Natural and holistic ways to relieve anxiety.
I. Sooo… what is anxiety ?
Firstly, I would like to say anxiety does not define you, it is the alarm in your body that tells you something deeper is going on. It is a message, a warning and an opportunity to address unresolved trauma stored in your body and/or psyche.
However, anxiety starts to be problematic when it becomes excessive, persistent, or disproportionate to the actual threat or stressor. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Individuals with GAD experience excessive and uncontrollable worry about various aspects of life, often without a specific trigger.
- Panic Disorder: This disorder involves recurring and sudden episodes of intense fear or panic, known as panic attacks. These attacks can be accompanied by physical symptoms like a rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, and sweating.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia): People with social anxiety disorder have an intense fear of social situations and being judged or embarrassed in public. This fear can lead to avoidance of social interactions.
- Specific Phobias: Specific phobias involve an intense, irrational fear of a particular object, situation, or creature, such as heights, spiders, or flying.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is characterized by intrusive, distressing thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) performed to reduce the anxiety caused by these thoughts.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD can develop after exposure to a traumatic event. It leads to symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, often related to the traumatic experience.
Now I get it, it is a bit daunting but if you are like me and like all things holistic then you’re here for a treat. Let’s jump right into it shall we ?
It is important to note that with these tips you are not curing your anxiety, but rather you are finding comfort in those moments of high anxiety or preventing anxiety attacks.
II. What are the ways to relieve anxiety naturally and holistically ?
1. EFT Tapping / ear massage (ear pulling)
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as tapping, is a self-help technique that involves gently tapping with your fingertips on specific points on the body. Many people find it helpful for managing anxiety and stress.
Begin by identifying the specific anxiety or stress you want to address. Be as specific as possible in describing the issue.
While focusing on the issue, create a setup statement. This is a phrase that acknowledges the problem but also affirms self-acceptance. For example: “Even though I feel anxious about [specific issue], I deeply and completely accept myself.” Then proceed to tap on the pressure points. If you’re not sure where these, check this video below.
This technique is efficient especially when you experience physical symptoms like tight chest or tight jaw (like I do).
2. Self hugs and somatic movements
Somatic movements involve a mind-body approach to wellness, focusing on the integration of movement, breath, and awareness. They can be beneficial for reducing anxiety by promoting relaxation, releasing tension, and increasing body awareness.Think about it as an intense body scan meditation and ecstatic and shaky dance movements. You get the visual.
In any doubt put on some music and follow the beat, move all parts of your body. Sometimes this is all it takes.
3. The Big 5
When things are starting to get out of control this exercise is a life saver to recenter your energy to the present moment by anchoring you into your 5 senses.
You can do that at work, at home, at a social gathering, even in your car.
Proceed to name :
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Now pause for a moment and let the residue of ‘feeling present’ take over your body and mind.
4. Mindful Meditation and Deep Breathing Techniques
Firstly, keep in mind that not all techniques might work for you. And sometimes they might work only for a certain amount of times, or situation. I personally don’t always get the best benefits from breathing techniques. But I also like to pair several techniques altogether.
Diaphragmatic breathing and the 4-7-8 technique :
- Inhale for 4 seconds.
- Hold for 7 seconds.
- Exhale for 8 seconds.
- Repeat 10 times.
Alternate nostril breathing :
- Place left hand on left knee.
- Lift right hand up toward nose.
- Exhale completely and then use right thumb to close right nostril.
- Inhale through left nostril and then close left nostril with your fingers.
- Open right nostril and exhale through this side.
- Inhale through right nostril and then close this nostril.
- Open left nostril and exhale through left side.
- This is one cycle.
- Continue for up to 5 minutes.
- Always complete the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.
5. Herbal Remedies
The power of herbal and aromatherapy
Chamomile is a popular herb that has been traditionally used for its calming and relaxing properties. I have a cup of chamomile tea before bed every night and it really helps calming my nervous system.
Lavender is another herb that has been traditionally used for its calming properties, and it is often recommended for managing anxiety and stress. The scent of lavender is believed to have a relaxing effect on the nervous system, and it is commonly used in aromatherapy for its potential to reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm. Try putting a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow before going to bed and it will induce a relaxing sleep. Alternatively, you can also add a few drops to your bath water before bed.
