Feeling anxious? These gentle natural remedies will help you to relax and combat your anxiety, click through to see all 15 of our favourite easy ways...
Natural remedies for anxiety
If you suffer with anxiety, then you may not have considered that there are some natural ways to relieve the symptoms of anxiety. These simple, natural ideas could make a huge difference to the way you feel and reduce the risk of you reaching anxiety levels that can often cause anxiety attacks.
Natural cures for anxiety can be used to treat anxiety attacks or just more generic anxiety symptoms, they’re easier on your body than prescription drugs and come with very few, if any, side effects. Not to mention, natural remedies are often less expensive than reaching for the medicine cabinet as well.
The NHS describes the symptoms of anxiousness as being things such as restlessness, a sense of dread, feeling constantly on edge, difficulty concentrating and irritably. Anxiety can also translate into physical symptoms if severe, like dizziness, tiredness, stomach ache, pins and needles or aching tension in muscles, among others.
Anxiety can be brought on by many different things. Perhaps you become anxious when you think about money issues, you have a phobia of small spaces or even find it hard to cope with your family’s day to day demands.
One of the simplest ways to combat anxiety is to identify the triggers. Once you know the triggers it will become much easier to consciously help yourself become less anxious.
In extreme cases where anxiety is left ignored it can lead to severe anxiety and panic attacks. If you’re worried that you may be suffering from either of these then we would recommend speaking to your doctor or have a look at Mind’s website.
Click through to see our 15 best natural remedies to help ease anxiety…
Video of the Week
While the benefits of colouring have been widely promoted since adult colouring books became hugely popular two years ago, there is now scientific proof that colouring for just 10 minutes a day can reduce symptoms of anxiety as well as depression.
Originally praised for being a calming relaxation tool, psychology researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand have now proved that colouring books could actually be used as a method to help manage mental health.
The study tested 115 women aged 18 – 36, and the results showed that those who were assigned a week of colouring in tasks rather than other mind games such as sudoku had lower anxiety and symptoms of depression afterwards.
Our findings bode well for the potential psychological benefits of colouring-in, Dr Tamlin Conner, one of the authors of the study, said.
In this way, colouring-in could be considered an act of everyday little-c creativity, in much the same way as gardening or gourmet cooking.’
With its low risk and accessibility, we feel comfortable adding colouring-in to the growing list of creative activities for improving mental health outcomes.’
Click here for a selection of the best colouring books for adults.
Tim Jacob, Professor Emeritus at Cardiff University?s School of Bioscience has spent his career looking at the psychophysiology of smell, and he says that the right fragrance can have a substantial impact on your mood and stress levels.
‘Lavender contains a natural anaesthetic called linalool, which is why it has a reputation for being relaxing,? he told the Daily Mail. ?Citrus scents have anti-depressive effects and mint has been shown to enhance sports performance.?
So depending on whether you want to increase your energy, reduce stress or get happy in a hurry, sniffing natural herbs and fruits could be an easy way to give yourself a boost.
Some of the most effective natural cures for anxiety are the simplest ones. It might sound obvious, but dont forget to breathe. Use deep breathing whenever you become aware of feeling anxious, to help you fall asleep, or even to deal with food cravings.
YouTube channel Big Think’s experts suggest breathing in for half as long as you breathe out when you feel anxious – so for instance, inhale for 5 seconds, and then breathe out for 10.
This breathing technique for anxiety triggers a switch in your body’s nervous system from sympathetic nervous system state (which is a very ‘flight or fight’ state for your body to be in) to parasympathetic nervous system state, which is known as a ‘rest and digest’ state, making you feel calmer and more relaxed.
It’s thought to be impossible to feel anxious while practising conscious breathing. There is a famous technique called the 4-7-8 which is easy to do and can be simply fitted into your existing daily routine, ideally twice a day. Simply start by exhaling (it’s important to always start breathing patterns with a breath out to release your feeling of stress). Inhale then, for a count of four through your nose, hold your breath for seven counts and slowly exhale through your mouth for eight counts. This process should leave you feeling lighter and more relaxed – it’s even good to practice with little ones to help them nod off before bed.
