai chi, yoga, Pilates, qigong, or water aerobics. Or, if you feel more up to it, a quick burst such as running or jogging will increase your heart rate, which is also beneficial for reducing anxiety and can help you find relief.
Health and wellness experts recommend increasing the heart rate with exercise to feel calm, improve heart health, and even regulate blood pressure.
2. Natural Supplements
People living with anxiety often turn to natural remedies and herbal supplements to manage their symptoms.
Many supplements that include vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids can have a calming effect on stress and anxiety, which help to relieve anxiety symptoms.
Many natural supplements also include nootropics and adaptogens that act as stress relievers, mood regulators and help stabilize the body’s response to stress.
The main reason why people use natural remedies to treat anxiety is that they are non-addictive and non-hypnotic. Some natural supplements elevate neurotransmitter levels that reduce neuronal excitability, while others target emotional regulation.
For example, certain substances in natural supplements enhance brain waves associated with a feeling of wakeful relaxation. In contrast, others help you fall asleep faster and calm the mind and body (1).
Treating anxiety may also help ease symptoms of depression, overcome nervous activity, and help the brain wind down and relax when needed.
Many popular natural nootropics for anxiety include L-theanine, ashwagandha, lion’s mane mushroom, bacopa monnieri, and chamomile supplements.
3. CBD Oil
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural substance seen in the Cannabis Sativa plant with the potential to treat anxiety disorders and other health conditions.
Different studies have investigated the effect of CBD oil to lessen anxiety with positive results.
One study looked at the effects of CBD oil on people with anxiety disorders, including 72 participants with anxiety and impaired sleep patterns took part in the study.
After receiving treatment with CBD, many showed lowered anxiety, while others saw an improvement in sleep scores (2).
CBD is supposed to cooperate with receptors found in the central nervous system, modifying serotonin signals.
Serotonin has an essential part in an individual’s mental health, and low levels are often found in people who suffer from depression.
Using CBD oil can help create calm, promote relaxation and support better quality sleep.
4. Herbal Medicine
Herbal remedies have long been studied as a treatment for anxiety, with popular choices including chamomile, valerian root, lemon balm, ashwagandha, rhodiola, passionflower, lavender, and kava.
People often choose these alternatives to avoid the unwanted side effects of prescription medication or drugs. In addition, scientific evidence also indicates that certain herbs can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.
In most cases, herbal products will take longer to begin working but present fewer side effects than conventional medicine. These are typically available in capsule form, tablet, extract, tea, or a tincture.
However, the FDA does not monitor herbal supplements the way medication is. So, if you want to use herbal supplements to treat anxiety, you should consult with your doctor, especially if you take other medications together.
5. Limit Alcohol, Caffeine, and Stop Smoking
Too much caffeine, cigarette smoking, or alcohol can increase anxiety symptoms like nervousness, moodiness, and jitters.
A study found that abstaining from alcohol lowers the risk of anxiety. To reduce anxiety successfully, sidestep alcohol entirely or restrict your alcohol consumption to no more than 1-3 drinks in a week (3).
Research also indicates that having too much caffeine brings on anxiety symptoms in people diagnosed with panic disorder.
Others who have social anxiety tend to be notably sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
Therefore, it is recommended to limit caffeine to one cup a day. Better still, substitute it with drinking green tea or chamomile tea to avoid the risk of caffeine highs and lows.
6. Get More Sleep
Research proves that a shortage of sleep can increase anticipatory anxiety by stimulating brain regions that handle emotional processing.
This means that sleep deprivation can contribute to common anxiety symptoms such as excessive worrying.
However, by healthily restoring sleep patterns, people with anxiety can reduce feelings of fear, worry, and tension. Experts believe that people who are anxious by nature are the ones who suffer the most from sleep deprivation.
This also suggests that people afflicted with anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder may benefit considerably from sleep therapy (4).
You can also pair your sleep with regular physical activity that can help improve sleep quality.
7. Mind-Body Practices
Using mind-body practices can help people evoke a relaxation response and lower stress. Some of the more traditional methods include the following:
- Breath focus is a simple but powerful technique, which consists of taking slow, long, and deep breaths that allow you to disengage the mind gently from chaotic thoughts and feelings. That said, this method may not be suitable for anyone with breathing problems as it could be hard to restore normal breathing patterns.
- Body scan is another technique that blends focus with progressive muscle relaxation. Following a round of deep breathing, the individual focuses on a specific part of their body, mentally releasing any tension they may feel there. This technique is a great way to boost mind-body connection awareness.
- Guided imagery is a technique where the individual conjures up a soothing scene, place, or experience in their mind to focus and relax. The practice is more meaningful if the chosen imagery has personal relevance to the individual.
