Anxiety is the most common mental health condition and can range from mild to debilitating. While medication is an option to discuss with a medical provider, try these simple, self-care steps to reduce symptoms and lighten anxiety
In this article you’ll:
Discover how to reduce anxiety naturally
Understand how to manage symptoms of stress and overwhelm
Get simple steps to help you with your anxiety
The following tips will be helpful regardless of the underlying cause of your anxiety, but if you struggle to remember the last time you felt relaxed, or frequently feel restless or worried and having trouble concentrating or sleeping, or if anxiety is affecting your daily life or is causing you distress, please speak to a doctor or other medical provider.
From time to time, all of us experience anxiety.
Between work, bills, family and trying to stay healthy, the everyday pressures of life can be enough to turn any of us into a worried mess.
Maybe you were an anxious child who grew into an anxious adult, or maybe this feeling only emerged later in life as navigating the world got more complex. Regardless of when symptoms began, it’s not fun to feel like your mind is in overdrive, and you’re always waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under you.
Stress is a completely natural and fleeting reaction to certain situations, such as sitting an exam or waiting for the results of an interview. But often it is based more on extreme or imagined fears of outcomes than realistic ones. And when these feelings become persistent, intrusive, or disproportionate, it can be overwhelming or start to have an impact on day to day life.
What’s great is that there are actually lots of things you can try to help reduce feelings of anxiety. This article covers some simple, natural ways to get on top of it.
Why address anxiety?
Having anxiety does more than make you stressed, it can also cause or worsen other mental and physical health conditions, such as heart conditions, asthma, substance abuse and weight loss or gain.
While it's unlikely that stress alone is a major cause infertility, stress has been shown to interfere with fertility, prolonging the time needed to get pregnant. It also impacts family life, relationships and the children of anxious parents experience more behavioral development challenges.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear, which everyone experiences at some point in life. However, for some people it can be more constant and hard to control.
While it isn’t always a sign of a more serious mental or emotional health condition, anxiety can also be a symptom of several conditions such as:
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): This long-term condition causes people to feel anxious most days about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than a specific concern, event or situation
How common is anxiety?
If anxiety is something you’ve experienced, you’re not alone.
Medication for anxiety
Anti-anxiety drugs come in many forms and brand names, such as:
While these are designed to ease anxiety and can be effective under the care of a doctor, the reality is that for some people serenity comes with a price tag in the form of side effects.
Trouble sleeping, decreased libido, jumpiness, and increased hunger are some of the most commonly reported side affects of treating anxiety with drugs.
The good news is that popping pills isn’t the only way to get your fears and nerves under control. While some people find prescription and other forms of medication helpful, there are many things you can do to find relief that do not involve pills, drugs or for anxiety.
The tips and guidance on this page mean you can build self-care for anxiety into your daily routine, as well as ELANZA's anxiety-easing coaching programmes, for direct support by secure video and practical advice straight to your inbox.
5 simple and effective ways to battle anxiety without medication:
1. Get the blood flowing and move your body
When your mind is racing, exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. However, one of the best all-natural anxiety-relieving methods is exercise.
Endorphins and serotonin are released when you exercise, which improves your mood immediately, with long-lasting effects.
Your entire viewpoint can change when you move your body and start to feel better on the inside - and outside.
Additionally, exercise works to help you forget about your troubles because your brain can't equally concentrate on two things at once.
Aim for three to five days a week with at least 30 minutes of physical activity. Don’t think you have to struggle through a grueling workout if that’s not for you.
Any type of movement is beneficial, so put on your favorite song or playlist and move around the house, gym or wherever you choose to exercise.
Bonus points for getting sunlight and fresh air at the same time, which will also give your mood a rapid boost!
2. Skip the caffeine
Reaching for a coffee or a cold Coke is a common way to fuel the modern hustle. However, if caffeine is your preferred drug, be aware that it may worsen your anxiety.
The neurological system is jolted by caffeine, which, while it can increase energy levels, can also lead to an intensification of anxiety or jittery energy.
