Is There a Natural Way Treat Anxiety?
Everyone feels anxious at some point in their lives. In fact, anxiety is a normal response of the body when faced with a situation that it perceives as stressful or dangerous. Unfortunately, when anxiety becomes prolonged and uncontrolled, this may be a sign of a larger problem. Often referred to as the fight or flight response, anxiety is the most common mental health condition with nearly six percent of the population experiencing it at some point in their lives.
Typically, anxiety is treated using a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotropic medications with the current recommendations being that the best results are achieved when they are paired together. That being said, this approach is not without its problems, namely the side effects that people often experience when taking medications. Therefore, a functional/integrative approach may be warranted to help address anxiety while minimizing adverse effects from pharmaceutical medications.
Start with Your Diet
Study after study has proven the correlation between diet and physical, mental and emotional well-being. In order to address anxiety, taking an objective look at diet can be a good place to start. A diet that consists of too many — or too few — calories can increase moodiness, nervousness, fatigue and other anxiety symptoms.
- Eat the Right Kinds of Foods
It’s also important to consume the right kinds of foods. Reducing the number of processed foods and those with added sugar that you consume can help curb the mood swings and inconsistent energy levels that are often associated with spikes in blood sugar. Instead, stick with whole foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Organic chicken, leafy greens like spinach, wild-caught fish, eggs and unrefined grains are just a few examples.
- Reduce — or Eliminate — Alcohol and Caffeine
Though it might seem counterproductive since a glass of wine is often used to unwind after a long day, but alcohol can increase anxiety symptoms like nervousness, moodiness and jitteriness. Limit your consumption of alcohol to one to three drinks each week or abstain completely. Caffeine can also ramp up symptoms of anxiety and those people who have social anxiety and/or panic disorder could be particularly sensitive to its effects. It’s best to limit yourself to one cup of black tea or coffee per day.
Make Lifestyle Changes
In addition to changing your diet, there are other lifestyle modifications that you can adopt that can help you keep feelings of anxiety at bay.
- Get Active
Engaging in regular physical activity of virtually any kind has been proven to help reduce stress, tension and inflammation. While many people think of physically-demanding activities such as swimming or running when it comes to exercising, if you have anxiety, engaging in tai chi and yoga can be particularly beneficial. This is because these types of exercises focus on deep breathing techniques that can increase relaxation while reducing both muscle tension and stress. There’s also evidence that yoga promotes changes in your brain that can boost the levels of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid responsible for reducing anxiety.
- Practice Meditation
Meditation is an ancient practice grounded in mindfulness that can be useful as a coping mechanism against stress, anxiety and rising cortisol levels. Even a novice can take part in a guided meditation and experience better quality sleep, less anxiety and increased productivity in myriad areas of your life.
- Focus on Rest
Not getting an adequate amount of sleep can affect your brain’s emotional processing regions and contribute to an increase in the symptoms of anxiety such as tension, fear and worry. By getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, your brain can more effectively manage your moods and maintain hormonal balance while staving off fatigue.
Consider Certain Supplements
Much like you might take vitamins if you are concerned about not getting enough of a particular nutrient, there are specific supplements that can address anxiety and its symptoms.
- Vitamins and Minerals
Common vitamins such as B complex and magnesium can relax the body, reduce anxiety and stress and help keep your mood stable. Low levels of certain B vitamins, for example, can bring on mood changes, fatigue, depression, anxiety and irritability.
*It’s important to remember that some natural remedies cannot be used in conjunction with medications prescribed by medical personnel. Always speak to your health practitioner regarding your treatment and about any possible interactions prior to trying them.