Everyone get those jitters at some point in their life, where you encounter critical situations. You may feel worried and anxious before sitting an exam or having a job interview. Feeling anxious during critical situations is reasonable but you need to be careful when anxiety takes a permanent place in your day to day life. Prolonged stress can take a toll on your health conditions and even conventional medications may not be the best solution. That’s why it is imperative to look for natural remedies for anxiety.
There could be several factors contributing to this condition such as medical reasons, stress, phobia, genetics, withdrawal from a drug, etc. Some of the most common anxiety symptoms include heart palpitations, high blood pressure (BP), panic attacks, sweating, restlessness, insomnia, etc.
The most effective natural remedies for anxiety include a good diet plan, essential oils, lemon balm, sunlight, Omega-3s, Ashwagandha, L-Lysine, vitamins, Chamomile, meditation, proper sleep, etc. A combination of these natural methods can help you lead a healthy and mentally sound life.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a typical reaction to stress; it can alert us to dangers and help us prepare and increases our alertness. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness and involve excessive fear which does not leave even after the stimulus is removed. Anxiety disorders are often associated with restlessness, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty concentrating (1).
Anxiety is the most common type of mental disorder, and it affects nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives. Anxiety is an anticipation of a future concern and is associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior. Anxiety hinders your ability to function normally.
What are the causes of anxiety?
- Various medical factors also contribute to anxiety; it can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition
- Stress from a personal relationship, job, school, finances
- Any phobia, such as claustrophobia wherein people began to get palpitations in a closed space
- Use of or withdrawal from a drug
- Recovering alcoholics (2)
- Genetics (3)
- Brain chemistry
The most common anxiety symptoms are continuous tension and worry. But there are other signs as well such as –
- Heart palpitations
- High blood pressure (BP)
- Panic attacks
- Tension in muscles
- Inability to concentrate
What are the types of anxiety disorders?
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)
- Panic Disorder (4)
Methods to control your anxiety
You can manage your anxiety by –
- Attending group therapies
- Taking a self-help course (5)
- Reading self-help book
- Regular exercise
- Quit smoking
- Quit drinking alcohol
- Cutting down on the amount of caffeine
In case of an acute anxiety attack, you can lie on the ground and count the number of breaths that you take. Alternatively, you can breathe in a paper bag until you stop hyperventilating (6).
Diagnosis and Treatment
The first step is to accept that there is a problem and see your doctor. The doctor will rule any physical problem which could be causing symptoms. If the doctor diagnoses you with an anxiety disorder, a mental health professional will guide you and make you receive the best treatment to curb the symptoms. Unfortunately, many people having anxiety disorders avoid seeking professional help.
Each anxiety disorder has its unique characteristics and requires a different approach and treatment modality. Most cases of anxiety respond well to psychotherapy and medications. These treatments are mostly given in combination for better results.
Cognitive behavior therapy is talk therapy. This treatment modality is very effective and can help a person look onto anxiety in a very different light. The person can learn different ways of thinking, perceiving things, behaving, analyzing, and reacting. This therapy will not only help the person feel less anxious but it will also. Medications will not cure anxiety disorders; it can only give relief from the symptoms. The most commonly used drugs are anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants.
Effective natural remedies for anxiety
Lavender massage has proven to lower systolic pressure, which is also associated with stress. Dab a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow before sleeping, or add a few drops to a dispenser and inhale. You will also get rid of a headache soon after lavender oil massage.
You can even apply lavender oil directly to your temple and massage; lavender oil is one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly. The aroma of lavender alleviates symptoms of anxiety and depression (7).
Vitamin D is known to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression (8). Sunlight is the best way to increase the levels of vitamin-D in our body naturally and also it is one of the best natural remedies for anxiety.
Waking up early in the morning and soaking some sunlight can make you feel good and you can have a productive start of the day. It can take your mind off stress and help you reap the benefits of outdoor activity. Other than this, you can also consume vitamin d rich foods.
3. Lemon balm
Lemon balm massage is one of the most effective aid to reduce stress and anxiety, irritability, and help with sleep. Lemon balm is also sold as a tea, capsule, and tincture. It’s often combined with other calming herbs such as hops, chamomile, and valerian. The lemon tincture can be brewed in a tea which will help you calm those jitters before any important event. It can be taken before bed to have a sound sleep.
Omega-3s have proven to fight against depression and anxiety. Seafood including salmon, anchovies, sardines, and mussels should be included in your diet to get a fresh source of omega-three fatty acids. You can also consume omega 3s supplements under prescription from your doctor.
Research has proven that magnesium deficiency can contribute to numerous mental health problems, including anxiety (9). Magnesium regulates our nervous system and helps one cope with stress to prevent anxiety, fear, restlessness, and irritability.
