In a recent article (5 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Reduce Anxiety), we talked about five unique strategies you can use to decrease your anxiety, especially when the tried and true techniques of breathing, yoga, and meditation just aren’t working for you. These stress-releasing ‘mind hacks’ are very useful in calming that inner voice of worry and distress. The great news is that there are several companion hacks that help your body relax in unison with your mind. These are natural anxiety relief remedies that have stood the test of time both because of their quick ability to decrease anxiety, and because they’re very easy to make.
Anxiety Disorders are rooted in an overactive “fight-or-flight” response that is produced by your sympathetic nervous system. These five remedies work so well because they have the ability to reduce this accelerated response level and get you back to a more balanced inner state of calm. Mother Nature’s pharmacy is full of natural therapies in the plants and herbs that grow freely, and these gems are designed to set you up for success on your journey to healing from anxiety.
Lavender Essential Oil
“Breath in through your nose, then release slowly.” You may have heard this sage advice before, and the great news is that our nose can be our best friend when it comes to releasing our stress and apprehension. Aromatherapy is the science of smells, and one of the most useful smells in the world to reduce anxiety is lavender oil. The flower’s leaves contain molecules that help lower the heart rate and blood pressure. They also increase alpha brain waves to signal your body that it’s time to relax.
A fun fact about lavender essential oil is that it helped launched the modern aromatherapy movement when it was discovered that it had skin healing properties. It’s best to purchase your lavender oil in steam distilled form and free of chemicals (versus a hydrosol or an absolute) in order to get the most calming effects. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at this review. You can add 2 to 4 drops of the oil to about one cup of distilled water and can experiment with the number of drops to find an aroma that you love. Another great option is to add it to olive or almond oil to be used as a massage oil.
Ashwagandha Herb and Honey
This mighty herb was named ‘Herb of the Year’ by the health food industry, mainly because of its ability to bring your body back into balance. Ashwagandha is related to the tomato plant, which is where it gets its nickname ‘Winter Cherry’. It has been used in India for centuries to help treat anxiety. It’s a great representation of the phrase “good things come to those who wait” because it takes about five days to build up in your system before its’ healing properties start to take effect.
The reason why Ashwagandha works so well is that it has been shown to restore neurotransmitters, so that correct signals can be sent to your inner alarm system about how severe or mild an event is. It also increases something called GABA-activity, which helps calm your nervous system. It’s best to take about 500 to 2000 mg of the root powder each day, which is about 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon. Many people will mix their weekly supply in a jar with honey and add it to their tea, coffee, or milk. For a little bit of extra flavor, you can add some powdered ginger and turmeric powder into the honey for a calming chai blend.
The flavonols in dark chocolate make it great for helping alleviate anxiety, especially if you’re experiencing it in high levels. This is for two reasons: the taste helps elevate your mood, and the antioxidants help lower the stress-inducing hormone cortisol, which allows you to feel more in balance.
Your best bet would be to find a brand of dark chocolate that doesn’t contain white sugar, which can actually increase anxiety. Instead find a brand sweetened with stevia, honey, coconut sugar, agave syrup, or molasses. You can also make your own homemade recipe by heating one cup of coconut butter with about half a cup of a sweetener of your choice on a double boiler. Once it’s mixed, remove it from the heat and add in a cup of dark cocoa powder with a touch of vanilla, then let it cool. Finally, enjoy – doctor’s orders!
Gotu Kola Tea with Honey
While the name of this herb may evoke images of Godzilla’s scary older brother, it is actually one of the best remedies Mother Nature has gifted us to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. It’s been dubbed “an herb for the nerves” because it contains compounds that have sedative effects. The taste of Gotu Kola may seem familiar to you because it is in the same family as parsley.
Since higher dosages of 1000 mg per day seem to have the best success rates for lessening anxiety, we recommend taking Gota Kola in tea form. Just like with the herb powder Ashwagandha, Gotu Kola tea is tastiest when mixed with honey. Raw honey is an especially good option because it has also been shown to help with anxiety relief.
Turmeric Spiced Cinnamon Milk
You may have already heard of the amazing health benefits of turmeric. Its active ingredient, curcumin, helps process a certain type of omega-3 fatty acid that is responsible for keeping brain pathways functioning properly to lessen anxiety. If you don’t get a lot of fish in your diet, the comforting recipe below is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the proper nutrients to help you manage your symptoms:
- 2 cups of almond or coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder (optional)
- 1 pinch of black pepper
- Sweetener of choice (sweeten to taste)
You’ll definitely want to add the pinch of black pepper because this prevents the liver from getting rid of it. Black pepper actually boosts the uptake of turmeric by 2000%! If you want a little extra spice in your milk, add some ginger or experiment with some of your other favorite spices.
It’s good to keep in mind that anxiety is one of the most common reasons that people seek counseling, and we’re here to help. Consider anxiety counseling for additional guidance with understanding and reducing your anxiety. Contact us to learn more.