How to Gain Control Over Your Anxiety - Naturally
By: Sarah Fader
Updated May 29, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT
If you are tired of popping a pill every time your stress levels rise, you may want to learn how to get rid of anxiety naturally. Whether you suffer from palpitations, sweating, racing thoughts, or shortness of breath, anxiety symptoms may make you feel like you have lost control.
Pharmaceutical interventions only target the symptoms of the problem; they do nothing to tackle the problem itself. Natural anxiety remedies holistically address anxiety by targeting its cause, helping you to gain lasting control.
There are many triggers for anxiety, so any sustainable, effective approach must be multi-faceted. An online counselor can optimize your path to better mental health by helping you formulate an individualized plan with the combination of natural treatments for anxiety that is right for you.
Nurture Your Body with Nutrition
You may not think that what you eat has much to do with mental health, but cutting-edge research says that it does. In fact, the strong link between the digestive system and the brain (often referred to as the gut-brain axis) is a relatively new, vitally important concept when it comes to natural anxiety relief.
Remember that cake you ate three days ago? Its sugar content may still be causing anxiety. That's right, food's effects can last days and even weeks.
Eat a Whole Foods Diet
If you are anxious, perhaps one thing you worry about is your weight. If you count calories, you may rely on pre-packaged foods with nutritional labels so that you can pinpoint your exact calorie intake. However, these foods are not doing you any favors. Likely they are loaded with fillers, preservatives, and chemicals that can have an unknown effect on your entire body (including your mind). The best natural way to reduce anxiety is by eating whole, unprocessed foods.
Many people immediately notice natural anxiety reduction when they switch from a processed diet to a whole foods diet of fresh vegetables, whole grains, and pasture-raised meat. This is because the body does not have to work so hard to synthesize nutrients from the foods it recognizes.
If you decide to transition to a whole foods diet, be sure to consult with a nutritionist. Because synthetic nutrients are not added to whole foods, you may develop a nutritional deficiency if you do not seek professional help. Also, for optimal mental and physical health, it is best to transition gradually to a whole foods' diet.
Drink Tea and Embrace Herbs
Nowhere is the incidence of anxiety more prevalent than modern societies in the West. In fact, anxiety is skyrocketing in the West. Perhaps one of the reasons this is occurring is that we have lost touch with the power of plants. Unlike people of traditional, indigenous societies, Westerners rarely rely on teas and herbs as a source of relaxation and a wellspring of health. But these natural treatments for anxiety can be seamlessly integrated into your daily routine to achieve a sense of balance and control.
Specifically, the chamomile flower and Ashwagandha root are particularly soothing. Ashwagandha has been used for ages as an ancient Indian medicine. It can be crushed and consumed in powdered form mixed with water or milk or as a liquid extract. Chamomile flowers can be infused in hot water and consumed as a tea. Taking the time to slow down and drink tea is a natural way to reduce anxiety, in and of itself.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and added sugars
When life gets hectic, it is easy to turn to caffeine or sugar as a stimulant when tired or alcohol as a depressant when anxious. However, caffeine, sugar, and alcohol can the levels of anxiety. Not to mention that they can biochemically interact with the nervous system to induce addiction. To know how to treat anxiety naturally, steer clear of these anxiety-inducing substances.
Address Nutritional Deficiencies
You may feel anxious because your body is deficient in an essential nutrient, like B vitamins, Magnesium, or Omega-3 fatty acids. In this case, your anxiety is a red flag that your body needs a particular vitamin or mineral.
Participate in Exhilarating or Relaxing Exercise
Eating right is only one natural anxiety remedy. Exercise is another. Modern sedentary lifestyles run contrary to humans' evolutionary desire to move. Perhaps this is why just over twenty minutes of exercise per day is correlated with lower anxiety levels.
Invented many ages ago, this ancient Indian practice, if done regularly, has been shown to ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and even schizophrenia. Not only that, it reduces systemic inflammation, preventing the onset of chronic mental and physical diseases. It likely does so by helping to reconnect the body and the mind so that the yoga practitioner is more balanced, centered, and in control of emotions.
Tai Chi is a soothing form of exercise that emphasizes the movement of energy - particularly stagnant, negative energy - that becomes lodged in the body, precipitating a list of mental and physical ills. Research connects Tai Chi is a natural anxiety treatment.
Aerobic exercise is characterized by moderate to heavy breathing and a moderately fast heart rate. Not only does aerobic exercise improve cardiovascular health, it also reduces anxiety levels.
You may not notice your subtle breath throughout the day, but it is what sustains you. In fact, deeper breathing promotes increased energy levels. How? Breathing supplies oxygen to the cardiovascular system, and deeper breaths increases oxygen intake. Oxygen fuels metabolic processes, resulting in increased energy levels.
But deep breathing increases calm energy. At the same time that your energy levels rise, your nervous system slows. Calm energy is exactly what you need when you start to feel anxious. When anxious, the tendency is to breathe shallowly, sucking in air with chest muscles (instead of using the diaphragm). This leads to a cascade of anxiety.
Learning how to exert control over the nervous system through breath is perhaps the most important of all life-hacking secrets. Learning to slow and deepen the breath is one of the most important strategies to relieve anxiety naturally. An online counselor can help you practice breathing through stressful situations.
Cultivate a Support System
When you have at least one confidant, you can share your feelings instead of storing them in the back of your mind. It is intuitive that lessening the mind's burden will lower the risk of an anxiety attack. People who cultivate and maintain support systems are psychologically and physically healthier than those who do not. An online counselor can be an important part of your support system.
Invest in Body Work
You may not be surprised to learn that there is research to support the relaxation benefits of massage therapy and acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing art in which painless needle pricks stimulate the flow of energy throughout the body. Massage therapy seeks to relax muscle and connective tissue.
According to neuroscientist Candice Pert, the body - not just the mind - stores emotion. Because of this, regular massage therapy and acupuncture treatments are two ways to truly and deeply address trauma that may underlie your anxiety.
Turn to a Higher Power
Many people who suffer from anxiety would like to cast their cares on another. Many people who believe in a Higher Power voice their anxieties regularly, through prayer. Perhaps it is for this reason that people with a spiritual practice tend to have less anxiety and better physical health. If you want to get rid of anxiety naturally, you may decide that it is time to (re)turn to a Higher Power.
Take Time for Self-Care
People with anxiety tend to worry and care for others, often more so than themselves. While this trait is admirable, it can also be destructive. Before you can help another, you must be on solid ground yourself. Standing on solid ground requires daily self-care practices, such as aromatherapy and Epsom Salt baths.
Aromatherapy involves using essential oils (with scents) to stimulate the brain to release certain chemicals. The type of chemical released depends on the type of essential oil used. For people with anxiety, regular use of lavender essential oil can promote feelings of relaxation.
Epsom Salt Baths
Hot Epsom Salt baths flood the body with magnesium, encouraging relaxation. The heat opens skin pores, allowing the magnesium in the Epsom Salt to enter. This is an inexpensive therapy that you can practice on a regular basis to help gain control of anxiety.
Seek Wisdom from an Online Counselor
Because so many people suffer from anxiety, many manufacturers seek to profit by inventing "natural anxiety cures." It can be difficult to navigate the plethora of options. An online counselor can help you determine a course of action that will combat anxiety.
But an online counselor does much more than that. Trained in psychotherapy methods, a counselor is able to help you face your anxiety head on and learn to reframe anxious thoughts. He or she can also help you implement proven strategies in your daily life to overcome anxiety.
You do not need to suffer from anxiety any longer. An online counselor will partner with you so that you are not alone in your fight to reduce anxiety naturally.