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Published on March 17, 2021

How to Stop Anxiety Feelings (8 Natural Remedies)

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How to Stop Anxiety Feelings (8 Natural Remedies)

When it comes to mental health, anxiety is a common term. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most frequently diagnosed mental disorders[1] Nevertheless, anxiety is a natural feeling that every human will experience.

It is important to note the difference between diagnosable anxiety disorders and the feeling of anxiety.

Anxiety must impact the day-to-day functioning of an individual in order for a diagnosis to be given. Anxiety that limits an individual’s ability to work, socialize or function in society is usually considered a moderate to severe anxiety disorder.

In general, anxiety is a feeling related to fear. It is an adaptive response that allows humans to function in their environment.[2] In other words, anxiety helps to detect threats in the environment. Anxiety may help people respond to stressors or emergencies and overcome challenges.

Some individuals may find themselves in the “subthreshold” area of anxiety. These individuals do not have enough symptoms to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder but may have enough symptoms to interfere with their quality of life.[3]

This article is for anyone with mild to subthreshold anxiety feelings. For help coping with moderate anxiety check out this article: How to Handle Anxiety When it Hits You Out of Nowhere

Overall, anxiety is a natural feeling that may be eased by natural remedies. The following tips with teach you how to stop anxiety feelings with 8 natural remedies.

In the modern world of productivity and busy schedules, anyone can benefit by learning how to stop anxiety feelings. These strategies are designed for people with mild or subthreshold anxiety symptoms who are not diagnosed with anxiety. These natural remedies may aid in relieving feelings of anxiety with minimal side effects.

These techniques may be considered complementary or alternative therapies. They are designed to compliment medical or mental health treatment. Consider your unique medical and mental health profile before attempting any of these strategies.

1. Try Supplements and Herbal Remedies

There is evidence to suggest that natural and herbal remedies can alleviate feelings of anxiety. However, it is has yet to be determined whether the results are due to real effects or the placebo effect.[4]

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In a clinical study, supplements containing these ingredients showed promise:

  • Passionflower
  • Kava
  • L-lysine
  • L-arginine
  • Magnesium

There are other herbs and supplements that have been studied in relation to anxiety. For example, omega-3-fatty acids have also been shown to reduce anxiety in a double-blind, randomized clinical trial. Ashwagandha is another herb that assists with reducing anxiety.[5]

Natural remedies offer relief for individuals with mild anxiety feelings without the harmful side effects of medication. However, be sure to consult with a doctor before taking herbs and supplements to help with anxiety feelings. Keep in mind that some supplements should not be combined with prescription medications.[6]

While herbs and supplements are not a cure-all they may provide assistance as part of an overall treatment plan for anxiety.

2. Find Healing with Nutritious Foods

In addition to herbs and supplements, there are many natural foods that contain anxiety reducing ingredients. Ideally, nutrients are acquired from natural and organic foods.

The following foods help release neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in the body (happiness hormones):

  • Avocado and almonds contain vitamin-B
  • Asparagus helps alleviate anxiety
  • Leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains containing magnesium promote calm feelings
  • Salmon and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which helps relieve depression and anxiety
  • Pickles, sauerkraut and kefir contain probiotics, which may help lesson social anxiety
  • Beans, berries, nuts and vegetables high in antioxidants may help to relieve feelings of anxiety
  • Oysters, cashews, beef and egg yolks contain zinc, which lowers anxiety[7]

3. Practice Yoga or Meditation

Yoga is a natural remedy for anxiety that combines body movements, breathing and mindfulness. There is evidence to suggest that yoga can help calm the stress response, which contributes to feelings of anxiety. Yoga may also help improve the body’s ability to cope with stress. Therefore, yoga offers both short- and long-term natural anxiety relief.[8]

There any many different ways to practice yoga. Some yoga sequences are designed to energize while others are intended to elicit calm. Almost every yoga class is designed to build an awareness around the body and breath. It might be necessary to try a variety of teachers or practices in order to find the right fit.

