Anxiety is a natural response to stress, but that does not mean you can not get out of hand to the point where your quality of life is decreasing. For extreme levels of anxiety, it is important to talk with your doctor to discuss plans and treatment options, as there are many avenues of therapy and / or medications that can often be crucial to treat this common but potentially devastating condition. However, if you are facing milder levels of anxiety, or if you are already in a treatment plan, you may be wondering what natural remedies for anxiety really work.
First of all, if you suffer from anxiety, know that you are not alone: only in the United States, around 40 million adults face some type of anxiety disorder, which makes it the most frequent mental health problem in the world. United States according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness. I must admit that I am a bit biased as to which treatments are effective; I have been an anxiety patient for most of my life, with a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), so I have a lot of personal experience. I have found that both therapy and medications are critical to help me cope with my anxiety, but I also adopt a holistic approach to making changes in my lifestyle. Often, my therapists have offered helpful suggestions, such as meditation and exercise, so I wanted to find out what lifestyle / natural methods to help combat anxiety are also recommended by experts.
I spoke with Jessica Gold, M.D., MS, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington in St. Louis, about her belief that changes in lifestyle can be an integral part of the treatment of anxiety.
"There's a point where the medication has done what it can do, and other things can make it more difficult." Medications have more symptomatic relief, but there can still be so many things happening in your life that contribute to your symptoms. " If you still have a lot of negative thoughts, if you're still in college and your life is full of stress, you can not fix it with medication. "
Dr. Gold believes that certain home remedies may be helpful, but cautions against anything that claims to be a magic "cure all" supplement: "People often think of natural remedies as something like taking supplements. These can have negative effects and can interact with medications.If you are going to start a supplement that aims to help relieve anxiety, take charge of your doctor. "
Then, according to the experts, here are some natural remedies that are proven to work.
"Meditation and yoga activate the body's relaxation response and cushion areas of the brain associated with the regulation of emotions that can help reduce feelings of anxiety," said Dr. Barbara Nosal, Clinical Director of Newport Academy. mental health center for adolescents and young people). Dr. Gold also believes that meditation can help affect anxiety at the neurological level, explaining: "When people are good at that and can practice meditation (or mindfulness), they can affect the networks in their brain and can Functionally, it allows you to have less anxiety. " Personally, I think meditation is very useful to interrupt anxiety cycles. I usually look for free guided meditation sessions on YouTube or use a meditation application. Some therapists can recommend specific meditation courses.
Something that therapists and psychiatrists have reiterated to me over and over again is the importance of physical exercise for my mental health. Personally, I have found that moderate exercise has had a drastic and positive effect on my mood.
"Physical exercise, when used in a healthy way, can help fight anxiety," says Dr. Nosal. Research shows that physical activity improves mental health by producing hormones that improve mood, especially in the case of depression, but also affect the symptoms of anxiety. help improve sleep, which is vital to support mental health. "
3. Weather in nature.
In 2015, the Stanford researchers found that a simple 90-minute walk could temporarily improve mental well-being: participants who walked in nature (compared to an urban setting) showed decreased activity in parts of the brain associated with emotional rumination negative. "There is also a lot of research that shows that time in nature improves mood. Go for a walk, walk, swim, etc. It can help clear and calm the mind, reducing feelings and thoughts of anxiety, "says Dr. Nosal.
4. Distraction devices.
Fidget's spinners have become emblematic of the supposedly frivolous millennials, however, their origins are quite practical: "The reason why those toy spinners became one thing is because some people need them to be able to focus on something to reduce your focus on Everything Else, "says Dr. Gold. But you do not have to be a restless spinner; Anything that occupies your hands and eyes can be useful. I discovered that making my own stress or limo balls can be fun and it helps me to capture my mind when anxiety appears (and if you are a mother, it can be a fun activity to do with your children!).
5. Heavy blankets
Dr. Gold suggests that some people consider heavy blankets useful for anxiety. In fact, a study published in 2008 by Mullen et. Alabama. found that 63 percent of participants reported lower levels of anxiety after the use of weighted blankets. You can find a lot of heavy blankets for sale online, or if you're sneaky, you can make your own using heavy beads as stuffing.
Dr. Nosal explains how art and creative expression can be a constructive way to improve your mood: "Creative expression through visual art, writing, music and movement are additional ways to naturally help combat the anxiety". Artistic, without worries. Some research suggests that simply coloring geometric patterns can help reduce anxiety levels.
It is intuitive that what you put in your body will have an effect on your brain. Dr. Nosal tells me: "It has been shown that specific nutrients in foods have a direct effect on mood. Eating nutritious foods low in sugars and processed ingredients can help improve mental health and mood. "The Harvard Health Blog reports that some research has suggested that certain dietary choices may be related to an improved mood, how to get enough magnesium in the diet, diet (found in green leaves, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains), eat foods rich in zinc (oysters, cashews, beef, yolk) and omega fatty acids -3 (salmon), and other nutritious foods rich in nutrients.
However, although Dr. Gold says that a good diet can help with mental health, warns against a drastic diet, saying: "I think we still do not understand the diet enough." I think there is some evidence to suggest that food has an effect on mental health, and we know that eating or not eating can be related to mood and food can be addictive, but we do not understand it completely. And certainly, a restrictive diet that tries to maintain a recommended diet for mental health can present a problem. "
8. Reduce caffeine consumption.
Herbal teas are often touted as a natural way to relieve anxiety. However, as Dr. Gold explains, "celebrities sometimes sell things that are not proven, like drinking a certain tea, I can tell you that taking a certain tea will not take away your anxiety."
However, it is likely that the lack of caffeine (and sugar) is what makes herbal teas preferable to black tea, coffee or other caffeinated beverages. A study by Nymberg et. Al., Published in 2018 in the magazine. The evidence is based on practice, found that "caffeine increases self-rated anxiety more than placebo" and that "patients with generalized anxiety disorder are more sensitive to the anxiety-inducing (caffeine-inducing) effects of caffeine than patients with panic disorder or no disease psychiatric ". this lesson on a personal level: decaffeinated is the best friend of an anxious girl.