Anxiety is a normal–albeit unwelcome–part of life, affecting nearly 40 million US adults over the age of 18 (roughly 18% of the population) each year. The most commonly reported mental illness, anxiety typically occurs around puberty, though it can reveal its symptoms at any age, and is further immune to race, gender, and lifestyle.
The most common symptoms of anxiety are as follows:
- Recurring feelings of nervousness or restlessness
- An overwhelming sense of impending danger or that something bad will happen
- Rapid heartbeat
- Lethargy; the frequent desire to sleep when faced with real and imagined obstacles
- Erratic eating patterns, usually directly associated with how you're feeling
- Inability to control worry
- Fixation on “worst case scenario” outcomes, however great or insignificant the event
- A strong urge to avoid any perceived triggers
There are many categories of anxiety, including generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia.
Although anxiety is commonly treated with a combination of professional therapy and medication, many are turning to alternative methods of combating anxiety in their lives. If you find yourself grappling with anxiety but wishing to seek a more holistic approach to keeping it under control here are 12 tried-and-tested natural anxiety relievers:
Exercise doesn't just keep your body in shape, but boosts those endorphins or “happy hormones” that keep your brain sharp and euphoric. Short weekly walks, runs, swims, or longer hiking excursions can instantly provide a healthy outlet for releasing anxiety related stress.
Meditation has been celebrated for centuries, with research showing that consistent practice reprograms the brain's neural pathways, allowing for a calmer, more regulated emotional state. Mindful meditation teaches us to pace and control even our most overwhelming thoughts, and by taking control of and releasing them, ultimately neutralize their effects.
3. Taking Up A Hobby
Anxiety tends to creep up when the mind and body are inactive, thus setting the proverbial hamster loose to run around the wheel in one's head. When our attentions are diverted elsewhere, so too are our anxiety-ridden thoughts. Taking up a musical instrument, creative pursuit, or social hobby can keep your anxiety at bay while enriching your daily life.
Writing, much like talking to someone, can help you express what you're feeling and further make sense of the often chaotic emotions that anxiety induces. Keeping a notebook on hand and penning your thoughts will not only place them back in your control, but shine a light on any patterns or root causes you may have otherwise missed.
5. Manage Your Time
Anxiety often rears its ugly head when we feel pressed for time or under a fast approaching deadline, or are simply cramming as much into our day as possible with no personal time allotted. If you feel like the hours in the day are getting away from you, write out a list the night before of everything you need to accomplish, and be realistic! Pace yourself between tasks, and don't be hard on yourself if everything doesn't get done in one day.
6. Set Boundaries
Sometimes you just need to say no when you're feeling run down or pulled in a hundred different directions at once. Overcommitting to social engagements, favors, and excessive responsibilities can not only trigger an anxiety attack, but leave you feeling both physically and mentally depleted, and maybe even taken advantage of.
7. Explore Aromatherapy
For all the jokes made at its expense, aromatherapy has its place in one's wellness arsenal. Certain essential oils, such as lavender, have been proven to bring about instant calm, and are perfect additions for the bath and bedroom. Many experiment with a variety of essential oils to create their own unique blends for instant anxiety relief.
8. Try Natural Supplements
There are a number of organic herbal supplements proven to combat anxiety, as well as countless other disorders, with little to no risk to your health and safety. Ayurvedic ashwagandha, for example, has been known to balance hormones that induce relaxation, while herbs such as valerian root, chamomile, St. John's Wort, and Kava Kava have all been successfully incorporated into diets the world over.
9. Get A Pet
Countless studies have been released over the years showing the positive effects that animals have on our physical and emotional well-being, but did you know they can also help soothe anxiety, along with other mental stressors, in humans? If you are able, it might be well worth your while to head over to your local shelter and look into adopting a furry companion.
10. Embrace Variety
It's often been said that variety is essential to leading a rich and fulfilling life. If you feel your own stagnating, it might be time to shake things up a bit. Exploring new job opportunities, hobbies, projects, or even travel destinations will give your mind something more rewarding to focus on, as well as prevent the proverbial rut so many of us fall into.
Helping others is often the surest path to helping ourselves, and there's absolutely nothing selfish about that! Giving back to one's community is an invaluable service, whether it's through animal welfare, after school tutoring, feeding the homeless, or simply cleaning up the area for all to enjoy. By committing even a few hours a week to volunteering, you can take the focus off your own anxiety and put it to good, active use for the sake of others.
12. Pay Attention To Your Diet
If we are what we eat, then no doubt that applies to our brains as well. Diets high in fat and processed foods not only put one's physical health at risk, but also hinder healthy mental functioning. Adding more fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-rich foods to your diet will not only boost your brain power, but give you the energy you need to tackle whatever lies ahead in your day.
When it comes to anxiety there's no easy fix, but more and more people are finding ways to control and eliminate symptoms simply by making the right natural adjustments in their lifestyle. Meditation, mindful eating, exercise, and enriching activities are just some of the proven ways you can keep anxiety from running your life, all while dramatically improving the quality of it.