Anxiety can be a disabling condition that’s accompanied by long-term stress and a decline in overall health. It contributes to many chronic diseases, even when treated with anti-anxiety medication. That’s why we need to use natural remedies for anxiety and other mood disorders that address the root of the problem instead of putting a Band-Aid on your anxiety symptoms. In fact, anxiety can affect people of all ages. In addition to anxiety 40 to 60 percent of people with anxiety experience signs of depression, which makes it an even more serious and difficult condition to treat properly.
Anxiety comes in all shapes and sizes and there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to managing it. Although medication can be effective, it’s not without potential side effects and is generally preferred as the ‘last resort’ option. Most of us have had some sort of brush with anxiety, but for those whose lives are deeply affected every day, there is hope.
The good news is that there are many natural remedies to combat anxiety that are safe and don’t cause adverse side effects like so many anti-anxiety medications. By eating a clean and well-balanced diet that contains important nutrients like B vitamins, magnesium and omega-3s, and using essential oils for anxiety you may notice an immediate difference in your mood, energy levels and sleep patterns. Plus, there are many supplements and lifestyle changes that serve as natural remedies for anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a tense feeling that often accompanies stress. It’s typically directed toward the future; toward something that may happen soon. Some anxious feelings can motivate you or help you respond to danger. However, if you have ongoing anxiety symptoms that interferes with daily activities and makes it hard to enjoy life, then anxiety can be a problem.
According to the Harvard Medical School the most prevalent mental health condition, affecting nearly 40 million people in the United States are types of anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, post traumatic stress disorder). I will discuss 17 effective ways to help with anxiety through easily implemented and natural remedies.
Decreasing the Fight or Flight
The awesome thing is that our bodies contain their own SUPERPOWER that can assist with decreasing our fight or flight response.
The vagal nerve acts to counterbalance the fight or flight system and can trigger a relaxation response in our body. It is one of the cranial nerves that connect the brain to the body. The vagus nerve sends information from the gut to the brain, which is linked to dealing with stress, anxiety and fear- hence the saying , “gut feeling” These signals help a person to recover from stressful or scary situations.
The vagal nerve is a major part of how our body and brain function. Without it, our bodies wouldn’t be able to do basic tasks, and by stimulating it we can receive powerful health benefits. We can stimulate our vagus nerve to send a message to our body that it’s time to relax, which leads to long-term improvements in mood, pain management, wellbeing and resilience.
18 Natural Remedies
1. Physical Activity
Develop a regular exercise routine so that you’re physically active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful anxiety reducer. It may improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities. Remember to avoid overdoing it — over exercising increases inflammation. Exercise is a great way to oxygenate the brain, which dampens brain inflammation, and activate the vagus nerve.
Here are some possible types of exercises that I recommend:
High-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT dilates blood vessels, lowers inflammation, and improves blood flow to the brain. Do at least 1–2 times a week. HIIT involves reaching your maximum heart rate with a short but vigorous burst of exercise, resting, and repeating. This can be done on a spin bike, running, walking up a hill, doing calisthenics, or whatever aerobic exercise that works for you.
Strength training. Lift heavy weights 1–4 times a week.
Brisk walks. Walk at a pace that makes you sweat 30–60 minutes a day.
Exercise of your choice. Choose a sport or exercise routine you enjoy and can stick with consistently.
During meditation, you focus your attention and quiet the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing anxious thoughts. Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can help both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Figuring out mindfulness techniques can empower us to enhance our well-being. You can practice guided meditation, guided imagery, mindfulness, visualization and other forms of meditation anywhere at any time. For example, you could meditate when you’re out for a walk, riding the bus to work or waiting at your health care provider’s office.
Mindfulness draws on the principles of meditation to help people become more aware of how negative thoughts impact physical feelings. Research has shown these benefits may include:
- Reduced stress and worrying
- Improved memory and focus
- Fewer emotional ups and downs, and greater resilience
- Improved relationships
Evidence supports the idea that meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction are very helpful for managing mood disorders, and experts recommend it.
