Between work stressors, relationships, or financial struggles, and not to mention living through a global pandemic, we have all experienced anxiety to some degree. Anxiety is no joke and can manifest in some unusual ways such as difficulty concentrating, feeling fatigued or easily irritated, headaches, GI symptoms, heart palpitations, or insomnia. Although, you don’t have to live with anxiety. There are many things you can do each day to cope, prevent, and become more resilient to anxiety symptoms. Just like going to the gym to work out your body, it is so important to work out your brain too. Here are 5 natural remedies to support anxiety.
Diet is the foundation of our overall health and well-being. A diet rich in nutritious foods will help you look good, and feel even better. Consistent consumption of a poor diet can feed inflammation, and activate your fight or flight response creating a prolonged period of heightened stress. Chronic stress and a poor diet have been shown to damage the gut microbiome, and lead to depression and anxiety. Focus on consuming good quality protein (lean meat, poultry, and fish), complex carbs (quinoa, sweet potatoes, fruit), and healthy fats (avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds), with every meal.
Also, there are specific nutrients that have been linked to healthy brain function and regulating mood. Deficiency in Vitamin D, for example, has been associated with mood issues and depression. Although the best source of Vitamin D is from the sun, you can also obtain this important nutrient from food such as fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and cereals. Vitamin B12 is another nutrient that contributes to increased energy, and improved brain health. The best sources of Vitamin B12 come from animal products such as poultry, meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Make sure you get these nutrients tested at your next doctor’s appointment to ensure you have adequate levels.
Your breath is powerful and can act as a key component when it comes to a natural remedy for stress and anxiety. By slowing down your breath and taking longer exhales, you will activate your parasympathetic state, putting your body in a calm state. Using your breath to slow down your nervous system can aid in improving overall wellness.
There's a lot of research around breath work and the incredible benefits it can have. To gain these benefits, there are three different exercises to help you enhance your breathing. Each exercise is a form of diaphragmatic breathing. This conscious way of breathing uses the diaphragm to take deep, meaningful breaths. This allows you to use your lungs at full capacity, unlike regular breathing. Try one of these breathing techniques next time you are feeling stressed and notice the difference in your body immediately. While these methods differ slightly, each breathing technique will help to relax your nervous system and create a sense of calm.
Lying in bed or seated in a comfortable position, start by breathing in through your nose for 4 counts deep into your belly and then chest. 1-2-3-4
Hold for 7 counts
Finally breathe out of your mouth for 8 counts
Repeat 10 times or for 2 minutes, or until you feel calm. Whenever you are feeling stressed or experiencing anxious thoughts, try this breathing technique. Exhaling twice as long as you inhale has profound effects on calming your nervous system.
- Lying in bed, on the couch, or on the floor, start by placing your left hand on your stomach and your right hand on your chest.
- Inhale through your nose into your belly. This will slowly raise your left hand that is placed on your stomach.
- Continue inhaling more deeply into your upper chest. This will start to lift your right hand that is placed on your chest.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth, pushing the air out of your stomach and then your chest. Your hands that are placed on your belly and chest will begin to lower as you breathe out.
Repeat this process for 3-5 minutes or until you feel calm.
The Box Breathing Method
Lying in bed or seated in a comfortable position, start by inhaling through your nose slowly for four seconds, 1-2-3-4
Hold your breath in for four seconds 1-2-3-4
Exhale through your mouth for four seconds 1-2-3-4
Pause for four seconds before repeating the cycle 1-2-3-4
Repeat for four cycles.
Nearly 80% of Americans are deficient in Magnesium. This important mineral is essential for regulating over 300 enzymatic reactions including regulating neurotransmitters, blood sugar, blood pressure, and muscle and nerve function. Neurotransmitters send signals throughout the body including the brain. Due to Magnesium’s role in regulating neurotransmitters, it also impacts neurological disorders such as anxiety and depression. This means that consuming enough magnesium can really be a natural remedy for anxiety.
