Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S, but you don’t have to be diagnosed to know what anxiety feels like. It can be that feeling of fear in the pit of your stomach, or the thoughts that keep you up at night, unable to relax. The symptoms of anxiety range from uncomfortable to debilitating. Fortunately, there are natural solutions.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says anxiety affects some 40 million adults in the United States. Because the symptoms of anxiety often mimic the symptoms of illnesses, these people are likely to spend more money on medical costs and more time waiting to see a doctor. Though conventional medicine has an arsenal of anti-anxiety drugs to throw at the problem, many people are able to treat their anxiety problems at home without Big Pharma intervention.
Here are 3 natural solutions for anxiety relief:
1. Avoid Sugar, Caffeine, and Other Stimulants
The first response to any symptom of ill-health should be dietary – not medications. Remove those things from your diet that can aggravate anxiety or put you on edge. This includes caffeine and refined carbohydrates including sugar. “White carbs” can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and cause serious mood swings. Caffeine is no better for someone with anxiety. All of these substances are habit forming, which makes quitting them difficult. But for many, dietary changes are all that’s required to handle feelings of anxiety.
Recently, an analysis looking at 47 studies found mindfulness meditation to be an effective tool against anxiety and depression. Just a few minutes a day could be enough to trigger changes in the brain.
“It was surprising to see that with so little training [about 2.5 hours of meditation practice per week] we were still seeing consistent effects,” said Dr. Madhav Goyal of the research.
By carving out 20 minutes in the morning or 10 in the evening, you can help your brain learn to stay in the moment. Because anxiety is based in forward thinking, a fear of what could be, meditation brings your thoughts back to now.
3. Try Herbs Like Chamomile
Chamomile, found widely in teas designed to help you sleep, is an herb that’s been used as medicine for centuries. It helps you relax – a perfect solution for someone battling anxiety. One study found 57% of participants reduced their anxiety scores by 50% over a period of eight weeks of chamomile use. If you’re simultaneously trying to quit caffeine, subbing a chamomile tea is a great anti-anxiety alternative.
Anxiety is scary, literally. But it doesn’t have to be.