Natural Remedies That May Help Ease Your Anxiety

Anxiety spares nobody, although everyone experiences it to varying degrees. Anxiety is a broad term used for feelings of dread, uneasiness, intrusive thoughts, and an obsession with the worst-case scenario. People with anxiety disorders also experience physical symptoms such as sweating, irregular heartbeats, decreased concentration, and difficulty sleeping. Genetics, brain chemistry, stress, or traumatic experiences are common causes of anxiety. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the five main forms of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Although fear and anxiety are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. According to Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital, anxiety is an uncontrolled and unfocused fearful emotion that may be triggered by different factors, whereas fear is a functional response to a specific, legitimate threat. When the threat is removed, the symptoms of fear also resolve. However, anxiety can linger for a long time after the trigger has been eliminated. Because of this, the majority of people with anxiety disorders need treatments to keep their symptoms under control. Aside from psychotherapy and anti-anxiety medication, however, there are natural remedies that can also aid in relieving anxiety and speeding up the healing process.

Drink herbal tea

The calming and energizing effects of herbal tea have been attested to by mankind for thousands of years. According to research results published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, drinking tea for six weeks reduces inflammatory reactions, lowers post-stress cortisol for a calmer state of mind, and promotes relaxation. So, which herbal teas are best for stress relief?

According to ArtfulTea, chamomile teas, mint teas, lavender teas, rose teas, and matcha are excellent choices for calming your mind and alleviating tension. Numerous studies found that long-term use of chamomile extract can reduce moderate symptoms of GAD, while the scent of mint is helpful for reducing daytime fatigue and boosting energy. Lavender tea, rose tea, and matcha also help to reduce mood swings and anxiety scores. Drinking a cup of black tea per day also helps with reducing the levels of the "stress hormone" cortisol in the blood and managing anxiety symptoms. If you're susceptible to panic attacks or social anxiety disorder, you should avoid consuming caffeine. Caffeine, if consumed in high doses, can intensify feelings of nervousness and give you more blues.

Take nutritionist-approved supplements

In certain groups of people, taking supplements can help ease anxiety symptoms up to a point. However, you should always consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplements to minimize the risk of adverse impact. According to PsychCentral, some supplements that can be helpful for those struggling with anxiety include L-theanine, ashwagandha, and magnesium. L-theanine, an amino acid included in certain mushrooms and tea, has been shown to improve both stress management and sleep quality. Ashwagandha or winter cherry, an adaptogen containing stress-relieving properties, is also a popular go-to medicinal herb for reducing chronic stress. Several studies have shown that magnesium can regulate your body's response to stress, so it's no wonder that supplementing with magnesium can help reduce anxiety symptoms. The daily dosage depends on different factors, such as your age, gender, and your medication history.

While supplements are generally safe, they shouldn't be considered your top-of-mind treatment options, especially for those struggling with severe symptoms. Since they are supplements, their roles in your treatment plan should be supplementary. "In my personal practice, I encourage my patients to work with a variety of mind-body practices (in addition to nutrition, exercise, etc.) for at least three months before we consider supplements," says Dr. Brent Bauer from Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program (via Forbes).

Incorporate turmeric and black pepper into your diet

A powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, turmeric boasts plenty of benefits for the body and the mind. Not only does curcumin, the primary bioactive compound in turmeric, improve cardiovascular health and stave off Alzheimer's, but it also helps reduce symptoms of depression. "Turmeric is one of my favorite spices for reducing anxiety," says Harvard-trained nutritional psychiatrist and biologist Dr. Uma Naidoo (via TZR). Moreover, because curcumin in turmeric increases the levels of dopamine and serotonin to reduce depression, it makes an excellent addition to your daily psychiatric diet.

Black pepper can also do wonders for your mental and cognitive health by raising serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Loaded with a potent antioxidant called piperine, black pepper can relieve pain and increase your body's absorption of nutrients, per Healthline. To benefit from the antidepressant characteristics of this piney condiment, spice up your daily meal prep with a pinch of black pepper. 

Engage in breathing exercises

Knowing how to breathe to your advantage can also lower your heart rate and help you come down from anxiety. According to Medical News Today, some popular breathing techniques recommended for people battling anxieties include deep breathing, quieting response, mindful breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, and 4-7-8 breathing. Simple and fitting for just any position, deep breathing involves relaxing the tummy, putting one hand just beneath the ribs, and breathing in deeply through the nose and out through the mouth. Incorporating deep breathing and visualizing, quieting response is a quick de-stressing technique that's ideal for busy people. Mindful breathing, on the other hand, requires a person to lie or sit in a comfortable position and be fully focused as they inhale and exhale.

Usually recommended for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the diaphragmatic technique is similar to deep breathing and requires a person to either sit or lie. However, the 4-7-8 breathing technique not only helps you tame your buzzing mind but also encourages you to sleep like a baby. Originating from an ancient yogic breathing technique known as pranayama, the 4-7-8- technique involves breathing in for four counts, holding that breath for seven counts, and exhaling for eight counts, clinical associate professor of medicine Dr. Raj Dasgupta tells CNN

Exercise and meditate

Exercising is central to maintaining mental fitness. When you exercise, your body releases feel-good hormones, endorphins, and other chemicals that boost your mood and make you feel happier. For this reason, exercise can divert your attention from negative thoughts and reduce moodiness. "Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression," explains assistant professor of psychiatry Dr. Michael Craig Miller from Harvard Medical School. In addition, physical activities such as swimming, dancing, jogging, or yoga are effective stress relievers.

Meditation, a relaxing technique that has been around for centuries, is another method for reducing anxiety. When you meditate, you put your whole mind into your breathing, leaving no elbow room for jumbled thoughts. If done correctly, meditation helps you come to terms with unpleasant reminders, develop self-awareness, and sustain your inner peace, Mindful points out. It can also help you unlock a new level of spiritual enlightenment. There are different types of meditation practices, including mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, and visualization meditation. It may take some time to experiment with multiple approaches before you discover one that suits you, but it doesn't hurt to open yourself up to new possibilities on your healing journey. If you have anxiety disorders, the first thing you should do is to see a specialist who can help you come up with well-rounded treatment options. Natural remedies such as physical activity and a healthy diet are only adds-on to round off your overall treatment plan.