Feeling stressed out? Here are 5 different types of natural anxiety support to give you help in stressful times.
I’ve struggled a lot off and on with anxiety since having my first child almost 9 years ago. It’s been a struggle but one that I’m grateful for as it has taught me so much. Over the years I’ve learned a myriad of techniques to combat anxiety and help ease it.
First off I want to say that I don’t think that the goal should be complete elimination of anxiety. That used to be my goal until my wise husband brought it to my attention that anxiety is normal and natural. EVERYONE has it from time to time. The thing is, you need to learn how to keep it under control.
Is All Anxiety Bad?
You’re probably thinking, oh yeah right, that sounds so simple, you may be past the point of feeling any control at all. I’ve been there. I feel for you. I’ve experienced days and weeks and months of pure anxiety, sometimes so strong that I could barely leave my house, which for a mother with young children, isn’t so convenient.
There are so many reasons why you might be feeling anxious. It could be from various nutritional deficiencies or an extended amount of time dealing with a major stress in life. It could be your brain and they way you think and perceive certain situations. It could be stress about your marriage or even something as simple as travel anxiety before taking a vacation. In fact, it's often more than just 1 cause.
I’m a firm believer in a holistic model of healing, you need to work with the body AND the mind.
Today I offer you just a few suggestions for simple tweaks you can start doing today to help tame your anxiety. These are simple and may even sound too simple to work. You may roll your eyes and thing, yep heard that before, but…have you tried it daily for a few weeks in a row?
Often we try something once, don’t see much improvement and then toss it to the wayside. I urge you please, no matter how simple you think these tips seem, please pledge to yourself that you will try all of them daily for a month.
Nothing out there is a quick fix or a magic bullet. Even medication can take weeks to start kicking in, and then you often have to find the right one.
On that note, let's talk about some natural anxiety help for these situations.
5 Easy Ways to Provide Real Anxiety Support
1. Breathe Correctly
Take a moment right now to pay attention to how you are breathing.
Is it shallow?
What is expanding--is it your chest or your belly?
How often do you take a breath?
One thing that happens when you have anxiety is that you become very constricted. You tense up and this directly affects your breathing.
When you breathe with shallow chest breaths you only exacerbate your stress and anxiety.
Here's where deep belly breathing comes in.
How to Do Belly Breathing
- Breathe in slowly through your nose while expanding your tummy for 5 counts.
- Hold that breath for 5 counts and then slowly release that breath for 8 counts through your mouth.
- Repeat this as many times as you like as long as you don’t feel lightheaded. If you do it’s okay, this will pass with practice.
- Repeat this breath cycle 5-10 times upon waking in the morning and then in the evening before you go to bed.
- Repeat this anytime through the day when you feel stress. Driving in rush hour traffic with hungry kids in the back seat? Do some deep belly breathing!
One great idea is to get outdoors and maybe take a forest bath and do some deep belly breathing while you're at it.
Maybe you’ve heard this remedy before but taking magnesium can be the single best supplement to take for anxiety sufferers.
Magnesium is used up quickly when we are stressed. Magnesium has also been dubbed the “relaxation mineral” and rightly so. It really does work.
Virtually everyone who suffers from anxiety is lacking this mineral. It’s been said that 80% of our population is magnesium deficient. To help yourself relax begin taking this supplement. (source & source)
I highly recommend Natural Calm magnesium supplement. I like that you can mix it in drinks, as it is a powdered form.
It’s a bit fizzy and easy to take and easily assimilated by the body. I like the plain and flavored varieties.
I take 1 heaping teaspoon twice daily which works out to be about 400 mg a day. Dr. Mark Hyman (who is a favorite doctor of mine to follow on this subject) says that most can benefit from 400-1000 mg daily of magnesium.
If you’re more of a pill person then find a good quality supplement at your health food store that’s free of gluten, soy, and fillers. Find one that feels right for you and begin taking it DAILY!
