7 Natural Ways to Treat Anxiety

Anxiety and its Types

Anxiety is a general feeling of uneasiness that is characterized by internal conflicts and nervous behavior. This behavior often manifests in over thinking and paces back and forth with physical complaints like insomnia, irritability, abdominal pain, and headache. Depending on the magnitude of the anxiety attacks, it can be acute when experienced in short spurts or chronic when experienced in a long-term manner. Even other forms of anxiety could occur due to social, behavioral, or somatic factors.

Why does it occur?

Though its exact mechanism is still unknown, the origin could be linked to hereditary, genetic, or environmental factors like a disruptive household, child or substance abuse, etc. Anxiety can lead to changes in sleeping patterns and food habits with trouble channeling concentration and making decisions. A person with anxiety may either withdraw from the root conditions leading to anxiety or may enter into depression by over thinking with a feeling of dread and apprehension. The risk of maniac tendency and self-harm increases with time as long as it is left untreated.

How to treat anxiety naturally?

1) Catch up on sleep

Anxiety is nothing but an alarming response of a person’s brain towards his environment and surroundings. Studies have shown that the prevalence of anxiety disorders is 24%-36% more in people with insomnia and 27%-42% more in people with hypersomnia. Likewise, uninterrupted sleep goes a long way in the natural treatment of anxiety. There are generally two types of sleep; REM and non-REM – that help the body adjust to its sleep state. But there is also a third type of sleep that controls the brain’s anxiolytic functions. Deep sleep restores the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex that is responsible for controlling our emotions. It lowers excess emotional and psychological activities resulting in de-escalation of anxiety.

2) Stop smoking and drinking

Smokers often proclaim that smoking helps alleviate anxiety. But it is the opposite. Research has shown that people with anxiety and other psychological disorders are more inclined to smoking than even heavy smokers in general. Smoking interferes with the proper functioning of antidepressant and antipsychotic medications. Therefore, such patients need higher doses for effective treatment. Giving up on smoking can allow these medications to work effectively at a much lower dose and improve the quality of life by working on their moods. Similarly, quitting alcohol can help reduce the intensity of anxiety attacks and reduce the possibility of long-term anxiety disorders.

3) Regular exercise

It is a fact that people with anxiety exercise less and tend to live a sedentary life than others. Leading an inactive lifestyle is one of the core reasons behind anxiety. Exercise helps anxiety in more than one way. Amygdala is the reacting system of the brain that is responsible for coping with real or imagined threats. When we exercise, it activates the frontal regions of the brain and helps in the amygdala. Also, an increased heart rate leads to increased anti-anxiety chemicals, like serotonin and GABA, in the body. Studies have proved that people who do vigorous exercising are 25% less likely to develop anxiety disorders than others over five years. Even light exercises relax your muscles and keep your body and mind safe from anxiety.

4) Avoid caffeine

Caffeine, the main ingredient of coffee, helps induce alertness by blocking a molecule named adenosine in the central nervous system. This can lead to unwanted side-effects like nervousness, restlessness, excitement, and an increased heart rate; these factors trigger anxiety. By cutting down the caffeine in the diet, we can lessen anxiety symptoms to a great extent. Additionally, more sugar in coffee can lead to a sugar crash resulting in an upset stomach and blurry vision. These side effects affect your mood and contribute to anxiety.

5) A healthy diet

Fruits, nuts, and animal products are rich in selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and Vitamin D that are as important for a healthy brain function. Researchers postulate that anxiety attacks are related to inflammation in the brain cells that somehow trigger anxiolytic reactions. Selenium found in Brazilian nuts has prominent anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the intensity of the attacks by working on inflammation. Tryptophan found in eggs creates serotonin that regulates anxiety by controlling mood and behavior. Also, potassium-rich foods like pumpkins and bananas regulate the electrolyte balance and blood pressure that are the two important components of anxiety. Even day-to-day foods like turmeric and yogurt contain curcumin and other anti-inflammatory substances that help fight anxiety.

6) Meditation and deep breathing

Meditation, when done properly, brings out a deep state of relaxation with a calm mind. What meditation actually does is that it works on the jumbled thought processes of anxiety patients and helps them collect their thoughts more coherently. This allows them to think and rationale with a clear mind and reduces the stress to a much lower level. Meditation allows you to understand your stress factors safely without affecting your peace of mind. Alongside, it helps create a sort of buffer around your worries so that they don’t overwhelm you. Likewise, deep breathing enables more oxygen intake to your body for better respiration. Deep breathing signals are sent from the stomach to the central nervous system for a calming effect. Deep breathing helps with digestion and keeps the heart de-stresses as well.

7) Other ways

Aromatherapy and chamomile teas are natural remedies and are equally effective when it comes to deal with anxiety. Aromatherapy involves using essential oils to induce a sense of calmness and relaxation. Research has shown that aromatherapy works through the olfactory system and impacts the limbic system – the part of the brain controlling emotions to ease anxiety. Different aromas work on different emotions. While lavender has a sedative effect and helps in sleep troubles, rose and ylang-ylang relaxes the body and uplifts the mood. Every oil used in aromatherapy has a distinct effect on the sensory nerves to help patients feel relaxed and calm down. Even chamomile tea contains anxiolytic and antidepressant properties that go a long way in reducing anxiety.