If you have been feeling anxious and stressed lately, you are not alone.
A scientific brief released by the World Health Organization this year found that the worldwide prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25% in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and an estimated 31% of all adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.
These figures may be daunting, but it is important to remember that anxiety is a natural and critical bodily response to life. Anxiety has its benefits, but does need to be managed and regulated to prevent chronic harm.
Like many people, you may be wary to turn to over-the-counter medication as your first line of defense against anxiety. Growing evidence shows that there are many effective, natural ways to manage anxiety symptoms and reduce their impact on everyday life.
To set the stage for these great natural remedies for anxiety, let’s first explore the causes of anxiety, and how our bodies respond to feelings of anxiety and stress.
What Causes Anxiety?
While there is no single cause for anxiety, there are common factors that contribute to short and long-term feelings of anxiousness.
Anxiety can be caused by hereditary factors, including genetics that make our bodies and minds more prone to experiencing stress and anxiety.
If your biological relatives have had anxiety-related disorders, there is an increased chance that you might experience anxiety, too. Studies have shown that specific genes may be more commonly linked to anxiety and stress disorders.
Anxiety can also be driven by environmental factors: the air we breathe, the foods we eat, and the availability of nature in our surrounding environment can all contribute to anxiety.
Anxiety can also be caused by stressful events in life, or prolonged stress. Work stress, relationship troubles, emotional shock, or loss of a loved one are common contributors to experiencing anxiety.
How Our Bodies Respond to Anxiety
Anxiety is extremely common, and everyone experiences feelings of anxiousness from time-to-time. In fact, our bodily responses to stress and anxiety are survival mechanisms that have helped humans to survive for thousands of years.
However, chronic anxiety can have significant consequences for our well-being.
Immediate effects of anxiety on the body include:
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Insomnia or sleeplessness
- Stomach pain
Anxiety can have different impacts on different people. In the human body, these physiological responses are triggered by the HPA axis, scientifically known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This part of our body is designed to release and regulate hormones that manage how we respond to stressors and dangerous situations.
When we are frightened or experiencing anxiety, our adrenal glands kick into high gear, releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are built to help us survive in fight-or-flight situations, preparing our body to respond quickly and effectively to exterior threats.
Cortisol heightens levels of blood sugar in our bodies, impacts our metabolism, and curbs non-essential bodily functions. Adrenalin causes a boost in heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased energy. All of these functions are designed to help us survive when threatened.
Luckily for us, most common causes of anxiety in the modern world are not actually life-threatening. But, the effects on our bodies are still very real: ongoing stress and anxiety can throw our HPA axis and other bodily systems out of whack, causing issues such as weight gain, high blood pressure, concentration trouble, muscle tension, insomnia, and diabetes (to name a few).
Experiencing anxiety on an ongoing basis can be frustrating and frightening, but it’s our body’s way of saying that something is off-balance.
While some anxiety disorders may warrant over-the-counter medications, there is scientific evidence to support the use of natural remedies to reduce, combat, and control feelings of anxiety.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety
Non-pharmaceutical remedies for anxiety can range from practicing meditation and breathing techniques to incorporating natural herbs and stress-relieving adaptogens into your routine (our personal favorite).
These natural anxiety remedies can be used alone, with one another, or in conjunction with prescribed medication to help manage your symptoms. It is, of course, important to discuss these options with a medical professional.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for anxiety disorders, which is why it is also important to listen to your body when exploring ways to relieve feelings of anxiety.
Keep reading to learn which natural remedies are the best for combating anxiety!
The Best Natural Remedies to Combat Anxiety
If you’re feeling the effects of chronic anxiety, introducing exercise into your daily routine may help to curb your symptoms. Studies show that exercise can help to alter the chemistry of your brain, and increases the availability of chemicals in the body that help to fight anxiety.
One meta-analysis in the journal Anxiety-Depression found that those who have anxiety disorders and exercise regularly with high-level physical activity were better protected against anxiety symptoms.
While some studies show that the more exercise you get the more benefits for anxiety you will experience, any level of movement and exercise can prove valuable. New to exercise? It doesn’t have to be scary. You can reap the anti-anxiety benefits of exercise by taking a 10-minute walk, dancing in your living room, or practicing yoga.
If you love running or lifting weights at the gym, that works too.
Meditation is an ancient practice proven to calm the mind, improve mental performance, and reduce stress and anxiety. If you find your mind and body are racing with the effects of anxiety, meditation is a great practice to slow down and find balance.
Meditation has been shown to reduce the body’s inflammation response to stress, and many studies show measurable improvements in anxiety for those who practice meditation regularly.
When starting a meditation practice, start small, and be forgiving with yourself. In a tuned-in world, the art of tuning everything out can be challenging and a bit intimidating. With time, you can increase how long you meditate - in the end, the most important thing is to try.
3. Dietary Changes
What we consume has a huge impact on our energy levels, appearance, and overall health. Anxiety can be exaggerated by dehydration, low blood sugar, the use of caffeine and alcohol, and foods that trigger inflammation.
By being mindful of what we consume, we can help to reduce inflammation and promote overall health, which decreases stress in the body. It’s important to maintain adequate levels of anxiety-fighting nutrients like zinc and magnesium, get sufficient omega-3 fatty acids, consume probiotics that help promote gut health, and cut back on foods containing high sugar or caffeine content.
Consistency is key. As much as we wish one nutrient-rich salad could solve all of our problems, the only real way to see results is to continue practicing healthy routines that, over time, will help improve overall well being both mentally and physically.
It’s happened to all of us. We’re feeling anxious, and someone has the audacity to say “you’ll feel better in the morning”.
Well, they may be on to something.
Consistent, quality rest is critical for good health. Insufficient sleep has long been shown to be linked to anxiety, and research has shown that in deep sleep our bodies actively work to balance our stress response. One study noted that deep, non-REM sleep can help restore the body’s prefrontal mechanisms that regulate our emotions, helping to keep them in check.
We know it’s hard to “just fall asleep” when you’re feeling anxious. Our recommendation? Adding herbal remedies for sleep to your routine can be a great way to harmonize sleep cycles over time, helping to reduce anxiety.
5. Adaptogenic Herbs and Supplements
Naturally, we saved our favorite remedy for anxiety for last. Using adaptogenic herbs for anxiety is a great way to help restore inner balance and stave off our body’s anxiety response when we simply don’t need it.
Adaptogenic herbs can promote better sleep by helping the body adapt to stress. They help to regulate our hormones, detoxify the body, and can reduce inflammation - all symptoms that can contribute to stress.
By reducing the effects of stress on our bodies, we are less likely to remain chronically in “fight or flight” mode, which can trigger anxiety.
Some anxiety-fighting adaptogens we use in our products to promote balance include:
Reishi mushrooms: great for promoting a good night’s sleep. Reishi mushrooms also contain naturally occurring compounds that fight the effects of stress.
Jujube seeds: packed with antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
Chinese Licorice Root: can help to soothe the digestive system and reduce inflammation in the body.
Coral Lily Bulb: known for their properties that help to promote restful sleep and improve concentration.
Adaptogenic herbs can be taken in pill form, as tinctures, and even in cooking or teas. Those who take adaptogenic herbs consistently are most likely to see the benefits, as these powerful herbs promote chemical changes in the body that may take a few weeks to reach their full effect.
If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety that impact your overall life, it’s important to find techniques that work for you to unwind and provide relief.
We encourage you to try out these natural remedies for anxiety to see how they can help make every day better and reduce overall anxiety symptoms!