3. Relaxation Techniques
One of the main ways that you can stimulate the healthy function of the vagus nerve is through deep and slow breathing. You can learn to use deep breathing exercises to shift your focus away from stress, anxiety or pain. If you focus on the rhythm of your deep breaths, you’re not focused on the stressor.
The moment we anticipate anxious feelings in any form, most of us tend to stop breathing and hold our breath or start shallow breathing. Breath holding activates the fight/flight/freeze response; it tends to increase the sensation of pain, stiffness, anxiety, or fear. To practice deep breathing exercises remember to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, also:
- Breathe more slowly (aim for about six breaths per minute).
- Breathe more deeply, from the belly. Think about expanding your abdomen and widening your rib cage as you inhale.
- Exhale longer than you inhale. The key thing to remember is It’s the exhale that triggers the relaxation response.
4. Cold Exposure/ Ice Bath
Although they sound horrible, most people come to love morning cold showers or ice baths for how much better they make you feel because this helps stimulate the vagus nerve. While you are in the cold shower/ice bath go ahead and do breathing exercises along with your cold-water therapy. In the beginning this will help you better tolerate the water. Then you can use the experience to lengthen and deepen your breathing exercises, which will improve vagus nerve function, better oxygenate your body, and improve your lung capacity. The key is to get to a place of discomfort to help change your physiology but please be safe! Here are my tips to gain benefit from cold exposure:
- Cold water face immersion: immerse your forehead eyes and at least 2/3 of both cheeks into cold water. This elicits the vagus nerve, decreasing heart rate, stimulating the intestines and turns on the immune system
- Stay at least 1 minute in a cold shower on the coldest setting—you can do it after your hot shower.
- Fill a tub with cold water and ice and submerge up to your neck (including your hands). Work up to 11 minutes a week (spread out however you like), which has been found to be the minimum time required for optimal benefits.
- Splash cold water on your face daily.
- Place ice cubes in a Ziploc bag or washcloth and hold against your face.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, stress and sleep are closely connected. When we don’t get enough sleep, once again our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode, which means that the body releases stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. If sleep deprivation and overproduction of stress hormones continue, you’ll feel the effects of chronic stress. Such as suppressed immune function, inflammation, weight gain, irritability, depression, panic, and anxiety disorders, cardiovascular damage, chronic digestive conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Anxiety or stress can cause you to have trouble falling asleep. When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep can suffer. But sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge. Most adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
And how well and how long you sleep can affect your mood, energy level, focus and overall functioning. If you have trouble sleeping, make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine. For example, listen to soothing music, make sure the area you sleep in is cool, dark and quiet, put phones and tablets away, and stick to a regular schedule.
Here are just a few positive effects you can look forward to when you improve your nightly rest:
- Better emotional regulation – When you get a good night’s sleep, your body naturally reduces the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones. Well-rested people have been shown to stay calmer and react less strongly to negative situations the day after a good night’s sleep.
- Improved recovery and repair – When we sleep, our bodies have a chance to recover from the day’s activities, flush toxins from the brain, and put energy toward building and repairing cells.
- Plays a part in memory formation – Sleep also allows the brain to consolidate memories and process information. While you sleep, your brain is forming new pathways between the neurons (nerve cells) in your brain. These pathways are how you learn and store new information you took in during the day.
6. Spending Time Outdoors
Time in nature has been linked with many mental health benefits, including alleviating anxiety.
Going outdoors can help lower heart rate and blood pressure, which are common effects of anxiety.
As little as ten minutes outside—a simple walk around the block or a few deep breaths in your backyard—can help zap the effects of stress.
If you can, find something calming and mesmerizing to focus on, like a beautiful sunset or crashing waves at the beach ( I choose the beach).
Feelings of awe, or being fascinated by something, have been shown in studies to help with anxiety, chronic stress, and depression symptoms.
7. Balanced Diet
Stress and diet have always been linked. It’s possible that someone eating a balanced healthy diet is going to be far less stressed or anxious than someone eating a poor diet. If you’re feeling overly anxious, your digestive system is probably under a great deal of strain – making changes to your diet could be key to feeling better physically and emotionally. It is a good idea to stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and foods that are high in fat and sugar. Adding at least 5 fruits and vegetables to get a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals, and focus on foods containing vitamins B, C and magnesium. Healthy snacks such as yogurt, nuts and seeds, complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, calcium-rich foods in your diet (such as low-fat milk, yoghurt, sesame seeds, kelp, cheese, leafy greens and broccoli) may be beneficial.
