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7 Natural Treatments for Chronic Anxiety

by Jaime A. Heidel
See all TBYIL articles by Jaime A. Heidel

(The Best Years in Life) It is estimated that 18 percent of the American population has some type of anxiety disorder. As a matter of fact, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. If you're among those affected, you may feel as though your life is gradually spinning out of control.

Here are 7 ways to treat anxiety naturally:

1.    Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the act of allowing yourself to be in the present moment. Feelings of anxiety are worsened when thoughts of the past or fears for the future run through your head all the time. Being mindful means focusing on the here and now. 

Try this:

Pay attention to where you are right now. Feel the chair you're sitting in, hear the sounds around you, look up and note your surroundings, taking in everything from color to texture to size.

If you're around people, take a moment to observe them. Social anxiety can be reduced by seeing a mother tenderly cuddling her child or a couple of friends sharing a laugh.

When you do this, people become individuals you can relate to, instead of a faceless crowd you can't wait to get away from.

You can also practice mindfulness meditation. Sit or lay in a quiet room and simply focus on your breath for 20 minutes. Thoughts will always come up, that's normal. When they do, simply return your attention back to the breath.

2.    Journaling

Sometimes we're anxious but have no idea why. As the thoughts swirl in our minds, our bodies tend to react to them before we've even completely figured out what's worrying us. 

Pick up a notebook or journal and jot down your feelings each day. What worries you the most? Did someone or something just trigger a bad memory? Writing about your daily experiences and reactions to anxiety-producing stimuli can help you get a clearer picture of what's going on in your mind so you won't feel so overwhelmed.

3.    Yoga

Yoga helps treat chronic anxiety by helping you become more connected with your body. Also, breathing slowly and deeply while stretching out tense muscles can make you feel more in control.

Here are some specific poses geared towards relieving anxiety:

·         Legs Up the Wall Pose  - This pose is just what it sounds like. You lay down in front of a wall, put your legs up, and scoot your bottom up until it touches the wall.

·         Child's Pose - In this pose, you'll start off kneeling on a rug or yoga mat. Bring your head forward to touch the ground, keeping your arms relaxed behind you.

·         Tree Pose - Great for concentration and balance, tree pose involves standing on one foot, lifting the other to touch the inner thigh (or knee), and either placing your hands straight up in the air or in prayer position.

·         Standing Forward Bend - A standing forward bend is just that. Start out in an upright position, take a deep breath, lift your hands into the air and slowly bend forward, allowing your entire body to relax into the pose.

·         Corpse Pose - It's not as morbid as it sounds. Corpse pose simply means laying on your back on a yoga mat, arms and legs limp, and allowing your body to completely relax into the surface that's supporting you.

4.    Hiking

Going for a hike gets you back in touch with nature. You're away from the distractions of modern life and must stay focused on the trail with each step. This helps you to remain in the present moment while giving your body the workout it needs to release built-up tension. A brisk, 30-minute walk will have similar effects.

 

5.    Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency is very common, but it's often overlooked as a cause of anxiety. This mineral is essential to proper nervous system function, sleep, and mood management.

Foods rich in magnesium include:

  • Dark leafy greens

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Mackerel

  • Beans and lentils

  • Brown rice

You may also want to consider adding a high-quality chelated magnesium supplement to your diet. If a deficiency is causing your anxiety, you should notice a positive difference within a week or two. Taking magnesium before bed is best.

6.    L-Theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid found in green and black tea leaves. According to a study published in Biological Psychology, this amino acid appears to cause "an attenuation of sympathetic nervous activation", which is responsible for slowing your heart rate and decreasing feelings of stress.

While drinking tea is certainly healthy for you, you'd have to drink 5-20 cups of green or black tea a day to get the recommended dosage for anxiety, which is 200 milligrams. Therefore, it is best to take L-theanine in supplement form.

7.    Chamomile

Chamomile contains a compound called, Matricaria recutita, which has been shown to bind to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology showed that participants with generalized anxiety disorder, who were given chamomile extract instead of placebo, experienced a notable decrease in anxiety. Chamomile can be taken in tea, tincture, or supplement form.

When you treat anxiety naturally, you're giving your mind and body a chance to return to a state of balance on its own. Note: If you are currently taking a prescription anti-anxiety drug, talk with your doctor before reducing or stopping it, as doing so may cause serious withdrawal symptoms.

See also:

7 Overlooked Causes of Chronic Anxiety

Understanding Anxiety and Panic Disorders

Study finds that anxiety may originate in your gut, not in your head

Taking Time to Smell the Roses Really CAN Ease Stress

How to Make Your Home a Haven

References:

http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-magnesium.php
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20669377,00.html
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051106001451

About the author:

Jaime is a professional freelance writer with a passion for natural health and wellness. Her website, I Told You I Was Sick, was created to help those living with chronic pain and illness find natural ways to heal.

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