When it comes to managing your anxiety, there are a raft of treatments to choose from, including individual or group therapy and medication prescribed by a doctor. There are also plenty of natural approaches that are effective at managing anxiety.
How to Naturally Combat Anxiety
In addition to being effective, these strategies will have far-reaching effects — helping you to eat better, get moving, step outdoors, and generally improve your quality of life. If you feel anxious to try everything all at once, start slow. Attempt at least one thing from the list each day and notice how your body and mind react.
Move your body
Staying active is part of cardiovascular wellness, but exercise can also have a direct impact on your anxiety levels. A study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry showed that exercise has a positive effect on symptoms of anxiety due to a number of biological and psychological mechanisms. Whether it’s a release from your day, personal strength and self-reliance that comes from swinging a kettlebell, or because of positive reactions in your brain, exercise works.
Switch up your diet
Here’s the bad news: there’s a positive correlation between sugar and anxiety. Harvard Medical School reports that consumption of alcohol and caffeine can mimic anxiety symptoms. A review of the relationship between diet and anxiety-related behavior found plenty of delicious good news.
Embrace a balanced Mediterranean-style diet. Eat foods rich in zinc like whole grains, oysters, kale, broccoli, legumes, and nuts. Foods rich in magnesium are also advisable — like fish, avocado, and dark leafy greens. Vitamin B and omega-3 foods can really boost your mood and offer lots of nutritional value — think asparagus, leafy greens, meat, avocado, wild salmon and walnuts.
Make like a Scandinavian
A spell in the sauna or steam room can reduce muscle tension and ease anxiety by heating up the body, research shows. These warm sensations may alter neural circuits that control mood, including those that affect levels of serotonin.
Take a “forest bath”
The calm that comes over you in the woods is what the Japanese call Shinrin-yoku, or literally a “forest bath.” After a twenty minute walk in the woods, Japanese researchers found that “forest bathers” had lower stress levels than in comparison to a walk in an urban area. Get outside and walk among the trees.
Meditate with masters
You don’t have to run away and join a monastery in order to meditate with monks. Some of the best spiritual teachers — including Tara Brach, Deepak Chopra, and Andy Puddicombe — have launched podcasts and apps with guided meditations that you can practice in the comfort of your home — and even in your bed.
One of the hallmarks of anxiety is your mind casting worries into the future. Mediation is all about being present in the current moment, body and mind. And it works: A review of 19,000 meditation studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that mindful meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.
Take a sunshine break
Getting outdoors for 15 minutes on a sunny day can give you a boost. A study in Australia showed participants with higher levels of serotonin on bright sunny days than on cloudy ones, and higher serotonin levels are linked to lower levels of depression and anxiety.
Soak in Epsom salts and lavender
The magnesium sulfate in Epsom salts has been shown to calm anxiety and lower blood pressure. Dosing the bath water with a few drops of lavender essential oil ups the ante on the therapeutic effects. Studies have found lavender oil as effective as Xanax, Valium, or Prozac in lessening anxiety in women.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis. It is the second most prevalent cannabinoid within the plant, making up about 40 percent of its extract. It is closely related to another component of the plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD does not give you that “high” or “stoned” feeling, and preliminary studies have found it effective in the treatment of anxiety.
Several studies on rats have demonstrated CBD’s anti-anxiety properties, and those on human subjects have shown the same results. Preliminary studies are auspicious that CBD could provide a safe, powerful natural treatment for many health issues, including the treatment of anxiety.
The pharmacy doesn’t have to be your first line of defense in the treatment of anxiety, and natural approaches can be used effectively in conjunction with other treatments, like individual or group therapy.