3. Valerian root
Valerian root is an herbal supplement that has been used for centuries to help with various health issues, including anxiety and sleep disorders. The active compounds in valerian root are believed to have sedative and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects.
Supplements for anxiety
Ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogen, which means it may help the body adapt to stress and maintain balance. It is thought to modulate the body’s stress response by influencing the adrenal glands.
2. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is an herbal supplement derived from the leaves of the ginkgo tree. It is commonly marketed as a memory and cognitive enhancer due to its potential to improve blood flow and enhance cognitive function. While there is some research supporting its cognitive benefits, there is limited evidence to suggest that Ginkgo biloba specifically helps with anxiety.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and bone health. Some research suggests that magnesium may also have a role in anxiety management.
6. Physical Activity
Exercise stimulates the release of neurotransmitters like endorphins, which are often referred to as “feel-good” chemicals. These neurotransmitters can contribute to a more positive mood and a sense of well-being.
I personally use it as a major stress reduction tool and also to distract myself from negative thoughts and worries. Additionally, activities such as yoga or tai chi, which combine movement with relaxation techniques, can be particularly effective in promoting a sense of calm.
It also improves sleep and your self-esteem. Think about it, you commit to something that will (with time and consistency) improves the way you view yourself and your body.
Exercise also works wonder on mind-body connection, especially activities such as yoga and mindfulness-based exercises, can be particularly effective for managing anxiety. These practices encourage present-moment awareness and relaxation.
7. Balanced Diet
It is without a doubt that I can tell you my anxiety skyrockets when my diet is left unchecked. And as much as I would like to be able to eat or drink just about anything I want, I had to come to term that my diet can impact, increase or start off my anxiety levels.
So to maintain a balanced diet for the benefit of my overall health, I make sure I follow these rules :
- Adding essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, and seeds to my daily routine. They play a key role in the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system
- A balanced diet that includes fiber-rich foods that can support the health of my gut, which in turn may positively impact my mood and anxiety.
- Stay hydrated. 🚰 That goes without saying but yes, drink your water please. 8 cups a day is the recommended amount. Dehydration can affect cognitive function and mood so maintaining a proper hydration routine can help soothe anxiety.
- Limit high processed, and sugary foods as they may also act as triggers for anxiety.
8. Limiting Caffeine and Alcohol
I try to limit or avoid caffeine as much as I can. One cup of green tea is probably the only caffeine I can’t comprise on, and it’s not one of the worst out there.
I know it is a hard one for all of you coffee lovers but it won’t kill you to try.
9. Sauna, my fave 🙂
My chiropractor told me one day, get in the sauna and sweat your demons out. And guess what, it did just that. I was a bit skeptical at first but I gave it a try. Past the discomfort of the first few minutes, for those of us who are not a fan of high heat, relax and let yourself melt into your body. Thank me later!
10. Connecting with Nature
Another one of my ultimate favorite. Spending time in nature has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind and it works. Whether it’s a leisurely walk in the park or a weekend getaway in the wilderness, the natural world has a way of grounding us and reducing anxiety.
Therefore, grounding (walking bare feet on the grass) is also a great way to benefit from the Earth, so if you don’t want to go on a walk but have a garden, it can be a great alternative. Any time from 30 minutes and up is where you’ll get the most out of your earthing session.
LASTLY, well I love all these practices but this one has a special place in my heart. Not wanting to be dramatic but this is a LIFESAVER. Literally.
So if you have not already, give this a go. Practice writing down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, this can offer a variety of benefits for mental, emotional, and even physical well-being.
I find it helpful when I am overwhelmed, when I get triggered or having a reaction about a situation. Laying my thoughts on paper (or on my iPad) facilitate under-crowding my brain and therefore soothing my anxiety.
Ultimately, what I have learned to understand is that anxiety is a common human experience, but it doesn’t have to control your life. Natural remedies offer an array of tools to help you find relief from anxiety, fostering a sense of peace and calm. Remember that different remedies may work for different people, so it’s essential to explore and find what suits you best.
By incorporating these natural approaches into your daily routine, you can empower yourself to manage anxiety and lead a healthier, happier life. If your anxiety is severe or persistent, always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and support.