Your job, your health, your relationships, money, the future, the end of the world… Sometimes it seems like life is filled with an endless stream of things to feel anxious about. If left unchecked, anxiety can run rampant, taking over your thought processes and making everything feel like a major catastrophe. This is no way to live! Life is just too short to spend so much of it worrying. Plus, not to worry you even more, but the long term effects of anxiety can wreak havoc on your body, your immunity, your digestive system, and even your skin! So it’s time to take control, and stop letting anxiety rule you. The best part is, the natural ways to relieve your anxiety that I detail below are FUN… which, in and of itself is a wonderful balm against anxiety! Now before you read this list and start thinking of a million reasons why these remedies won’t help, or don’t apply to you (“I mean, how can having more sex help me feel less anxious about money??”), just take a breath and give them a try. When you are in a happier and more balanced state, you are much more able to calmly take on life’s challenges without letting the anxiety take over!
1. Laugh it up! Studies show that laughter, even just nervous giggling, shows your body and mind that a situation isn’t as bad, or as dangerous as it seems. It is an amazing way to diffuse anxiety, and to instantly raise serotonin levels. So make sure to laugh several times a day, every day. Be it the latest episode of The Mindy Project, your husband’s antics, or a hilarious LOLCats photo, make laughter a priority, and instantly reap the benefits!
2. Get outside! Fresh air, nature, walking, sunshine, or even just a change of scenery do wonders for anxiety. Make it a point to get out into nature whenever possible. Walk your dog a little longer. Take a walk around the block after lunch every day at work. All of these little steps will go a long way toward relieving your anxiety, especially if you employ this tactic when a wave of anxiety hits!
3. Have more orgasms! Need an excuse to get it on? Whether with a special someone or going it solo, the oxytocin and endorphins released after an orgasm are natural anxiety and stress busters. Sharing a steamy experience with someone important to you really enhances the anti-anxiety effects, so don’t take this recommendation as a carte blanche to go on a random sexscapade!
4. Dance like no one’s watching. Research has shown that music therapy significantly lowers stress and anxiety levels, almost immediately! It can lower blood pressure, raise serotonin, and is a wonderful distraction from whatever is causing you anxiety. So crank up your favorite tunes, and dance around your living room like you mean it! Bonus points for singing along!
5. Get a fuzzy friend! One of the most wonderful benefits of having a regular relationship with an animal is the amazing stress lowering and anti-anxiety effects it has. Research has shown that one-on-one time with an animal can lower blood pressure, boost mood, and relieve anxiety. If you have a pet already, make sure to schedule in some quality time together every day. Get out of the regular walk/feed routine for some daily cuddles, playtime, and hugs! Don’t have a pet? Consider fostering an animal!
6. Breathe. Yoga and meditation are documented through tons of research as being immensely powerful tools for managing and reducing anxiety and stress, in no small part because of the emphasis they place on breath. Drawing your attention to your breath for good chunk of time stabilizes all of your body’s panicky symptoms, and takes your mind off of what’s worrying you. Make either or both of these practices a regular part of your week for optimal anti-anxiety results. In a pinch, or when you feel a panic attack coming on, just hold your breath for as long as your comfortably can, or do a cycle of the 4-7-8 breath (detailed in Less Stress and More Energy Through Breath!)
7. Eat calming foods. There are a whole bunch of foods out there that have super potent anti-anxiety properties. Nutmeg has qualities very similar to Prozac — sprinkle it on everything from your chai latte to your oatmeal to your roast root veggies. Whole grains like brown rice contain tryptophan and magnesium, which are both amazing for relieving anxiety. Nuts like walnuts and almonds are also loaded with potent anti-anxiety, calming, and energizing nutrients. Salmon and other omega-3 rich fish are also amazing for regulating mood and relieving stress. AVOID caffeine, which can exacerbate anxiety and lower stress threshold.
8. Supplement smartly. There are so many natural supplements out there that can support a calm mind. Often times, nutritional deficiencies can be a cause of anxiety! Magnesium, B vitamins, and calcium are all vital for keeping anxiety at bay. If you don’t eat salmon several times a week, add a good omega-3 fish oil supplement to make sure you reap all the benefits. Vitamin D deficiency can cause symptoms of depression and anxiety, so make sure you’re getting at least 2000 IU per day. If anxiety tends to hit you at night, take a good natural sleep supplement with natural ingredients like GABA, hops, passionflower, valerian, and l-theanine (my faves are Herbal Slumber and Knock Out). Sipping Kava Stress Relief tea has very potent anti-anxiety effects as well!
9. Write about it. Journaling is a super powerful anti-anxiety tool. Whether it’s writing your way through some complex issues you’re dealing with, just jotting down some thoughts, or keeping a pad of paper by your bed to get anxiety-producing to-do’s or ideas out of your head, putting pen to paper does wonders. I’m a big fan of Morning Pages, the practice of freestyle writing first thing in the morning.