Anxiety is a normal response to stress or a dangerous situation and it’s often referred to as the “fight or flight” mechanism or response. Everyone experiences it from time to time, right? Symptoms can range from nervousness and tension in the muscles, all the way to debilitating panic attacks and chest pains. It’s also the most prevalent mental health condition, and that’s why we will be discussing the best anxiety treatments today. According to the CDC, one out of every five Americans struggles with mental illness. It’s estimated, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association Of America, anxiety affects over 40 million adults in the United States, making it the most commonly diagnosed mood disorder.
Anxiety becomes problematic when it is constant or in reaction to inappropriate circumstances, which over time can negatively affect your quality of life and your ability to function. In fact, there are a number of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, excessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder.
Anxiety can be a disabling condition that’s accompanied by long-term stress, depression, and a decline in overall health. It can present as physical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations, which are all very real, according to this Harvard Medical School Study “Anxiety and Physical Illness”. It can also contribute to many chronic diseases, even when treated with conventional medications. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association Of America (ADAA), some people with prolonged anxiety will also suffer a diagnosed chronic pain disease such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.
That’s why we should use natural treatments for depression and anxiety and
other mood disorders which will address the root of the problem instead of providing a temporary fix, or just masking your symptoms, with medications. In fact, anxiety can affect people of all ages, with a lifetime prevalence between 4.3% to 5.9%. In addition, 40% to 60% of people with anxiety also experience depression, which makes it an even more serious and difficult condition to treat properly. And research shows that people with anxiety cannot successfully achieve short or long term remission, with remission rates remaining as low as 38% after five years.
There are many things that can trigger anxiety besides stress, that is normally brought on by fear or danger. Experiencing traumatic life experiences as a child or as an adult causes anxiety. Others are thyroid problems, having an unhealthy nutrient-deficient diet, or eating fatty foods or too many inflammatory foods such as caffeine, sugar, and drinking excessive alcohol, as indicated by this National Institutes Of Health (NIH) study. Another is dysfunctional release of the hormone serotonin, and general hormone imbalance, causing adrenal fatigue, or, low levels of progesterone, the calming hormone.
Metabolic issues, like blood sugar imbalance, diabetes, or chronic inflammation, over-use of medications like hormonal birth control, asthma inhalers, and over-the-counter cold symptom drugs, are a couple more. And finally 2 more, having viruses-like gut infections, parasites, and Lyme disease, and having a family history of mental health disorders.
Moderate Physical Activity
Feel energized, release endorphins and work through your stress by getting
regular exercise. Exercise releases various neurotransmitters such as endorphins, the pleasure hormone, which attach to your brain’s opiate receptors, lowering your perception of pain and flooding your brain with feelings of euphoria. Studies show that aerobic exercise like jogging, swimming, and walking, performed at moderate intensity, is best for lowering anxiety. Aim for a 30-minute session, 5 times a week.
Regular physical activity helps to improve sleep quality, reduce inflammation, boost confidence, improve energy levels and ease stress and tension. Take a deep breath, or several. Deep breathing can fill your body with oxygen, slow your heart beat, and reduce blood pressure.
Try the City Of Hope 5-Minute Deep Breathing Exercise to relax and take the edge off. Sitting in a comfortable position with hands on abdomen, breathe in slowly, (feel your hands rise)and count 2-3-4-5, breathe out, (feel your hands fall) and then repeat for 5 minutes.
Meditation and Yoga
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce symptoms of
anxiety, slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure. The NIH study, said
Anxiety is inversely related to brain activity associated with the cognitive regulation of emotions. Mindfulness meditation has been found to regulate anxiety.
The best thing about meditation is it can be practiced anywhere at any time and is a good way to calm anxiety quickly. Dedicating time to a daily meditation of just 10 minutes could help you feel calmer and more in control of your life. If you need help to get started checkout this video “How To Meditate“.
A 2012 study published in Alternative Medicine Review found that of the 35 trials that addressed the effects of yoga on anxiety and stress, 25 of them noted a significant decrease in stress and anxiety symptoms as a result of practicing yoga. The National Institutes Of Health reviewed this study, and although they agreed with the findings, they recommended more in-depth research should be done.
Another option is writing creatively or keeping a journal which helps people express and make sense of their feelings, concerns, and experiences, by getting them out and on paper and out of their swirling minds. Another strategy is to write down
a negative thought when it comes up, and ask yourself a series of questions, challenging the validity of the thought, so to come up with alternatives and solutions.
