Beating Anxiety Without Drugs
In fact, anxiety is among the most common mental health issues. In the United States, more than 18 percent of adults are affected by anxiety disorders each year.
In some cases, another health condition, such as an overactive thyroid, can lead to an anxiety disorder. Getting an accurate diagnosis can ensure that a person receives the best treatment.
In this article, learn about a wide range of natural and home remedies that can help with stress and anxiety.
Natural remedies for anxiety and stress
Natural remedies are generally safe to use alongside more conventional medical therapies.
However, alterations to the diet and some natural supplements can change the way antianxiety medications work, so it is essential to consult a doctor before trying these solutions. The doctor may also be able to recommend other natural remedies.
Exercise is a great way to burn off anxious energy, and research tends to support this use.
For example, a 2015 review of 12 randomized controlled trials found that exercise may be a treatment for anxiety. However, the review cautioned that only research of higher quality could determine how effective it is.
Exercise may also help with anxiety caused by stressful circumstances. Results of a 2016 study, for example, suggest that exercise can benefit people with anxiety related to quitting smoking.
Meditation can help to slow racing thoughts, making it easier to manage stress and anxiety. A wide range of meditation styles, including mindfulness and meditation during yoga, may help.
Mindfulness-based meditation is increasingly popular in therapy. A 2010 meta-analytic reviewsuggests that it can be highly effective for people with disorders relating to mood and anxiety.
3. Relaxation exercises
Some people unconsciously tense the muscles and clench the jaw in response to anxiety. Progressive relaxation exercises can help.
Try lying in a comfortable position and slowly constricting and relaxing each muscle group, beginning with the toes and working up to the shoulders and jaw.
Finding a way to express anxiety can make it feel more manageable.
Some research suggests that journaling and other forms of writing can help people to cope better with anxiety.
A 2016 study, for example, found that creative writing may help children and teens to manage anxiety.
5. Time management strategies
Some people feel anxious if they have too many commitments at once. These may involve family, work, and health-related activities. Having a plan in place for the next necessary action can help to keep this anxiety at bay.
Effective time management strategies can help people to focus on one task at a time. Book-based planners and online calendars can help, as can resisting the urge to multitask.
Some people find that breaking major projects down into manageable steps can help them to accomplish those tasks with less stress.
Smelling soothing plant oils can help to ease stress and anxiety. Certain scents work better for some people than others, so consider experimenting with various options.
Lavender may be especially helpful. A 2012 study tested the effects of aromatherapy with lavender on insomnia in 67 women aged 45–55. Results suggest that the aromatherapy may reduce the heart rate in the short term and help to ease sleep issues in the long term.
7. Cannabidiol oil
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a derivative of the cannabis, or marijuana, plant.
Unlike other forms of marijuana, CBD oil does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the substance that creates a “high.”
CBD oil is readily available without a prescription in many alternative healthcare shops. Preliminary research suggests that it has significant potential to reduce anxiety and panic.
In areas where medical marijuana is legal, doctors may also be able to prescribe the oil.
8. Herbal teas
Many herbal teas promise to help with anxiety and ease sleep.
Some people find the process of making and drinking tea soothing, but some teas may have a more direct effect on the brain that results in reduced anxiety.
Results of a small 2018 trial suggest that chamomile can alter levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
9. Herbal supplements
Like herbal teas, many herbal supplements claim to reduce anxiety. However, little scientific evidence supports these claims.
It is vital to work with a doctor who is knowledgeable about herbal supplements and their potential interactions with other drugs.
10. Time with animals
Pets offer companionship, love, and support. Research published in 2018 confirmed that pets can be beneficial to people with a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety.
While many people prefer cats, dogs, and other small mammals, people with allergies will be pleased to learn that the pet does have to be furry to provide support.
A 2015 study found that caring for crickets could improve psychological health in older people.
Spending time with animals can also reduce anxiety and stress associated with trauma. Results of a 2015 systematic review suggest that grooming and spending time with horses can alleviate some of these effects.
Other treatment options
Anxiety that is chronic or interferes with a person’s ability to function warrants treatment.
When there is no underlying medical condition, such as a thyroid problem, therapy is the most popular form of treatment.
Therapy can help a person to understand what triggers their anxiety. It can also help with making positive lifestyle changes and working through trauma.
One of the most effective therapies for anxiety is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The goal is to help a person understand how their thoughts affect their emotions and behavior and to replace those reactions with positive or constructive alternatives.
CBT can help with generalized anxiety and anxiety relating to a specific issue, such as work or an instance of trauma.
Medication can also help a person to manage chronic anxiety. A doctor may prescribe medications in any of the following groups:
- antianxiety drugs called benzodiazepines, including Xanax and Valium
- antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, including Prozac
- sleeping medications, if anxiety interferes with sleep
Natural anxiety remedies can replace or complement traditional treatments.
Untreated anxiety can get worse and cause more stress in a person’s life. However, anxiety is highly treatable with therapy, natural remedies, lifestyle changes, and medications.
A person may need to try several combinations of therapies and remedies before finding one that works. A doctor can help a person to determine which options are best.