With all that’s currently going on with the global health crisis, you might be feeling a bit more anxious or stressed these days. I get it. I’m feeling a bit more anxious than I usually do, but there are ways to reduce anxiety and stress.
If you’re the type of person who prefers natural ways of relieving anxiety and stress, rather than reaching for prescription medications where harmful side effects are abundant, here are 7 natural ways to help you reduce anxiety and stress so you live a more fulfilling and relaxing life.
1. Healthy Eating to Reduce Anxiety
Regardless of how you’re feeling, it’s always best to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Certain foods will exacerbate your anxious feelings while other foods will help lift your mood and reduce anxiety.
Foods to Eat
Foods rich in Vitamin B are particularly helpful to reduce anxiety. Look to incorporate foods such as beef, chicken, pork, eggs, leafy greens, citrus fruits and nuts to help ease anxious feelings.
Superfoods such as flax seeds, hemp seeds, and berries are immune boosting and heart healthy foods that help you live a healthier and happier life. I feature these ingredients in my Superfood Smoothie Recipe, which is a perfect addition to your morning breakfast routine to help lift your mood!
Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and whole wheat breads increase production of Serotonin in the brain. Many researchers believe that a lack of Serotonin production may lead to depression.
Foods plentiful of Omega-3’s such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and anchovies are known to lift your mood, too.
Foods to Avoid
If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, it’s best to limit your alcohol, caffeine and sugar intake. While sugar can give you a temporary boost in energy, this doesn’t last long and you usually feel terrible afterwards.
In addition, alcohol and caffeine both inhibit levels of Serotonin in the brain. When your Serotonin levels are out of balance, you often feel the effects of anxiety and depression.
Finally, when you over-consume caffeine, you’re likely not sleeping well or you’re going to bed later than you normally would, and lack of quality sleep will only make your anxiety worse.
2. CBD for Anxiety
As mentioned above, Serotonin is a chemical found in the human body and plays a role in mental health. Low Serotonin levels are common in depression, and not having enough Serotonin can cause anxiety.
CBD oil is a natural way to help reduce anxious feelings.
CBD interacts with the CB-1 receptor inside the body’s Endocannabinoid System, and through this interaction, CBD alters Serotonin signals.
In a 2011 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, human participants with social anxiety disorder (SAD) were either given an oral serving size of 400 milligrams of CBD or a placebo.
The study results showed that those who took the CBD serving experienced overall reduced anxiety levels.
I don’t necessarily suffer from anxiety all the time. However, with the current global health crisis, I’ve been feeling a bit more anxious lately.
I take a serving of Busy Bee’s CBD oil every evening to help reduce anxious feelings so I am able to fall asleep easier and stay asleep all night.
There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning all night long feeling anxious about the piles of bills stacking up, your never-ending to-do list and staying in the home 24 hours a day.
I feel a sense of calm taking a regular daily serving of CBD, and I can imagine someone with daily anxiety would benefit greatly from CBD oil.
3. Daily Gratitude Journal
When negative thoughts enter your mind and cause you to feel anxious or stressed, taking out a pen and paper and expressing your gratitude for the positive things in your life can be extremely beneficial.
From healthcentral.com, the effects of journaling is best described as follows:
Research has shown that keeping a journal is good for you. Some experts believe it helps strengthen the immune system, reduces symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis and decreases stress. Focusing on gratitude helps to reduce stress and increases feelings of happiness, satisfaction and overall well-being. A gratitude journal combines both.
You don’t necessarily need to have a fancy journal to take advantage of the benefits of expressing your gratitude. A pen and paper would suffice.
Writing in your gratitude journal daily is key. This only needs to be a few minutes every day. Writing about all the positive things you’re thankful for will allow you to reduce stress and anxious feelings.
4. Reduce Media Consumption
Reducing your news media consumption will definitely help ease anxious feelings and reduce anxiety. I’m not telling you to completely ignore the news, but be mindful of how much time you’re spending reading news articles and watching “breaking news” on television.
Keep your news consumption to once a day so you stay informed. I have found limiting my news consumption to once or twice a day for no more than an hour in total time leaves me feeling more positive and less anxious.
I’m sleeping better, feeling more calm and overall happier.
Another way to reduce anxious feelings is to limit your social media activity. I know it’s super easy to over-consume, especially when you’re trying to stay in touch with family and friends.
Plus, it’s really easy to get side tracked and scroll for hours at a time watching videos and the “glamorous” behind-the-scenes of celebrities and influencers.
What you see on social media is likely not 100% honest and truthful. Being exposed to “perfect” lives day in and day out can definitely affect your mood when your current situation is less than perfect.
If you feel social media has put a dent in your mood, try temporarily removing your Facebook or Instagram apps from your mobile device. A social media detox, only if for a few days, can greatly improve your mood and keep anxious feelings at bay.
5. Move Your Body to Reduce Anxiety
Studies have shown that regular exercise helps ease symptoms of anxiety and stress. When you exercise, your body releases a chemical called endorphins which act as a natural pain reliever.
From Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise for mental wellness is key for the following reasons:
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
If you already have an established exercise practice going on, keep up the great work! Not only are you improving your cardiovascular health, but you’re also keeping your mental wellness in check.
If you don’t exercise regularly, here are a few fun ways to get your body moving, especially when you’re feeling anxious:
- A 20-minute walk around the neighborhood
- A beginner’s cardio program from videos you can find on YouTube
- A bike ride on the trails or less traveled roadways
- An afternoon dance party in your living room
The moral of the story: get your body moving to help relieve anxiety and stress.
6. Deep Breathing to Reduce Anxiety
When I feel anxious, I notice my breathing is shallow and sometimes it feels like it’s difficult to “catch my breath”.
From verywellmind, this type of breathing is called “chest breathing”:
Chest breathing causes an upset in the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body resulting in increased heart rate, dizziness, muscle tension, and other physical sensations.
Your blood is not being properly oxygenated and this may signal a stress response that contributes to anxiety and panic attacks.
When you start to feel anxiety, the best way to help ease anxious feelings is to practice deep breathing techniques. Here’s a simple breathing exercise from verywellmind’s website to help you relax when you’re feeling anxious:
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Your abdomen should expand, and your chest should rise very little.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth. As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly, but keep your jaw relaxed. You may hear a soft “whooshing” sound as you exhale.
- Repeat this breathing exercise for several minutes.
7. Take a Time Out
Sometimes stopping what you’re doing at the moment you’re feeling anxious and redirecting your mind elsewhere can do wonders for your mental well-being.
Here are a few ideas you can incorporate into a 10-minute (or longer) time out:
- Listen to music
- Cuddle with your furry companion
- Practice deep breathing
- Count to 10
- Read a chapter of your favorite book
- Listen to a podcast
- Watch an episode of your favorite comedy show
- Watch a cooking video on YouTube
- Phone a friend
Taking a quick timeout can definitely help relieve anxious feelings. After all, you owe it to your mental health to take some time for yourself when you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
Conclusion: Relieving Anxiety and Stress
With a billion dollar pharmaceutical industry, it’s scary to think about all the harmful side effects prescription anti-anxiety drugs can give you. Sometimes the long list of side effects are way worse than the actual condition you’re being treated for.
As you can see, there are many natural ways to reduce anxiety and stress without all the harmful side effects.
Incorporating some or all of these techniques will help ease anxious feelings and help you live a more productive and healthy life.
How do you help relieve anxiety?