Anxiety is an extremely common problem today, affecting 40 million adults in the United States. While occasional anxiety is not unusual, chronic anxiety can interfere with almost every aspect of a person’s life. When anxiety starts to affect daily activities such as job performance, schoolwork, relationships and self-worth, it’s clear that something needs to be done in order to improve quality of life. While some resort to anti-anxiety medications, there are several natural ways to consciously combat anxiety when you feel it rising in order to stop attacks.
1. Meditate, Breathe
Regular meditation can help combat anxiety attacks for many. Learning to take deep breaths and block out the outside world can help reduce stress and dispel negative energy. Meditation in the morning may help start the day out on the right foot, while meditation before bed can provide relaxation.
2. Combat Negative Thoughts
If you allow negative and anxious thoughts to gather in your mind, anxiety will slowly gather, and you’ll end up with an attack. Learning to intercept and combat negative thoughts can keep them from filling your mind. As soon as you recognize an intrusive thought, try to visualize your happy place. Replace the negative thought with something positive.
It’s no secret that staying active benefits the body and the mind. When you exercise, endorphins and serotonin are both released in the body. These two enzymes are associated with feelings of pleasure and well-being. Exercising is also a good way to focus and relieve stress.
4. Avoid Caffeine
If you suffer from chronic anxiety, it may be time to give up your morning cup of Joe. Caffeine has been shown to increase anxiety levels and provoke panic attacks in people with panic disorder. It’s a stimulant that can cause nervousness, irregular heartbeat and agitation — things that don’t mix well in a person who suffers from anxiety.
5. Try Herbal Remedies
Many herbal remedies are believed to help reduce anxiety and lessen irritability. Making tea from valerian root, lavender or chamomile can help calm nerves and even provide a slight sedative effect to help you fall asleep more easily.
6. Get Plenty of Vitamin B
Niacin (or Vitamin B3) has the ability to relax the muscle tissue composing arteries, and increase their diameter — a process known as vasodilation. Niacin acts as an antidote to adrenaline, which is often overproduced in those suffering from anxiety. Some researchers believe that niacin may also help to reduce anxiety and depression, while promoting better sleep patterns.
7. Use Essential Oils
Lavender is known for its soothing properties. In a 2007 study, Lavender aromatherapy reduced serum cortisol, a key player in the body’s response to stress. Sage oil is known for its ability to lift a person’s mood, while bergamot essential oil has a history of aiding in lowering stress. A 2011 study that treated highly stressed teachers with 10 minutes of bergamot essential oil aromatherapy found a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate, while also balancing nervous activity.