Additionally, mindfulness meditation is linked with decreased anxiety symptoms after eight weeks of practice. Mindfulness can generally be defined as a practice of present-moment awareness. Any activity that is paired with an awareness on the body and breath may be considered mindfulness.

Similarly, there are many different forms of meditation. For more information on the different types of meditation and how to practice them check out this article: 17 Types of Meditation (Techniques and Basics) To Practice Mindfulness

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4. Spend Time In Nature

Spending time outdoors can have a calming effect on the mind and body. For best results, aim to get outdoors for 20 to 30 minutes, 3 days per week.[9]

Here are some of the benefits of spending time in nature:

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Increased immune-system
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Improved mood

In a study of psychiatric patents, nature was shown to decrease loneliness, increase calm and improve mood.[10] Time spent in nature has also been shown to aid in recovery after surgery and assist with pain reduction.[11]

Ecotherapy is a form of therapy that links the health of the planet to the health of humans. Forms of ecotherapy such as green space and wilderness therapy have been correlated with increased life span and decreased mental disorders. Wilderness therapy has also been shown to assist with anxiety and stress reduction.

While most forms of ecotherapy require the presence of a therapist, nature is also considered a pathway towards healing. In some cases, animals are utilized to assist in the healing process. Overall, nature is an abundant resource that everyone can access to help stop anxiety feelings.

5. Connect with the Five Senses Outdoors

Engaging the five senses outdoors can have a powerful impact on the mood. Engaging the senses is another method for practicing mindfulness. Combing mindfulness and nature will enhance the effects of both.[12]

Sight

Looking at nature has been associated with decreased anxiety, stress and heart rate. To connect with this sense, try meditating in a garden, walking around a park or even gazing at plants or the sky.

Sound

Engaging with nature sounds or sitting in silence outdoors can reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels. This helps the body enter a state of rest-and-digest, or relaxation. There is even evidence to suggest that simulated nature sounds can aid in relaxation.

Try listening to nature sounds through headphones for a true sensory experience. If possible, walk in a quiet area and take a moment to connect with the sounds of nature.

Touch

An interesting phenomenon is something called a forest school. In this setting, children learn and play outdoors. They interact with nature as part of their curriculum, which is thought to aid in confidence, social skills, motivation, focus, and increased motor skills.

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The adult version of this is a Japanese healing method called shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. Forest bathing is an immersion in nature, which integrates breathing, mindfulness and walking. It has been associated with improved immune system functioning, increased mood and relaxation, as well as decreased stress.[13]

Thermoception is the practice of engaging with nature through touch. This includes walking barefoot in the grass, noticing the breeze on your skin or wading in a body of water.

Taste

Many of us have a habit of mindlessly consuming food. This can be intensified by a busy lifestyle. By practicing mindful consumption, we can develop a greater relationship with nature through food.

Choosing healthy and natural food sources builds the connection between nature and food. For example, eating whole foods like vegetables and fruits can assist in visualizing the origins of our food.

While this is not a direct link to nature, it allows us to practice mindfulness and recognize that nature is our source of energy. Mindful eating is one simple way to integrate mindfulness on a daily basis.

Smell

Smell has a big impact on emotions, behavior and thoughts. While there is not enough evidence to conclusively state that smell aids in relaxation, there is a strong correlation between smell and emotions.

Try this Mindfulness Activity:

After focusing on each individual sense, take a moment to mindfully immerse yourself an integrated experience. For example, bring a healthy picnic to a local park. Listen to the birdsong, feel the breeze on your skin, smell the grass or the flowers and taste the fresh food from your picnic. This is a mindfulness.

6. Try Essential Oils

While there is no conclusive evidence to link anxiety reduction and nature smells, there is an alternative with interesting results. Essential oils are created by distilling oils from plants. There is a correlation between the use of essential oils and anxiety, stress and blood pressure.

