Anxiety is basically when you feel super apprehensive about something that's going to happen. It can be emotional, physical, or a real or imagined event. But that's the real kicker: whatever we're feeling crazy anxious about is usually just in our heads. Sure, there are real issues in life, but obsessing about them in advance doesn't work too well. All we can do is take positive steps to keep moving forward and doing the right thing. There are enough unexpected things to deal with in life as it is, but luckily there are some ways that you can take back control of your mind and body to keep the anxiety as low as possible while you're dealing. These tips are totally natural and incredibly easy. All it takes is a little commitment and you're on the way to being the happiest and most calm girl around. Here are 15 ways to deal with your anxiety in a totally and completely natural way.
If you ask me, drinking chamomile tea for anxiety sounds like some fake advice. I find tea to be kind of boring and it is hard for me to imagine that it can pack the same type of punch that coffee can for any reason. However, scientists would disagree with me. Apparently, there are some compounds in chamomile (aka Matricaria recutita), bind to the same receptors in the brain that Valium and other anxiety calming drugs do. Huh. Coffee does give you that anxious, hyper feelings, so who knows maybe tea really does the opposite. One study that was done at the Philadelphia Medical Center found that people with generalized anxiety were able to reduce their anxiety by taking chamomile supplements more than the participants who were just taking a placebo. Oh yeah, there is some more good news: you can just take chamomile in a supplement form if you totally agree with me that tea is super boring. Sorry, tea lovers!
Mindful meditation is pretty easy, and everyone should be doing it for a variety of reasons. Not only can it reduce anxiety and stress in the moment but it can also create changes to the structure and the function of the brain which makes it work in healthier ways. Mindful meditation seems to have the biggest positive effect on anxiety, and it's also the easiest for beginners. Wins all around. When you meditate mindfully you train yourself to stop going on mental trips that don't reflect the current reality. Your brain is always adaptable with its neuroplasticity, so if you don't like the way you thinking about things, you just have to change it. Try sitting quietly and just moving thoughts out of the way as they come. They'll keep coming, but keep pushing them aside to focus on your breath. Meditating also has immediate effects on the body such as reducing stress hormones and the heart rate, which will, of course, calm you down as well.
L-theanine is an amino acid that is found in green tea, although to get enough of it to reduce your anxiety by drinking tea, you would have to drink a crazy amount of cups. Of course, it's also readily available in supplement form. It is believed that one of the reasons why Japanese Buddhist monks could meditate for hours on end being both alert and relaxed because of the crap ton of L-theanine they were getting from drinking copious amounts of green tea. Some research has shown that the amino acid can help to slow the heart rate as well as reduce blood pressure, both of which tend to shoot up when we're stressed out. There have also been some studies on it and how it directly relates to anxiety and the outlook looks good. One study found that people with anxiety were calmer and focused during a test if they took the supplement ahead of time.
Hey, you may love working out or you may absolutely hate it. But you probably already know that exercise can seriously reduce your anxiety in both the short term and the long term. In the short term, getting your body moving and sweating for at least 20 minutes will start to release feel-good chemicals like neurotransmitters and endorphins. It reduces the stress hormones and reduces inflammation that might be causing you other problems. It can also make you feel more accomplished, which tends to reduce anxiety in general. At a deeper level, exercise can increase the neuron activity in the brain which can sometimes lead to more anxiety... except that it also leads to the release of the neurotransmitter GABA, which can inhibit the brain activity and stop neurons from over firing. So essentially, exercise can help train the brain to shut the stress off faster than in the brains of people who don't exercise.
Lavender does more than just make your place smell adorable: it also seems to be an "emotional" anti-inflammatory. Lavender (aka Lavandula hybrida), has been found in different studies to reduce people's anxiety when they're waiting in the dentist's office or getting ready to take a test. However, some of the people who smelled lavender before a test also reported that they felt a bit fuzzy in the head, so maybe portion control is key so you don't put yourself to sleep or something. Although maybe it would be a good idea if you have insomnia? In Germany, they actually sell it in a supplement form that is not available in the U.S., but if they did it might be cool since it was found to reduce anxiety as effectively as lorazepam (brand name Ativan), which is a drug in the same class as Valium. Why you holding out on us, FDA?!
10 Breathing Exercises
Mastering control of your breath to reduce anxiety is a real thing, and you don't have to get any weird supplements or anything to do it. In fact, you can do it right at your desk at work without anyone noticing. Think about the way you breath when you're stressed out: short and shallow. That type of breathing cuts down on the amount of oxygen that's flowing through the body and clearing shit out. The 4-7-8 breath is one thing you can try, which essentially just requires that you breath in through the nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and then breathe slowly out the mouth for a count of eight. Only do this a few times when you're trying to chill out because it's very relaxing. In fact, some people also use this to fall asleep at night. It also helps if you pretend like you're at the beach like the girl in that photo! Even if you don't agree with us that this is a great idea, just try it once and we promise you'll be a total convert.
9 Having A Snack
Woohoo, this is advice that no one can be mad at! A lot of people tend to get a little anxious when they're hungry and they don't even realize it. Many of us are familiar with the feeling of being "hangry" which usually comes out as something moody or snappy...but that can stem from anxiety. Anxiety attacks can even be brought on by the fact that your blood sugar is dropping. In the short term, getting a snack with some protein can help keep you calm. In the long term, it's a good reason to pay attention to what you're putting into your body and when. If you tend to skip certain meals throughout the day you might find a correlation between that and when your mood drops. Even if you don't get hungry or you're too busy to sit down and eat lunch, always take some snacks with you to make sure that you don't let your blood sugar drop and start to take over your personality.
