How To Calm Anxiety: Six Natural, Proven Methods
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For many of us, anxiety is an incessant uninvited guest; a byproduct of the constant humdrum of our daily lives. By using natural remedies for anxiety we’re better armed to address the root of the problem, and care for ourselves from within.
1. Stay Active
Physical activity bumps up the production of your brains feel-good neurotransmitters. This means that exercise has the potential to not only improve your mood but also your self confidence and overall relaxation. The best part about exercising for anxiety is that you can decide what you do. Whether you’re in the mood of a soothing yoga flow or letting loose in a pumped-up kickboxing class, you’ll not only help your body but also your mind.
For me this means that I light a candle, put on a soothing playlist, and roll out my yoga mat whenever I’m feeling super anxious. Just breathing through the poses helps me to calm my mind and slow my heart rate. It also gives my mind the space that it needs to wonder without being distracted by the daily grind. When I (finally) leave the mat, I feel refreshed and ready to face the world again.
It should come as no surprise that the amount of sleep that you get is directly related to your mental health. True, getting an adequate amount of sleep – especially when you’re anxious – is easier said than done. Nevertheless, having a consistent sleeping pattern is a necessary starting point to naturally soothing anxiety. Sleep allows your neurons to shut down and repair themselves, providing cells with an increase in protein production allowing for your body’s normal functioning.
Regulating your sleeping habits not only soothes existing anxiety, but lack of sleep can affect your brains ability for conscious thinking. This type of thinking is necessary for making rational decisions, controlling emotions, and resisting temptations. You put yourself in a difficult position in overcoming your anxiety. So, set a bedtime and stick to it. Look after your inner child.
As soon as anyone brings up mediation my mind goes to the “ohm-ing” and “ah-ing” of a Buddhist sitting under a bonsai tree in lotus pose. The truth is that meditation can look like whatever you want it to look like, as long as your mind is in the right place. It’s about being present in the moment and letting your consciousness wander where it may. By focusing on your breath and body you’re able to non-judgmentally evaluate distracting thoughts. After a short meditation session that can sometimes be only three minutes of my day, I’m not only calm but also more focused and productive.
If you need some science-backed proof to convince you (I know I did before I tried meditating), then brain imaging has shown that meditation activates the anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and anterior insula. It’s these parts of the brain which regulate anxiety and worrying. Meditating calms the brain and controls your worrying – what more could you ask for?
Smells have the power to directly impact our nervous system and trigger emotions. The nerve signals from smells are sent to many parts of the brain including the limbic system and amygdala. As well as being in charge of emotions, mood, and memory these systems also regulate our autonomic nervous system. Your anxiety can be physically soothed by scents thanks to this connection between the systems.
With this in mind, aromatherapy is a natural way to soothe anxiety. Especially effective essential oils for when you’re feeling anxious or on edge are lavender, bergamot and ylang ylang. These essential oils are known for their soothing properties and lowering not only your heart rate but also your blood pressure. Lavender essential oil is known to send messages to the limbic system to regulate emotions and alleviate anxiety. It might seem a little far-fetched at first, but next time that you’re feeling anxious turn on an essential oil diffuser or put a few drops on your wrist. Just breathe it in and let the oils do their magic.
Grounding, or earthing, is the act of walking barefoot on the ground to connect to the Earth’s natural energy. Free electrons are carried up into the body that are basically nature’s antioxidants. They help to eliminate free radicals in the body. Grounding supports our heart rate variability which in turn reduces our sympathetic overdrive and balances the ANS. The result of this is a reduction in our body’s stress response limiting the onset of anxiety and depression.
In our attempt to live a more comfortable life we have removed ourselves from direct contact with the Earth. Little do we realize that this contact contributes to our physiological and psychological wellness. That being said, if grounding sounds like a little much for you, then just spending some time in nature is effective for reducing anxiety levels.
There’s nothing better than blasting some music to put you in a good mood and take your mind off your stresses. Music can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, not only slowing our heart rate but also decreasing levels of stress hormones.
My favorite part about music as a whole is that while the reason for its effects are somewhat unknown, the positive effect has been documented by scientists for years. Despite the mystery, they have shown that music activates our entire brain. This not only gives us the potential to improve the way we feel but also the way we behave. Once I’ve soothed my anxiety with a good tune, I’m then able to face my day with a better overall attitude and disposition. Also, singing along at the top of my lungs has never failed me as a stress outlet. But that’s just an added bonus if you ask me.
You’ve probably noticed that all of these tips have one thing in common: they’re practices of self-care. When you’re looking for a way to soothe anxiety naturally you should be focusing on anything that helps you to get in touch with your mind and inner self. Using these self-care tips anxiety needn’t be a constant state of mind!
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another” William James