Ten natural ways to deal with anxiety

Anxiety is one of the mental health disorders experienced by many people in the world, if not handled properly it can affect a person's quality of life. Feelings of anxiety that occur every day, over time can become a big problem. Therefore, anxiety that can no longer be controlled should immediately be consulted to an expert. What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the body's natural response to stress. It's a feeling of fear or worry that can be caused by a combination of factors that researchers believe range from genetics, environment to brain chemistry. Some of the common symptoms of anxiety include, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, restlessness and difficulty concentrating. However, it is important to note that anxiety can manifest itself in different ways for different people. While one person may have a panic attack, another may have nightmares or painful thoughts. There is a difference between everyday anxiety and anxiety disorder. Feeling anxious about something new or stressed is common anxiety, but when it gets to the point that it gets uncontrollable or excessive and begins to affect the quality of life it can become a nuisance. Some of the anxiety disorders include, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), separation anxiety, illness anxiety, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder.

How to treat anxiety?

Anxiety can be treated in various ways. One common treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which gives a person a tool to deal with anxiety when it occurs. There are also certain medications, such as antidepressants and tranquilizers, that work to balance brain chemistry and prevent anxiety episodes. They can counteract even the most severe symptoms. However, if you want to go a more natural way, there are things you can do to help combat anxiety. You can make adjustments to your habits, such as exercise, sleep, and diet. You can also try something completely new, like aromatherapy or meditation. Whatever the demands of your lifestyle, there are natural ways to help reduce anxiety for everyone:

1. Stay active

Regular exercise is not just about physical health, it can also be very helpful for mental health. A study found that people with anxiety disorders who engage in high-intensity physical activity are better protected from developing anxiety symptoms. This could be for various reasons. Exercise can distract from something that worries you. Increasing heart rate also alters brain chemistry to create more room for anti-anxiety neurochemicals, such as serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and endocannabinoids. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), regular exercise leads to increased concentration and desire, which can help with certain symptoms of anxiety. If you really want to get your heart rate up, something like a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) class or running are the best options. But if you're looking to start with something a little less impactful, exercise, like Pilates and yoga, can also be beneficial for mental health.

2. Avoid alcohol

Drinking alcohol may reduce the effects of anxiety at first, as it is a natural sedative. However, research shows that there is an association between anxiety and alcohol consumption with coexisting anxiety disorder and alcohol use disorder (AUD). A review that looked at 63 different studies showed that drinking alcohol can increase anxiety and depression. Excessive drinking can upset the balance of neurotransmitters responsible for positive mental health. These disorders create an imbalance that can lead to certain symptoms of anxiety. Alcohol has also been shown to interfere with the body's natural ability to sleep by disrupting sleep homeostasis, whereas getting a good night's sleep is helpful in reducing anxiety.

3. Consider quitting smoking

Smokers often reach for a cigarette during times of stress. However, like drinking alcohol, smoking a cigarette when stressed is a quick fix that can worsen anxiety over time. Research has shown that the earlier you start smoking in life, the higher your risk of developing an anxiety disorder later in life. Research has also shown that nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke alter pathways in the brain linked to anxiety. If you want to quit, there are many different ways to get started. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends finding safe substitutes for cigarettes, such as toothpicks.

4. Limit caffeine intake

If you have chronic anxiety, caffeine is no good friend. Caffeine can cause nervousness and restlessness, both of which are not good if you are anxious. Research has shown caffeine can cause or worsen anxiety disorders. It can also cause panic attacks in people with panic disorder. In some people, eliminating caffeine can significantly improve anxiety symptoms. Similar to alcohol, caffeine and anxiety are often linked, due to caffeine's ability to alter brain chemistry. For example, a study showed that caffeine increases alertness by blocking the brain chemical adenosine that makes you feel tired, while at the same time triggering the release of adrenaline. However, if you want to cut down on caffeine, you should start by slowly reducing the amount of caffeine you drink each day. Start replacing this drink with water to quench your thirst. Not only will this meet your body's need for fluids, it will also help flush caffeine out of your body and keep you hydrated. Cutting back on caffeine gradually over a few weeks can help adjust the habit without your body experiencing withdrawal.

5. Prioritize a good night's rest

Sleep has been proven time and time again to be an important part of good mental health. Although surveys found that nearly a third of adults sleep less than 6 hours each night, the CDC recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day. You can make sleep a priority by only sleeping at night when you are tired, not reading or watching television in bed, not using your phone, tablet, or computer in bed, avoiding caffeine, large meals, and nicotine before bed. Also, keep the room dark and cool, write down your worries before bed, and go to bed at the same time every night.

6. Meditate and practice mindfulness

The main goal of meditation is mindfulness in the present moment, which includes paying attention to all thoughts in a non-judgmental way. This can lead to a sense of calm and contentment by increasing your ability to tolerate all thoughts and feelings mindfully. Meditation is known to relieve stress and anxiety and is a major aspect of CBT. Research from Johns Hopkins shows 30 minutes of meditation every day can reduce some symptoms of anxiety.

7. Eat a balanced diet

Low blood sugar levels, dehydration, or chemicals in processed foods, such as artificial flavours, artificial coloring, and preservatives, can cause mood swings in some people. A high-sugar diet can also affect temperament. If your anxiety worsens after eating, check your eating habits. Stay hydrated, eliminate processed foods, and eat a balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein.

8. Practice deep breathing

Shallow, rapid breathing is common with anxiety. This can cause a fast heart rate, dizziness or lightheadedness or even a panic attack. Deep breathing exercises or the deliberate process of taking slow, even, deep breaths can help restore normal breathing patterns and reduce anxiety.

9. Try aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that has been used by humans for thousands of years. This exercise uses natural plant extracts and essential oils to promote the health and well-being of mind, body, and spirit. The goal is to improve physical and emotional health. Essential oils made by natural plant extracts can be inhaled directly or added to a warm bath or diffuser. Aromatherapy is suggested to help relax, aid sleep, improve mood, reduce heart rate and blood pressure. While some essential oils that are believed to relieve anxiety are bergamot, lavender, grapefruit and ylang.

10. Drink chamomile tea

A cup of chamomile tea is a common home remedy for calming tense nerves and improving sleep. A study shows chamomile can also be a powerful ally against GAD. The study found that people who took German chamomile capsules (220 milligrams up to five times daily) had lower levels of anxiety than those who were given a placebo. Another study found that chamomile extract helped sleep-disturbed mice fall asleep. Researchers believe that tea can function like benzodiazepines, bind to benzodiazepine receptors and have hypnotic activity like benzodiazepines.

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