8. Limit Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant, and in many ways, anxiety is a state of overstimulation. Too much caffeine can increase anxiety symptoms like moodiness, nervousness and the jitters.
Caffeine intake can impact anxiety in individuals. How caffeine affects your body can vary significantly between people. Suppose you notice heightened anxiety in the first hour or two after consuming caffeine. In that case, you might try consuming less next time and see if it reduces the anxiety.
9. Essential oils
Essential oils provide dynamic support for managing anxious feelings in daily life. For example, scientists found that wild orange oil had an anxiety-reducing effect on male volunteers who inhaled 2.5, 5, or 10 drops. Using Balance Essential Oil and applying it to the bottoms of feet to start your day. Diffuse to create a calming, grounding space during demanding or difficult times which is one of my top 5 essential oils that I love.
Adaptiv Calming Blend is the answer during life’s most demanding moments. Diffuse or roll on to create a calming atmosphere. Adaptiv Capsules combine clinically studied botanicals with a blend of essential oils to help you adapt to challenging situations*, which I have found that when I am overly stressed the Adaptive softgel capsules really calm my out mind.
Certain supplements and vitamins may help reduce stress and anxiety—and when paired with other healthy lifestyle habits, the results can be quite effective. These are 10 vitamins and other supplements that may combat or reduce stress and anxiety levels. B Vitamins, Vitamins C, Vitamins D, Melatonin, Ashwagandha, Magnesium, L-theanine, Glycine, Rhodiola Rosea, Kava. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any new supplements.
Adding a daily routine of supplementation with a multivitamin, mineral and herbal formulation may be useful in improving alertness and reducing negative mood symptoms and may also improve feelings of general day-to-day well-being. Here is a great supplement called Life Long Vitality that is a three-pack supplement comes with a whole food-based multivitamin. Our food is no longer as nutritious as it used to be and our soils are depleted, so it’s hard to get all of our nutrients from food even if you are a super healthy foodie.
In the three pack you will also find a high-quality Omega-3 supplements. Omega-3s are good for brain health, neurological connective tissue, and even emotions. It is really important to take a good Omega-3 each day. Lastly in the three pack we have the Cellular Vitality Complex. This helps with brain health as well as supporting the metabolic system in the brain and mitochondria. Of course, it also helps with energy levels.
If you are feeling like you could have better sleep, improved mood, better digestion, more energy, some deep-rooted repair within your body, or you want to build a healthy foundation you will love this product. There is a reason this is the number one selling product with DoTERRA.
11. Herbal Tea/Herbal Remedies
If you experience high anxiety levels, a warm cup of herbal tea could help in more than one way. The ritual of sitting still and drinking tea, as well as the consumption of warm liquid, can all help to calm and soothe the body. Add to this that research has shown some positive links between drinking some teas and reducing anxiety, and this anxiety home remedy begins to look even better.
Studies have selectively shown instances of herbal tea consumption being linked to a decline in experiences of anxiety. These studies have been limited in the scope of teas used and the demographics involved. However, many of them have provided significant data. One showed that lavender herbal tea could have a strong ameliorating effect on anxiety in older individuals. Another study is pursuing the long-term effects of chamomile on generalized anxiety disorders, with preliminary research showing some promise.
Copaiba is very effective in helping with anxious feelings, actually more effective then CBD products that has become very popular.
According to Hill in an article by US News, CBD and copaiba both bind to the CB2 receptor and have shown to have downstream effects in the body. The real difference between the two molecules – CBD and Copaiba – is that they bind at different spots on the CB2 receptor. CBD has a cascade of metabolic interactions that take place to get the CB2 receptor activated, but copaiba has direct interaction with the CB2 receptor. Both the indirect and direct pathways that CBD and copaiba take can be effective, but Hill “believes that the advantage copaiba has over CBD is consistency”.
