10 ways to manage anxiety naturally

For most adults and children living with anxiety, they know that it can be debilitating and can keep them from enjoying many of life’s simple pleasures. Whether you or a loved one has been diagnosed, or you are living based on a self-diagnosis, it is important to find ways to minimize the impact of anxiety for mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing!

Of course, in addition to or in place of anxiety medication, there are natural ways to reduce anxiety on a daily basis. This might come from techniques, thought processes, or support systems. No matter what, it means that anxiety does not have to win!

Here are the top 10 tips for reducing anxiety daily!

Focus on breath work

In today’s self-educated, self-care world, meditation is on-trend. So, we get it when a person living with anxiety is told by someone who learned ‘off the internet’ that you need to practice meditation. 

Practising breathwork techniques or mindfulness meditation might help a person take control over their awareness and refocus it in the present moment, limiting instinctive behaviours and unregulated emotions. 

Consider these findings from a 2014 study, which found that attention to breath was improved with mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation also reduced state anxiety and activated regions of the brain commonly associated with state anxiety traits (Zeidan, et al., 2014).

Consider a meditation app to guide your meditation practice and send you daily reminders. 

Consider your daily routine

When experts suggest that you find yourself a daily routine, what they are looking for is positive, daily habits that are geared towards self-betterment, health, and positivity. This can be simply increasing the amount of water you drink daily, to adding in more fruits and vegetables, reading a self-help book, and exercising. 

Finding the right daily routine can be difficult to determine, especially as we all live such unique lives and have our own distinct personalities. In general, a good daily routine is one that brings in elements of daily life that make you feel better for the long-term, increase your overall health and mental wellbeing, and promote positive social and physical behaviours. 

Consider setting an alarm for checking in with how your day went, getting a habit tracking app, journaling about routines that you want to try, or getting an app to monitor how much movement you make in a day. 

Eat foods that are designed to balance your body physiologically

The food we eat not only gives us the energy to get through the day, but it is also telling us something, and this is by communication with glands and organs in our body. In turn, our body might be ‘out of balance’ physiologically; this might show up by suddenly wanting to nap, craving sweets, or being listless. 

By paying mind to the types of food in our diet, you might clue in to how certain foods (or drinks like CAFFEINE!) affect you physiologically and hormonally. Think about how tired you get from having a big turkey dinner during the holidays. Things like overeating, not eating enough of a balanced diet, lacking in fruits and vegetables, lacking water, excessive caffeine, and junk food can all directly affect our hormones and allow us to feel like garbage because of it. 

Consider a food journal, or a food tracking app that tells you how your food affects you (there truly is an app for everything!). You can also consult a naturopath or dietician to map out certain food/mood relationships. 

Talk to someone

When you have anxiety or another mental health problem, you might be doing everything that you can in order to take control of your emotions. But you do not have to go through this alone. 

If you haven’t already, consider speaking with someone, even if you don’t believe that you can be helped as every individual can benefit from speaking with a professional. Professionals like psychotherapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, or counsellors are learning just like us, but their main job is to be there to support and help you. 

If you’ve already tried speaking to a professional and didn’t feel comfortable, then don’t give up. It might take some time to find a professional who is the right fit for your needs. 

If you are not comfortable with a professional, you can also seek help from a friend, family member, or volunteer service. Sometimes just voicing your fears and having someone listen to them is a step in the right direction. 

Consider natural supplements

If you are doing everything that you can to reduce anxiety, or you feel that doing everything on this list might be too much, you can consider looking into natural supplements. 

Some natural supplements for anxiety include rhodiola rosea, melatonin (for sleep), glycine, ashwagandha, L-theanine, B complex vitamins, Myo-inositol, and kava, among so many others. You can read up on these supplements here, and be sure to speak with your doctor before mixing medications, even if they are deemed natural. 

Notably, Myo-inositol has shown promising results as a powering therapy for treating depression, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (Cohen et al., 1997). And it has also been used in clinical trials with Alzheimer’s disease (Barak et al., 1996), and as a useful mediator for managing anxiety symptoms (Brunst et al., 2019). 

Take breaks

Taking a break at work is often required by law and it is scientifically supported to promote health (called ‘Booster Breaks’; Taylor, 2005). In addition to work breaks, consider life breaks. You can take a break from anything, including social groups, social media, and texting.  

Try to take frequent mental and physical breaks throughout the day and periodically throughout the month. This allows you to take some time away from a stressful task, physically demanding aspect of your day, or emotional week all around. 

All that is needed is a minute or two here and there where you don’t think about work, friends, family, or anything really! This is a judgement-free time, so don’t judge yourself for taking the break either!

Be physically active

While physical activity has known physical benefits, we have also learned that physical activity has a number of mental health benefits as well. 