Caffeine can even trigger anxiety attacks in some people, with a racing heart, difficulty catching breath and an overpowering sense of overwhelm.
You don't have to stop drinking caffeine altogether. But if you experience anxiety then they key is moderation.
Consider reducing your daily coffee consumption to a maximum of one or two normal-sized cups (8 ounces, not 16 or 32 ounces) and see how you feel.
A great way to wean yourself off coffee is to replace a cup with another warm beverage, such as decaffeinated herbal tea, which gives you the same habit moment but also has added benefits for calming your mind and nerves.
3. Try to stick to a set bedtime
Who has time to prioritize sleep with our busy schedules, right?
Many of us are sleep-deprived, especially people with busy lives and competing demands on our time.
People in workaholic cultures may even try to survive on only a few hours of sleep each night, as though to demonstrate their superior level of commitment and resolve.
But life is a marathon, not a sprint. And you are not a robot. Humans require sleep to function properly.
Lack of sleep is known to impact mood and emotional health. Chronic sleep deprivation makes you more prone to anxiety, regardless of whether you struggle with insomnia or you are a night owl.
It’s also a vicious circle, as anxiety is itself frequently connected to sleeping problems - worry and fear make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
A huge body of scientific research endorses getting eight to nine hours of sleep each night as providing endless benefits to you, your health and those around you.
If you struggle to unwind, try creating a sleep routine that includes calming and distracting activities like reading a book (avoiding blue light from screens, which can disrupt sleep hormones).
Seeking help from a naturopathic doctor may also be a great way to find relief. Naturopathic doctors focus on holistic approaches to health and wellness and may help you identify the underlying cause of sleep issues and develop a personalized plan to address it.
Natural remedies, lifestyle changes, and nutritional advice are all potential solutions that a naturopathic doctor may recommend to help with sleep problems.
Your quality of sleep will improve if you take the time to prepare for a restful night's sleep, which will have a knock on effect anxiety levels, too.
4. Eat to stabilize your blood sugar
Anxiety can make some people feel nauseous or lose their appetite, or, conversely, trigger comfort eating. However, missing meals or binge eating can both exacerbate anxiety.
When you don't eat, your blood sugar levels fall, which sparks production of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol might improve your performance under pressure, but it can also worsen your anxiety if you already have it.
That doesn’t mean sugar is a good idea. A sugar rush might actually also bring on physical signs of anxiety like jitteriness and shivering, even though sugar itself does not induce anxiety per se.
Hormones hugely impact mood, and our hormones are impacted by the types of food we eat.
Increasing your intake of fiber, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help to stabilize blood sugar and give your body a predictable and reliable source of all the nutrients it needs to stay balanced and unreactive.
5. Open up and talk it through
Talking with a friend, family or a professional trained to support you can provide immense relief from thoughts circling your head.
Sometimes we can blow troubles out of proportion and it’s helpful to have an objective perspective, or a listening ear to work on next steps and a solution with you.
Talking about general worries and feelings of anxiety doesn't always sound appealing, but the benefits are proven. It can provide stress relief, and can take weight off your shoulders.
Talking about a specific problem can also help to start breaking it into smaller parts, which can stop you from feeling so overwhelmed - especially with the guidance and framework of a professional.
Board Certified Health and Wellness Coaches, such as ELANZA coaches, are non-clinical healthcare professionals who do not diagnose or treat mental illness, but who specialize in working with you on practical strategies to address anxiety and move forward more positively.
Our personalized wellness programs are specifically focused on supporting people to self-manage emotional health and create the lives they choose.
Built upon the best evidence around neuroscience, positive psychology, and behavioral health sciences, it is a simple and affordable way to begin taking care of your emotional wellbeing.
At ELANZA, we've developed the closest thing there is to a pill for stress. And it WORKS.
Studies have shown that ELANZA is able to reduce stress by 17% over the course of 10 weeks, without medical intervention or therapy.
Learn more, or try ELANZA for yourself, here.