Stress is defined as the response to a threat in a situation, and anxiety is a reaction to stress. In 2014, 77% of people regularly experienced physical symptoms caused by stress. 33% reported living with extreme stress.
As a result of our nation’s skyrocketing stress levels, anxiety disorders are now the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 millions adults.
Because anxiety and depression often come hand-in-hand (half of those with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression and vice versa), anxiety disorders are considered a serious condition that should be treated by a professional.
In some cases, pharmaceuticals are necessary to alleviate symptoms.
However, it is important to understand that anxiety can still exist outside of an anxiety disorder. Perhaps you find yourself feeling preoccupied with worry or experiencing an elevated heart rate at the thought of work, love, money, etc. Diagnosis or not, these symptoms are unpleasant to live with.
Whether you are on medication or experiencing less severe symptoms, there are many things you can do at home to relieve your stress and anxiety. Incorporating these natural methods into your routine will not only help you stay calm and focused, they will make you happier.
10 Natural Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
1. Tea and Supplements
*If you are currently taking medication, check with your doctor before implementing any supplements into your routine.
Did you know that drinking tea can calm a worried mind? In fact, chamomile has the power to affect the same brain receptors as valium. Green tea can also calm a rising heart rate and combat anxiety.
Lemon Balm is available in the form of tea, capsules, or tinctures as has been used since the middle ages as a calming herb. Not only will lemon balm help you sleep, it will ease your gastrointestinal tract, alleviating digestive issues related to stress and anxiety.
Another herb that can improve your mood, ease anxiety, and boost your energy is kava root. Kava root is a member of the pepper family and is so powerful that those taking it should not be on any other supplements or medications.
The active ingredient in kava root, kavalactones, prevent epinephrine from overwhelming the body without affecting serotonin and other neurotransmitters.
Exercise is especially effective at alleviating stress. Regular exercise can makeover your mind, improve your self image, and help you sleep.
When you are active, your body releases endorphins that act as mood boosters and natural painkillers, and decreases your body’s stress hormone, known as cortisol.
Keep in mind that exercise doesn’t necessarily mean attending hour long boot camp classes or running a marathon. There are many forms so make it a priority to discover a routine that works for you!
If you are interested in something less intense, start walking regularly, take a dance class, or go rock climbing. As a general rule: Raise your heart rate for about a half hour a few times a week.
Everyone knows that too much sugar and processed foods are bad for you, so rather than telling you what you shouldn’t eat, let’s focus on what you should eat.
First of all, you should eat when you are hungry! Anxiety and irritability is often a product of low blood sugar. Keep a sustaining snack on hand (like nuts or a protein bar) to avoid worry and stress related to hunger.
Eating breakfast is another effective method when it comes to managing stress and anxiety. It is essential to eat foods in the morning that are full of protein and satiating. Eggs are a great way to start the day as they are full of choline, a nutrient that combats anxiety.
It is also recommended that you get your fair share of fatty acids. While it is possible to get fatty acids by taking omega-3 supplements, it is better to consume them through your diet. The best sources of fatty acids are salmon, anchovies, sardines, and mussels.
While many therapists will choose to recommend prescription medications for anxiety disorders, there are also many forms of therapy that can help manage anxiety with or without the use of pharmaceuticals.
If you are experiencing stress and anxiety and are looking to see a professional, we strongly recommend the following treatment methods:
Sometimes the difference between an anxiety attack and a sense of calm is quite simple. Did you know that lighting a candle has the power to shift your mood? This is called aromatherapy.
While the science behind aromatherapy is still unknown, we do know that scents have the power to bring back positive memories and interact with hormones in the blood.
To integrate aromatherapy into your routine, try an oil diffuser. Oil diffusers are the ideal way to fill your environment with relaxing scents without the additives. Some of the most calming scents include:
- Ylang ylang
6. Limit Caffeine
If you are struggling with stress and anxiety, cut back on coffee, caffeinated teas, chocolate, and energy drinks.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger anxiety. Everyone’s caffeine tolerance is different, so it’s important to be honest with yourself about whether your caffeine intake is negatively affecting your mental state.
7. Journaling For Mental Health
Sometimes stress and anxiety accumulate simply because your body has no method of release. Writing down your worries can help you work through your feelings and shift your perspective.
By changing your thought pattern from worry to contemplation, you will find an action-based sense of empowerment.
Through journaling for 5 to 15 minutes each day, you will provide yourself the opportunity to share what is on your mind.
Write about your concerns, fears, and current difficulties. Then, write about how you could think differently about these worries. This will help you work through your stress and reduce your anxiety and allow new insight.
8. Spend Time with Loved Ones
Connection is one of the greatest tools for alleviating stress and anxiety. Being surrounded by friends and family will increase your sense of self-worth and purpose.
In fact, spending time around loved ones releases oxytocin, a natural stress reliever.
Another benefit of being surrounded by friends and family is that it results in laughter, which not only feels good, it is good for your health. Laughing draws oxygen into your body and organs, relieves your stress response, and relaxes your muscles.
While human interaction is essential to our well being, time spent with animals is also a great way to manage stress and anxiety. Having a pet releases oxytocin, keeps you active, and provides a sense of purpose and companionship, which will lessen anxiety symptoms.
9. Stay Organized
There are countless benefits to living in an organized space. By existing in an environment free of clutter, you will naturally experience less stress and anxiety as your surroundings will be calming and your belongings will be easy to locate.
But staying organized is more than just having a clean house, it is also critical to maintain an organized schedule. The key to staying on top of your to-do list is to avoid procrastination.
Putting things to the last minute will always result in stress and anxiety as you are scrambling to catch up. Be sure to set aside uninterrupted time to complete all daily tasks.
Another secret to maintaining your schedule is learning how to say no. Whether it is additional work, social outings, or responsibilities, it is often within your power to decline. If your agenda is stressing you out, be more selective with what you agree to!
Meditation is a well known way to manage the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Nowadays there are many free resources for guided meditations such as YouTube videos and iPhone apps and beginning a practice is easier than ever.
Meditation is an effective way to practice mindfulness and combat negative thinking. By staying focused on the present, meditation eliminates your ability to worry.
If you are having difficulting keeping your thoughts on track, try meditating on your breath. Deep breathing exercises promote relaxation and slow your heart rate, which results in a sense of peace.
Many of those who regularly meditate choose soothing music to play in the background. This practice alone has many benefits.
Listening to music you enjoy has the power to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones. For meditation, try slow-paced instrumental music, traditional Indian music, or nature sounds.