Natural Approaches to Managing Anxiety
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
You are not alone in your struggles with anxiety. According to Psychology Today, anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the United States, impacting about 1/3 of adults. Medication may be critically important if your anxiety is triggering suicidal ideation and drastically impacting your daily life and relationships. Medication can also calm you enough to allow for self-reflection and for the healing to begin. But for most of us, meds are just one tool in our health and wellness toolbox. Talking about your experience with a Counselor or Coach can help you uncover the sources and triggers of your anxiety and help you learn new coping skills and more natural approaches to anxiety relief. Here are just a few of those natural approaches to consider and try.
Add movement to your day—Even just brief walks lasting about 10 minutes may boost mood. Exercise produces endorphins, chemicals which are your body’s natural painkillers.
Spend time in nature—A 2019 study in Scientific Reports found that people who spent 120 minutes or more per week in nature were more likely to report being in good health or having high well-being compared with those who didn’t spend any time in nature.
Focus on positivity—Positive thinking does not mean burying your head in the sand and ignoring the negative situations in your life. Positive thinking allows you to accept the unpleasant situations in your life and approach them more productively and positively.
Challenge limiting beliefs and learn your anxiety triggers—We all have limiting beliefs about our world and a professional counselor or coach can help you uncover and challenge those as well as the thoughts triggering your anxiety.
Get quality sleep—quality sleep can improve almost ever aspect of your well-being.
Review your nutrition—Your brain responds to the foods you eat, and this can affect your mood. Cut way down or eliminate high-sugar diets and processed foods.
Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness—Research from John Hopkins suggests 30 minutes of daily meditation may alleviate some anxiety symptoms and act as an antidepressant. Mindfulness, being present in the moment, can counteract excessive worry about the future, which is common for those experiencing chronic anxiety.
Deep Breathing Exercises—Rapid, shallow breathing is a common symptom of anxiety. Breathing in this manner can increase your heart rate, make you feel dizzy, and may even increase the risk of a panic attack. Deep breathing involves taking deliberately deep and measured breaths to restore normal breathing patterns, which can help to reduce anxiety.
Stop smoking and reduce consumption of caffeinated and alcoholic drinks—Reevaluate your caffeine and alcohol habits and focus on hydration with pure water (half of your body weight in ounces of water is recommended). Caffeine can interfere with quality sleep which exacerbates stress and anxiety.
There are many things you can do to reduce the anxiety in your life, and you have a choice as to whether you want to make medication one of the solutions you try. Anxiety does not resolve itself nor does relief happen quickly. This is a process, so patience and self-compassion is important.
~Dr. Linda Peterson, Life Purpose and Wellness Coach