I am glad you reached out on The BetterHelp Platform for some support and guidance with what you are struggling with in your life and with your relationships.
To answer your question, I will share some information about anxiety and how you can implement some self-help skills as you find resources to assist that is cost effective for you (eg in the community, a local church organization). When you can I would encourage you to consider seeking further help from a professional mental health counselor – someone who can share effective coping strategies and interventions with you.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Menta Health, approximately 40 million adults experience anxiety in the U.S. alone.
In her book Generation Me Dr. Jean Twenge, author, speaker, and professor of psychology, states three theories as to the major reasons for the rise in anxiety disorders in America:
Poor community ties and poor social skills;
Individuals being more self-centered and focused on money, fame, and image; and
High expectations from oneself lead to anxiety disorders and depression.
Shocking, but true, the more we advance technologically, the more we tend to degrade socially. Humans are social beings, and when the overuse of technology stunts the social side of our development, it causes less social interaction and overindulgence. This causes all kinds of disorders to develop in the human psyche.
However, thanks to research and studies, people are becoming more aware of their situations and are again leaning on natural treatments. When treated naturally, mental disorders and anxiety treatments have little to no side effects and faster healing and recovery.
Below is a list of 25 proven natural strategies that will help you manage your anxiety symptoms:
Meditation: The very first thing you do when you wake up sets the tone for your entire day. The first things we do when we wake up are checking our emails on our phone/laptop or switching on the TV. By doing this, we are causing external stimuli to dictate our behavior. This act initiates a certain level of anxiety to develop in our psyche at the very beginning of the day.
To break this cycle of anxiety and stress, researchers recommend that you start your day with meditation. Meditation helps you generate a sense of positivity and calmness as you prepare mentally for the day's challenges.
Waking up Early: Morning hours are very stressful for a lot of people. A lot of multitasking happens at this hour, where people juggle getting ready for work, sending their children to school, and preparing breakfast. As mentioned earlier, setting the right tone at the very beginning of the day greatly helps reduce anxiety. Trying to get a lot of things done at the last minute in the morning can be extremely stressful and cause a lot of anxiety.
To prevent this from happening, prepare for the next day by getting things ready the previous night. Small things, like selecting your clothes for the next day or preparing lunch and breakfast menu options, can greatly help reduce your anxiety.
Research also states that waking up early will give you some time for yourself and help you prepare for the day. Enjoying some peace will greatly help you fight off anxiety.
Praying: Apart from meditating, spending a few minutes in prayer is a great way to combat anxiety, according to studies.
Negative thoughts generate a lot of stress, which, in turn, cause a lot of anxiety. The fear and worry leading up to an event, like an exam, meeting, or presentation, can cause you to feel anxious. Prayer helps dispel all of these negative thoughts and creates a sense of optimism. Mentally surrendering your thoughts and actions gives you the confidence and assurance that your day will go well; thus, this causes your anxieties to decrease.
Eating Breakfast: It is not uncommon for people to forego breakfast as they rush out the door in the morning. According to Drew Ramsey, co-creator of The Brain Food Scale, co-founder of National Kale Day, and a member of the medical review team at Dr. Oz's web portal ShareCare, people who experience anxiety disorders often skip breakfast.
He states that low levels of the food compound choline lead to increased levels of anxiety in individuals. To overcome this deficiency, he recommends eating eggs, which are a source of choline.
Music: According to studies, listening to music is a great way to calm yourself and reduce anxiety. Listening to the music of your choice not only relaxes you but also helps you remove your focus from the source of anxiety. According to a Utah Pain Research Center study, music therapy helped people cope with their troubles and greatly helped reduce their body pain.
Aromatherapy: Studies state that smelling certain scents has a calming effect on our bodies. Lavender, according to research, has been found to reduce anxiety. Also, lighting scented candles or placing sweet-smelling lavender flowers in your house can be a great way to reduce anxiety and promote calmness.
Socializing: Spending time with people you love and whose company you enjoy has been found to reduce anxiety. Going out for coffee, eating dinner together, scheduling a Skype call, or visiting an old friend are great ways to reduce anxiety. This study also states that maintaining meaningful relationships is essential to cognitive sharpness and brain development.
People who maintain relationships and engage in social conversation were sharper and tended to remain healthy and happier. Engaging in social conversation tends to greatly reduce stress levels, causing recovery from anxiety and depression.
Laughter Therapy: "I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing," said Dr. Madan Kataria. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. Enjoying a good laugh with your friends, children, and relatives can be very therapeutic.
Laughter has been associated with many health benefits and is an effective psychiatric medicine. It reduces stress hormones, establishes feelings of well-being, lowers blood pressure, brings about pain relief, and improves cardiac health. Watching comedic movies or TV shows or being part of a laughter therapy group are other ways to add humor to your day. Studies state that even forcing yourself to smile can contribute to a sense of well-being.
Avoiding Caffeine: Reducing your caffeine intake per day can greatly help reduce anxiety symptoms, as caffeine is a psychoactive drug that is intricately linked with mental disorders. Caffeine is not just present in coffee but in sodas, chocolate and tea. So, watch what you are eating and drinking.
Reframe your Thinking: According to this study, negative thinking is a major factor contributing to anxiety disorders, and constantly worrying about things happening or not happening causes an individual to experience major stress. The only remedy to this problem is to alter your thought pattern. Thoughts greatly affect one's behavior. Changing your thought process from negative to positive is a proven way to reduce anxiety. Changing the negative thought immediately as soon as it pops into your mind is essential in reducing anxiety.
