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Natural Relief for Anxiety

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Anxiety can manifest in a multitude of ways, from mild to severe. It may ebb and flow in both duration and intensity, and sometimes might disappear completely, only to surprise you and return suddenly.

Anxiety can include short or long duration experiences of a racing pulse, cold sweats, panic, insomnia, heart palpitations, digestive issues, frequent urination, shortness of breath, muscle tension, insomnia, and/or shaking.

However anxiety is manifesting for you, there are many natural ways to manage it with herbal solutions, lifestyle shifts, and aromatherapy.

Shift Your Mindset about Anxiety

One of the most important ways is distance yourself from the feelings: instead of saying you ‘have anxiety’ or you are an ‘anxious person,’ it can be helpful to think along the lines of ‘having anxious feelings.’ This helps to shift the thought pattern from something that you ARE into something that you are experiencing – the key here being that it’s an experience that will go away or disappear – it's not an unchangeable part of yourself.

Keep Blood Sugar in Balance to Prevent Anxiety

Blood sugar spikes and crashes can lead to racing heart, panic attacks, irritability or anger (‘hanger’). Stabilizing these swings is one of the first things to address to prevent anxiety. To keep your blood sugar balanced, eat regular meals with plenty of protein, fiber, and healthy fats to keep you satiated and keep your blood sugar stable. Processed carbs, soda, sweet coffee drinks, and sugary snacks can feel good momentarily, but will lead to crashes later, continuing the cycle of spike/crash.  

Avoid Stimulants to Reduce Anxiety Symptoms

Stimulants like coffee, tea, sugar, and even chocolate can trigger panic and anxiety in some individuals. Experiment with cutting back on the amount of each you consume, and if possible, experiment with removing these foods completely from your diet, at least temporarily.

Keep Moving to Burn off Anxiety

Moving your body everyday can help to release excess energy that sometimes manifests as brain chatter, heart palpitations, and other anxiety symptoms. This excess energy needs to be released by movement: a brisk walk, a vigorous yoga class, a run around the block can do wonders to release that excess energy, and take your mind off the feelings of anxiousness. Movement is doubly beneficial since exercise creates oxytocin, which calms the mind and body.

Herbal Remedies for Anxiety

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There is a class of herbs called nervines can help to calm an overactive nervous system. Nervines can be used acutely (in the moment) to treat anxiety or used tonically (regularly) to rebuild the nervous system. Nervines are especially helpful to help support you while making lifestyle changes.

Some of the more common nervines we use in our practice include chamomile, blue vervain, hawthorn, linden, calamus, kava (or kava kava) and passionflower. Flower essences can also be used for anxiety.

Choosing Carminative Herbs to Keep Calm

Carminatives are a class of herbs that contain volatile oils and can calm anxiety. Some common carminative herbs include cinnamon, cardamom, catnip, fennel, thyme, ginger, and chamomile. A brew made from a single carminative (like chamomile) can be helpful, but so can an herbal chai tea or golden milk (also known as turmeric milk); these are all are great tools to use to calm yourself down and good to have on hand for acute treatment. Read our guide for how to make medicinal tea here.

Healthy Fats to Calm the Nervous System

Consuming healthy fats like avocado, grass-fed lard, grass-fed ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil can help calm the nervous system and nourish the body. Fats are helpful as an anxiety remedy because they stabilize blood sugar, fuel the brain and ground your system. Applying oils topically to the skin can have the same grounding effect. Oils such as apricot, sunflower, and sesame work well on skin. Regular hot oil massages are perfect for those prone to anxious feelings.

Using Aromatherapy to Help Reduce Anxiety

Essential oils are in a diffuser can help calm the mind and body by scenting your home or office with calming smells. Some of the best oils to use in a diffuser include lavender, frankincense, vetiver, and conifer oils (like pine and cypress), which are all calming and grounding scents.

Images from  Ben White and Shine Tang on Unsplash

Blair Townley