- Mental Health
Natural and Home Remedies for Anxiety
By Joan Whetzel
We all go through bouts of anxiety. The negative emotions that come with it only add to our distress. Sure, there are plenty of pills we can swallow to alleviate the symptoms, which may sound like the perfect quick fix, especially when the anxiety symptoms seem to be going haywire. However, that may not be the best option for those who are looking for a more natural approach to their health related issues. Before choosing any path, it's a good idea to understand what anxiety is and the symptoms you are experiencing.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from other physical and mental problems in a person's life, especially since many of these problems have the same symptoms. The one factor that distinguishes anxiety from any of the others is that anxiety's symptoms occur in response to a stimulus - an event that occurs just prior to the onset of the symptoms or in anticipation of something unpleasant occuring in the near future. Some people find themselves in a constant state of anxiety or worry. Others may suffer unexpected attacks of anxiety seemingly out of the blue. An anxiety attack will usually include two or more of the following:
- Being in a constant state of uneasiness, nervousness, or trepidation.
- Feeling irritable.
- Feeling restless.
- Feeling exhausted or fatigued.
- Being unable to concentrate.
- Feeling chest pain.
- Suffering headaches.
- Feeling breathless.
- Feeling nauseated.
- Suffering from indigestion.
- Suffering from insomnia.
- Not being able to calm down or relax
Ways to Eliminate or Reduce Anxiety
1. Distract yourself. Distractions like games, books, and music help the person to redirect his or her focus in another direction, which can help calm the mind and prevent the anxiety from taking hold.
2. Prayer. Another good way to refocus one's mind and energy. Praying also allows people to hand over to God whatever is worrying them and ask for His assistance in staying calm. Sometimes just the act of praying is all that is necessary to bring a person to a state of calmness and peace.
3. Take a Daily Vitamin. Some vitamins and minerals - especially the B vitamins and magnesium - work on the nervous system. An adequate intake of these vitamins and minerals can only improve our state of well-being.
4. Take A Walk And Get Some Fresh Air. Fresh air, sunshine, and exercise are all mood enhancers and help to calm the nerves.
5. Do Something Out of the Ordinary. Repeating the same routines and the same experiences day in and day out not only gets us in a rut, they set us up for repeatedly anticipating the same results which, in turn, provokes repeated attacks of anxiety. By breaking life's routine, not only can a person get out of this rut, but at least one of the stimuli that provokes his or her anxiety attacks can be removed.
6. Take a Hot Shower Or Bath. The warmth soothes tense muscles and nerves.
7. Drink a Hot Cup Of Tea. The warmth will soothes the body from the inside while the simple act of sitting still, slowly sipping away at the tea has a tendency to slow the thoughts down, which calms the mind. Make sure it's green tea, chamomile tea, or an herbal tea, which cuts out the caffeine - a stimulant that only aggravates the bouts of anxiety.
8. Play With Your Cat. Cats loved to be stroked and loved on by their people. They return the affection with love of their own. Their purring has also been shown, time and again, to be soothing.
9. Take the time to write. Writing by hand is a slow process, much slower than typing on a keyboard. The act of writing by hand requires a person to slow down their thought process to the tempo that the pen can inscribe the messages on the paper. What you write is up to you. It could be a journal entry, a note or letter to a loved one, or even something as simple as filling out recipe cards to give away as gifts. If you can, try to make whatever you are writing positive or thoughtful. This prevents the negative emotions from taking over and feeding your state of anxiety.
10. Breathe. Controlled breathing produces a rhythm that has a calming effect on the mind and nervous system. The oxygen taken in during this process also feeds all the cells in the body. Performing this ritual in a reclined position or while laying down will help the body to relax further.
11. Meditate. Whether it's Eastern meditation (which focuses on emptying the mind) or Western meditation (focusing the mind on specific topics, prayers, religiousintentions), mediation calms the body as the person sits still for a period of time and calms the mind by focusing the attention elsewhere.
12. Get Rid of Stressor Foods. Certain foods either create or exacerbate anxiety. Foods like sugar, syrup, honey, and even milk and dairy products have been shown to increase anxiety when eaten in high quantities. On the other hand, certain starches, like brown rice and other grains as well as beans and potatoes can help the body and the nerves calm down.
13. Use Flower Essence Aromatherapy. Certain smells calm us down because they provoke warm memories, like smelling grandma's cinnamon pecan sticky rolls or the scent of snicker doodles fresh out of the oven. Certain floral essences have the same calming effect. Aspen, for instant, soothes the sense of foreboding and apprehension, while Red chestnut and lavender have a calming effect on the nerves and relax us, making it easier to drop off to sleep.
14. Have Some Form of Bodywork Done. The bodywork here includes getting a massage, or a shiatsu treatment, and any other variety of bodywork that helps reduce muscle tension, alleviate stress, and improve the quality of sleep and our ability to fall asleep in the first place.
15. Try Ball Therapy. This relaxation therapy involves regularly and rhythmically squeezing and releasing a ball small enough to fit in your hand, such as a tennis ball or a rubber ball. Another version involves tossing the ball from one hand to the other in the same rhythmic manner. The regular rhythm is meant to interrupt the activity in your brain that's feeding the anxiety.
For those who are still looking for a more natural form of anti-anxiety therapy in a pill form, the following are available over the counter. This is not a recommendation that you use these pills, only a statement that they are available. You should always consult your physician before using any of these remedies.
- St. John's Wort
- Valerian Root