Treating Anxiety with Natural Remedies
By Rachel @ Christian Mommies
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Here are 8 "all natural" remedies to help you recover from chronic stress and anxiety:
Get Your Rest
A good night's sleep is designed for potent healing. Length of sleep recommendations seem to be all over the map, but (anxiety and adrenal fatigue) experts tend to favor the longer 8-10 hour range of sleep during recovery. It is best to have a routine, going to bed at the same time every night and waking up around the same time every morning. Take short naps if they are needed and work for you. Taking a day of rest every week is also very important. If you are really struggling, time off or a retreat may be a wise decision.
Shallow breathing and holding your breath can make anxiety worse. If you're an athlete or a singer, you've probably been taught to breathe "correctly" from the belly. Here's a YouTube tutorial on proper breathing: Prevent and manage anxiety with correct breathing (video embedded below). In the midst of a panic attack, checking your breathing may help the physical symptoms of the anxiety attack to settle quicker. If however, you find working on breathing during an anxiety attack bothers you, working on breathing correctly during the calmer moments of the day can be enough to make a difference next time and reduce your overall tension.
Adding nervine/calming teas to your daily routine can help take some of the edge off. Chamomile, lavender, peppermint, lemon balm, Sleepytime Herbal Tea (and their stronger version with Valerian root) are some of the more common varieties available at grocery stores. Whole food stores usually have exotic mixes of teas to try, labelled as effective for inducing a relaxing calm or sleepiness, along with better/organic versions of the more common calming teas. Tea mixes are a "safer" form of herbal remedies, versus more concentrated forms like capsules and drops.
Calming Essential Oils
Lavender, bergamot and cedarwood are a few of the essential oil scents that are said to be calming. (The most widely recommended brand of late is doTerra.) For some, familiar scents may be more comforting, like eucalyptus oil if you grew up with Vicks being rubbed on your chest when you were sick. One idea is to rest with a hot towel lightly laced with one of these scents, placed on your forehead or the back of your neck. Similarly, applying the (skin contact approved) oils in a salve to your feet and then putting on warm socks before you lay down could work for you. Personally, I've found the scent of tea tree oil on a (now oil stained) cloth tucked into my shirt at bedtime to be comforting.
B vitamins and magnesium are some of the nutrients stress can deplete. In response, there are products like "Natural Calm - The Anti Stress Drink" (featuring magnesium) and Super Stress B-Complex with Vitamin C. Epsom salt baths or foot soaks may help boost magnesium and relax you at the same time (I recommend adding drops of vitamin E oil, another vitamin cited often re:anxiety). Quite a few of the nutrients stress depletes are found in dark leafy greens, so adding a daily big salad or green smoothie to the menu can be helpful. Besides eating healthily, which often means leading your appetite instead of letting it led you during depressed or anxious times, consistently supplementing with B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, as well as vitamin D and healthy fats for overall well being, may help ease the symptoms and side effects of anxiety.
Of the few "nature's Valium" suggestions I've head, Valerian root would come closest. Although Valerian root is less potent, it is also much less habit forming. Herbal remedies are drugs, however, so they have safe and unsafe usage, and proper dosage. Valerian root induces sleepiness, which may limit most people to evening use. It's best to consult a doctor about whether or not Valerian root capsules or drops are right for you, and when and how you should take it (or any other herbal remedy, and there are many that may help reduce anxiety!)
Watch What you Put In
Cut back on stimulants and depressants, like coffee and alcohol. It's also commonly recommended to cut down on sugar. This doesn't need to be permanent, but having these substances pushing and pulling you, while you are trying to recover from anxiety, is counterproductive. When matters also; you're shooting yourself in the foot if you stress your body by skipping meals, for instance. Keeping your body on an "even keel" will dramatically shorten your recovery time.
Light Aerobic Exercise
Light exercise, such as walking, can help counter anxiety both through released hormones in the short term and better overall health in the long term. However, you have to listen closely to your body when you're in the midst of a recovery period. Vigorous exercise can add stress, but you should be able to do lighter exercise that will benefit you without putting extra strain on your body. However, it is possible to be so exhausted that you'll have to ease into a relaxing exercise routine over time, and that is where listening to your body - slowing down if you need to slow down - comes in.
These 8 suggestions can help on the physical front, but I recommended developing other tools and coping techniques, as well as taking the spiritual side of anxiety seriously. Oftentimes, people will go to the doctor to get a prescription, and that is the be all, end all of their treatment. They are drugged calm, but not addressing any emotional, rational, or spiritual issues, nor any traumas that may have contributed to their anxiety. Drugs are often a Band-Aid, versus a healing salve. Turning only to pills is a huge disservice to oneself. Better to open the toolbox and do the work!