28 Jan Seven tips for natural anxiety relief
Before you rush to the GP to discuss medication to help with low mood, it’s worth looking at things you can do that may offer natural anxiety relief without pharmaceutical drugs.
It’s 4am and your mind is whirring.
You’re worrying about all sorts of things – even things that really don’t need worrying about!
Your heart is beating and you feel slightly sick.
Anxiety and low mood can be very debilitating. At certain times in our lives, feelings of upset, mild depression and even panic can interfere with our normal lives and relationships with family and friends.
If this sounds familiar and you feel you are struggling to get through the day, it’s well worth making an appointment with your doctor to find out what help is available.
At other times, you may feel that your anxiety is just a temporary issue – maybe due to a particularly stressful situation or event that you’re dealing with in your life. In this case, taking a natural approach to anxiety relief could be the first step to help set you on your way to feeling like your old self again.
The team here at HRI Herbal Medicine are always in favour of using nature to help with illnesses or health problems wherever possible, so I’ve pulled together some great tips from friends and colleagues which could help you deal with anxiety naturally.
1 Eat better to ease anxiety
When we’re fed up or unhappy, many of us tend to turn to comfort food. We think that eating chocolate or snacking on crisps will make us feel better.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth!
If you’re struggling with low mood or anxiety, a healthy, balanced diet is one of the fastest ways to help restore your equilibrium.
There is a direct link between your gut and your brain, so if you eat and drink a lot of processed, sugary foods, you’ll upset the balance of your digestive system and this will impact the emotional and cognitive functions of your brain.
And when your brain isn’t working well, your mind won’t be on top form either.
2 Get outside to boost your mood
If you suffer from anxiety, your energy tends to be low, so staying in bed or loafing on the sofa can feel far more appealing than heading into the great outdoors.
It takes some effort to get out – especially if the weather isn’t hugely appealing! – but it is so worthwhile.
According to the mental health charity MIND, “spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. For example, doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals can have lots of positive effects.”
One study by Cornell University showed that as little as ten minutes a day was enough to make college students feel happier and reduce the effects of physical and mental stress.
You can find out more about the science behind why being outdoors helps with wellbeing in our article on how ecotherapy can help with natural anxiety relief.
3 Find enjoyable exercise
If you’re not a naturally sporty person, the idea of running or cycling for miles is probably hugely unappealing. But you don’t have to be Mo Farah to enjoy building exercise into your day!
Stretching exercises such as Pilates or Yoga can help enormously with relieving anxiety as they slow the rate at which you breathe, which in turn brings down your heart rate and reduces the speed at which the stress hormone Cortisol is pumped around your body.
Taking a brisk, outdoor walk whilst nattering with a friend doesn’t even feel like exercise, but can still work well as a natural way to give your equilibrium a boost.
4 Set plans and goals that inspire you
When we feel anxious, we often feel rather purposeless. We’ve all heard people who are really fed up say, “What’s the point” in response to suggestions from well-meaning – but sometimes misguided – friends and family.
Making a list of small and large goals and setting out plans of how you plan to achieve them can help refocus your mind and put anxiety back in its box.
It’s important not to be over-ambitious about what you want to achieve as this will just give you something else to feel anxious about. But setting an achievable goal, such as visiting a friend and writing down and taking the steps you need to take to make this happen can have a very positive effect on your state of mind.
5 Strategise your sleep
When you’re feeling anxious, sleep doesn’t always come easily. And the more tired you are, the more likely you are to feel stressed and overwhelmed.
To give yourself the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep, take some time to plan good ‘sleep hygiene’. Start by establishing a regular bedtime so your mind gets used to switching off and getting ready for sleep. Think about your environment: is there anything you can do to make sure your bedroom is comfortable, relaxing and conducive to sleep.
Blue light from phones or tablets can have a negative effect on our Circadian rhythm, making good, restorative sleep harder to come by. Try to keep gadgets out of the bedroom and set yourself a curfew when you stop looking at screens so that when you turn out the bedside lamp, you have the best chance of gently and naturally nodding off.
6 Share your problem with a friend
The old adage that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is based on fact.
Research by UCLA in the US shows that putting your feelings into words can help reduce anxiety. Talking problems out helps to reduce that ‘fight or flight’ response that comes hand in hand with anxiety by reducing the response by the amygdala – the part of the brain that effectively assesses whether something is a threat.
If you feel awkward about talking to friends about feeling anxious, you might benefit from a support group, such as those offered by Anxiety UK.
These online local groups are designed to be somewhere where you can share experiences of anxiety and coping strategies with others in a supportive environment. Groups are facilitated online by experienced Anxiety UK group facilitators.
7 Try a herbal remedy for anxiety
Occasional mild anxiety is a natural part of life, but if you need to get through a period of low mood or want some extra help to get you through a stressful situation in your life, a herbal remedy for anxiety can make all the difference.
The most popular herbal remedy for anxiety is St John’s Wort which is many people’s first choice to help relieve the symptoms of slightly low mood and mild anxiety.
HRI Good Mood is a THR licensed (License Number THR 02231/0002) and provides the strongest dose of St John’s Wort available on the UK market for natural anxiety relief.