Different smells trigger different reactions. For example, peppermint is an invigorating scent that has the potential to increase alertness. Jasmine may help to increase memory. Lavender oil shows promise for increasing calm and decreasing depression.[14]

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A study of essential oils derived from cedar trees showed an increase in participant NK cells. NK cells are thought to assist in fighting tumors and infections.

Try diffusing oils in your office or home to elicit a feeling of calm. Experiment with different smells and notice your reactions.

7. Spend Time With Animals

Pets can act as a way to bring nature indoors when nature is not readily accessible. Owning a pet or interacting with a friend’s pet can have a range of benefits.

Here are some benefits of owning a pet:

  • Higher life satisfaction
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Increased motivation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Improved mood
  • Decreased loneliness
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased anxiety[15]

Petting an animal is one of the best ways to experience nature through touch. Their fur provides comfort and their presence provides companionship. There is also evidence that pets aid in resilience to stress and frustration.

Pets are being introduced in therapy offices, universities and hospitals to offset anxiety feelings. While research has only started to uncover all the benefits of animal-assisted therapy, any animal lover knows just how beneficial pets can be for mental health.

8. Write Down Your Thoughts

Journaling is a simple strategy with enormous benefits. Journaling helps to cope with anxiety, stress and depression. Journaling can be a great way to develop self-awareness, track patterns and decrease the intensity of emotions. For best results, make a daily habit of writing.[16]

In order to gain the most benefits from journaling, it is important to notice negative or cyclical thinking and attempt to shift the pattern. If you are continually writing down negative thoughts, emotions or behaviors then it may reinforce feelings of anxiety.

Here’s how to stop anxiety feelings with journaling:

  1. Set aside a portion of time to simply write whatever comes to mind. Allow yourself to brain-dump anything and everything onto the paper. Set a timer between 5-10 minutes.
  2. Once the timer goes off, take a moment to breathe and reflect. Without judgement, notice your thoughts, emotions and sensations. Set a timer between 5-20 minutes for this mindfulness activity.
  3. Return to the journal with the intention of writing positive thoughts. You may choose to focus on feelings of gratitude, things that are going well or reflect upon times when you overcame anxiety, worry or stress.

Go Easy On Yourself!

Hopefully these tips have helped you discover how to stop anxiety feelings with natural remedies. Nevertheless, anxiety is a natural feeling that everyone will experience in their lifetime. It is designed to keep us safe, respond to stress and develop resilience.

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If you struggle with anxiety from time to time these natural remedies may help. However, there is no shame in seeking help in the form of medication, counseling or other forms of therapy.

More Tips on Coping With Anxiety

Featured photo credit: Ricards Zalmezs via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Olivia Schnur

Olivia is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor and Registered Yoga Teacher. She writes about healing, health and happiness.

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Published on October 15, 2021

Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

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Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

When you think of anxiety, several scenarios may come to mind: the endless tossing and turning of a restless night, dread over potential future events, pandemic-related overwhelm, or full-blown panic attacks. Even if you’re not diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you’ve likely experienced anxiety symptoms at some point in your life. In these situations, you might feel a queasiness in your stomach, racing heartbeat, excessive sweating, chest tightness, some tension in your jaw/neck/shoulders, or worrisome thoughts as you prepare for the worst possible scenario. But does anxiety also make you tired?

After experiencing these symptoms, you may indeed feel fatigued. The sensation could fall anywhere on the exhaustion spectrum, from feeling like you just ran a marathon and need to sleep for two days, to just a little worn down and wanting a quick nap to recover.

Below are 7 ways anxiety zaps your energy and how to restore it.

1. Stress Hormone Overload

Anxiety can make you tired via overloading your body with stress hormones. The “fight or flight” response is a key connection between anxiety and fatigue. In fact, this process is made up of three stages: Alarm, Resistance, and Exhaustion. Anxiety triggers our body systems to go into high alert. This is a natural, involuntary reaction that developed in the human brain for survival.