Here are some examples of rephrasing your thinking:
If a student thinks, "I will fail my exam," and they are engrossed in worry, they could try to rephrase it to the following: "I will not fail my exam because I have studied and have prepared well. The exam is going to be easy, and I am going to pass with flying colors."
If someone thinks, "Something is going to happen to me, and I am going to die," they could rephrase it with, "Today is a beautiful day. I am blessed to be alive and surrounded by family and friends. Nothing bad is going to happen Today. Something good is in store for me."
Avoid overscheduling: Having too many things to do can also cause anxious thoughts and behavior. Taking responsibility for a lot of things can make you feel tired and anxious. If you already have a lot on your plate, making extra commitments can lead you to feel overwhelmed, cranky and jittery. The pressure to get everything right can lead to stressful feelings and affect your mental health greatly.
To combat overscheduling, try prioritizing your schedule. If certain work can be delegated, then don't be afraid to ask for help. It's OK that you're not superhuman. You can't do it all, all of the time.
Breathing: Taking deep breaths to calm yourself is a great way to decrease anxious thoughts. Taking a deep breath not only calms you down but gives you time to reason and challenge a negative thought. Taking a deep breath slows down your heartbeat and powers up your system mentally and physically to make an informed decision.
Exercise: Exercising for 30 minutes per day significantly helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to studies, when we exercise, our bodies produce increased quantities of norepinephrine, a chemical that moderates the brain's response to stress. Regular exercise has also been associated with increased feelings of happiness.
Visualization: Visualization is a great relaxing technique. Thoughts greatly influence your actions; therefore, your thoughts must be optimistic. The visualization technique teaches you to use your imagination to reframe your thoughts into relaxing and calming scenarios. Imagining yourself in a safe and serene place greatly helps reduce your level of anxiety.
For example, when you have anxious thoughts, replace them with visions of being on a beach, with the warm sand trickling down your feet, water splashing around you, and the tropical air blowing across your face.
Yoga: Practicing yoga is a relaxing way to combat anxious thoughts and behavior. Yoga is a mind-body practice that uses a combination of exercises like breathing exercises, physical body poses, and relaxation techniques. These combinations of mind and body techniques ensure a complete physical and mental workout, thus, greatly reducing stress, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Hot baths: A hot water bath is not only soothing for the body but greatly refreshes the mind, too. Adding essential oils like lavender and vanilla to your bath water can also be very calming. Studies state that adding Epsom salt to your baths can also help relax you. The magnesium sulfate in the salts has been found to greatly mild symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Sunlight: Exposing yourself to sunlight even for 15 minutes a day can cause your body to produce Vitamin D, which plays a major role in combating feelings of anxiety and depression. If you live in areas with little or less sunlight, try getting a lightbox and exposing yourself to its light for a few minutes each day.
Chamomile Tea: Drinking three cups of chamomile tea per day, according to this study, has greatly helped in reducing levels of anxiety. This study states that chamomile contains apigenin and luteolin that help reduce symptoms of anxiety. If you are a tea lover, go to the supermarket, purchase some chamomile tea, and start enjoying its calming benefits.
Diet: Mother Nature has bestowed the human race with some great natural anxiety fighting food which is extremely beneficial to the human body. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, fish, flax seeds, and other food items, like spinach, turmeric, milk, blueberries, avocado, asparagus, and almonds is "brain food." As the name implies, these foods promote brain development and help fight anxiety and depression.
Sleep: Getting a good eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can be rejuvenating and therapeutic for your body. Proper sleep is the best medicine for most of our mental ailments. Most of the healing process takes place when the human body is sleeping and at rest. Interrupted sleep slows the repairing process in our body, causing us to feel tired and on edge. Avoiding screen time and stimulants like caffeine before bedtime is the best way to ensure a good night's sleep.
Decluttering: A cluttered and messy house, workplace, etc.. has also been found to cause stress in some people. A cluttered place bombards our minds with external stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime, leading the mind to be distracted and feel overloaded. This causes feelings of stress and negativity. Organizing and decluttering your space and letting go of things you don't need can be redeeming and therapeutic.
Taking a Break: Take a break from your regular schedule and go on a vacation to greatly reduce stress and anxiety. Spending too much time at work and being stressed out can increase anxiety and depression levels. Taking a vacation helps you shift your focus from all that stress to something enjoyable. It has been found that returning to work after a vacation greatly improves your performance and creativity.
Nature: Studies have found that spending time in nature helps reduce symptoms of anxiety. Being outdoors helps you shift your focus from your anxious thoughts to the scenic nature. Plus, you can breathe in the fresh air and are exposed to sunlight. All these factors contribute to both a healthy body and a healthy mind.
Surrendering control: Studies have found that people who prioritize remaining in control are more prone to anxiety disorders and depression. While letting go of control can be challenging, try to take your imperfections in stride. To err is human, after all.
Therapy: Expressing negativity is important. You can do it by either talking with a friend, family member, or counselor. You can even express yourself through writing in a journal or an art piece. Hoarding negative thoughts can greatly affect your health and can manifest itself in psychosomatic disorders. You must express these negative emotions.
Seeking help in the form of therapy helps you receive an experienced outlook from a non-biased viewpoint. Therapy is also useful if you don't know who to share your problems with or are far away from friends and family. Speaking to a counselor can help you feel validated and receive the help you need, depending on the severity of your condition. Try BetterHelp to talk with someone about your anxiety, depression, and more.
Practicing these suggestions will help you manage your symptoms in a way tailored to you and your personality.
There is hope, recovery is possible!
I wish you much luck in your journey to seeking a healthier and happier life!