According to numerous studies, there is a positive relationship between physical activity and mental health (Crone, Heaney, and Owens, 2009). Meaning, that engaging in physical activity can improve one’s quality of life and reduce isolation by improving social interaction and a chance to return to activity!

Being active doesn’t mean that you should sign up for a marathon right now. Simply take it in stride. Go for walks throughout your day, or try a squat challenge in your home. It may take some searching, but there are so many ways to be active that you are bound to find something that you might enjoy. From hula-hooping to slacklining, everything is fair game!

Try joining a local exercise group, virtual exercise challenge, or fitness app that promotes fitness challenges!

Set your boundaries

In this fast-paced world, life can easily get ahead of us. Sometimes we agree to more social or professional obligations than we can physically manage and, unfortunately, our personal health and well-being get neglected in the meantime.

The bottom line is that there is no one more important than you, so you need to do what you need to do and take care of yourself. 

With work asking so much of us and our friends asking for help, it might be hard to say no. And we’re not necessarily suggesting that you should say no! However – and especially if you need to do this for your mental health – your friends will understand when you need to say no!

Monitor screen time

Ah, yes – screen time. It’s relatively easy to get caught up in social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, Twitter, and scroll endlessly. It’s also easy to throw a Netflix show on your TV and binge or have it running in the background. 

Unfortunately, by consuming all of this, you are being affected by your social networks in many ways. A study out of the UK in 2019 found a small increased risk of anxiety and depression with high computer use. Screen time compounded with being alone might make anxiety worse!

Try to dedicate a few nights a week away from the screen. This can be for an hour or two, reading a book, meditating, or just doing nothing. If your family stays connected to the screen, then try to take a moment as a family to play a board game one night of the week, or step outside for a walk! You can also monitor your screen time with native apps in your iOS devices and Android devices.

Go easy on yourself

Last but not least is going easy on yourself. We are constantly inundated with so much bad news, social triggers, and psychological stressors that we tend to take on a lot of these metaphorical burdens. Well, the good news is that if you take a break and cut yourself some slack, the world will keep on spinning. 

Take time each day to thank yourself for getting up in the morning, for staying true to yourself, and for filling your belly with water! We all need to cheer ourselves on!

Resources:

Barak, Y., Levine, J., Glasman, A., Elizur, A., & Belmaker, R. H. (1996). Inositol treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: a double blind, cross-over placebo controlled trial. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry, 20(4), 729-735.

Brunst, K. J., Ryan, P. H., Altaye, M., Yolton, K., Maloney, T., Beckwith, T., … & Cecil, K. M. (2019). Myo-inositol mediates the effects of traffic-related air pollution on generalized anxiety symptoms at age 12 years. Environmental research, 175, 71-78.

Cohen, H., Kotler, M., Kaplan, Z., Matar, M. A., Kofman, O., & Belmaker, R. H. (1997). Inositol has behavioral effects with adaptation after chronic administration. Journal of neural transmission, 104(2-3), 299-305.

Crone, D., Heaney, L., & Owens, C. S. (2009). 10 Physical activity and mental health. Physical activity and health promotion: Evidence-based approaches to practice (p. 198). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Fadel Zeidan, Katherine T. Martucci, Robert A. Kraft, John G. McHaffie, Robert C. Coghill, Neural correlates of mindfulness meditation-related anxiety relief, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Volume 9, Issue 6, June 2014, Pages 751–759, https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nst041

Anxiety.org. (2020). “Facts about the effects of mindfulness.” Retrieved October 7, 2020 from https://www.anxiety.org/can-mindfulness-help-reduce-anxiety#:~:text=Research%20has%20shown%20that%20mindfulness,may%20be%20driving%20that%20decision.

Make Use Of. (2020). “5 Food Diary Apps to Track What You Eat and How It Affects You.” Retrieved October 7, 2020 from https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/food-diary-apps/

Khouja, J. N., Munafò, M. R., Tilling, K., Wiles, N. J., Joinson, C., Etchells, P. J., … & Cornish, R. P. (2019). Is screen time associated with anxiety or depression in young people? Results from a UK birth cohort. BMC public health, 19(1), 1-11.

Marks V. How our food affects our hormones. Clin Biochem. 1985 Jun;18(3):149-53. doi: 10.1016/s0009-9120(85)80099-0. PMID: 3888442.

Mojtabai, R., Olfson, M., & Mechanic, D. (2002). Perceived need and help-seeking in adults with mood, anxiety, or substance use disorders. Archives of general psychiatry, 59(1), 77-84.

Peddie, N., Westbury, T., & Snowden, A. (2020). ‘Nobody will put baby in the corner!’: A qualitative evaluation of a physical activity intervention to improve mental health. Health & Social Care in the Community. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/hsc.13017

Taylor, W. C. (2005). Transforming work breaks to promote health. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 29(5), 461-465.


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