For hundreds of years chamomile has been used as a natural remedy for lots of common conditions, everything from soothing tummy aches to relaxing people and reducing anxiety, in those few tense moments.
Some elements of chamomile act in the same way as sedative drugs like Valium, binding to the brain receptors and relaxing your mind. You can buy whole dried chamomile flowers to brew in hot water as tea, or buy pre-made tea bags in the supermarket (find them in the same aisle as normal tea bags). Alternatively, if you don’t enjoy the flavour, you can take chamomile supplements, available to buy from chemists and health food shops.
Even Peter Rabbit’s mum gets her baby bunny back to bouncing health
with a little cup of chamomile tea, and they do say mums know best.
We all know that fruit and veggies are good for us, but do not underestimate vegetables as a natural remedy for anxiety – eating your 5 a day can really affect your mental wellbeing as well as your physical self.
Studies have shown that food, as herbal anxiety relief, can help or hinder your anxiety levels or anxiety disorders.
Try to avoid over-stimulating foods like sweets, coffee or white carbohydrates, all of these will give your body a sharp blood-sugar spike and then an equally sharp low afterwards, when you will notice you will feel more tense.
Incorporating more vitamin B into your every day meals will help level out your mood. B vitamins are believed to combat anxiety by affecting the brain?s production of neurotransmitters. Leafy greens contain folate and legumes like peas and beans have lots of lovely B-6 vitamins, perfect for keeping you feeling calm.
Getting essential fatty acids into your body is really important to get your brain functioning at its most productive and naturally treat anxiety, especially anxiety symptoms in women.
Various studies have shown the positive affects drawn from incorporating Omega 3 into your diet regularly, from improving memory to reducing the feelings of anxiety and stress.
Try eating oil-rich fish like salmon a couple of times a week, or mackerel which is just as delicious, and half the price! Alternatively, regularly boost your Omega 3 intake with fish oils which can aid in minimising the symptoms of anxiety and are available in capsules from pharmacies.
Taking a little time out of your day seems difficult for lots of people, especially if your anxiety is fuelled by feeling overwhelmed with what you need to achieve during the day, but mindfulness is a great natural remedy for balancing feelings of anxiety.
At first you may find it hard to concentrate but persevere and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can turn a few spare moments into a little piece of pure calm with meditation.
To meditate, choose a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Sit in a position comfortable for you; try lying down, standing, sitting or even walking. Once you’ve found your ideal posture try to focus on being deeply calm and your breathing pattern. Once you feel you have settled into your meditation it’s then time to examine the four foundations of mindfulness.
These are, mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of physical feelings and sensations, mindfulness of mental states and mindfulness of the consciousness.
For mindfulness of the body: Focus on each body part separately, like your head, heart, stomach, while continuing to keep your breathing deep and steady.
For mindfulness of physical feelings and sensations: Concentrate on whether what you’re feeling is nice or not and mentally let go of any physical discomfort you might be feeling to reduce tension.
For mindfulness of mental states: Whatever pops into your mind, try to focus on this, whether it’s dreams, memories, ideas etc. Notice what you’re thinking about and if it changes quickly to something else. Keep your breathing steady and controlled, and simply give a greater consciousness to whatever seems to come into your mind during this period.
For mindfulness of the consciousness: Note if you’re feeling anxious, peaceful, stressed, angry etc. If you are feeling negative energy then the skill is to concentrate on this and gradually change the state of consciousness to let go of these feelings.
It will of course take a little while to get the hang of meditation so do persevere past the first few times you try it. Even if you feel like you haven’t achieved much just remember that even 10 minutes spent in quiet is good for your overall wellbeing.
Lavender is a classic remedy to help with getting to sleep. But recent research, according to Health magazine, has shown that breathing in the scent of lavender also lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, putting you into a relaxed state, which could be helpful with anxiety treatment too.
You can get your lavender fix in lots of simple way. Treat yourself to a good quality essential oil and dab a little on your wrists. If you notice yourself getting anxious, inhale the smell until you are feeling a little calmer. Other ways to benefit from this fragrant dried flower is to put a few drops of its essential oil in a diffuser or oil burner, keep a bowl of dried flowers by your bed or even use some fancy bed sheet spray on your pillows before you turn in for the night. Or, why not try the Lush Twilight body spray that fans of the brand described as calming and soothing? Infused with lavender oil, it’s the perfect way to surround yourself with the scent of lavender day or night.
