Everyone worries. Everyone gets anxious. It’s a natural part of life. For some, anxiety is a big part of their life. For some, anxiety is a clinical disorder that rules their life.
There are a few different clinical anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder are the most common. Other anxiety disorders include phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety, and childhood anxiety disorders.
Therapy and medication are the typical treatments for any anxiety disorder, but there are a host of alternative and complimentary treatments for anxiety disorders.
Whether suffering from a chronic disorder or just looking to overcome normal anxiety, proper breathing is the most important technique to learn. Be sure to read our article on How to Breathe in this issue. Perspective is the second most important thing to keep in mind. Staying away from caffeine, nicotine, sugar, and alcohol are also essential to alleviating anxiety naturally.
Anxiety can take over the mind and make you feel as though the walls are closing in, the oxygen is disappearing, and time is moving so fast that the world is spinning out of control. While the hardest thing to do in the middle of an anxiety attack is to keep some perspective, it’s also the most important thing to do. Remember, “Right now I am not starving to death. Right now I have air to breathe. And right now all of my problems are either in the past or the future.” It may not feel that way, but it’s true. Everything we worry about is either in the past or the future.
Note from Michael Edwards, editor-in-chief:
I went to prison for a crime I did not commit. I remember when I realized there was no way out of it. I was in a very small waiting room in court, shackled and chained, waiting for the inevitable. I had a huge decision to make. Should I take a plea or should I fight? I knew I was likely to lose and, if convicted , would go to prison for at least 60 years. The walls began to move closer and closer toward me. The ceiling began to move away from me, higher and higher. I wanted to sit down, but I couldn’t move except to drop to my knees; my legs had turned to jelly. All of the oxygen seemed to be sucked out of the room, but there was no escape for me. My heart was beating so fast I felt it was going to shoot right out of my chest. I came very close to fainting. I was more terrified, hurt, and angry than I had ever been in my whole life.
I finally started breathing deeply. I told myself, “Right now I am alive, and that’s all that matters.” I said it over and over again. “No matter what happens today, I will survive. I will be better for it.” I also remembered that many people have had it much worse than me. I reminded myself that life is all about evolving.
While the events above were situational, not the result of a chronic condition, getting through that moment allowed me to make it through many, incredibly difficult situations that followed. I am now a firm believer in the old saying, “Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” But I would add, “…if that’s what you choose.”
Proper Thinking and Visualization for Anxiety
Words we use during a stressful situation can have a lot to do with how we perceive the severity of the situation. Changing words and phrases can make a huge difference in the chain of thoughts to follow. Instead of “Oh, my God, my life is over!” consider, “Wow, things are getting interesting.” The latter says that life is a challenge, and that’s not a bad thing.
We humans think in words and images. And the images we focus on, and how we focus on them, are just as powerful as the words we use. Taking some time on a regular basis to practice healthy imagery pays dividends in the long run. While picturing yourself on a golden cloud or near a babbling brook can be very relaxing, being able to deal with an intense situation that requires immediate attention in a controlled manner is an important skill.
The first step is to look at what images cross the mind during stressful situations and analyze them. Are they in hyper color, black and white, vivid, dull, flat, rapidly moving, or picture images? Figure out the kind of images can lead to anxious emotions. Figure out how to view the same images in your mind without the anxiety.
For example, in a calm moment, think of an incident that gets your heart rate going. Focus on one of the images and then change the way the image is processed. Maybe black and white is less intimidating. Maybe shrinking the image to half its size or less makes it seem less intense. Should there be a white background or a color background around as a frame?
This technique is especially important for phobias.
The mind is in control of both the words it uses and how it sees the images. It takes some practice to master this control, but the results are amazing.
Yoga for Anxiety
Yoga offers meditation, proper breathing, and physical fitness. Yoga, practiced in its entirety, is one of the most powerful natural remedies for overcoming anxiety. Anyone who regularly suffers from anxiety should consider taking up yoga. Practicing Asanas (yoga body positions) can help maintain a healthy nervous system. Pranayama (breath control used in yoga) can help you gain better self-awareness and acquire a more peaceful state of mind. And meditation will allow you to master better concentration and focus. Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Yoga.
Exercise for Anxiety
Yoga can be wonderful exercise, but there are many other exercises the anxiety sufferer should consider adding to a routine. Any kind of exercise that allows you to “get in the zone” can be an awesome way to relieve and prevent anxiety. Bicycling, running, and many other popular exercises and sports can help you to achieve a euphoric state, that runners know as a “runner’s high.” It’s an amazing feeling with long term results that can have a very positive impact on anyone’s overall wellbeing. It takes considerable time to reach a level of fitness that allows you to get into this zone, but, while working up to this level, the body and the mind will be getting stronger along the way.
