Most of us have experienced anxiety in some way or another; from debilitating panic attacks to more mild forms that can accompany anticipation of an upcoming event or project, everyone experiences stressors and feelings of fear. But how we handle them can go a long way in shaping the experience.
Anxiety is a very broad concept with many different forms, and not all coping methods work for everyone. The key is to find the one that works for you specifically. Therapy is necessary and valuable for some, especially in extreme cases, but there are many natural and self-help methods that can alleviate or even eliminate anxiety symptoms.
These methods are also useful for those with the occasional feeling of anxiety that can accompany daily life, not just chronic anxiety. Perhaps there’s a big job interview coming up, a stressful situation at work, or anticipation of an event like running a marathon, meeting the future in-laws or vacation. Situations like these can cause anxiety in anyone.
Exercise is a great way to prevent anxiety, whether you’re running to blow off some steam or practicing yoga to calm and relax yourself. Exercise releases serotonin which improves mood, and helps your body overcome stress. As an added bonus, it’s a great way to improve your overall health and fitness, which leaves you with one less thing to worry about! It’s also a great way to build up confidence and socialize, which are also helpful for those suffering from anxiety.
Get some sleep! Sleep deprivation will not only leave you exhausted during the day, but can also add additional stress to the body. It can worsen anxiety, depression and other psychiatric disorders. If you are having trouble sleeping because of the anxiety, try one of the natural herbal remedies mentioned below. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol will also help you achieve a deeper sleep cycle.
3. Herbal Remedies
Simple herbal remedies in a tea or supplement form can be an easy solution for those who occasionally have some minor anxiety. For those with moderate or high anxiety levels, this is more of a temporary solution. Chamomile, a flower in the daisy family, can be consumed like this. It is thought to improve the plight of those with mild to moderate Generalized Anxiety Disorder, in which one becomes extremely (and unnecessarily) worried about aspects of daily life. It is also useful in treating sleeplessness, which can also be caused by anxiety.
L-theanine, found in green tea, can also help lower anxiety levels. Another common option. Valerian Root, is a nasty-smelling supplement used as a sleep aid, which can be used to calm down an anxious person.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can be done through self-help or via a therapist. CBT is a method that helps you understand your anxiety and look at it in a different light. It is also a useful method for things like depression, chronic pain and eating disorders. CBT teaches you how to better approach situations that frequently cause anxiety, allowing you to reduce its effects over time. There is some free, but limited, self-help information available online.
There are also several self-help programs you can purchase, such as the Panic Away program. Panic Away helps people gain control of their anxiety with techniques like their 20 second count down, and the practice of controlling fearful or worrisome thoughts by turning them into neutral or happy thoughts. Anyone can benefit from looking positively at situations. Panic Away can be purchased as a disc set or downloaded to your computer.
Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety is a new book by Charlie Hoehn who, after years of suffering with severe anxiety, came up with a method that cured his anxiety. His method is based on a lifestyle change involving many of the methods above including avoiding alcohol, getting more sleep, and his main ingredient: play.
Hoehn recalls on his blog that at one point, he was a workaholic who needed to constantly be productive. After reading the book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, he discovered just how important play was, and reshaped his life to give it more influence. His method teaches readers how to shift their lives from unhappy and overworked to playful and relaxed. He teaches that just about anything you do, even work, can be turned into something fun with the right mindset. It’s a quick and cheap read, which leaves you loads of time to go out and play afterward, and let's face it, who doesn’t want to play more?
Managing or getting rid of anxiety completely can be very challenging. If these natural solutions are not helpful and the anxiety continues to take a major role in your life, please don’t be afraid to seek help. It is always okay to get professional care.
Unless otherwise noted, photos by the author.