More than 40 million U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder. Yet, less than 37% of them ever receive professional medical treatment. That isn’t to say they don’t receive any treatment at all, though. In fact, many people rely on natural solutions to manage their anxiety and alleviate related symptoms.
If you don’t feel especially inclined to go to therapy or take prescriptions either, these remedies might work for you, too.
1. Breathe Deep
Many people experience chest tightening, shortness of breath and an increased heart rate when battling anxiety. If they aren’t able to manage these symptoms, they could cause a full-blown panic attack. Luckily, deep breathing exercises can help calm you down when you’re facing stressful situations.
When you feel tensions start to rise, take a few deep breaths and focus on lengthening each exhale. Doing so will relax the parasympathetic nervous system and prevent you from hyperventilating. Breathing from your diaphragm or practicing pranayama may also help reduce anxiety and related symptoms.
2. Try Aromatherapy
While you’re focused on your breath, why not inhale some mood-boosting scents? Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to help you relax, reduce anxiety and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. Apply a few drops of oil to your wrists, a lava bead bracelet or your pillow before heading to bed. A diffuser can also aid in dispersing scents throughout your home. Choose lavender, ylang ylang, grapefruit, clary sage or bergamot oil for best results.
Meditation involves the practice of mindfulness and can effectively alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Find a quiet, comfortable spot to sit, stand or lie down. Then, close your eyes and observe your breath. Notice each thought that pops into your head and allow them to pass without reacting. Eventually, this practice will help you find a sense of calm so your emotions don’t spiral out of control when troubles arise.
4. Plan for the Future
If your worries stem from situations within your control, you could minimize related anxiety by taking initiative and planning ahead. For instance, those who work in hazardous industries like construction might worry about what will happen to their families if something were to happen to them. In this case, purchasing a life insurance policy would give them at least some peace of mind because their family would receive a death benefit in the event of their passing.
Because money — or a lack thereof — is a major stressor for many Americans, you might also make and stick to a tight budget. Doing so will keep your spending habits in check so you can build an emergency fund and a bigger savings account. Experts recommend saving enough to cover three to six months’ worth of basic living expenses to best prepare and minimize finance-related anxieties.
5. Ditch Caffeine
If you suffer from chronic anxiety, most doctors will advise you to stay away from caffeinated beverages like coffee and energy drinks. That’s because caffeine stimulates you flight or fight response and can cause nervousness and jitters. Ultimately, these effects can exacerbate mental health issues like anxiety and even cause panic attacks in people with panic disorder.
Luckily, there are other ways to boost your energy levels. For instance, going for a brisk walk, connecting with nature, taking a power nap and staying hydrated can all help you stay awake and alert. Plus, you won’t experience a sugar or caffeine crash later.
6. Try CBD
Cannabidiol oil — or CBD — has become increasingly popular in recent years, largely thanks to its ability to treat a wide variety of ailments, including anxiety. This hemp-derived oil contains little to no tetrahydrocannabinol, so you won’t experience a high. Instead, you’ll likely notice a sense of calm and clarity that enables you to focus. You can find CBD products in many stores, and it’s often available in tinctures, gummies, chocolate and lotions.
7. Use Herbs
Prescription drugs like beta-blockers and benzodiazepines often come with unwanted side effects, which is why many people turn to herbal remedies to treat anxiety. Chamomile, valerian, lavender, passionflower, kava kava and ashwagandha are just a few of the most effective herbs. If consumed on a regular basis, they can help regulate your stress response and reduce the severity of generalized anxiety disorder relapses. Brew these herbs into teas or use tinctures, creams and tablets to experience their healing powers.
8. Name Your Emotions
Sometimes, the best way to manage your anxiety is to put your feelings into words. Whether you’d rather write everything down in a journal or talk to a friend about your fears, giving voice to your anxieties will make them a little less powerful and overwhelming. Naming your emotions will also help expose irrational fears so you can work through them without letting them overpower you and dictate your reactions.
Knowing When to Ask for Help
Of course, there are only so many natural remedies for anxiety, and they don’t work for everyone. So, if you try a few and don’t see any results, your best bet is to connect with a doctor or therapist. They’ll be able to assess your symptoms, offer a diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Remember, there’s no shame in asking for help and doing so might be more effective than any natural remedy.