Anxiety disorders are the most common forms of mental illness in the United States. 18% of the population or 40 million adults have some type of anxiety disorder. Additionally, many suffer from phobias that can cause anxiety, as well as bouts of anxious feelings that occur from reasons other than a specific type of disorder.
Anxiety, whether from a specific disorder or otherwise is highly treatable, and options include, medication, therapy, and various complementary alternative therapies.
Too many people are resorting to addictive anxiety-reducing medications to control anxiety. Besides being highly addictive, these medications can make it dangerous to operate automobiles or machinery while using them because they act as sedatives. These mood-altering chemicals are not typically intended for long-term use, and many become physically dependent on them and are unable to stop their use.
Alternative Therapies for Anxiety
There are natural ways to control anxiety using alternative therapies, many of which have been in use for centuries in parts of the world where anxiety medications just aren’t used or prior to their development.
Some of the anxiety-calming therapies that have been shown to reduce the feelings of anxiousness that people experience include herbal remedies. Some herbal remedies for anxiety are as follows:
• Lavender – This essential oil can be rubbed into the skin near the collarbone. The scent can waft up to reach your nose and calm your brain within minutes. Research studies have shown that people who inhale the scent from lavender oil tolerate the anxiety of invasive medical procedures much better than people who didn’t inhale the lavender. Remember that any kind of essential oil is potent so don’t forget to consult with your primary physician before trying it out on your anxiety.
• Green Tea – The amino acid L-theanine in green tea is shown by research to reduce rising heart rate and blood pressure, and some human studies showed it to lower anxiety.
• Hops – Bitter herb hops (Humulus lupulus) is a natural sedative compound and used in extract form in tinctures and in essential oils in aromatherapy. Since it is very bitter, it is not typically drank in tea form unless it is combined with chamomile or mint. As a natural sedative, hops are used to promote sleep in combination with valerian herb. Ask your doctor before using any sedating herbs as they can conflict with sedative medications.
• Lemon Balm – Lemon balm or Melissa officinalis has been used for years to reduce stress and anxiety, and it helps with sleep. One study showed that subjects who took 600 mg of lemon balm extract were more calm and alert than the subjects who took a placebo. Lemon balm is available in tea, capsule, and tincture form. Be cautious with dosing as some studies have shown it to increase anxiety when taken in excess. Follow directions and begin with a smallest dose to assess your reaction. Lemon balm can be combined with other calming herbs like, hops, chamomile, and valerian.
• Passionflower – This herb has been approved for reducing nervous restlessness by the German government, and several studies have shown it to be as effective in reducing anxiety as prescription medications. Passionflower works like a sedative and so it should not be taken with prescriptions sedatives or with other sedating herbs. Ask an herbal specialist before using.
• GABA – Gaba is found in natural substances and can be purchased on the internet as well as at health food stores. GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is a brain neurochemical that counteracts the excitement hormone glutamate in your brain and leads you toward relaxation. Because it is a potent substance, talk with your doctor before taking it. It has been found through research to reduce the subjective experience of anxiety in test subjects who took it during a stressful situation.
• German Chamomile – This is often brewed into a tea for stress and anxiety, and it has some medical evidence to back its effectiveness as an anxiety reducer.
• Kava – Kava is made from a root and is used as a calming medicine in the Pacific Islands. Kava has a long tradition in certain tribal cultures for anxiety reduction.
Natural Complementary Therapy Approaches For Anxiety
You can use your sense of humor to reduce anxiety. Those people who have a better sense of humor and can laugh more easily are less prone to stress and anxiety. Even if you don’t have much emotion behind your laughter, research has shown that it automatically increases the amount of the brain neurochemical dopamine that regulates your feelings of reward and pleasure. Laughter also decreases the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which further helps alleviate anxiety.
Finding Time For Relaxation
Make relaxation a scheduled part of your day. Look at the times you may have during the day that can be turned into relaxation time. Taking a walk, having a picnic lunch in nature, listening to calming music on your lunch break, or even a shopping trip can help you to relax. Take the time to make a list of all the activities that you find relaxing and add them to your daily schedule.
Meditation And Exercise
You can practice fifteen minutes of meditation, a half hour walk, or take a yoga, or Tai Chi class. These are physical and mental activities known to recharge your batteries, and are very effective in relieving stress and anxiety.
Try grounding yourself when you are feeling anxious. People who get anxious or panic in large department stores can ground themselves by touching tangible objects that help them feel grounded and less panicky. If you are at home or office, choose an object like a paperweight or even a cube of ice to hold. It rushes you back to present time so you can be mindful of present time and not weighed down by worries of the future. Everything happens in present time and that’s where you’ll want to be if you need anxiety relief.
Ultimately, you need to face the source of your anxiety for the best relief. Instead of fretting and worrying about something, make the commitment to face it head on. Tell yourself that it will all be okay and dive into your anxiety-provoking situation with the maximum of courage that you can muster. This is called “exposure therapy” and it works to reduce certain types of phobias if you take it a step at a time. A therapist can help.
Positive affirmations can also help to reduce anxiety. These statements made in the present tense reaffirm actions as if they have already taken place. For example, “I am calm and at peace.” Studies have shown that positive affirmations can be effective in reducing stress, panic, and anxiety by reprograming the mindset and reducing these feelings on a regular basis.
A 2010 study conducted at Arizona State University showed that affirmations are a useful supplemental form of treatment for many patients who suffer from depression and anxiety. In fact, for some of the patients positive affirmations proved to be the most influential part of their recovery process. Additionally, almost all the participants confirmed that affirmations were helpful in their recovery from depression and anxiety and since a patient’s belief and trust in the treatment modality plays a critical role in recovery, this increases the likelihood that affirmations will make a positive impact.
Positive affirmations can be found online, in books, and even in CD format and can be repeated anytime throughout the day. Consistency for the long term is important to keep the mind focused on these positive thoughts. It is always a good idea to begin the day with some affirmations in order to set the stage for calm and peace throughout the rest of the day.
Finding The Sources Of Your Anxiety
Sometimes eliminating chronic anxiety is as easy as pin pointing its source. Evaluate and identify what causes you to feel anxious. For example, you may find that you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and in this case, a qualified therapist can really help with specific treatment intended for PTSD that will inadvertently eliminate feelings of anxiety. Anxiety can also stem from daily stress, and simply changing jobs or taking a vacation can work wonders in reducing feelings of anxiety.
You do not have to live with anxiety, there are many natural, and effective remedies that can help alleviate this awful feeling and prevent it from affecting the quality of your life and emotional wellbeing.