We’re all familiar with anxiety. The racing mind, the jitters, and those niggling, nervous thoughts that won’t go away. For some of us, anxiety comes in waves. For others, it’s a part of everyday life. As alienating as it feels, anxiety is very common, so if you’re suffering from it, you’re not alone.
Here are a few things you can try to ease your anxiety naturally.
Sleep for 7-8 hours every night. When you’re sleep-deprived, everything feels so much harder. For the most blissful sleep, avoid watching TV or using your phone/iPad/laptop in bed – that blue light signals to the brain that it should stay awake and alert.
Eat a healthy diet. The artificial flavours, colours and preservatives in processed foods can affect your energy and mood, as can a high-sugar diet (sorry). To boost your mood, opt for healthy, nutritious foods like fruits, veggies, lean protein and good fats.
Avoid coffee. The goal is to relax your mind and body, and coffee does the opposite. It can make you jittery and nervous, which isn’t fun if you already have anxiety. Can’t go without it? Drink one cup in the morning and then switch to dandelion coffee (it has the same bitter taste) or herbal tea.
Don’t cut carbs. Carbs are actually really important for energy. They also produce serotonin – aka the ‘feel good hormone.’ To combat anxiety, go for the wholegrain/brown versions of your fave white carbs (e.g. pasta, bread, rice).
Drink chamomile tea at night. It calms the nervous system and promotes sleep, so sip on it before bed.
Talk to someone you trust. Whether it’s your mum, bestie, bf or a total stranger, it helps to have a good ol’ chat and get those niggling thoughts off your chest.
Stay active. Elle Woods was right. To keep your anxiety at bay, exercise. It’s all about those endorphins! Mix high-intensity, like running, with more chilled-out workouts, like yoga, pilates and walking. If you’re tired, don’t force it: just go for a swim in the ocean or a stroll outside.
Start doing yoga. If you watch the clock from the second you step into a yoga class until the second it ends, I feel ya. Stick with it. It works wonders for anxiety because it forces you to breathe, and that naturally calms your nerves.
Just breathe. Speaking of breathing… Breathing deeply resets the body and helps with those frayed nerves. On the other hand, shallow, fast breathing is a common symptom of anxiety, and it can make you feel dizzy and lightheaded. Take 20 long, deep breaths a few times a day: when you wake up, when you get home from work, and whenever you need to chill.
Take it up a notch by meditating. Meditation is known to relieve stress and anxiety and replace those chaotic thoughts with a sense of peace. You don’t need to say fancy mantras or sit cross-legged like a guru. Just close your eyes and breathe, or follow a guided meditation app like Calm.
Choose warm foods. You know how mum used to make you chicken soup when you were sick? It’s the same principle. When you’re anxious, forget cold, raw foods, like salads, and go for soothing, nourishing foods, like soups.
Make your bedroom your personal sanctuary. Fill it with things that make you happy, like candles, plants, pretty pictures and books. To fall – and stay – asleep faster, keep your room dark and cool.
Eat balanced meals. Give your bod a helping hand by eating protein, veggies (especially greens) and good fats at every meal. There’s another excuse to eat an avo!
Do whatever you can to manage your stress. Stress is inevitable, but some of us struggle with it more than others. If you can deal with stressful situations when they pop up, you’re less likely to run into stress’ sister: anxiety. All the tips in this article will help, as will figuring out how to reduce the root of your stress. For example, if work is stressing you out, can you talk to your boss about your workload? Can you get to the office a little earlier to work in peace? Can you take a day off to recharge and focus on #1: YOU?
Soak in a long, hot bath. Treat yourself and make this a real ritual. Light a candle, pour in an essential oil and let your worries wash over you. Add Epsom salts if you have them – they’re great for relaxing your muscles.
Steer clear of alcohol. If you’re feeling anxious and nervous, lay off the booze for a bit. While a glass of wine may calm you down at first, alcohol can affect your mood, energy and sleep – all of which can worsen anxiety.
Be okay with saying no! We all have sooo much going on. If you really don’t feel like going out, then stay in. If you’re not comfortable doing that ‘favour’ for someone, don’t. Saying no is such a relief.
Boost your gut health. When you’re worried, you might feel like there’s a pit in our stomach. Experts say the stomach is like a second brain – it reacts to worry, guilt or fear by speeding up or slowing down your digestion, which can lead to things like nausea and constipation. Yum. To soothe your gut (and your anxiety), check out our guide to gut health.
Switch off social media. For many people, social media causes anxiety. As much as we love it, Instagram can make us compare ourselves to super-skinny, airbrushed models who are constantly on holiday, and worry about how many likes we’re going to get. If social media is giving you anxiety, take a little break and focus on IRL relationships.
And your phone, too. If the amount of texts, emails and notifications popping up on your puts you on edge, put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode until you’re ready to check it. It might take a while for this to be a habit, but it’s weirdly freeing!
Ask a doctor/naturopath about taking supplements for anxiety. Popping a B2, fish oil, zinc or magnesium may help you to deal with anxiety naturally.
Be grateful. Gratitude is a powerful thing. Instead of stressing about what you don’t have, focus on what you do. Sometimes, a little perspective is all you need.
Book in for acupuncture. Being pricked with needles may not sound like a picnic, but it’s been used to treat stress for centuries. And they don’t hurt! Acupuncture stimulates pressure points to remove ‘blockages’ in the body so the energy can flow freely again.
Burn or inhale essential oils. When anxious thoughts creep up on you, turn to lavender, sweet orange, peppermint and rose. You can read more in our essential oil guide.
Get a massage. Melt that tension away. Even better, book an aromatherapy massage and ask for those oils! ^
Soak up the sun for 20 minutes a day. Get that Vitamin D fix! It’s linked to happiness.
The material published on this blog is intended for general information only and is not professional/medical/legal advice.
Words by Katia Iervasi.