Healthy Nutrient-Dense Foods
Eat a brain-healthy diet. An anxiety attack might be a sign your blood sugar is dropping. A poor nutrient-deprived diet can lead to many anxiety symptoms, including moodiness, fatigue and abnormal blood sugar levels that cause nervousness and the jitters. A poor diet can also lead to weight gain. And this can impact your body image and self-esteem, and bring on feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt.
Anxiety can also affect your gut-health, such as the condition “leaky-gut“. Numerous studies point to a strong link between what’s going on in your gut and various mood and behavioral disorders. The NIH confirms the Gut-Brain connection, in this study.
Recent research has suggested that the gut microbiota has an influence on mood. Poor diet is a risk factor for depression; thus, a healthy diet may prevent depression.
A healthy stomach equals a calm mind, and vise versa! Diet-regulated anxiety is the desired results, as another
NIH confirms. According to a Harvard Medical School study, certain vitamin-deficient foods have been linked to anxiety disorders. Foods low in magnesium is one of the common ones, and eating leafy greens such as spinach and Swiss chard, or legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are high in magnesium. Foods rich in the mineral zinc has been shown to reduce anxiety, and foods like oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks, are good sources of zinc.
Eat healthy, energy-boosting snacks such as walnuts, whole wheat crackers with peanut butter or an organic grass-fed boiled egg, which is full of energy-busting choline and omega 3s, or drink an anxiety-calming liquid like green tea, or hormone-balancing smoothies like blueberry maca.
Make sure you eat a balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods rich in anti-inflammatory brain-foods like omega-3 rich fatty acids found in wild-caught fish, and organic grass-fed or free-range finished meats, which are also rich in antioxidants like vitamins A and E, all the amino acids including the 8 essential amino acids, and a full range of vital vitamins and minerals.
Foods like organic grass-fed or free-range finished meats and wild-caught fish, which are high in omega 3 fatty acids, have been shown in an NIH study on medical students, to successfully reduce anxiety levels. Another study published in the Journal of Psychiatry Research and reviewed by NIH, eating probiotic-rich fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, and kefir was linked with fewer symptoms of anxiety. Organic foods such as fruits (berries), vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes (beans), and spices, high in antioxidants have been linked to effectively reduce symptoms of anxiety, let again, by another NIH study.
To avoid mood swings and poor neurotransmitter function, and to maintain normal blood sugar levels and improve your anxiety symptoms, stay away from less nutritious, inflammatory-type refined foods, including baked goods like pastries and cookies, sweetened beverages, fast foods, fried foods, saturated fats,
processed meat and refined grains which can be found in cereals and packaged white breads.
Take a Sauna Or Hot Bath
Raising your body temperature by taking a hot bath can ease aching muscles and reduce anxiety by altering the neural circuits that control mood, including boosting the happiness-hormone serotonin. For more benefits, add some Epson salt to your hot bath water. The magnesium sulfate in the salt will have a relaxing and calming affect on your mind and body.
Spend Time In Nature
Studies prove what the Japanese have always known, taking a forest-bath, or “Shinrin-yoku”, in Japanese, or simply spending 20 minutes walking in the woods can boost your mood by reducing the amount of stress hormones coursing around your body.
Japanese researchers found that 20 minutes of shinrin-yoku, compared with 20 minutes in an urban setting, altered cerebral blood flow in a manner that indicated a state of relaxation.
This activity reduce
psychological stress, depressive symptoms, and hostility, while at the same time improves sleep, and increases vigor and vitality. The National Institutes Of Health reviewed the Japanese study and here is what they said,
Nature therapy as a health-promotion method and potential universal health model is implicated for the reduction of reported modern-day “stress-state” and “technostress.
Similiar to spending time in nature forest-bathing, is “grounding”. The earth is a biosphere with negative and positive forces and walking barefooted on the earth’s surface on either dirt, sand or grass, transfers healthy and beneficial electrons into your body, bringing a sense of calmness, in body and mind.
So, get barefooted and get outdoors. The health experts at the NIH confirms grounding is good for you!
Live A Life Of Gratitude
As bad as your situation might be, there’s always someone in a worse
predicament. Just look around and you will see it true! And, remember, everything in life and every situation in life is temporary, because the only thing in life that is constant, is “change”. Concentrate on the positive things in your life and be thankful, use the best anxiety treatments, and understand that the negatives in your life will eventually change or go away.