8 Warm Up
For some reason, warming up your body can really help you relax, which is why chilling out on the beach or sitting in a sauna can feel so darn lovely. Similarly to with exercising, when you send some heat through the body it can relax the muscles, and even affect the circuits in your brain that have an effect on mood. The neurotransmitter serotonin can get a boost from any of the above mentioned but even sipping on a cup of tea. (So there is a reason to drink tea besides just the herbs it's made from. Does coffee also count? I'd say yes.) Some of this might be from the fact that we just associate these types of warm things which relaxation, which then causes the body to respond in that way. Generally when we envision laying the beach it sounds relaxing, and it's usually warm out there, so the prophecy holds true when we do it.
If your sleep schedule is out of whack, it can seriously mess with your mood. We need to sleep to reset the body and heal up, whether you like it or not. You might not feel like you have time to get to bed early, but you also don't have time to sit on your floor stress sweating about a conversation that you need to have either. Make a choice. The problem is, that not getting enough sleep can lead to anxiety, and then anxiety, in turn, can make it harder to fall asleep. Anything that you can do to wind down in the evening is going to help. If you tend to lay awake thinking about shit during the night, you might want to try keeping a journal by your bed and just writing out your concerns to deal with later. Sometimes you can trick the mind into releasing thoughts by putting them in writing. If you have a motivational book that tends to calm you down, go ahead and keep that by the bed as well and reach for that in the night instead of going on Tinder.
Just like you don't want clutter in your brain, you also do not need it in your space. Taking some time to clear physical items out of your home and workspace can do wonders for your mood. As can actually cleaning up and then staying on top of it. You might not have reason to feel like your book collection is weighing you down, but if you stop to think about it, you might realize that some of those titles do not exactly boost your mood when your eye catches them throughout the day. Those stained t-shirts that you are holding onto probably are not ruining your life but imagine the slight freedom you can feel by throwing them away and then never having to look at them again. You just won't have to think about them anymore, and so by removing some physical clutter, you're also removing some mental clutter.
5 Get Grateful
When you feel like crap, it sounds super annoying when people tell you to start thinking about what you love about your life. But it's honestly really great advice because you have to quit throwing yourself a pity party. Even when things are actually going bad you can probably look around and realize that they could be a lot worse. Don't forget that some people actually don't have access to running water or a safe place to sleep at night, and just having those things already makes you super lucky. When you have a hard time feeling grateful about how big things are going, focus on those small things. Your shower, seriously what a gift. When she get locked in on those small things, then it's a lot easier to start working your way up the bigger stuff. You know that things always shift, so try being grateful for your challenges as well.
If you can't for some reason step out in the middle of the day to relax on a secluded Caribbean beach (like maybe you have a job...), you can still visualize it and pretty much get the same results. The brain is an incredibly strong tool, so just accept that you have some control over it and be on your way. The key to visualization to reduce anxiety is to imagine a good circumstance. You can literally imagine being in a location that would make you feel safe and happy, like a favorite nook from childhood or a dream vacation place. When you're comfortable with visualization you can also start imagining how you would like to like future events to go as opposed to worrying about it. You can even re-imagine past events to try rewriting the experience in your brain. If you're taking responsibility for your actions and growing in life, it's fine to release some of the pressure and stop replaying your mistakes.
3 Get Those Omega-3s
If you can eat a super varied diet, you're going to have a much better chance of getting all the nutrients that you need. It honestly matters when it comes to your long-term health... but it can also affect your anxiety leaves and mood. Did you know that low levels of choline have been associated with anxiety? You can find that in eggs. Omega 3 fatty acids are another crucial nutrients for reducing anxiety and keeping the brain healthy. These can be found in fatty fish like salmon and walnuts and it is usually suggested that you get them through food sources whenever possible. However, taking a supplement is a good idea if you're not feasting on those on the regular. One study found that students who took omega 3 supplements of 2.5 milligrams each day experienced less anxiety before tests than the other participants who were just taking a placebo. Do keep in mind that omega 3 supplements thin the blood.
2 Get Outside
There is a Japanese concept called Shinrin-yoku, which translates to "forest bath." This is basically taking some time to walk around in nature, as opposed to down a busy sidewalk, and it can dramatically reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body. One study done at Stanford and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences set out to figure out why this is. It seems to have something to do with knocking us out of rumination, which is what we're doing when we can't stop thinking about something or the event that caused a bad result. Taking a walk in nature is full of "positive distractions," without tackling on added stressors that you might deal with in your neighborhood like speeding cars and people gabbing on their cell phones. It can also just give you a little perspective to be a part of so much life and realize that your world is not the only one.
1 Change How You Think
This is easier said than done, but being aware is the first step towards changing anything in life, and if you're not even totally conscious of the way you think then it's time to get conscious. Sometimes we get into these patterns of thinking that are purely detrimental. You know the type: imagining a catastrophe over and over and spinning through the negative possibilities, even if there really isn't a lot of evidence that any of that is going to happen. One way to get out of this mindset is to play the "then what" game. Say you're imagining this horrible possibility. Ask yourself and then what and continue going down the line until you run out of things that could do wrong. The ultimate of course could be really bad, but at a certain point then you would just turn around and head back up again. You're single and heartbroken... and then what? Well, realistically, you'll probably heal and move on. So never assume that the way you think about something or approach a new situation doesn't matter because it really does. And it just might be the key to changing your anxious ways forever!