Magnesium is also very protective of your heart and arteries, which is essential for anyone experiencing regular anxiety. During periods of extreme stress, magnesium reserves are depleted from our body. Magnesium calms our muscular and nervous systems, which is why people often experience muscle cramping when they are under stress.
When a person experiences anxiety symptoms or has an anxiety attack, it can occur because they are magnesium deficient. Magnesium supplements are one option but I would suggest you go for magnesium-rich foods. They are natural and do not have side effects. Many people find magnesium very useful alone or in combination with other treatment modalities.
Studies have shown a direct link between l-lysine deficiency and anxiety. In studies conducted on rats, it was found that L-lysine deficiencies disturbed the normal rhythmic release of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that promotes feelings of happiness and calmness. When the rats experienced stress-induced anxiety, their psycho-behavioral responses were significantly abnormal compared to the rats that were used as a control.
L-lysine supplements are effective at lowering the anxiety levels of persons with anxiety from stressful situations and even those who display trait anxiety.
Chamomile is useful in aiding relaxation, and it also helps with anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Chamomile contains active ingredients apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. Sedative effects due to this flavonoid help get the mind off stress and worries and have a relaxed sound sleep. You can brew fresh chamomile tea and have it before bedtime.
8. Valerian root
Valerian helps calm the anxious mind and relax the body, the extract of valerian has proven to have an anxiolytic and sedative effect. This potent herb has also been proven effective in clinical trials for improving the quality of sleep; it also reduces the time required to achieve sleep.
Studies have also shown that valerian root extracts increase the GABA levels in the brain which helps curb the restlessness. Valerian capsules are prescribed to people with a history of panic attacks. The herb is also available in powder and tincture form. It can be brewed in a tea to and consumed to put a restless mind at ease.
Ashwagandha has a direct effect on the cortisol levels in our body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that disrupts the normal functioning of our body when under chronic stress and anxiety. It is one of the best natural remedies for anxiety.
It disturbs our sleep pattern and insomnia that follows triggers further anxiousness. Ashwagandha breaks this cycle by acting as an adaptogen and decreasing the levels of cortisol in our body. The herb is available in capsule forms and can be consumed on a daily as it comes with added benefits.
10. Reduce your caffeine addiction
Caffeine is so popular amongst working people because it gives a short burst of energy, but for those with anxiety disorders coffee makes them more jittery. Caffeine should be eliminated from your diet if you want to curb your anxiety.
Caffeine increases your cortisol levels, dehydrating you, and making you feel edgy. It can cause sleep deprivation, daytime sleepiness, lack of concentration, headaches, fidgeting, and anxiety, etc.
Chronic stress and anxiety cause depletion of the Vitamin B6 reserves in our body in the body. Vitamin B6 is quintessential in combating stress and stress-related damage to the body (10). Also, not just B6, taking a multivitamin supplement of B vitamins can also help in countering anxiety disorders. When the body is under stress, both emotional and physical, there is a high need for vitamin C.
The deficiency of vitamin C is a major cause of fatigue. Include oranges, peppers, strawberries, sprouts, tomatoes, kiwis, and melons in your diet to have a steady level of vitamin C in your body.
12. Have a balanced diet
A proper and balanced diet plan goes a long way in maintaining the good health of your body. Consuming fewer calories is as much as bad as consuming more calories. You must find a sweet spot in between and include a little of several healthy food options. A poor diet might affect your psychological well-being and induce symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you are a non-vegetarian then you can include omega-3 rich foods such as salmon, tuna, etc.
You can include probiotic foods such as yogurt, kefir, etc. Other healthy options are spinach, kale, eggs, almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, fresh fruits, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut water, etc. Options are almost unlimited. You have to simply pay attention to smaller details related to daily food habits and avoid processed foods as much as you can.
13. De-stress before bed
Anxiety upsets your natural sleep patterns. It releases the stress hormone cortisol that makes you stay up all night long. The aim is to calm the adrenals and modulate cortisol levels before going to bed each night.
Pre-bedtime routines such as mind-body exercises can make a massive difference to your sleep and thus anxiety. Other techniques include daily yoga practices, include natural sedatives, do meditation before bed, avoid caffeine intake, and have a calming and soothing herbal tea before going to bed.
- Suggested read: How to Fall Asleep Fast?
Turn off your appliances, laptops, and mobile phones before going to bed. Read a self-help book or listen to some diurnal music and try to fall asleep.
Over to you on natural remedies for anxiety
If you find that certain conditions or objects are triggering your anxiety, then try your best to avoid them. Also, there is no harm to try various natural remedies for anxiety. They will never harm you or have any side effects. In case of an acute anxiety situation concentrate on your breathing, you can also breathe in a paper bag till you feel better. People with anxiety disorders should not ignore the condition and seek professional help.
Anxiety is one of the primary reasons why substance abusers and alcoholics tend to relapse. If you are recovering from an addiction or are going through post-traumatic stress join a therapy group. Medication in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy can help you live an anxiety-free life.