8 WAYS TO NATURALLY REDUCE ANXIETY


SOME ANXIETY IS A TYPICAL PART OF LIFE. IT’S A BYPRODUCT OF LIVING IN A BUSY WORLD. ANXIETY ISN’T ALL BAD, THOUGH. IT MAKES YOU AWARE OF DANGER, MOTIVATES YOU TO STAY ORGANIZED AND PREPARED, AND HELPS YOU CALCULATE RISKS. STILL, WHEN ANXIETY BECOMES A DAILY RECURRENCE, IT’S TIME TO ACT BEFORE IT SNOWBALLS. UNCHECKED ANXIETY MAY GREATLY IMPACT YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE. TAKE CONTROL BY TRYING OUT THE IDEAS BELOW.

WHAT IS ANXIETY?

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or worry that could be caused by a combination of factors that researchers believe range from genetics to environmental to brain chemistry. Some common symptoms of anxiety include: increased heart rate, rapid breathing, restlessness and trouble concentrating.   However, it’s important to note that anxiety can present itself in different ways for different people. While one person may experience a butterfly feeling in their stomach, another might have panic attacks, nightmares, or painful thoughts. With that being said, there’s a difference between everyday anxiety and anxiety disorders. Feeling anxious about something new or stressful is one thing, but when it gets to an uncontrollable or excessive point and starts to affect your quality of life, it could be a disorder. 


HOW CAN I TREAT ANXIETY?

Anxiety can be treated in a variety of ways. One common treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps provide people with tools to cope with anxiety when it occurs. There are also certain medications, like antidepressants and sedatives, that work to balance brain chemistry and prevent episodes of anxiety. They may even ward off the most severe symptoms. If you’re looking to go a more natural route, though, there are little and big ways you can help combat anxiety. You can make adjustments to habits, like exercise, sleep, and diet. You can also try something totally new, like aromatherapy or meditation. No matter what your lifestyle demands, there’s a natural way to help reduce anxiety for everyone.

STAY ACTIVE

Regular exercise isn’t just about physical health — it can be a huge help to your mental health, as well. A 2013 study found that people with anxiety disorders who reported a high level of physical activity were better protected against developing anxiety symptoms.  This could be for a variety of reasons. Exercise can divert your attention away from something that’s making you anxious. When it comes to what type of exercise, this is more of a personal preference. If you’re looking to really get your heart rate up, something like a HIIT class (high-intensity interval training) or running is your best bet. But if you’re looking to start off with something with a little lower impact, workouts, like Pilates and yoga, could also be just as beneficial for your mental health.


STEER CLEAR OF ALCOHOL

Drinking alcohol may take the edge off at first, since it’s a natural sedative. However, research suggests there’s a link between anxiety and alcohol consumption, with anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorder (AUD) occurring hand-in-hand. Decreasing alcohol intake can improve both anxiety and depression. Heavy drinking can interfere with the balance of neurotransmitters, which can be responsible for positive mental health.

CONSIDER QUITTING SMOKING CIGARETTES

Smokers often reach for a cigarette during stressful times. Yet, like drinking alcohol, taking a drag on a cigarette when you’re stressed is a quick fix that may worsen anxiety over time.  Research has shown that the earlier you start smoking in life, the higher your risk of developing an anxiety disorder later. Research also suggests nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke alter pathways in the brain linked to anxiety. If you’re looking to quit, there are lots of different ways you can get started. 


LIMIT CAFFEINE INTAKE

If you have chronic anxiety, caffeine is not your friend. Caffeine may cause nervousness and jitters, neither of which is good if you’re anxious. Caffeine may cause or worsen anxiety disorders. It may also cause panic attacks in people with panic disorder. In some people, eliminating caffeine may significantly improve anxiety symptoms. Similar to alcohol, caffeine and anxiety are often linked, due to caffeine’s ability to alter brain chemistry. Caffeine increases alertness by blocking the brain chemical adenosine, which is what makes you feel tired, while at the same time triggering the release of adrenalin. 


PRIORITIZE GETTING A GOOD NIGHT’S REST

Sleep has been proven time and time again to be an important part of good mental health.  You can make sleep a priority by: only sleeping at night when you’re tired, not reading or watching television in bed, not using your phone, tablet, or computer in bed, not tossing and turning in your bed or going to another room if you can’t sleep, avoiding caffeine, large meals, and nicotine before bedtime, keeping your room dark and cool, writing down your worries before going to bed and going to sleep at the same time each night.


MEDITATE AND PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

A main goal of meditation is full awareness of the present moment, which includes noticing all thoughts in a non-judgmental way. This can lead to a sense of calm and contentment by increasing your ability to mindfully tolerate all thoughts and feelings.  Meditation is known to relieve stress and anxiety. 30 minutes of daily meditation may alleviate some anxiety symptoms and act as an antidepressant. 

EAT A BALANCED DIET

Low blood sugar levels, dehydration, or chemicals in processed foods, such as artificial flavorings, artificial coloring, and preservatives, may cause mood changes in some people. A high-sugar diet may also impact temperament. If your anxiety worsens after eating, check your eating habits. Stay hydrated, eliminate processed foods, and eat a balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins. 

TRY AROMATHERAPY

Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that has been used by humans for thousands of years. The practice uses natural plant extracts and essential oils to promote the health and well-being of the mind, body, and spirit. Its goal is to enhance both physical and emotional health. The essential oils created by the natural plant extracts may be inhaled directly or added to a warm bath or diffuser. 

A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL CAN HELP WITH STREAMLINING THE PROCESS OF IDENTIFYING YOUR TRIGGERS, MAINTAINING LONG-TERM STRATEGIES THROUGH BEHAVIORAL THERAPY, MEDICATIONS, AND MORE. IF YOU’RE BRAIN CHEMISTRY PREDISPOSES YOU TO CHRONIC ANXIETY, YOU MAY NEED TO GO ON MEDICATION TO MANAGE IT. ANXIETY MAY ALWAYS BE A PART OF YOUR LIFE, BUT IT SHOULDN’T OVERTAKE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY. EVEN THE MOST EXTREME ANXIETY DISORDERS CAN BE TREATED SO THAT THE SYMPTOMS AREN’T OVERWHELMING. ONCE YOU FIND WHAT TREATMENT WORKS BEST FOR YOU, LIFE SHOULD BE A LOT MORE ENJOYABLE AND A LOT LESS DAUNTING.

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