Vitamins, Minerals for Anxiety
Proper assimilation of vitamin B is essential for emotional wellbeing. Heavy metal toxicity and a diet with the wrong fats make it impossible for the body to process and assimilate vitamin B efficiently. Heavy metal toxicity is very common with people who suffer from mental health issues. Heavy metal chelating therapy can make a massive difference in the ability to deal with intenseemotions. A balanced fatty acid supplement like Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 with DHA can is the best way to get a full spectrum of healthy fats. Buried Treasure makes a few good quality liquid supplements with lots of vitamin Bs (available at most health food stores) and Thorne has a high quality B vitamin supplement we recommend as well.
Deficiencies in amino acids are strongly correlated with anxiety disorders. Platinum Plus is a very high quality amino acid supplement we highly recommend for those dealing with any kind of chronic anxiety.
Diet for Anxiety
When the body isn’t healthy, the body isn’t working right. When the body isn’t working right, the head isn’t working right, either. It is not possible to put junk in the body and expect proper performance from the whole body (including the brain) for most of the life of the body.
Eating well means eating lots of whole, fresh, raw vegetables and fruits. There are so many nutrients in raw produce that are very important for good health, and in all likelihood many more we are yet to discover. Getting everything the human body needs to function optimally on supplements and dead food is not possible.
Almost everyone could benefit from an increase in fresh raw fruits and vegetables in their diet.
In addition, cut out caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. Choose whole unrefined unprocessed grains like brown rice instead of white rice (it’s an acquired taste, but once acquired, white rice tastes bland and empty). Oats are also a good food for those looking for natural remedies for anxiety.
Herbs for Anxiety
Kava kava, skullcap, California poppy, and valerian are herbs used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Bugleweed and oats are also good for soothing the nerves.
A tea that helps with anxiety can be made with equal parts dried lavender, oats, linden flower, and catnip.
When buying oats, look for preparations that contain the oat seed along with the straw.
Essential Oils for Anxiety
Lavender, geranium, bergamot, cedarwood, and peppermint essential oils are all good for relieving anxiety. Adding 10 to 20 drops of essential oil to a bath makes for a relaxing and calming experience. If possible, try getting a full body massage with any one of these essential oils.
Acupressure for Anxiety
CV 17 or the Chest Center, also known as
“Sea of Tranquility”, is located on the middle of the breastbone, below the fourth rib. It is about four fingers wide above the base of the bone. With eyes closed and proper breathing, apply steady gentle pressure to the point for about one minute.
Another point lies three fingers down from the wrist between the two main tendons running along the inner forearm. Press the thumb straight into the point with enough pressure to feel discomfort and knead the point with small circular movements for about one minute.
A foot massage, especially when done with the knowledge of reflexology, can relieve stress and help you relax.
Stress Relief Using Meridian Tapping
This kind of Emotional Freedom Technique starts with focusing on a specific problem, physical feeling, or emotion, and assessing the degree of discomfort. Then, one taps certain points of the body in a specific sequence while focusing on the issue. After the process is done, a second evaluation of the level of discomfort is made. Usually, there is much less discomfort after the second time. This technique is an amazingly powerful natural remedy for anxiety. Go to Stress Relief Using Meridian Tapping to learn more.
Learning to deal with anxiety in a natural and healthy way (without drugs) will require adaptation to a new lifestyle. This will involve considerable effort and utilization of multiple techniques. Anxiety will always be a part of everyone’s life from time to time, but it’s not the stress that kills us – it’s the way we perceive and react to it that makes or breaks us.
- Stress B Complex – Thorne Research
- Adrenal Cortex – Thorne Research
- Shillington’s Brain Tonic
- Shillington’s Nerve Sedative Formula
- Ashwagandha Root – Gaia Herbs
- American Ginseng – Gaia Herbs
- Astralagus Root – Gaia Herbs
- Adrenal Health – Gaia Herbs
- Vitamin D – Thorn Complex
- Krill Oil
- Natural Remedies for Chronic Stress
- I’m Depressed
- How To Be Happy
- Sun Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Vitamin B6 and What You Should Know About it
- How Candida Leads to Depression
- How I Overcame-Depression Naturally
- Mental Health, Physical Health & B Vitamins – Nature’s Valium
- Thyroid Disease Epidemic – How is Yours Doing?
- Natural Remedies for Depression
- How to Breathe
- Yoga – A Beginner’s Guide
- Natural Remedies for Anxiety
- How to Be Happy
- Desk Jockey Yoga