Fast-paced life, eating habits, and lifestyle has spared no one from the clutches of anxiety. Almost every other person we know has had an anxiety attack sometime or the other. Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear. People who suffer from anxiety are worried about future events and fear their reaction to current events. Anxiety interferes with the quality of our lives and can even cut short our life by causing a heart attack!
Natural Ways To Overcome Anxiety
The three simplest natural methods to deal with anxiety attacks are diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
Lavender is a herb that can help you deal with anxiety. The sweet aroma of lavender acts as an emotional anti-inflammatory. One study observed that Greek dental patients were less anxious when the waiting room was scented with lavender oil.1
Another study on students in Florida showed that the students who inhaled lavender oil scent before an exam were less anxious.2 A German study found that a specially formulated lavender pill helped reduce anxiety symptoms in people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) as effectively as an anti-anxiety medication similar to Valium.3
2. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing has many health benefits and is an effective way to reduce anxiety. Deep breathing combined with yoga can lower stress and anxiety. Experts opine that it is impossible to breathe deeply and be anxious at the same time. A popular technique of deep breathing called the 4-7-8 breath can be easily practiced.
First, exhale completely through your mouth, then inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for seven counts and then exhale slowly through your mouth for eight counts. Performing this at least twice a day can help you beat stress and overcome anxiety.
Fish oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are not only good for the heart but also protect against depression and anxiety. One study noted that students who consumed 2.5 mg of mixed omega-3 fatty acids every day for 12 weeks had less anxiety before an exam than students who consumed a placebo.4
Experts usually recommend consuming omega-3s from food whenever possible. Oily, cold-water fish like salmon are the best sources of the fatty acids. Oysters, anchovies, sardines, and mussels are other seafood rich in omega-3s. A six-ounce piece of grilled wild caught salmon contains about 3.75 grams.
4. Warm Your Body
Research shows that heating up your body reduces muscle tension and anxiety. This is the reason why we feel relaxed after a sweaty spell in the sauna or a steam room. Sensations of warmth can alter neural circuits that control mood, including those that affect the neurotransmitter serotonin.5
Even exercises warm our body and provide a similar effect. You can even relax beside the fireplace and sip a hot cup of cocoa. Researchers clarify that whether it’s lying on the beach in the midday sun, spending time in a sauna or spa after work, or sitting in a hot bath or Jacuzzi, they all provide you with a warm feeling and help us beat anxiety.
Meditation is probably the most powerful yet least practiced method to treat mental health conditions. Mindfulness meditation, which has been practiced in India for thousands of years, is extremely effective in treating anxiety. Many therapists and psychiatrists often use meditation to treat anxiety patients.
Practicing mindful meditation allows us to connect with our inner self and dissolves feelings of stress, depression, anxiety, and other disorders. Meditation is the need of the hour to efficiently handle the stress that occurs due to the fast-paced lifestyle.
Exercises are not just a physical activity. It involves the mind too. Studies show that exercises are beneficial for the brain, and serve as a powerful antidote to depression and anxiety. Regular exercise ensures that blood supply is optimal throughout the body and refreshes the brain with fresh oxygen.
Moreover, regular exercise improves your self-esteem and keeps you physically fit. Exercise is crucial for a healthy body and mind, which plays an important role in keeping away mental disorders. One of the common causes of anxiety is worrying about illness and health, and regular exercises can prevent anxiety when you are physically and mentally fit.
7. Green Tea
This is a tried, tested and approved method to beat anxiety. Green tea is not just a refreshing drink but a potion with many beneficial properties. It is full of antioxidants and the amino acid called L-theanine present in green tea can help you stay alert and relaxed.
Research has revealed that L-theanine helps curb a rising heart rate and blood pressure. Some studies in humans have also found that it reduces anxiety. In a particular study, anxiety-prone subjects were calmer and more focused during a test after they were given 200 mg of L-theanine.6
Anxiety can be easily diffused by simply drinking a cup of chamomile tea as it contains properties that can help you calm down. Some compounds in chamomile bind to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium.7 Chamomile contains two chemicals called apigenin and luteolin that promote relaxation.
Alternatively, you can also consume it as a supplement containing 1.2% apigenin, along with dried chamomile flowers. A study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) who consumed chamomile supplements for eight weeks showed a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms compared to patients taking a placebo.8
Exposing yourself to sunlight is the best way to naturally increase your vitamin-D levels, which can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. The best time to expose yourself to sunlight is just after sunrise or just before sunset. 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight can work wonders and can eliminate stress.
Even being amidst greenery has a calming effect on the mind. So, just take an early morning walk in the park and inhale fresh air to purify your lungs and your mind. A Japanese study observed that people who walked through a forest for 20 minutes had lower stress hormone (cortisol) levels after their walk than those who took a comparable walk in an urban setting.
|↑1||Kritsidima, Metaxia, Tim Newton, and Koula Asimakopoulou. “The effects of lavender scent on dental patient anxiety levels: a cluster randomised‐controlled trial.” Community dentistry and oral epidemiology 38, no. 1 (2010): 83-87.|
|↑2||McCaffrey, Ruth, Debra J. Thomas, and Ann Orth Kinzelman. “The Effects of Lavender and Rosemary Essential Oils on Test‐Taking Anxiety Among Graduate Nursing Students.” Holistic nursing practice 23, no. 2 (2009): 88-93.|
|↑3||Woelk, H., and S. Schläfke. “A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder.” Phytomedicine 17, no. 2 (2010): 94-99.|
|↑4||Kiecolt-Glaser, Janice K., Martha A. Belury, Rebecca Andridge, William B. Malarkey, and Ronald Glaser. “Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial.” Brain, behavior, and immunity 25, no. 8 (2011): 1725-1734.|
|↑5||Lowry, C. A., S. L. Lightman, and D. J. Nutt. “That warm fuzzy feeling: brain serotonergic neurons and the regulation of emotion.” (2009): 392-400.|
|↑6||Higashiyama, Akiko, Hla Hla Htay, Makoto Ozeki, Lekh R. Juneja, and Mahendra P. Kapoor. “Effects of l-theanine on attention and reaction time response.” Journal of Functional Foods 3, no. 3 (2011): 171-178.|
|↑7||Srivastava, Janmejai K., Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta. “Chamomile: a herbal medicine of the past with a bright future.” Molecular medicine reports 3, no. 6 (2010): 895-901.|
|↑8||Amsterdam, Jay D., Yimei Li, Irene Soeller, Kenneth Rockwell, Jun James Mao, and Justine Shults. “A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy of generalized anxiety disorder.” Journal of clinical psychopharmacology 29, no. 4 (2009): 378.|