When humans lived with the real, imminent threat of being attacked by a predator, it made sense for our bodies to spring into action without much preparatory thought. Such dangers are rare in modern times, but our brains continue to respond in the same way they did thousands of years ago.

The hormones and chemicals that flood our bodies to prepare us for safety can both affect and be affected by several body systems, and this interaction itself contributes to exhaustion. Adrenaline and cortisol are the two most notable hormones to address here. First, adrenaline is sent out, tensing the muscles and increasing heart rate and blood pressure in preparation to run. Later in the stress response, cortisol is released, enhancing the brain’s use of glucose. This is one of our main fuel sources, so it’s no wonder this contributes to fatigue (see #2).

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You can regulate baseline levels of these stress hormones by regularly practicing yoga, breathwork, meditation, and/or engaging in aerobic exercise.[1] It’s easier to lean into these routines for relief during stress when you’ve already mastered using them during times when you feel calm.

2. Elevated Blood Sugar Levels

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which is shown to be associated with anxiety in diabetic patients.[2] Many people who experience hyperglycemia report feeling tired all the time regardless of their quantity or quality of sleep, nutrition, or exercise.

Although this connection has shown more prevalent and prolonged effects in diabetics, it also occurs with nondiabetics exposed to psychiatric stress.[3] In fact, for all people, the natural stress response elevates blood pressure and heart rate as well as cortisol levels, all of which increase blood sugar levels.[4] This means that anxiety causes a double-hit of exhaustion related to blood sugar fluctuations.

Instead of reaching for comfort foods like chocolate during times of stress, take a calming walk around the block. Gentle movement alone is a great stress reliever that incidentally also helps to regulate blood sugars.[5]

3. Negative Mindset

Anxiety can also make you tired because of repetitive negative thinking (RNT), which is a common symptom of anxiety. RNT involves continuous thoughts via rumination (dwelling on sad or dark thoughts focused on the past) and worry (angst regarding the future). Some researchers argue that having a longtime habit of RNT can harm the brain’s capacity to think, reason, and form memories.[6] While the brain is busy using its energy stores to fuel negative thought patterns, the energy available for these other more productive endeavors is thereby reduced.

Negative thoughts can also disrupt or prevent healthy sleep patterns, keeping our minds racing at night and effectively wreaking havoc on daytime energy. (See #7)

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Reduce these patterns by reframing your feelings over anxious thoughts. Instead of staying stuck on “what if,” focus on what you can do in the here and now. What activity can you engage in for five minutes (or more) that brings you joy? What are you grateful for, no matter what’s going on around you?

4. Digestive Issues

It’s common for people to experience both intestinal and mental issues simultaneously. This suggests a strong connection between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which is known as the gut-brain axis.[7] Simply put, what happens in our digestive tract (and as a result of what we eat) affects the brain and vice versa.

The gut microbiota is a complex population of GI tract microorganisms. When its balance is altered, the body can develop conditions that affect the gut-brain-endocrine relationship. The endocrine system produces and manages adrenaline, for starters. And the gut bacteria’s production of feel-good hormones (serotonin and dopamine—see #5) ties into this relationship as well.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors are also found in gut bacteria. GABA is a natural brain relaxant that makes us feel good by helping the body to unwind after a stress-induced neurotransmitter release (e.g., cortisol and adrenaline). When GABA activity is low, it leads to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and mood disorders. These are just a few of the manifestations that demonstrate how gut bacteria influences behavior. All of these contribute to feeling both physically and mentally tired.

You can minimize the symptoms of depression and anxiety by keeping your gut microbiota balanced with probiotic-rich fermented foods. Yogurt with live cultures, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, miso soup, and tempeh are great foods to include in your diet.[8]

5. Depression

Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Research continues to indicate a complex relationship between depression and decreased serotonin—a key neurotransmitter for regulating mood and feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Anxiety is also a direct symptom of serotonin deficiency. Serotonin helps with healthy sleep, mood, and digestion.