Magnesium glycinate should not result in loose bowels so it can be a good one to try if that's a problem for you.
3. Cut Out Junk Foods
An article published this year in The Lancet, said this, “Evidence is steadily growing for the relation between dietary quality (and potential nutritional deficiencies) and mental health, and for the select use of nutrient-based supplements to address deficiencies, or as monotherapies or augmentation therapies.”
The article talks about how the current “drug model” for treating mental health has only achieved modest benefits and that nutrition is extremely important in any mental health care plan. This is monumental. It’s exciting!
It really can be so much more natural and easier than we think.
Nutrition, FOOD, is medicine. I urge you to begin cutting out junk foods. Start with sugar.
I know, it’s a hard one but low quality food really can exacerbate anxiety and even panic attacks. It sends our blood sugar all out of whack and is void of nutrients.
Eating real whole foods can be one of the best things you can do for your health. Switching to a whole foods diet can be daunting at first but these easy healthy meals like this Gluten-free Chili Mac and easy healthy snacks like this Caramelized Coconut Chips really help.
One GREAT recipe to consider is this copycat "Phat Fudge" Recipe. It's loaded with nutrition and also adaptogens for stress!
4. Think Positively - and Retrain Your Brain
I never actually realized just how many negative, gloomy, worrisome thoughts I had throughout the day until I actually started writing them down at the suggestion of a psychologist. At the time I thought I’m a positive person, I read books on being positive and all that good stuff and I felt I had that all figured out.
Well I was totally wrong!
I filled PAGES the FIRST DAY with negative thoughts, fears and worries. I began to realize, no wonder I feel so crappy with all of this stuff swirling around in my head! Did you know that you think approximately 60,000 thoughts every day?
And about 95% of them are the same thoughts you thought the day before and the day before that? It is IMPERATIVE to take notice of what you are thinking and begin to catch it so you can stop it.
Keep a Thought Journal
Write down the yucky stuff you’re thinking but once you write it down, flip it and write the positive version.
For example, if you write down, “I’m so tired I’m not going to make it through this day,” then write something like, “I have enough strength to do all I need to do today.” You might not feel like it’s true but write it anyways!
Fake it (if you have to) until you become it! Your thoughts can create stress in your body, they sap energy, put you in a bad mood and keep you on this hamster wheel of stress and anxiety.
Get off the wheel and to do that you need to cut yourself off from negative thinking.
This brain work technique is super helpful for many who are dealing with anxiety.
5. Educate Yourself
Learn all you can about anxiety. Open up your mind to methods of healing (within reason, of course). I found so much comfort in reading books like, “The Ultramind Solution,” by Dr. Mark Hyman, “The Mood Cure,” by Julia Ross and “The Chemistry Of Calm,” Henry Emmons.
Read books about how the mind works, how to heal anxiety, how to think positively, and about nutrition.
When you start educating yourself you become powerful. You begin to take charge and take control of the problem instead of letting it rule you!
It’s incredibly empowering. Only you can get the perfect answers to your healing path.
As you read pay attention to what feels good. At first, everything might sound good and you’ll try a bunch of different things to help yourself.
As time goes you you’ll begin to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Keep learning and keep testing out new things. Keep at it. Don’t give up.
Remember your body was made to heal, your body wants to return to a state of peace and calm and equilibrium. Learn all you can.
More Anxiety Support
Speaking of learning, in recent research, supporting the Gut Brain Axis has been shown to help address mental / nervous issues. The post linked to above has some fascinating exercises that should support that connection.
The supplements mentioned at the end of the post are phenomenal for reducing stress and calming the whole brain / gut connection. (source)
I hope this short list inspired you. Please comment below and tell me what you’ve tried, what you’d like to learn and what your goals are for taming your anxiety. Together we can heal!
Do you suffer from anxiety?
What has helped you?
Hannah Hepworth is a wife and mother dedicated to teaching others how to eat whole foods, cut out sugar, make delicious fermented foods from home and most importantly help women manage their anxiety naturally.