Anxiety and depression afflict over 40 million people in the U.S. alone. While there are various subgroups of anxiety and depression, the core elements that cause the suffering exist in each one of them. Battling anxiety often leads to depression, which perpetuates the increase of these conditions.
Often when we are anxious we find ourselves feeling trapped and unsure of which way to turn to climb out of our suffering. We don’t know how to transform the ‘what-ifs’ into ‘so-whats’ and we feel lost fighting what at the time may feel like a battle that can’t be won. Fortunately, there are several natural methods to overcoming anxiety that anyone can use to fight this troublesome condition.
Exercise is good for the brain, safe for people of all backgrounds, and can be a powerful antidote to depression and anxiety. It does this both in the short-term and long-term. Not only does consistent exercise build self-esteem and make your body feel healthier, it also stimulates feel good hormones which can combat the negative side-effects of chronic anxiety. For those who suffer from severe health anxiety, getting fit can negate the worry of something physically happening, which in turn can lessen anxiety symptoms.
According to Psychiatrist Kelli Hyland, M.D., practicing meditation regularly makes it easier to access a calm state when you feel anxious in the moment. She suggests the following meditation for those who have anxious thoughts or depression.
“Envision yourself standing on a river bank, in your favorite park, or at the beach. Watch as the leaves on the trees pass by on the river or body of water your standing by, or you can watch as the clouds pass by in the sky. As you do, assign your emotions, thoughts and sensations to the leaves and clouds as they move. Watch as they float by.”
The reason this works is that it works in contrast to the sensations, judgements, emotions, and thoughts that anxious individuals usually hold. Instead of labeling each thought and sensation as good and bad, you can begin to simply look at them as ‘information’ and you don’t have to run with each new bit coming in.
3. Proper Diet
A proper diet is important for all of us, but research shows that the foods we consume have a direct impact on the way that we feel. Foods that are high in omega-3’s, B vitamins, and tryptophan are powerful in counteracting anxiety. Some of the best foods to eat for include:
- chia seeds
- whole grains
- green leafy veggies
- Fresh fruits
- Brown rice
The key point is to eat healthy meals frequently. When blood sugar drops, anxiety is more likely to rear its ugly head. Keep snacks with you to prevent anxiety in the short-term.
4. Herbal Remedies
One of the most popular natural methods for battling anxiety are herbal remedies. Here are a few of the top herbs to combat the symptoms that coincide anxiety.
Chamomile has proven to reduce anxiety in numerous studies. Whether you drink it in tea or take it as a supplement, it can directly lessen the symptoms of the condition. Avoid taking it with other herbs and prescription medications.
Green tea contains L-theanine, which can curb rising heart rate and blood pressure. However, it is important to note that green tea also contains caffeine which can have the opposite effect. It’s best to drink it in small doses.
Valerian is used as a sleeping aid, for insomnia. It contains sedative compounds that the German government has approved to treat sleeping problems. However, it is also highly effective for nighttime anxiety. Drinking it as a tea before bedtime can help you sleep better and decrease anxiety symptoms.
The aroma of lavender can have an emotionally soothing effect. Whether used as an oil on your skin or in a bath, lavender can provide a real relaxed feeling throughout the body. It can also be put in an aromatherapy inhaler and breathed in. One German study also found that lavender supplements (unavailable in the US) can reduce anxiety symptoms in those who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) on the same level as anti-anxiety medications like Valium.
5. Breathe Deeply
The very first thing that anxious people do is breathe incorrectly. When you’re anxious, therefore, it is best to counter this symptom by breathing deeply from the base of your spine. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing can have a powerful effect on the body’s sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response. Relaxing it through slow inhaling to a count of 4 and then gently holding it to a count of four, and then finally exhaling to the count of four can have a dramatic impact on in the moment anxiety. Repeat this several times for the best result.
Natural methods for battling anxiety are available. It is up to you to act on these techniques to dissipate your anxiety and depression. With a positive mindset and determination, it can be done.