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Serotonin is produced in the gut, almost exclusively, at an estimated 90 percent. However, a small quantity is also produced in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that is pivotal for transmitting energy balance signals. This small cone-shaped structure receives and relays signals transmitted via the vagus nerve from the gastrointestinal tract. It has a central role in mediating stress responses, regulating sleep, and establishing circadian rhythms. It senses and responds to a myriad of circulating hormones and nutrients, directly affecting our mood and energy.[9]

Dopamine is another mood-boosting neurochemical that is depleted in depression. It creates feelings of alertness and wakefulness and, when the body is operating normally, is released in higher amounts in the morning (allowing for daytime energy) and lower at night (preparing for healthy sleep). Stress is one factor that can deplete dopamine, thereby leading to depression, sleep disorders, and fatigue.

Studies show that dopamine levels in the brain can be elevated by increasing dietary intake of tyrosine and phenylalanine.[10] Both of these amino acids are naturally found in protein-rich foods like turkey, beef, eggs, dairy, soy, peas, lentils, and beans.

6. Breathing Problems

Breathlessness and anxiety are closely linked, and this is one of the ways anxiety can make you feel tired. Anxiety can lead to shallow breathing, which can cause shortness of breath while feeling breathless can exacerbate anxiety.[11] It’s a vicious cycle that often leads people to take rapid and shallow breaths, breathing into their upper chest and shoulders.

This type of breathing minimizes oxygen intake and usability. Despite comprising only two percent of the body, our brains consume 20 percent of the body’s oxygen supply. Oxygen is fuel for both mental and physical tasks. When breathing patterns compromise healthy oxygen levels, this can cause considerable fatigue.[12]

End the anxiety-fatigue cycle with focused breathing exercises. It’s important to practice this regularly while you’re not experiencing anxiety or stress, as this will help you to be prepared should a moment of breathless anxiety hit unexpectedly.

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There are several different styles of breathing exercises. There’s an easy one to try, called “Resonant Breathing.” Simply breathe in slowly through your nose as you count to five, then exhale for a count of five. Repeat this for a few minutes. It’s helpful to bring your awareness to any tension, deliberately relaxing your neck, shoulders, and jaw in particular.

7. Sleep Issues

Most of the elements we’ve already discussed inherently tie into sleep issues, which is often the reason why anxiety can make you feel tired. But it’s important to note that this is not always a directly linear cause-and-effect process. Much of it is cyclic. If we don’t get enough quality sleep, we increase our risk of excessive cortisol production, elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels, depressed mood and mindset disorders, and dysregulation of appetite/craving hormones that affect our digestive health.

Sleep is obviously the number one antidote to feeling tired as a result of anxiety. But at the same time, many of these elements—including anxiety itself—lead to less-than-restorative sleep. We can improve our energy levels by addressing each element discussed here, as well as taking a proactive approach to our sleep health.

One simple habit to help recalibrate your circadian rhythm for healthy sleep patterns is to get outside in the morning. Sunlight exposure in the early hours of the day regulates melatonin production, helping us to feel sleepy at night.

You Don’t Have to Live Your Life Anxious and Exhausted

Times of extreme stress, like driving in heavy traffic or nerve-wracking situations like public speaking, can easily induce an anxiety response. Even “normal” everyday stressors, like feeling overwhelmed with work and home responsibilities, can build up to anxious feelings over time.

Our bodies’ response to stress and anxiety affects many of its functions in complex ways. When we unravel the interconnections of these processes, we can see how each part plays an intrinsic role in contributing to fatigue. By addressing each element individually, we can make simple lifestyle changes that resolve anxiety and diminish the ways it makes us tired as a result.

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More Tips on Coping With Anxiety

Featured photo credit: Joice Kelly via unsplash.com

Reference

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