Written by: Melanie Amini-Hajibashi
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health challenges. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 30% of the population in the United State will experience anxiety at some point in their lives. As a therapist, I see anxiety with almost every client I work with from young children to wise elder adults. Anxiety can manifest in many different ways including restless sleeping, challenges concentrating, feeling tense and keyed up, fatigue, and somatic symptoms including stomach aches and mild to severe headaches.
As someone who has struggled with anxiety her whole life (I literally used to come to swim practice with my cap, goggles, and swimsuit already on to not be late), I understand on a personal level the challenges anxiety can present in everyday living. Generalized Anxiety Disorder also known as “GAD” is a formal diagnosis in Mental Health and can be learned to manage and thrive. However, with almost half of the population experiencing anxiety at some point in their life, I thought it is important to offer some natural remedies we can utilize in our everyday living when we are experiencing change, stress, and tension.
As a reminder, anxiety can be debilitating. Therefore, if you experience anxiety that is causing significant distress in your daily functioning, I invite you to reach out to a mental health professional or your physician. Some cases of anxiety may need prescription medication and more intensive support. Get the support that you need. You’re worth it.
- Magnesium Supplement: When I learned about the balancing effects of magnesium, I was curious. There is actually a body of literature suggesting that magnesium may can reduce some effects of anxiety (1). My favorite supplement, “Calm”. You can find Calm at your local health food store or order it on Amazon. I drink the supplement with warm water before bed or mix it into cold water in the morning.
- Rhythm: When a baby cries, the caregiver picks up the baby and begins rocking them. Anxiety tends to spike anytime we have a change. When we are in high levels of stress, parts of our brain actually go offline including the ability to think and reflect. We actually begin navigating from our fear response alarm system (fight/flight/freeze). Therefore, when we are anxious, doing a rhythmic activity can be soothing to the lower levels of the brain. So, the next time you are experiencing anxiety go play basketball, run, walk, listen to music, drum, color of do yoga. My personal favorite is running. I love the rhythm and sound of my feet on the ground. What are some rhythmic activities you could do?
- Drink More Water: I recommend water to every person I meet. In fact, I tend to tell everyone, “Water is the key to success”. When we are dehydrated, we cannot focus, we’re confused, irritable, foggy, negative, and on-edge (just to name a few). Our bodies are made almost entirely from the water source. Just as plants wilt without hydration, so do we. The next time you are feeling anxious, fill up your water bottle and start drinking. I recommend getting a really dope water bottle to encourage you carrying it around. I love this gallon water bottle, plus a good workout for the arms.
- Kava Tea: Kava is not a new herb in many pacific islands. Kava is known to increase pleasant feelings in the body including relaxation. In some randomized studies, Kava was shown to reduce anxiety (2). I love to drink Kava Tea. Making myself a cup of tea in the middle of the day, drinking during stressful team meetings, or having it at night calm my nerves within minutes. Below is the Kava Tea I enjoy from Yogi!
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness is about living in the present moment with curiosity of what is going on around and inside of us. We let go of judgements and bring our focus to the here and now. I love mindfulness as a way to cope with anxiety because the strategies are readily available. Just take a big, deep, and slow breath right now. Meditation is a really powerful strategy. For many of us with anxiety, we known what “racing thoughts” feel like. Our thoughts keep us up at night, feeling worried about the future, predicting disaster, and running so fast we feel confused on what to do.
Meditation is powerful mindfulness strategy that allows us to step out of the stream of our thoughts and observe them from a distance. Our thoughts are rarely facts and yet they can convince us that we are inadequate and insecure in the matter of seconds. Practice engaging in one activity daily for 5 minutes where you direct your attention to the here and now. The here and now is the only truth we have. Mindfulness activities include: meditation, yoga, journaling, listening to music, dancing, walking, coloring, playing a sport with intention, breath work, crafting, baking, cooking, and so many more! Just google some activities and give it a try. I like to set mini goals and would love for you to do 5 minutes of mindfulness with intention for one week.
Lastly, because I always have so much to say, I welcome you to practice self-compassion and be gentle with yourself. We live in a society with so many demands and expectations placed on us. Your body whispers to you when you need to rest and restore. This begins with the pings of anxiety, the restless nights, the feelings of being on edge, and the overthinking. Pause the noise to take care of yourself before your body forces you to slow down by falling apart.
Remember, anxiety is on a spectrum. Sometimes, medications are needed. Consult with a physician if you are wondering what is best for you. These 5 natural remedy strategies are ones that I’ve tried for myself and found great relief. Do your own research.
Be well my friends,
References & Resources