There are a broad range of natural methods that can play an integral role in relieving mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety. Natural remedies can also be integrated into first-line conventional types of treatment. These can include lifestyle changes, developing healthy habits, incorporating self-soothing practices, and establishing a strong supportive network.
Making lifestyle adjustments—eating healthier, improving sleep, exercising regularly, using stress-reduction techniques, and fostering a supportive environment—can lessen your anxiety and make it more manageable.
*Check with your doctor before starting any new routines, supplements, or lifestyle changes*
If you are looking to control your anxiety, these 22 remedies could help bring you natural anxiety relief:
1. Journal About Your Anxiety
Before figuring out how to approach your anxiety, assess your situation. Whether on paper, a computer screen, or smartphone; writing things down or journaling can help you identify the signs, symptoms and underlying triggers. Using anxiety journaling prompts and writing down your thoughts is also a good way to relieve the stress associated with many daily burdens. Consistent daily journaling can offset the harsh effects of stress, make the anxiety feel more manageable, and bring longstanding benefits to your overall mood and wellbeing.1
Journaling can help you:
- Clarify and organize your thoughts and feelings to gain self-awareness
- Identify factors that may be contributing to your anxiety
- Process negative thoughts and emotions as a way of coping
- Reframe self-defeating thoughts to gain perspective about adverse events
- Discover unnecessary stressors and create a plan to eliminate them
- Brainstorm about problems in your life to find possible options or solutions
2. Eat Nourishing Foods
Improving your diet and/or following the recommended dietary guidelines can promote overall good health and can prevent chronic medical conditions. Moreover, scientific findings demonstrate that a well-balanced diet can also support psychological health, cognitive functioning and build resilience throughout your lifetime.2
Incorporating foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin C, and Vitamin E, amino acids like lysine and arginine, combined with a multivitamin and mineral supplements could help prevent and alleviate anxiety symptoms.3
3. Cut Back On (or Eliminate) Caffeine
Caffeine in the short term may help you focus, but long term it can leave you feeling jittery and actually activate your fight or flight response. Caffeine can make the anxious feelings worse due to the increase in activity it can cause on the body. It stimulates the central nervous system and too much caffeine can send you into overdrive.
4. Consider Quitting Smoking
Smoking cigarettes is actually linked with a higher likelihood of anxiety. When you smoke while you have anxiety, the nicotine impairs natural brain activity, leading to more anxiety. Quitting smoking can help reduce anxiety by allowing the natural processes in the brain to occur. Also, establishing a baseline of anxiety without cigarettes is important on the anxiety healing journey.
5. Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Limiting your alcohol consumption is one of the best choices you can make to reduce your anxiety. Though drinking may lead to short-term relief from symptoms, the risks usually outweigh the perceived positives. Alcohol will have a long-term negative impact on your mood, anxiety, and sleep.
6. Get the Right Amount of Sleep
Sleep plays a fundamental role in our overall physical and mental health. Getting enough consistent sleep allows us to replenish and recharge, consequently promoting mind and body resilience to mitigate daily stressors. Regularly skimping on sleep can have detrimental short-term and long-term consequences affecting our brain function, mood, immune system, and other mental/physical aspects.
Good quality of sleep (infrequent nighttime awakenings, consistent sleep schedule, 7-8 hours of nightly sleep) has a strong linkage with a decrease in anxiety symptoms.3 The amount of sleep that is required each night varies depending on age and other factors.
7. Exercise Consistently
Regular exercise is great for mental health. Engaging in an ongoing exercise routine is associated with better mental and physical health because physical activity is known to improve cardiovascular health, mood, sleep, stamina, cognitive functioning, daily performance, and overall sense of wellbeing.4,5 Furthermore, some evidence indicates that exercise can be helpful for individuals who have anxiety and stress related conditions.6,7
Exercising for 20 minutes three times a week at 60%-90% heart rate has been demonstrated to decrease anxiety symptoms.8 Sustaining a regular exercise regimen yields better results and promotes long lasting benefits.
*Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routines or lifestyle changes*
8. Try Deep Breathing
Deep breathing and other types of breathing exercises for relaxation can help manage stress and reduce anxiety symptoms. Deep/diaphragmatic breathing has demonstrated to be an efficient relaxation method benefiting our mental/physical health. Deep breathing increases the amount of oxygen throughout your body, slows down your heart rate, and stabilizes your blood pressure allowing you to feel more centered and in control of your emotions. Regular practice serves as a self-soothing method that can be done anywhere at any time bringing both immediate and long-term benefits.9,10
9. Start a Meditation Routine
A vast number of studies have linked meditation with stress reduction, decreased anxiety symptoms and a greater frequency of optimistic emotions. Meditation (in different forms) engages the mind and body by: encouraging moment to moment awareness, focusing on controlled breathing, and slowing down of intrusive thoughts. Incorporating the practice of meditation daily can bring you a sense of inner peace, and an overall feeling of contentment with longstanding mental health benefits.5,7
If you’re not sure where to start, you can try a meditation app that can give you guidance and accountability.
