Over the last years, there has been a growing interest in natural remedies for anxiety, depression, and stress. From yoga and acupuncture to meditation and relaxation techniques, researchers have been exploring various options which could serve a complementary role in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
But while these natural treatments promise to deliver spectacular results, experts advise us to consult a mental health professional or primary care doctor before using them.
Before we talk more about natural remedies for anxiety, I want to clarify a few things about this topic.
After browsing through social media hoping to understand how people generally see natural treatments, I’ve stumbled into many people who believe these treatments are far better than therapy or medication.
In a way, some of us tend to consider that any ‘natural,’ ‘alternative,’ or ‘complementary’ treatment is safer and more effective than anything that modern medicine has to offer.
There are a lot of reasons why some people have lost confidence in modern medicine and its science-backed approaches. But this is a story for another article.
To my knowledge, there’s no evidence suggesting alternative treatments and natural remedies are safer or better than psychotherapy and medication.
But for some reason, this whole “modern medicine vs. natural medicine” debate has turned into a heated dispute.
In the end, it’s not about which option is better (there’s a wide array of treatments that can relieve anxiety), it’s about experimenting, reading, and then choosing the options that work best for you.
With that out of the way, let us together discover some of the natural remedies I do recommend to help you with your anxiety.
Meditation is perhaps one of the most popular natural techniques for anxiety relief.
One of the main purposes of meditation – be it mindfulness, transcendental, or any other form – is to help you experience the present moment and focus on a particular aspect of yourself, without your mind getting lost in worries and negative thoughts.
In my opinion, if you’re planning to make this practice a daily habit, you should start with mindfulness meditation.
According to a recent meta-analysis, findings regarding the potential for mindfulness interventions to reduce various problematic conditions, such as pain, stress, anxiety, depression (relapse), and disordered eating, are promising.
Furthermore, a 2018 study revealed mindfulness meditation could help you cope better with the stress responses caused by generalized anxiety disorder.
By exercising self-awareness and taking each thought – be it positive or negative – as it is, we slowly begin to understand that anxiety is nothing more but the product of our own thinking patterns.
But even though meditation can’t ‘delete’ those anxiety-generating beliefs and thinking patterns, it can help you achieve the level of self-awareness you need to observe your thoughts and detach yourself from them.
And once you stop identifying yourself with your anxiety and begin to see yourself not as an anxious individual but an individual who gets anxious sometimes, you will manage to keep your worries in check and regain control of your life.By exercising self-awareness and taking each thought – be it positive or negative - as it is, we slowly begin to understand that anxiety is nothing more but the product of our own thinking patterns. Click To Tweet
We know for a fact that having an active lifestyle helps us stay in great shape and achieve physical health.
But aside from the fact that physical activity is good for your body, there are plenty of other reasons why you should develop a regular exercise routine.
One less known thing about exercising is that it can be just as effective in relieving anxiety as medication and most existing natural remedies.
Researchers and mental health professionals strongly believe that daily physical activity is crucial in reducing the symptoms of this unpleasant condition.
For example, a 2011 study has concluded that exercise and medication work great as anxiety and depression relievers, both individually and combined.
Furthermore, the study also showed that exercise is an effective and cheap alternative way to battle a variety of anxiety disorders.
So next time you feel worried, restless, or afraid and you can’t stop ruminating, why not go for a relaxing walk to clear your head or maybe quick jog to ‘sweat out’ your anxiety.
#3 Breathing techniques
From diaphragmatic and alternate nostril breathing to progressive relaxation and guided visualization, all these relaxation techniques have one common element – breathing.
Current research suggests such practices can reduce anxiety, plus increase our emotional control and psychological well-being,
I think it’s incredible how this basic reflex – if done in a specific manner – can have such a profoundly positive impact on our overall mood. And the explanation is relatively simple.
When you get anxious, your breathing tends to become rapid, shallow, even a bit chaotic. By inhaling and exhaling in a specific manner (depending on each exercise), you regain control over your breathing, and eventually your anxiety. In other words, by relaxing your body, you cultivate a state of calm where your mind is less bothered by worry-filled thoughts and unpleasant emotions.
Another explanation for why breathing techniques can relieve anxiety is that these simple and often rhythmic exercises take your mind off worries and concerns. Sometimes, it’s best to ‘silence’ your anxiety and go about your daily life.
For more tips on how to manage anxiety using breathing techniques, check out these 3 fantastic breathing exercises.
#4 Healthy Eating Habits
We know for a fact that our day-to-day eating habits can have a significant impact on both physical and mental health. But the relationship between food and mental health is complex and too long to explain in a few paragraphs.
What we do know for sure is that just as food influences mental health so do certain aspects of our mind influence our eating habits.
