I’m not sure what it is, but I feel like anxiety is more common now than, say, ten years ago. Or, it could be that it’s more socially acceptable to openly discuss it. Either way, anxiety disorders (this includes general anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, and OCD) are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. It affects 40 million adults! Anxiety manifests itself in a variety of ways and can vary from person to person, but it’s always an inconvenience and affects the way a person functions and thrives. And, if any of these people are like me, medication isn’t exactly the best solution — even if it may be the easiest.
Once upon a time, I had a job that was so stressful that I couldn’t sleep at night. I constantly felt like my heart was going to explode, I frequently hyperventilated, and I’m pretty sure I almost had, like, five ulcers. This occurred for a few months until I realized that I should probably go to the doctor, at which point I was told that I had a fairly severe case of anxiety and was immediately put on various medications. Needless to say, I high-tailed out of the job that shall not be named and, once I started feeling closer to normal, I ditched the meds. Unfortunately, I feel like once you have anxiety, you’re more prone to encounter it in your life than if you never had it (there’s no science behind this. I checked, but I swear it’s true!). So while I’m not on daily medication anymore, I still keep some Xanax in my purse in case of an emergency, but I try six natural remedies to relieve my anxiety first.
Surprise! Some studies show that exercise works just as well to relieve anxiety as medication. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “one vigorous exercise can alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule can significantly reduce them over time.”
2. Comfort Food
This doesn’t mean food that comforts you — put down the macaroni and cheese. Adding foods high in tryptophan (not just turkey but nuts, seeds, tofu, cheese, fish, oats, lentils, and eggs) can help serotonin production which promotes feelings of well-being and calm.
3. A Secret Combination of 11 Spices and Herbs
Just kidding. KFC will not keep you calm (at least, it’s not scientifically proven to). But a variety of herbs are shown to have decreased symptoms of anxiety significantly. Taken as a supplement, in tea, or aromatically, some of these herbs can include lavender, chamomile, hops (yes, it’s in beer and no, beer will not decrease your anxiety…but non-alcoholic beer might), lemon balm, passion flower, and valerian.
4. Take a Walk and Breathe
Studies have mixed results on the effects of vitamin D on anxiety. However, those who suffer from anxiety are at an increased risk to be depressed, which vitamin D does prevent. Also, generally taking a break from whatever it is that is causing you to be anxious is a good start to relief. If you’re a hyperventilator (that sounds like a fancy machine to keep your from overheating, doesn’t it?), this is also a good opportunity to concentrate on taking deep breaths.
If you’re like me, nothing makes me feel better like breaking a daunting task down into small and easy steps and writing it all down. If you’re not like me, planning will probably stress you out and give you a panic attack, so feel free to move to the next suggestion on the list.
6. Be Social
I know being anti-social is the new cool, but having social support improves reactions to stress and releases oxytocin, which reduces anxiety.
Again, anxiety can appear in our lives in so many different ways, that there isn’t one simple fix for everyone, but this is a good start towards tossing those pills away for good. What are your go-to methods for getting rid of anxiety?