10. Join a Yoga Class
Yoga is an ancient mind and body practice with various styles (some forms integrate meditation and spirituality) that combines breathing techniques, relaxation, and physical postures to ease mental strain and create a feeling of calmness. Yoga can improve your mental health, and yoga for anxiety is considered a safe and an effective alternative intervention for managing chronic stress and reducing anxiousness. It can also be a great option for those disinclined to participate in other types of exercise.5,7 Yoga apps can be a great place to start if you’re new to the practice.
11. Try Tai Chi
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that has evolved into a form of exercise that promotes serenity through a combination of controlled breathing and a series of coordinated flowing movements with gentle physical exercises and stretches. Like yoga, Tai Chi is also considered a safe alternative and/or a complementary treatment for the reduction of stress and anxiety. The physical aspects of both Tai Chi and yoga provide a mental focus and enhance flexibility and balance.11,12
12. Spend Quality Time Outside
There are many benefits of nature on mental health, including improving symptoms of anxiety as spending time outdoors helps to regulate mood. Thirty minutes a day can reduce the amount of cortisol your body produces and leave you feeling more at ease. Incorporating exercise into your time outside such as yoga or tai chi can really maximize the impact of nature.
13. Incorporate Aromatherapy Into Your Day
Aromatherapy is a holistic approach to anxiety treatment and can help you feel better throughout the day. These include using natural oils from plants and flowers to promote wellness and calm in the mind and body. These essential oils come in many scents that can help you relax and improve sleep and mood, as well as help to regulate blood pressure and heart rate. Anxiety-specific oils to consider may include bergamot, lavender, clary sage, grapefruit, or ylang ylang.
14. Get a Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets help anxiety by introducing even pressure on the whole body. This helps to slow down your autonomic nervous system and help you relax when you are trying to sleep. Anxiety impacts sleep hygiene, but a weighted blanket can be a good support for your nighttime routine by improving nighttime anxiety. A blanket that weighs about 10% of your body weight is an ideal weight for you to consider.
15. Use Herbal Supplements
Several botanicals and natural supplements have been studied as alternate options to pharmaceutical treatments for reducing anxiety. Although some herbal supplements have shown fair efficacy in treating anxiety and other conditions, more conclusive evidence needs to be gathered.11
Here are five herbal supplements that could help alleviate anxiety:
- Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) is a flowering plant that can be used in the form of teas and oils for aromatherapy/ massages/baths for a relaxation effect. Research findings suggest that a lavender oil preparation Silexan in capsule form has some efficacy for its calming effects and alleviating anxiety.8
- Chamomile is an herb that comes from daisy-like flowers and was traditionally used for calming nerves, as a sleep aid and to ease an upset stomach. In the forms of teas, tablets and/or, extract it has shown to help relieve stress and anxiety.11
- Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) comes from the root of a plant native to Europe and Asia. It has shown to have a mild calming effect. In the form of tea, tablets, and tincture can help with sleep problems, anxiety, and depression.8
- Passionflower (Passiflora Incarnata) is a climbing vine native to the Americas and was customarily used as a sedative. Some research suggests that this herb can ease anxiety. Taken in tablet form, teas or tincture may reduce restlessness, nervousness, and anxiety symptoms.8
- Kava (Piper methysticum)is a shrub found in the South Pacific Islands. Short-term use of Kava extract can be effective in treating anxiety symptoms. However, there is reservation that it can lead to possible liver damage.8
*Always consult with your doctor when decreasing or stopping your prescribed medications or beginning an herbal supplement. Some herbs can cause side effects or interact with other medications*
16. Ask Your Doctor for a Blood Test
There are no medical tests that directly study anxiety, but some blood tests can help you understand how your physical health is contributing to anxiety. A doctor could recommend testing to study your:16
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Hormone levels
- Adrenal functioning
- Thyroid levels
17. Use CBD
There is a lot of information on CBD for anxiety. CBD can be a great treatment supplement for anxiety as it helps to slow down thinking and racing thoughts and help you stay in the present. It can reduce stress in the body and reduce the production of cortisol. CBD can help by regulating mood and minimizing the agitation associated with anxiety or mood swings.
