Natural Ways to Deal with Anxiety
Anxiety can be described as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It is perfectly normal to feel anxious about things like public speaking, an upcoming test, or a first date.
However, when anxiety becomes too intense to the point of interfering with your day-to-day life, it becomes a disorder. Anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health issues in the United States, affecting approximately 18.1% of the American adult population every year.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are many different types of anxiety disorders, each with its set of symptoms.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized anxiety is characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry about everyday things like finances, health, family, work, or school. This can interfere with their ability to work, go to school, or enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Also known as social phobia, this disorder is characterized by intense anxiety or fear of social situations, particularly ones where you may be judged or scrutinized by others. This can make going to work, school, or even leaving the house extremely difficult.
Panic disorder is associated with sudden and intense episodes of fear or anxiety, known as panic attacks. Symptoms of panic disorder include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, and dizziness.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is characterized by obsessions (recurrent, unwanted thoughts) and/or compulsions (repetitive behaviors or mental acts) that you feel you have to do to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessions. People suffering from OCD often know that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational, but they can’t control them.
Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a form of anxiety that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. Signs of PTSD include intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, and avoidance of anything that may trigger memories of the traumatic event.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
There is no single cause for anxiety. Simply put, anxiety disorders are the product of a complex combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. However, certain factors can increase one’s chances of developing anxiety. They include:
- A family history of anxiety or other mental health disorders
- Chronic medical conditions (such as cancer, heart disease, or thyroid problems)
- Substance abuse (including alcohol, caffeine, and illegal drugs)
- A history of traumatic experiences
- Stressful life events (such as divorce, job loss, or moving)
- Use of certain substances (such as alcohol or caffeine)
Natural Ways to Deal with Anxiety
While there are many pharmaceutical and psychological interventions for anxiety disorders, they often fall short, leaving many people desperate for relief. If you’re looking for alternatives to medication, here are some natural ways of dealing with anxiety:
Exercising is a great way to reduce stress and ease anxiety. It triggers the release of endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Additionally, exercise can help you sleep better, which is a common problem in anxiety patients.
Sleep is a crucial part of both physical and mental health. Unfortunately, anxiety can often lead to insomnia. To combat this, practice good sleep hygiene by establishing a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, massage, music therapy, and deep breathing can help ease stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation. These activities can help you focus on the present moment and clear your mind of anxious thoughts.
Healthy Eating Habits
Decades of research have shown that what you eat can positively or negatively affect your mood and overall well-being. It, therefore, goes without saying that eating a healthy diet can go a long way in helping manage your anxiety.
Get Outside in Nature
Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress, ease anxiety, and improve mood. So go for a walk in the park, take a hike, or just sit outside and soak up some sun.
Make Time for Hobbies and Activities You Enjoy
Doing things you enjoy can help take your mind off of anxious thoughts and help you relax. Whether it’s reading, painting, playing an instrument, or taking a dance class, find an activity that brings you joy and do it.
Connect with Friends and Family
Spending time with loved ones is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Whether you’re catching up over the phone, meeting up for coffee, or just spending time at home, quality time with those you care about can help ease anxiety. They are also your source of emotional support during difficult times.
Anxiety is a serious mental health disorder that often requires a multifaceted treatment approach. While the above natural remedies may not provide a permanent solution, they can help you find temporary relief from your symptoms and allow you to better cope with anxiety.