Natural Ways To Beat Anxiety

March 13, 2013


Image Credit: Meredith Farmer

Once upon a time anxiety was considered a state of being not a medical condition. Today there are a myriad of ways to combat anxiety, from cognitive psychotherapy to physical activities to medical interventions such as pharmaceutical medicines.

Anxiety may be situational, internal or a result of a chemical imbalance. While for some, medication is the most appropriate solution, other people may try to avoid prescription medicines and find other ways to cope with their anxiety.

Different types of anxiety require different approaches. Following below are some suggestions for things people try when looking to manage normal anxiety. Only you and your psychologist or psychiatrist can work out the right approach for you – don’t be afraid to ask for help from mental-health professionals.

–          Is something in particular worrying you? Is it within your power to change it? If not, let it go. Worrying won’t help.

If it is within your power to influence the outcome then get busy: take action to resolve it, face it, fix it, do what it is that needs to be done to get it out of your mind.

–          Improve your diet. A lack of certain nutrients has been associated with anxiety, for example, a lack of magnesium and some amino acids and a deficiency in omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish oil, flaxseeds, walnuts and  avocados).

–          Observe yourself: see if a possible food sensitivity maybe triggering your anxiety. If you have panic attacks start to notice what you ate the night before, the morning of, for lunch that day etc. to see if there is a pattern to the types of foods you eat that may be correlated to the anxiety. Caffeine can be a trigger too so steer clear. Avoid sugar, excessive stimulants (such as cigarettes or energy drinks), and food additives.

–          Lower the stress hormones in the body by doing daily exercise. A gentle walk, an easy bike ride, or a proper workout: do what’s right for your current fitness level and then build up over time. Exercise that gets the heart pumping is one of the best ways of beating stress and fighting a chemical upset within the body, mind, brain.

–          Focus on your breath, and slowly breathe in and out to the count of three. Close your eyes if you need to, and count again. Repeat for as long as necessary till the wave of anxiety has passed – which it will.

–          Start your day with oats. Oats contain B vitamins (the “happy” vitamin) and minerals that can help induce a feeling of calm. Go easy on the sugar though – use fruit and a little honey or yogurt instead. Grated apple can give you a sweetness boost if you really need it.

–          Drink herbal tea, such as chamomile, or try herbal supplements such as Valerian, St. John’s Wort, Magnolia, Sacred Basil and Withania.

–          Allow yourself time out and spend it looking after yourself in some way. For example, do a weekly yoga class, have a massage, learn to meditate. These activities will help to take your mind of things and can also stimulate the release of feel-good hormones in the body. You will also feel proud of yourself for taking positive action.

–          Eat small meals every two to three hours to help combat low blood sugar, which can be a trigger for anxiety. Choose high protein, low sugar foods such as tinned fish; a handful of almonds, cashews, walnuts or brazil nuts; cheese and crackers; a glass of milk or tub of unsweetened yogurt. Toasted pitta bread with homous, a carrot, dolmades (rice-stuffed vine leaves) or sushi can also be good snacks.

–          Avoid conflict and drama. If you already have an internal battle raging then the last thing you need is to find yourself in an external environment full of conflict. Choose to walk away when trouble arises and avoid the stress and additional anxiety that becoming involved may produce. Better that for now you learn to take care of you.

–          Find someone to talk to. It may be a friend or psychologist or psychotherapist. It’s better if they are a little bit removed from your everyday life so they have a more independent view of your situation and are not also experiencing some of the impacts of your stress. Of course, an understanding and supportive partner or family member can be a great help too.

There are a number of remedies available at health food stores as well. Chinese herbal medicines can be helpful for some people, as are various Western herbs. Essential oils, Bach flower remedies, crystal essences and herbal sprays may also help. Reducing your exposure to chemicals, for example, tooth paste, shampoo and washing powders, may also help settle your system down  and help you focus better on managing your stress and anxiety.