*Always consult with your doctor before starting CBD. CBD may cause side effects or interact with other medications*
18. Bathe With Epsom Salts
Epsom salt baths work to regulate emotions as well as reduce stress. An active ingredient in epsom salt is magnesium, which is linked to increased production of serotonin–the active ingredient in anti-depression and anti-anxiety medications. It also helps to relax the muscles and restore red blood cells in any areas of the body that are experiencing inflammation.
19. Utilize Time Management Strategies
Time management is a good way to reduce anxiety. Having a routine and schedule is a great way to stay on top of what you need to get done without feeling too overwhelmed. It helps people generally feel better because they are in control of what is happening and they can anticipate what is next. As a result, it can reduce feelings of anxiety that can come from overwhelm.
20. Strengthen Your Relationships
Social isolation has been linked to a greater risk of poor psychological and physical health.13 Connecting with and cultivating healthy supportive relationships has been shown to ease anxiety symptoms, positively influence your mindset and create a sense of security.13 If you are looking to strengthen your mental health and lessen your anxiety, interacting with positive and healthy people can be of great value.14,15
Reexamine existing relationships (local or distant) and focus on the ones that are most valuable to you. Make it a priority to nourish and maintain these relationships. Reach out on a regular basis by calling, video chatting, texting, emailing, or simply paying a pleasant visit (when possible). Talking through your anxiety with a trustworthy person can make it feel less overbearing. If you’re in a relationship with a partner, you might find having sex can help anxiety.
21. Expand Your Circle of Support
You may be new to the area or feel like your current relations do not offer the support you need. Look into other avenues within your own community like places of worship, community centers, local libraries, health clinics and/or branches of national organizations. These can directly assist you or direct you to relevant programs. There is always room for expanding your circle of friends and meeting new people. Get involved with activities like picking up a hobby, joining a book club or sport, or volunteering. This can bring you new enjoyment and provide you with an opportunity of meeting like-minded people.
22. Join a Self-Help or Support Group for Anxiety
Consider joining an in person or online support/self-help group. These peer-led groups focus on linking you with individuals who share similar struggles. Additionally, support groups provide a safe and validating space for you to freely process your emotions, acquire better coping skills, and receive feedback. Studies have found that support groups can be successful in decreasing mental health symptoms, maintaining a healthy mindset, minimizing isolation, improving self-esteem, and empowering individuals to mitigate their stress.16 You can begin your search by contacting organizations like Anxiety.org or the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
When to See a Therapist for Anxiety
Dealing with anxiety can be debilitating for some individuals. In these cases, physical and emotional distress is persistent and excessive, which can impact daily functioning. Recognizing when home remedies for anxiety aren’t enough and knowing when to reach out to a professional is critical.8
Therapy for anxiety encourages people to build and utilize new coping strategies to promote more adaptive responses to stressful and anxiety-inducing situations. In some cases, psychotherapy may be more effective when combined with medication when addressing moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety.8
Finding a Therapist
Reaching out to a mental health clinician is appropriate for treating moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety. Anxiety disorders are most commonly treated with psychotherapy medication, or a combination of both.8
You can find a therapist through an online therapist directory or by consulting with a health care provider.
Complimentary Anxiety Therapies
Several holistic and complementary therapy options can also reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Alternative therapy options for anxiety may include:
- Animal therapy: Animals can help to reduce stress by reducing isolation and loneliness.
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction: This can help to regulate mood and stabilize emotions.
- Hypnotherapy: This can help you to learn new ways to cope with anxiety.
- Acupuncture: This can help to release trapped energy in the body.
- Forest bathing: This involves being engulfed in nature and allowing yourself to be present. It can improve feelings of mental wellbeing.
- Havening: It helps to reduce stress and anxiety that are tied to negative emotions.
- EFT tapping: This also helps to release trapped energy in the body.
Combining Treatment Options
Combining various treatments – professional therapy and/or medication and self-help strategies – can be very powerful and a good way to maximize anxiety coping and recovery.
If you are taking medications and already in treatment, talking about any extra supplements and strategies with your provider is a good idea to start to track the impact of these interventions.
Natural remedies can be useful, but talk to your doctor before starting a supplement or mixing herbal supplements and anxiety medication prescriptions as some can have negative interactions.
Final Thoughts on Dealing With Anxiety
The challenges you are struggling with are unique to you. Nevertheless, you are not alone. Improving your quality of life, reaching out to a trusted friend or relative, talking to a therapist, and strengthening social support can make a significant difference in how you cope with your anxiety. You can take charge of your anxiety and live a more meaningful and productive life.
For Further Reading
- Consider using the Headspace or Calm app to learn mediation and mindfulness for anxiety.
- Learn more about therapy options for anxiety
- Mantras for anxiety
- What is the L-theanine Dose for Anxiety?