We’re not talking training for a marathon, but gentle regular exercise can improve feelings of anxiousness, by allowing mindfulness, taking time out and focusing on your breathing.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests that regular exercise can actually be just as beneficial as medication, and the good news is that apparently a 10-minute walk could be just as good as a 45-minute work out. Phew!
Try starting with a 10-minute walk in the morning before the rest of your usual routine or taking half an hour at lunchtime for a jog around the nearest park, if possible. Exercise also increases energy levels so you’ll be doing yourself more than one favour if you keep up the good work.
Delicious berries are one of the tastiest ways we’ve found to help your anxiety – a natural remedy that we can serve with ice cream – that works for us!
Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries all contain plenty of vitamin C. Various studies published in Psychopharmacology show vitamin C rich foods may help to regulate cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
Throw a handful of berries into your yogurt or onto your cereal each morning, or blitz with some apple or orange for a tasty smoothie.
Ever since the days of ancient Greece, lemon balm has been well regarded for its soothing effects on the body and recently there has been lots of research that suggests lemon balm is effective in treating stress-related conditions and anxiety disorder.
Lemon balm is really easy to grow yourself if you’ve got a little sunny windowsill, balcony or garden. If you haven’t got green fingers then pick some up at the shops, dried or fresh, and make some tea for yourself next time you notice you are feeling anxious.
Simply cut and wash a few leaves if using fresh and bruise them slightly to release the lemon-scented oil, pop the leaves in a cup and cover with boiling water to brew. After a few minutes you should have a lovely fragrant and soothing tea.
There is something so relaxing about having a hot bubble bath, and not just for your physical wellbeing; anxiety charity Calm Clinic suggest that a bath can be incredibly beneficial in reducing anxiety symptoms as well.
Like many natural treatments for anxiety, this is not by any means a long-term cure for anxiety disorders but it is a short-term relief for when your anxiety is peaking on a particular day.
In those circumstances, having a bath is a great way to manage your anxiety. Besides who doesn’t like a nice soak?
So run yourself a nice hot bath and add bubbles, essential oils or anything else you fancy and soak for as long as you like. Try to fit in a couple of baths a week to benefit the most and use other anxiety-reducing aids like lavender oil, magnesium or baking soda. You could even try turning your bathroom into a mini spa!
Breakfast might seem like the last thing on your mind when you are having a particularly anxious period, but again and again research has suggested that skipping meals and essential nutrients is only making the anxiety worse. Skipping the most important meal of the day could really be affecting your mood and stopping you treating your anxiety.
Dr. Ramsey from Health.com advises anxiety sufferers; ‘Many people with anxiety disorders skip breakfast. I recommend that people eat things like eggs, which are a satiating and filling protein, and are nature’s top source of choline. Low levels of choline are associated with increased anxiety.’
If you are always in a hurry in the morning why not make yourself something the night before? Like a peanut butter sandwich popped in the fridge, some home-made granola muffins or simply just grab a couple of pieces of fruit to eat on the go – anything could help to get you on a better start to the day.
Sadly baking soda doesn’t reduce anxiety when baked into a cake but it is thought that baking soda could reduce tension when consumed in water and is recommended to help anxiety.
You can mix the powder in water and swallow like a medicine, the calming properties are thought to be down to it being so alkaline for the body.
Alternatively add a good handful to a warm bath and let your body soak up all the muscle-easing goodness.
As with many natural remedies for anxiety, research is slightly limited as to the exact benefits of magnesium but there have been successful studies run in France, according to Calm Clinic, that note magnesium has a positive improvements on patients who were taking the supplement regularly.
Magnesium is know to release muscle tension and there is a big link between how the body feels and how the mind feels. So if you can find magnesium crystals, then add a handful of these into a warm bath, or you can pick up supplements in most chemists to take each day to try and provide some herbal anxiety relief.