If you’re one of the millions of Americans who struggle with anxiety, you know the havoc it can wreak on your daily life — from getting in the way of professional development to interfering with your personal relationships.
Fortunately, there are natural, nonprescription ways of dealing with this increasingly common problem. These activities range from relaxation techniques to increased exercise, and each can be tailored to your lifestyle.
Do keep in mind that these tips are best for milder forms of anxiety — not clinical depression or anxiety disorders. If you feel you’re suffering from something more serious, contact a health professional.
Otherwise, combat your stress levels and everyday anxiety with these nine natural methods:
1. Watch your intake of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.
A number of problem foods can trigger anxiety. Caffeine, for instance, plays a serious role in panic and anxiety disorders, not to mention seriously affects your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Sugar and alcohol can have similar effects, so keep an eye on your intake to reduce anxiety levels. By limiting your consumption of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, your moods will be more stable and less prone to anxiety.
2. Have sex.
Physical pleasure reduces stress by triggering the reward centers of the brain, which is why there’s such a thing as “comfort food.” Comfort eating, unfortunately, can lead to a variety of other health concerns and actually increases anxiety with our sugar intake.
This is where sex comes in. This guilt-free stress reducer is good for you (and your partner) and can keep your anxiety levels to a minimum.
3. Schedule in relaxation time.
Set aside time every day to pamper yourself, whether it’s watching your favorite comfort movies or practicing meditation.
Studies have shown that meditation can actually change the parts of your brain that regulate memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. If you take the time to practice relaxation techniques, you’ll be less stressed and have a greater sense of well-being.
4. Drink calming teas and herbs.
Drinking certain types of tea is often recommended for relaxation, but research confirms that it can also reduce anxiety levels and promote calmness.
Just be sure to choose teas that are caffeine-free, and substitute honey for sugar for natural sweetness. You can also use scented herbs like lavender to reduce stress through aromatherapy. Vaporize these herbs or use oil diffusers for the most effective treatment of anxiety.
The best teas and herbs I recommend for stress release include:
- Green tea
- Lemon balm
5. Exercise every day.
Exercise is perhaps one of the most immediately effective ways of reducing stress. Not only will it improve your physical health but research shows that engaging in exercise can have an immediate effect on your mood.
Working out can also have preventive applications, resulting in less depression or anxiety disorders over time. Get started with a 10-minute walk every day and start reaping the health benefits right away.
6. Listen to your favorite music.
In a study that examined the effects of music therapy on patients in a coronary care unit, researchers found that music actually reduced stress in their patients.
If you can set aside time to really listen to your favorite music (rather than simply having it on as background noise), then you may see a drop in your anxiety levels as well.
7. Practice deep breathing exercises.
A common symptom of anxiety is the feeling of tightness in the chest or breathing pathways. By practicing deep breathing exercises and yoga (which incorporates breathing practices), you can reduce stress and balance your nervous system.
8. Express gratitude.
Interpersonal relationships can be a common source of anxiety for many people, and by expressing your gratitude toward those around you, you can improve your relationships and reduce the stress they cause in your life.
Additionally, by focusing on the things in your life that you’re thankful for, you can limit your risk of developing negative thinking, depression, or anxiety.
9. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your thoughts and feelings at all times. By focusing on your internal well-being, you’ll be better able to regulate anxiety and determine how to avoid stressful stimuli. In fact, research shows that mindfulness can even lead to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Overall, by using these tips, you can help naturally reduce everyday anxiety without turning to prescription medications. By increasing your physical activity, monitoring your intake of harmful foods, and doing the things you love, you can lead a more stress-free life.