Anxiety is a common condition that affects around 40 million adults in America each year. It is actually a group of disorders associated with depression. The most popular conventional treatment for depression and anxiety is prescription medication.
However, many Americans are becoming disillusioned with prescription drugs, either because of their negative side effects, or because they are not effective. Those with anxiety are no exception. Fortunately, there are natural treatment methods that are both effective and free of negative side effects. Here are some easy tips on how to manage anxiety.
A few herbs have similar effects as prescription medication, but help the body relax naturally without unwanted side effects.
The most popular herbs used to treat anxiety include valerian root, kava kava and chamomile.
Valerian the most popular herb for anxiety management. Scientists believe it works by increasing the amount of GABA in the brain.
GABA is a natural vitamin-like substance that regulates the nervous system and has a calming effect on the body.
Valerian is approved by Germany’s Commission E, a governing body similar to the US FDA, and is considered safe for consumption.
Kava Kava is a Polynesian herb. It is used in rituals and ceremonies and has a near-intoxicating effect on the body. It is also used by herbalists to treat nervous conditions.
It is especially beneficial for anxiety and insomnia. Because of its powerful effects, it should not be taken with alcohol or prescription muscle relaxants.
Chamomile is a flower herb with very gentle calming effects. It is usually taken as an herbal tea, and works best if taken a half hour before bedtime. It can also be consumed throughout the day because it is more relaxing, and less sleep inducing. This calming herb has been used to treat stress, anxiety, insomnia, psoriasis and even inflammatory bowel disease. For anxiety disorders, try drinking three to four cups per day.
Vitamins help the body function properly. A few, including B, C, E and GABA play a vital role in nourishing the nervous system and can help prevent or treat stress and anxiety.
The B vitamins are actually a collection of vitamins that work together synergistically. B1, B3 and B6 are especially beneficial for anxiety. They help regulate the nervous system and can ward off anxiety attacks.
Vitamin C is vital for proper brain function. It also helps nourish the adrenal glands. Some believe that large doses of vitamin C can even have a tranquilizing effect and may help combat stress and anxiety.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in transporting oxygen to the brain. Like vitamin C, it helps nourish the brain and can have a calming effect on anxiety.
GABA, or gamma aminobutyric acid, is an amino acid that is found in the body. It is considered one of the best supplements for anxiety. The best natural sources of GABA are nuts, seeds, wheat bran and some seafood.
Practicing deep breathing and relaxation exercises can help reduce anxiety. Try practicing the following exercise on a daily basis for maximum benefit.
Begin sitting upright in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and begin to clear your mind. Begin deep breathing. Exhale slowly through the nose, squeezing the belly back toward the spine. Inhale slowly, with control, allowing your whole body to fill with air. This is one breath. Continue to breathe deeply, allowing your exhalation to be about twice as long as your inhalation. For example, inhale for the count of 4, then exhale for the count of 10. Practice this technique for up to 20 breaths.
Meditation helps to calm the body and mind. Practice meditation once a day, following deep breathing exercises, for maximum benefit.
Again, begin sitting upright in a comfortable position. After you finish deep breathing, spend some time just sitting quietly. Let go of any worries or stresses. Instead, focus your mind on a time when you felt completely relaxed and at peace. Maybe it was while you were hiking on a mountain trail, or floating on the waves in the ocean. Whatever your scene is, recreate it total in your mind. Remember every detail, smell, sound etc. Allow your body to relive the experience. Spend 10 to 20 minutes in meditation each day.
One of the best ways to combat anxiety naturally is with regular exercise. Exercise helps increase oxygen to the brain. It also creates endorphins, chemicals which are like natural pain relievers and mood enhancers. The USDA recommends adults get at least 2 ½ hours of moderate to vigorous exercise each week. When you feel anxious or stressed, try going for a bike ride, a hike outdoors, or a brisk walk.
1. National Institutes of Health: Anxiety Disorders – http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/complete-index.shtml
2. News Max: Best Supplements for Anxiety – http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/best-supplements-for-anxiety/2011/03/14/id/389445