There are many different forms of Magnesium, however, Magnesium Glycinate, in particular, is one of the most absorbable forms and is best for relaxation and promoting calmness. Glycinate binds to Magnesium Glycinate which makes it absorb well. Glycine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that our body naturally produces it. It acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, promoting relaxation and lowering cortisol in the body. If you do choose to supplement with Magnesium, take Magnesium Glycinate before bed to promote relaxation before sleep. With Vessel wellness cards, you can test your Magnesium levels at home to see where you are at as well as track your progress!
This adaptogenic herb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to relieve stress and promote a calming state. Adaptogens are herbal pharmaceuticals that help the body adapt to stress. Ashwagandha helps to reduce excess production of cortisol by acting on the adrenal glands, controlling shock proteins, and reducing the activity of the HPA axis which regulates your stress response. Ashwagandha can be taken daily in capsule form, as a tincture, or in tea. It’s a generally safe and effective supplement to be taken for most people, however, always check with your doctor before adding it to your routine.
GABA is a natural neurotransmitter in your brain that inhibits or decreases the activity of the nervous system. In the brain, it attaches to GABA receptors which generate a calming effect for the body. These mechanisms can help lower feelings of stress, anxiety, and restlessness, which in turn can facilitate a restful night’s sleep. Fermented foods like kimchi and tempeh contain small amounts of GABA, in addition to supplementation.
Memory, mood and cognitive function show positive effect by supplementing omega-3s. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are omega-3s that are crucial for regulating mood and neurotransmitters to produce serotonin and dopamine which have a calming effect on the body. Good sources of omega-3s include fatty fish and nuts and seeds. If your diet lacks these food sources, you may want to include an omega-3 supplement or fish oil in your daily routine.
If you have any specific questions about supplements or natural remedies for anxiety, you can always reach out to our nutritional coaches here at Vessel via live chat and get personalized insight and recommendations.
Beyond supplements, there are still things we can do in moments of anxiety. Remember how we mentioned how important it is to work out the brain just like we work out our bodies? Well, meditation is just how you can do that. Meditation is a simple, yet powerful practice, that can reduce anxiety, increase clarity and promote happiness. The best thing about meditation is that it is free and very simple to do. Meditation is a way to practice mindfulness in order to remain present.
Although simple, meditation takes practice. The more you meditate, the easier it will be to be mindful is stressful situations. It is a way to pay close attention to your mind and body in a specific moment. Notice everything that comes up for you. Any thoughts, feelings, or sensations throughout your body, and simply acknowledge that they are there. Try setting time aside each day for a meditation practice, even it’s just a few minutes, it can make a big difference.
Maintaining strong social connections is immensely important for our physical and mental health. They can strengthen our immune system, help us recover from disease, and support stress and anxiety naturally. As humans, we are social beings, and we need strong connections for optimal quality of life. Social interactions provide us with a sense of comfort and eliminate feelings of loneliness which can impact our mental health. During the COVID pandemic, rates of anxiety and depression increased by 25%. This is major. One factor that attributed to this skyrocketed rate, is due to social isolation. This includes a lack of community and support in people's personal and professional lives. Thankfully, we are moving forward, although this has proved the immense importance of having strong social connections.
Prioritize time to call or meet up with a friend or loved one, join a community center, or take a new class that interests you. Joining a gym, book club, or dance studio is a great way to engage in a hobby that you enjoy while building connections.
The Gut-Brain Connection
The last natural anxiety supporting remedy we have for today is gut-brain connection! The gut-brain connection is extremely powerful and may be worth looking into if you are experiencing frequent anxiety. The brain has a direct impact on your stomach and your stomach has a direct impact on your brain. This is a two-way street. Just the thought of eating something flavorful and tasty sends a signal to your gut to release digestive enzymes to prepare your body for food. This can occur before you even smell or see the actual food. It is quite amazing. On the other hand, your gut sends signals to your brain when it is distressed or there is something going on that should be addressed. Distress in your stomach can be the cause of feelings of anxiety, stress, or even depression.
Unfortunately, there will always be stress in our lives. It’s inevitable. Although, we have the power to not let anxiety take over our life. With a little support through diet and lifestyle practices, we can become more resilient to daily stressors, and better manage anxious feelings when they arise.
Which one of these natural remedies for anxiety did you find most helpful?
Sara Chille See all the author’s articles