Temporary anxiety is normal in situations like a job interview, an illness, public speaking or a presentation. If anxiety persists and affects your life and cannot be controlled to the extent of dreading everyday situations, it has become a disorder. Anxiety is a mental health problem that affects more than 40 million adults in the USA alone. It is closely associated with depression.
Signs That You Have Anxiety
You are anxious if you have some of the following signs:
- Shallow breathing.
- Your thoughts are obsessive, racing or telling you things to do.
- Your body is either too tight and tense or too loose and fat.
- You cannot sit still and be in the moment without watching television or going to social media on your phone.
- You are not aware of your physical surroundings during the day.
- You have no body awareness as you go though your day.
- You breathe quickly and gasp for air (hyperventilate) in certain situations.
- You are easily startled by any noise, movement or situation in your environment.
If you have any of these signs and symptoms of anxiety, you need to remedy the situation otherwise too much worry for too long will stress you and cause health problems.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety
You might want to avoid chronic medications with their side effects and look for natural ways of dealing with anxiety. A holistic approach will include a number of approaches that will improve your overall health.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, sugars, dairy and gluten. Caffeine produces a physical reaction in the brain that can be associated with anxiety. Alcohol is a nervous system depressant. A sugar high is followed by a sugar low that affects the mood. Dairy and gluten cause inflammation in the brain that will cause mental health problems.
- Eat whole nutritious foods. Your anxiety could be linked to brain inflammation which is caused by poor diet. To improve brain health and to combat depression and anxiety, include in your diet:
- Dark leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and Swiss chard which fight against all types of inflammation and are rich in nutrients.
- Foods rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids such as oily fish, nuts and seeds. (Hallahan & Garland).
- Avocado which contains oleic acid that is essential for brain health and many other nutrients.
- Apples and berries such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries which are high in antioxidants which reduce inflammation. (Leng, 2009).
- Sleep Well. Sleep is important for mental health. Trouble sleeping is a sign of an anxiety disorder. Insufficient sleep causes depression, anxiety and other disorders. (MHA). To get sufficient good quality sleep, make your bedroom calm and quiet, keep a strict sleep schedule and avoid nicotine, alcohol and caffeine in the evening.
- Herbal Medicine. Some herbs have an effect on the brain and will reduce anxiety and depression. Some of them are flaxseed (detoxifies the brain), passion flower (calms and soothes the nerves), valerian (resets brain chemistry), ginkgo (for depression), St. John’s wort (an anti-depressant), and ashwagandha (an adaptogen).
- Aromatherapy. Essential oils such as jasmine, chamomile, lavender, peppermint and Roman chamomile effectively relieve depression and anxiety. When absorbed into the blood, they target the limbic region of the brain and alter the mood.
- Mindfulness is as effective as drugs in relieving anxiety and depression. (Delagran).
- Mindful Movement like qigong, tai chi and yoga can help you to develop a strong sense of calm and that way reduce anxiety and depression. Practice one of them daily.
- Exercise is known to lift the mood by releasing endorphins, the brain chemicals that enhance the mood. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment and improves self-esteem. One study found that exercise was comparable to antidepressants when they studied patients with major depressive disorder. It also found notable improvement in anxiety sensitivity. Try walking, running, yoga or dance.
- Create a calm Space in your bedroom, sitting room and office by choosing soothing colors for the walls and the furnishings. Hang pictures of calm landscapes on your walls. Play soothing music.
- Relaxation Techniques like guided imagery, biofeedback, progressive relaxation, self-hypnosis and deep breathing exercises will relax body and mind. (NIH).
- Acupuncture removes energy blockages enabling the body and brain to function at optimum levels, gently lifting depression and anxiety along with many other problems. (ACTCM).
- Sunshine and fresh air will provide much needed vitamin D and relaxation of the mind. Take a walk in the sun for 10 to 20 minutes every day (longer if you are dark skinned) in the sun and in nature.
- Build better relationships. Have a number of people that you can go out with or visit or entertain at home. Having loved ones around often, and giving/receiving hugs, will reduce anxiety.
- Learn breathing techniques that will calm down your mind and body in anxious situations.
- Learn the difference between fear and anxiety so that you can quickly dismiss anxiety when it is unnecessary.
ACTCM. American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture Effective in Treatment of Mental Illness.
Delagran, Louise. University of Minnesota. What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-are-benefits-mindfulness.
Hallahan B., & Garland M. (2005, April). The British Journal of Psychiatry. Essential Fatty Acids and Mental Health.
Leng, Gillian. (2009, July). ResearchGate. Impact of Antioxidant Therapy on Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression. A Randomized Controlled Trial in Patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease.
NIH, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 5 Things to Know About Relaxation Techniques for Stress.