While anxiety is a perfectly natural biological response when met with acutely stressful situations, it can become problematic when it becomes a regular occurrence, especially if it interferes with your day-to-day life. If you're one of those people who lets unproductive worrying get in the way of a good night's sleep, it could be time to take action.
Fortunately, there are a number of ready-to-go natural remedies at your disposal:
Learning to meditate can have an amazing impact on your worry levels. It’s super easy to start, too. There's no "right" way to go about it, rather the point is to practice noticing when your mind is wandering and simply bring it back to the present moment, by focussing on your breathing, or a particular sound.
Along with its stress-busting properties, being mindful can help you to increase your focus and improve your creativity levels. Bonus! To get started, you can download the Headspace app, which provides guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training.
Not only does regular exercise improve your overall health and sense of well-being, it also has some direct anxiety-busting benefits. Physical activity improves the body's production of feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. It can also help you to zone-out, focusing on the activity at hand, rather than pointlessly ruminating.
This is backed up by science. Preliminary studies indicate that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people. Psychologists suggest that even a 10 minute walk might be as good as a 45 minute workout.
Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. After a big session, you'll find you drift off much more easily, and wake up feeling refreshed, if a little sore!
Sometimes anxiety triggers insomnia - not a fun combo. Lots of people find that when they're going through a particularly stressful time, their anxiety and insomnia both seem to come out in full force. These can exacerbate each other, leading to a downward spiral of fatigue and worrying. That's where chamomile comes in.
Thanks to a flavonoid found in the plant called apigenin, chamomile acts as an effective natural sedative, relieving anxiety and stress. Recent research has shown that it can even fight depression.
For that reason, brewing a chamomile tea before going to bed or anytime after dinner can help you get a good night sleep, aiding with your goal to keep stress-causing cortisol levels at bay.
Lavender oil has long been associated with relaxing aromatherapy, but did you know that research shows that lavender oil is just as effective as valium for treating the signs of anxiety in women.
Lavender oil is considered a nervous system restorative and helps with sleep, irritability, panic attacks, restlessness and general nervous tension. Try adding a few drops to the underside of your pillow at night to get a relaxing night's sleep.
Valerian root is an sedative herb used to treat conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, headaches and upset stomach. It's incredibly versatile - you can take it in powder form or even make a tea out of it.
Due to Valerian's strong sedative properties, take it before bed rather than in the morning. It can be combined with other herbs such as hops and chamomile to increase its relaxing effects.
Breathing is the secret weapon in your arsenal against anxiety, especially anxiety attacks. During an emergency, our breathing pattern changes. We begin to breath shallowly, from the top of the lungs, rather than inhaling deeply, filling the lungs with air. This can result in shortness of breath, a numbness in the extremities and a feeling of being out of control and panicky.
This can exacerbate anxiety, but fortunately the symptoms can be reversed through breathing technique, too. By slowing your breathing, focussing on exhaling longer than inhaling, and filling your lungs, you can stimulate your body's parasympathetic nervous system. Taking 20 to 30 deep breaths can help you keep calm naturally and fight the symptoms of anxiety, all without lifting a finger.
Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. She writes about mental health and well-being over at The Fusion Model
How To Control Anxiety With 1 Easy Breathing Technique by Frances Masters