Mindfulness meditation is a common technique to manage feelings of stress and anxiety. Also, it is considered an effective tool for dealing with panic disorder.
Many people find relief with this type of meditation as it helps slow down anxious thoughts, minimize negativity, and relax the mind and body in your day-to-day life.
Individuals who meditate often notice that their previous signs of anxiety, including rumination or insomnia, reduce significantly with the practice.
You may try meditation at any time of the day that suits you best. For example, some individuals find it best to practice meditation in the morning to be more awake and stress-free, while others prefer it in the evening, allowing them to get a better night’s sleep (5).
9. Practice Deep Breathing
One of the first things to do if you start feeling symptoms of anxiety is to breathe. Practicing deep breathing is one of the best techniques to manage and alleviate anxiety symptoms.
To get the most out of deep breathing, you should breathe deeply and slowly. Experts explain that when people focus on their breathing and focus on that, chaotic thoughts that trigger anxiety start to become more distant.
Deep breathing practices slow down the heart rate and lower feelings of stress. A common way to carry out deep breathing is to try the 4-7-8 method.
This involves breathing in for four seconds and then holding your breath for another 7 seconds. After that, slowly exhale for 8 seconds and repeat until you start to feel calmer.
10. Eat a Healthy Diet
Several studies show a connection between diet, physiology, psychology, and behavior with your food choices impacting your health in many ways.
Consuming calories in excess or vice versa can increase anxiety symptoms and other emotional or psychological disorders.
In addition, a bad diet can bring about several anxiety symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue, and fluctuating blood glucose levels that trigger nervousness and jitters.
The foods you eat can also cause weight gain, impacting your body image and bringing on feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness.
Instead, eating a clean and well-balanced diet can be a natural remedy for anxiety and reduce the common symptoms.
It’s recommended to eat anti-inflammatory foods since they synthesize neurotransmitters and balance your mood and stress response.
To reduce anxiety symptoms, make sure to add vitamin B, magnesium, calcium-rich foods, and those with omega-3 content into your diet.
Evade sugary and processed foods since these can also trigger anxiety and depression. Refined carbs and sugar can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate, increasing anxiety, restlessness, and fatigue.
Sugary foods can also lead to mood swings and affect energy levels, making it more difficult to control your anxiety symptoms.
Instead, opt for vegetables and leafy greens, nuts and legumes, lean protein, and complex carbs.
Aromatherapy utilizes essential oils that are extracted from various herbs and plants. These aromatic substances are used as scents for various products, including those promoting well-being.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils as a potential treatment to manage pain, help with digestion, reduce stress and anxiety.
It involves the scent of the essential oil stimulating the smell receptors in the nose. From there, it sends a message to the nervous system and helps you feel calmer.
Some people also believe that essential oils may affect the body’s chemical and energy systems. Common ways to use essential oils for aromatherapy include topical applications and inhalation.
Some of the most favorite essential oils to reduce anxiety include the following:
- Valerian is an herb that contains sleep-promoting compounds and calms the nerves. Valerian is mildly sedative and is often used as a sleep aid.
- Lavender oil has a sweet floral scent and is used to calm anxiety. It may also have a sedative effect and help with sleep issues, especially feelings of stress and anxiety that keep you up at night.
- Bergamot is derived from the peel or zest of bergamot oranges and comes with a strong citrus scent. In addition, the oil can have a calming effect and help reduce anxiety.
- Lemon balm has a fresh, uplifting aroma with a soothing, therapeutic effect. It may help individuals with mild to moderate anxiety disorders and improve sleep.
Journaling is a highly recommended stress management tool to help with anxiety. It is a simple practice that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine to lessen feelings of distress and improve well-being.
There are different ways to journal your progress to record your feelings on a daily, weekly, or even as-needed basis.
The point is to write worries down on paper to break away from the cycle of rumination and anxious feelings and come up with solutions to address them.
Some individuals use freewriting as a coping mechanism, while others may use journal prompts. Yet others keep a thought diary that lets them track how their thought patterns change over time.
You can go with whichever method suits you best, intending to find an effective coping mechanism to help you manage life with anxiety or a panic disorder.
When looking for techniques to calm anxiety naturally, there are many things you can consider according to strategies and recommendations from the Anxiety and Depression Association (6).
For instance, you could try to get adequate sleep, incorporate regular exercise into your day, and work on eating healthier.
You could also try natural supplements and natural remedies to reduce anxiety levels.
But whichever technique you decide to take up, remember to be patient with yourself as the change won’t happen overnight.
Successfully reducing anxiety is all about finding the right way to self-soothe in the present moment and will take time and patience to get results.