13. Alternative Therapies
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy focused on pinpointing and questioning negative, often mistaken thoughts that can lead to behavioral and mental health problems.
Research shows that people who receive Cognitive-behavioral therapy have a greater reduction in mental health symptoms as compared to people who use medication alone.
There is solid evidence that CBT, meditation and mindfulness are effective.
Similarly, exposure therapy is a type of therapy that helps people overcome the things or situations that cause them fear and anxiety. Your clinical psychologist may use imagery and relaxation exercises during your exposure therapy.
Another option is support groups. The common experience among members of a support group often means they have similar feelings, worries, everyday problems, treatment decisions or treatment side effects. Participating in a group provides you with an opportunity to be with people who are likely to have a common purpose and likely to understand one another. Benefits of participating in a support group may include; feeling less lonely, isolated or judged. Also you may feel reducing stress, depression, anxiety or fatigue.
14. Vagal Nerve Stimulator
Your brain naturally has electrical currents. A Vagal Nerve stimulator delivers a natural level of microcurrent, via small clips worn on your earlobes, through the brain to stimulate and regulate specific groups of nerve cells. The microcurrent is very tiny and completely safe, yet is effective for anxiety relief, mood normalization, and better sleep (both in quality and duration). Treatments take only 20 minutes and you can use Vagal Stimulator in the privacy of your own home or carry it with you. Not only does the stimulator improve brain function, it also has been shown to relieve post-traumatic stress and acute and chronic pain.
This is something that I have been doing for about 6 months each day (almost) in the middle of the afternoon. Each person is different how they will respond to the Stimulator. At first I started to use the device prior to bed however that seemed to turn my mind on and it was difficult to do to sleep. I changed to mid afternoon when you would want to reach for a soda or sugary treat. I have seen how it helps to increase my energy levels and it also gives me permission to take a break from busy mom life and rest for 15-20 minutes.
Journaling is a technique that has been used to help cope with anxiety for a long time. With anxiety, the mind often fails to process emotions and events in a healthy and coherent manner. Journaling these feelings and events can help the brain slow down and process the individual components. While journaling may make the emotions feel sharper at first, it can also help reach resolution.
Regular journaling can help to reduce or prevent heightened anxiety, although the impact varies between people. Some studies have sought to take journaling into the digital age and have tested online positive affect journaling. Like other studies of journaling as an anxiety coping mechanism, the online PAJ study found that people reported some improvement in symptoms after sufficient time using this technique.
16. Weighted Blanket
Studies have shown that using weighted blankets may help reduce experiences of anxiety. Research in this area has been limited, and further study is needed before weighted blankets become a clinically accepted remedy for anxiety. But for most people, there is little to no risk of trying weighted blankets to aid in anxiety. The sensation of lying under these blankets can be similar to receiving a hug. One of children has been using a weighted blanket for years to help sleep in turn has a indirect effect on their anxiety levels during the day!
17. Spending time with Animals
Spending time with animals can also help. Research suggests that furry friends can lower cortisol, a stress hormone that’s associated with anxiety. The effects are even better if you can pet an animal—one experiment from 2003 found people who did so experienced lower anxiety symptoms.
18. Hug/Leaning On Others
Friends, family, partner – hug and be hugged because it’s lovely and it helps. Hugging releases oxytocin, which is the bonding, ‘feel-good’ chemical that gives the mood boost. Hugs can reduce stress levels, enhance feelings of connection and belonging, and give you a sense of calm and relaxation. There’s no better way to feel safe, secure and close to the people (or pets) who love you.
The brain is an area that does not magically get better on its own, you have to take action to set it on the right course. Through some key lifestyle changes of your daily routine, discussed above, and implementing just a few of these natural remedies you might be able to get a handle on your stress. Start out implementing one new coping strategy and see how it helps combat your feelings of anxiety. If one works then continue to try different options in other categories to find the best way for you to help you have success long term to coping with your anxiety.
If you are trying to seek alternative but effective treatment for combating stress please discuss these options your healthcare provider or medical professionals. *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
If you need natural remedies to help with reducing your stress check out this post!
What of all these natural Remedies do you think you will implement to deal with anxiety in your life?