According to a 2013 review, there’s a correlation between diet and anxiety-related behaviors. However, researchers are not 100% sure of how the relationship between food and anxiety actually works.
Nevertheless, there are a few guidelines you can follow to alleviate anxiety:
- Avoid coffee, energy drinks, and any substance that could intensify that sensation of restlessness.
- Diversify your diet so that you can get all the minerals and nutrients you need to keep your body in tip-top shape.
- Eat mindfully. It’s not just about what you eat but also when and how you eat.
Developing healthy eating habits is a great way to keep anxiety in check.Developing healthy eating habits is a great way to keep anxiety in check Click To Tweet
Over the last years, the Internet has been flooded by adds for natural supplements that promise to relieve anything from chronic pain and other medical conditions to anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and stress.
While I’m not that big on using supplements and herbs to treat anxiety (it’s out of my area of expertise), some people claim certain plants such as chamomile can relieve anxiety.
After some thorough digging, I stumbled into a study which revealed that chamomile might be an effective natural remedy for generalized anxiety disorder.
Chamomile is a plant whose flowers have been used for centuries to treat various health problems such as migraines, indigestion, insomnia, and many more.
This flower is available across the globe and is rich in essential vitamins (B1 and C), minerals (calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc), essential oils, and organic acids. In fact, you will find chamomile tea at any supermarket.
Perhaps the answer to your constant worrying is a cup of chamomile tea before bed.
#6 Quality sleep
Just like eating habits, sleep can have a tremendous impact on your overall health.
For example, poor-quality sleep can result in mental fatigue, irritability, and poor results at work. If this goes on for weeks (or months), you might end up struggling with depression and anxiety disorders.
According to a study cited by Science Daily, sleeping less than the recommended eight hours a night is associated with intrusive, repetitive thoughts like those seen in anxiety or depression.
Furthermore, a post by Psych Central highlights some interesting findings regarding sleep and anxiety. It seems that chronic worriers – those who are naturally more anxious and therefore more likely to develop a full-blown anxiety disorder – are acutely vulnerable to the impact of insufficient sleep.
What we know so far is that:
- People who are naturally more anxious than the rest are particularly vulnerable to poor-quality sleep and
- Too little sleep can trigger intrusive thoughts.
If you’re an anxious person struggling to get that some sleep, try doing the following:
- Wake up at the same hour each day. That way, you can keep a tight sleep schedule and get those healthy 8 hours of sleep.
- Avoid caffeine after lunch and avoid big dinners.
- Try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise before you go to sleep. It will help you take your mind off any worries or intrusive thoughts.
Sleep better to feel better.
#7 Nature Walks
When was the last time you went to the park or took a relaxing walk in the forest?
According to researchers, nature walks promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.
If you haven’t noticed, the effects of nature walks are the exact opposite of the usual symptoms of anxiety. The rapid heartbeat, the constant restlessness, all those unpleasant reactions will disappear once you lose yourself in the beauty of nature.
In short, nature walks is a cheap and effective way to relax and relieve anxiety.
#8 CBD oil
In recent years, CBD oil and CBD-based products have gained massive popularity among anxiety and depression sufferers.
People from all over the world report increased mood, better quality sleep, increased appetite and many other positive outcomes that result from using CBD-based products.
For those of you who don’t know, CBD stands for cannabidiol – one of the main cannabinoids found in marijuana and agricultural hemp. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is safe and doesn’t get you ‘high.
But aside from lowering anxiety, CBD is also a viable alternative treatment for stress – one of the most common problems of our century.
If you’re interested in CBD-based products, try Made by Hemp. From oils and tinctures to edibles and patches, you will find a wide variety of quality CBD products to help you keep stress and anxiety in check.
To Sum Up
When dealing with anxiety, the best course of action is to consider all the viable treatment options that you can access. That includes psychotherapy, natural remedies, alternative treatments, and medication.
But before you make any decisions, talk to a general physician or mental health professionals. Using the safest and most effective treatments for anxiety is not entirely a matter of personal preferences.
You also need the input of a licensed professional.
So, what do you think about our seven natural remedies for anxiety relief? Have you ever tried one of the strategies mentioned above? Which one did you find most useful? Are there any other strategies that have worked well for you?
Share your story by leaving a comment below!
Clinical Psychologist, Licensed CBT Therapist.
I’m a Clinical Psychologist and a licensed Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy practitioner. My work focuses mainly on strategies designed to manage and prevent the most common mental issues – anxiety, depression, and stress.
When I’m not busy with my therapeutic practice or other work-related activities, I enjoy going out for a jog or hit the nearby gym.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via LinkedIn (link below), or through the Contact Us page.