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Last Updated on August 15, 2022
Over 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety, and in many cases, this goes untreated. Anxiety can be debilitating and make normal activities feel daunting. It can affect relationships, work and many other aspects of life. If you’re subject to panic attacks, they can disrupt your whole life.
Anxiety is a treatable condition, and apart from therapy and taking prescription medication, there are several ways to reduce it naturally. If you suffer from anxiety, trying out some of the following natural ways to reduce it could help.
1. Use an emotional support animal (ESA)
If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, therapists advise that using an emotional support animal (ESA) can offer comfort and companionship. It isn’t technically a pet, so you can have it living with you even if having pets is against a landlord’s rules. All you need is a legitimate ESA letter from a licensed healthcare provider or mental health professional to confirm your diagnosis. You must suffer from a mental or emotional disability that affects how you cope with one or more major life activities.
Various animals can be ESAs, and you can even have a ferret as emotional support. Ferrets enjoy burrowing against their owners’ bodies, and the closeness can be calming and soothing if you suffer from anxiety. ESAs aren’t trained to perform specific tasks like service animals, but they can offer significant emotional benefits.
2. Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake
Caffeine is well known as a stimulant, and while it may help those who find it difficult to get going in the morning, the on-edge feeling that comes from drinking coffee can contribute to your anxiety. Physical symptoms you may experience include a racing heartbeat and shakiness, which can induce anxiety and result in panic attacks.
Rather switch to drinking a soothing tea blend, such as chamomile, which could help to calm you down. Lavender tea also helps to calm you down if you feel restless, agitated or anxious.
A drink or two after work in the evening can be relaxing, but too much alcohol can have the opposite effect and make you feel more anxious. No more than one drink a day for women and two for men is a common rule of thumb. Drinking more than this could cause more health problems and other work and relationship issues that exacerbate your anxiety rather than reducing it.
3. Get regular exercise
Exercise does far more than keep you in good shape physically. It also affects your state of mind and is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety. You don’t have to go to the gym every day or run a marathon to experience the positive benefits of exercise. Even a brisk walk or riding a bicycle can clear your head, get your heart rate up and release feel-good endorphins.
Research shows that 30 minutes of exercise, three to five days a week, can significantly reduce anxiety symptoms. It also shows that both resistance training and aerobic exercise can potentially reduce the symptoms of those suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder. One vigorous exercise session may be able to alleviate anxiety for a number of hours, but regular exercise can have a lasting impact on your overall sense of well-being.
4. Get enough magnesium
Studies have found that feelings of panic and fear can be significantly reduced with greater magnesium intake.
Many people don’t get enough magnesium in the food they eat, and this could be due to the fact that they eat more refined flours, which have a low mineral content. Many serotonin receptors are found in the gut lining (which is why you get butterflies in your stomach when you’re anxious). Upping your intake of foods like black beans, whole wheat, cashews, almonds, dark chocolate, and spinach could increase your magnesium levels and reduce anxiety.
You can take a magnesium supplement, but it’s important to speak to a medical health practitioner before taking any supplements. You need to make sure you take the right dose and that it doesn’t interfere with other medications you’re taking.
5. Spend time in nature
You will feel more relaxed and less anxious when you spend time outdoors in natural surroundings. Nature has healing power, and science can back this up. When you’re anxious, your heart rate, blood pressure and production of cortisol, the stress hormone, all go up. There’s scientific proof that spending time in nature reduces your blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol production.
In Japan, the practice of ‘forest bathing’ is one of the ways used to promote preventative health care. People experience nature through all five senses as they mindfully absorb the beauty, light, sounds and scents. Combining spending time in nature with mind-body practices such as meditation or yoga is even more beneficial.