Everybody gets nervous occasionally. It’s natural to feel anxious before a big exam or transition in your life. For someone with an anxiety condition though, anxiety is a chronic state of being overly concerned about things. A person’s social life, academic performance, and professional prospects may all suffer if they suffer from severe or persistent anxiety. The most frequent anxiety disorders include generalised anxiety disorder, social phobia, and panic disorder.
Over 2 in 5 Australians (that’s 43.7% or 8.6 million) aged 16-85 are estimated to have experienced a mental disorder at some time in their life. 1 in 5 (21.4% or 4.2 million) will have experienced a mental disorder in the last 12 months. Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health disorder affecting 1 in 6 Australians (16.8% or 3.3 million) so as you can see, it’s a huge problem in Australia. Let’s look to see what are some natural ways and approaches that can be taken to provide relief and support for anxiety.
When you move your body, the stress hormone cortisol is naturally lowered. The feel good hormones dopamine and serotonin are also released. It can also divert your thoughts and busy brain!
The influence of exercise on nervousness was analysed in a 2013 study. Eight randomised controlled trials compared the activity to more conventional therapies for anxiety. Compared to more traditional treatments for anxiety, including medication or psychotherapy, exercise alone was less beneficial. But, combining both therapies with physical activity produced better results than each alone.
Make sure that you move your body at least 30 minutes every day and ensure that it is fun movement! Don’t go to the gym or go running if you hate it.
If you suffer from anxiety, you may find that yoga is the best kind of exercise for you. The effects of yoga on the neurological system and mental state were studied in a review published in 2015. Across the 25 trials included in the meta-analysis, yoga was found to reduce heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol. When threatened, the hormone cortisol affects the body’s “fight or flight” reaction. Anxiety can be made worse by having too much cortisol in the system.
Several studies have shown that yoga can help alleviate emotional distress, including feelings of sadness and nervousness. Cytokines, a class of chemicals, are also decreased. When under pressure, the immune system releases chemicals called cytokines. Chronically elevated cytokine levels are associated with inflammation and other adverse health outcomes.
Since ancient times, people have turned to aromatherapy for a holistic approach to health. This method employs 100% natural plant components and essential oils to improve mental, physical, and spiritual health. Both mental and bodily well-being will benefit from its implementation. Natural plant extract essential oils can be used in a diffuser, dabbed onto a pillow before bedtime or a tissue/inhaler that can be used during the day. I absolutely love doTERRA essential oils and some of my favourite calming oils are lavender peace, vetiver, adaptiv and copaiba. If you’d like more information about these oils, send me a message.
Science has shown time and time again that getting enough shut-eye is crucial to maintaining a healthy mind. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises adults to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, a 2012 poll indicated that almost a third of adults receive less than 6 hours of sleep per night. Good sleep depends on good breathing-if you’d like to learn more about how to breathe better (and therefore sleep better) reach out to find out more about my buteyko breathing courses and training. How you breathe during the day affects how you breathe at night and with buteyko breathing it’s easy to change this.
Healthy eating habits
Low blood sugar, thirst, or chemicals in packaged foods such as artificial flavourings, artificial colouring, and preservatives can affect some people’s emotions. A high-sugar diet may also affect behaviour. You may want to examine your diet if you notice that your anxiety spikes after eating. Maintain a healthy water intake (filtered and ionised of course!) and ensure you are eating locally, in season and organic/spray free where possible.
Control your caffeine consumption
I’m not against caffeine (there are many health benefits to coffee!) however it is not helpful if you suffer from chronic anxiety. Caffeine use may result in agitation and restlessness; these feelings are counterproductive if you’re already feeling stressed.
According to research, caffeine may contribute to or exacerbate pre-existing anxiety problems. Also, those who already suffer from panic attacks may experience more frequent episodes. Caffeine withdrawal can be beneficial for some persons with anxiety.
Caffeine, like alcohol, can affect brain chemistry, which may explain why some people associate it with feelings of anxiety. A 2008 study, for instance, showed that caffeine boosts alertness by inhibiting the brain chemical adenosine, which is responsible for drowsiness and stimulating the production of adrenalin. That being said, most healthy adults can use caffeine without risk in modest amounts.
Listen to music
It has been theorised that listening to music can stimulate the brain’s reward circuits, heightening positive emotions and decreasing negative ones like worry and anxiety. The positive effects of music on one’s emotional and physical health were examined in a review published in 2013. Listening to music has been linked by a few modest studies to improved mental health and a stronger immune system.
According to a later study, one’s taste in music is the single most influential variable in alleviating stress. This shows that a person’s preferred musical genre or a particular song from that genre can provide temporary relief from anxiety. So find those tunes, make a playlist and dance away-that way you get to move your body too!
Abstain from alcohol
At first, the calming effects of alcohol may help you relax. Anxiety disorders and alcohol consumption disorder (AUD) are often co-occurring, although studies reveal a relationship between the two.
Reducing alcohol consumption was found to reduce anxiety and depression in a 2017 meta-analysis of 63 trials. Intense alcohol use can disrupt the equilibrium of neurotransmitters, which is sometimes crucial for a healthy state of mind. Anxiety symptoms may develop as a result of the disruption in the system.
Early sobriety is associated with a possible rise in anxiety. But this is temporary, and the condition can ultimately improve. Sleep homeostasis is another physiological process that alcohol has been proven to impair-and remember we want to sleep well to ease our anxiety.
Some people may put off doing what needs to be done to alleviate their symptoms of worry. Procrastination usually leads to a mad dash to finish work before the due date.
Worry and tension are increased as a result of this. Studies have shown that this particular stress can lead to various health issues. Talk treatments that help people deal with stress and improve their emotional regulation may be helpful for those who tend to put things off. If you would like help setting goals and breaking things down into smaller, achievable steps-let’s chat.
Havening Techniques® is a psycho-sensory technique using touch, distractions and eye movements and due to the delta waves that will be produced in the brain, you can go from the fight-flight (sympathetic nervous system) to the rest-digest (parasympathetic nervous system). Havening can also change the way a painful and traumatic memory is stored.
The touch stimulates the skin’s receptors and increases neurochemicals in the brain. During this process the memory is delinked from the fight-flight-freeze response meaning you can look back on the memory and it doesn’t have the same emotional charge to it. All this can happen even within an hour’s session and the results can be long lasting-if you’d like to learn more, book in for a session.
Anxiety is a common human experience. But, there are various natural methods available to assist people in relaxing and lessen their stress. If stress is severe and impacting your life, please reach out to a practitioner who can support you.