Get Restful Restorative Sleep
Insomnia can be both a cause and a symptom of anxiety. Busy workloads, demands of family and social lives, and constant interruptions from cell phones and devices, can all make a good night’s sleep seem like an impossible task. Sleep deprivation can contribute to common anxiety symptoms. These symptoms include excessive worrying, and by restoring proper sleep patterns, people with anxiety can reduce feelings of fear, worry and tension.
Switch off devices an hour before bedtime or ban them from the bedroom, avoid
caffeine and alcohol late in the day and engage in calming activities before bed such as a warm bath, reading, or listening to music. Here’s a good tip. If you can’t fall asleep or you wake up during the night and can’t fall back to sleep, don’t just toss and turn. Get up and do something relaxing like read, until you get sleepy, and you will, then go back to bed.
Divorce From Technology
Technology and electronic screens are vying for our attention at every second of every day. Remaining “plugged in” and paying too much attention to the flashy social media posts of others can distort your sense of self-worth and leave you constantly comparing the real life you live to the lives of those on the internet. Psychology Today did a review on over-use of technology, and how it makes us anxious, which is worth reading. Take some time every day to put down
your phone, shut the laptop, and allow yourself to rest during moments of quiet solitude. Sitting with your own thoughts while sheltering yourself from digital inputs is a powerful way to unclutter the mind of anxious thoughts.
One Is A Lonely Number
Don’t try fighting anxiety alone. In your effort to overcome anxiety, finding support from your family, friends, community and, if necessary, professional therapists can be extremely helpful. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can help to change your thought patterns and reactions so that you can better-handle stressful situations, by instructing people to become aware of negative thinking, so that they can challenge their negative thoughts and change them. This helps people develop a more positive mindset. You’ve heard of it, its called the “Power Of Positive Thinking”. According to another NIH study, practicing power of positive thinking replaces pathological worry and reduces symptoms of anxiety, especially in generalized anxiety disorder.
The goal is for you to become aware of these automatic negative thoughts and learn to question them when they come up, leaving you with a more realistic outlook. Doing this actually rewires your brain. The power of “positive thinking” is powerful! If your
anxiety is affecting your quality of life, consider joining a local support group or connecting with other people who are dealing with anxiety. Together, you can use these natural remedies for anxiety with members of your community and work through tough situations with their support, and you support them.
Spending Time With Pet Or Pets
Spending time with pets or animals is one of our favorite natural remedies for anxiety! In fact, animal therapy has become commonplace in higher education institutions thanks to research that shows how spending time with dogs and cats can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, and relax you. Spending time with cute and fluffy loving animals, who will show you love and show you affection unconditionally, can really help calm your nerves and raise your self-esteem.
Do Something Fun and Enjoyable With Others
Break your loneliness and do something fun and enjoyable as often as you can with others. Activities that reduce isolation and are enjoyable are at the heart of behavioral activation, a new therapy that is as effective as CBT therapy, and works on the premise that, when people are depressed, they avoid interacting with others, which reinforces the depression.
The research reported in the Lancet study randomly allocated 440 people with depression to either behavioral activation or CBT. After a year, there was no difference between the two groups. Two-thirds of people in each group reported a 50% reduction in their symptoms of depression.
It was learned that behavioral activation works as well as antidepressants and can be used for mild, moderate and even severe anxiety and depression.
Take Up Gardening
delivers many healthy benefits, such as sustenance, beauty, relaxation, calmness (mindfulness), purpose, responsibility, accomplishment, and self-esteem, all counterpoints to anxiety and depression. A recent study published in Preventive Medicine, conducted a meta-analysis on 21 different studies investigating the affect of gardening on physical or psychological well-being. The results, confirmed by ResearchGate, indicated that gardening has a positive overall affect on health and well being, and that gardening was particularly effective in decreasing depression and anxiety.
Supplement With Organic Peruvian Maca
Maca as compared to the placebo group; however, significant decreases in diastolic blood pressure and depression were apparent after Maca treatment……. it appeared to reduce symptoms of depression and improve diastolic blood pressure in Chinese postmenopausal women.
Maca root is an
amazing Adaptogen, which means that it can support your body to deal with stress and anxiety in a healthy way, by bringing a normalizing and balancing affect to your bodily functions, particularly to support healthy balanced hormones. There are more ongoing studies.
The best anxiety treatments, as you learned in this article, really are effective! What are your thoughts? Are you going to use them? If you have questions, please leave them below.