These days, there is a pill to manage almost any health issue – from headaches to weight loss, to stress and sleep deprivation, to the plethora of vitamins available as a supplement to real food. It is easy to submit to these quick fixes, however for some, the natural way always seems best.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, approximately a quarter of the population will experience some kind of mental health issue in the course of a year, with symptoms of anxiety and depression being the most prevalent mental disorder in Britain and in the US (1).
If you are someone who suffers from anxiety or is easily stressed, here are a few easy and natural ways to help control anxiety, and the associated symptoms like interrupted sleep, shortness of breath, sweating, heart palpitations and general feelings of unease without medication.
How to reduce stress and anxiety naturally
1. Control your breathing
If you are feeling anxious or stressed, take a few minutes to focus and control your breathing. Often in a state of anxiety, we tend to take short, sharp breaths, which limits the amount of oxygen going to the brain. Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, and count for 5 seconds during both inhalation and exhalation. This will not only help to regulate your breathing, but it will also get your mind to focus on something other than the symptoms of anxiety.
The great thing about this remedy is that there’s no such thing as an overdose. These breathing exercises can be used as frequently as you need, so bring on the 02!
2. Stay away from processed foods
Processed foods, in particular simple carbohydrates and sugars, can cause a spike in cortisol levels – a stress-induced chemical released by the adrenal gland. While most people have a tendency to turn to comfort food during times of stress, try to avoid foods like refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, chocolate, cakes and soft drinks. These types of foods will cause an increase in cortisol and won't help with anxiety levels.
3. Say goodbye to caffeine
If you're a coffee lover, it may be hard to read this tip! However, there is method to the madness. Caffeine is a stimulant that increases the production of adrenaline, which is usually secreted by the body during a distressing or traumatic event – also known as an 'adrenaline rush'. Try opting for decaf coffee, or if you drink multiple cups a day, allow yourself one caffeinated and switch to decaf for the rest. Beware also of hidden caffeine in teas, chocolate and energy drinks. These should be included in the list of foods to avoid when trying to manage symptoms of anxiety and stress.
4. Epsom Salts – nature’s muscle relaxant
Picture this: you have just arrived home from a long, stressful day at work and can’t seem to wind down and relax. This is when it may be time to draw a hot bath and add some Epsom Salt! Epsom Salts contain magnesium sulfate, which has been scientifically proven to help with anxiety and panic attacks, settle the nervous system and relax the muscles (2).
So before you rush to the pharmacy, try a little bit of oxygen, a little less sugar and caffeine, and some down-time in the bath. Your mind, as well as your body, will thank you for trying out these simple natural home remedies to relieve panic attacks and anxiety at home fast.
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1. Mental Health Foundation: www.mentalhealth.org.uk/
2. Psychiatry Advisor: www.psychiatryadvisor.com/therapies/magnesium-an-essential-supplement-for-psychiatric-patients/article/362253/