Approximately 18 percent of adults report living with an anxiety disorder. If you’re part of this group but don’t want to take prescription anti-anxiety drugs (which come with a number of dangerous side effects), consider giving one of these five natural treatments a try.
1. Drink Tea
Many studies have shown that caffeine can increase anxiety symptoms. Try swapping out your morning coffee for some herbal tea.
- Chamomile tea contains chemicals like apigenin and luteolin, both of which promote relaxation. A study from the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center also found that chamomile was extremely beneficial in reducing anxiety.
- Peppermint tea is another great option. Peppermint is a natural muscle relaxant that is particularly beneficial in relieving tension and digestive issues that can accompany feelings of anxiety. However, it is not recommended for pregnant women.
2. Keep Your Hands Busy
If anxiety has you feeling fidgety, or if it causes you to do things like biting your nails, it can help to keep your hands busy with an activity like drawing or knitting.
You can also invest in an exercise putty set to give your hands something to play with. If you go this route, you also get the added bonus of strengthening your hands while relieving your anxiety!
These activities help slow down the heart rate and give you something to focus on other than your anxiety symptoms.
3. Try Aromatherapy
Breathing in essential oils can also help minimize feelings of anxiety.
Lavender oil is great for promoting relaxation. It has even been shown to lower blood pressure! Diffuse lavender oil throughout your home, put a few drops in your bath water, or give yourself a lavender-scented foot massage.
Vanilla is also relaxing. In fact, one study found that patients who inhaled vanilla-scented air prior to undergoing an MRI were 63 percent less anxious than those who inhaled unscented air.
4. Get Outside
When you’re feeling anxious, it’s common to want to stay cooped up inside. In reality, though, getting out can be the best thing for you.
Spending time outdoors decreases stress hormone levels, especially if you can get out of the city and into a greener, quieter area like a park or forest.
Take 15-20 minutes and just walk. At best, you’ll decrease your anxiety. At worst, you’ll have gotten some exercise!
5. Change Your Diet
Your diet can also wreak havoc on your mental health. Work on incorporating more of the following foods, which have been proven to improve mood and reduce anxiety:
Blueberries and peaches — they contain stress-relieving nutrients
Whole grains and oats — they’re rich in magnesium and tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin
Avocados, eggs, and meat — they contain B vitamins that may prevent anxiety
Some other foods that can regulate and lower the stress hormone cortisol include:
Vitamin C-rich foods like oranges and strawberries
Magnesium-rich foods like spinach and kale
Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and nuts
At the same time, you should also work on decreasing your consumption of caffeine, sugar, and processed foods. They may be comforting in the moment, but all of these foods can also increase the production of stress hormones and end up leaving you feeling worse.