Your mind’s racing, your heart’s thumping, and your breathing is shallow. Anxiety is taking over and there’s nothing you can do about it – or so you tell yourself. But whether you have an anxiety disorder or are just going through a period of worry, there are natural, simple remedies to help calm your nerves and they’re really not that difficult to tap into; it’s all a matter of nurturing good habits.
From mindfulness techniques to herbal teas, here’s our round-up of the best natural remedies for anxiety.
When people think of natural remedies they tend to look towards herbal medicine, but in fact food plays one of the most important roles in mental health. So to keep anxiety at a minimum, make sure you pack plenty of mind-kind vitamins and minerals into your diet.
Stock Up on Magnesium-Rich Vegetables and Legumes
Out of all the minerals our body needs, magnesium is the most calming. Helping to prevent anxiety, nervousness and irritability, this mind-friendly mineral has been shown to promote a good night’s sleep too.
Get your magnesium hit from dark-green, leafy vegetable like kale, chard and spinach, as well as unrefined grains and pulses including buckwheat, millet and lentils.
Cut Down on Caffeine
Life without your morning cuppa joe may seem bleak, but if you struggle with anxiety, caffeine should be the first thing to go. While it gives you instant energy, caffeine can also make you jittery and anxious. So try switching out your morning coffee for a calming herbal tea.
For centuries, people have turned to herbal remedies for the treatment of anxiety and stress. And now, with the emergence of affordable, high-quality supplements, it’s easier than ever before to enjoy their benefits.
Used for thousands of years to sooth anxious minds, Ashwagandha is well-known for its adaptogenic benefits. This means it can help modulate your response to changing situations, such as toxins in the environment and the onset of anxiety or stress.
If your anxiety is stopping you from sleeping, valerian root might be your savior. Recognized by physicians as an effective sleep aid, valerian is frequently combined with chamomile, hops and lemon-balm in sleep-promoting tea blends.
If you ever feel anxiety creeping up on you, a hot cup of chamomile tea might just help. It’s all to do with the compounds found in this herb, which bind to the same brain receptors as anti-anxiety drugs. If you’re not too keen on the tea, you can also take chamomile as a supplement.
Known as the “energy vitamin”, vitamin B12 has long been associated with promoting healthy circulation, good digestion and red blood cell formation. But did you know it also plays an important role in the brain and nervous system?
In a study of people with OCD, panic disorder and depression, scientists found that patients taking 18 grams of the B vitamin inositol showed the same improvements as those on anti-anxiety medication.
If you notice your anxiety peaking during the winter months, you may need to top up those vitamin D levels. While you can find vitamin D in eggs and fatty fish, the most common source is exposure to ultraviolet rays. That’s why you can be left lacking in the short, gray days of winter. With 50 percent of the world’s population estimated to suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, it’s well worth getting checked out by a doctor.
Exercise isn’t just good for our bodies – it gives a real boost to the brain too. According to some studies, regular exercise works just as well as medication when it comes to reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
But that doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym hard. Psychologists studying how exercise works to relieve anxiety suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as beneficial as a 45-minute workout.
Mindfulness has received a lot of attention from psychologists in recent years. And for good reason. By encouraging us to focus on the present moment, embracing a mindful attitude can help ease any inner turmoil.
Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness is all about having an awareness of your thoughts and feeling as they happen moment to moment. "An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment.”
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