Chronic anxiety can be a terrible affliction. While it sounds trivial compared to a terminal illness like cancer, anxiety can create a tremendous amount of suffering and damage to your health. Anxiety increases circulating levels of adrenaline and cortisol, a stress hormone that can actually shrink our brains (1) if we are exposed to too much of it. Many modern people feel lonely, our diets are more processed and less natural, and we are subject to constant stressors like technology, traffic and 24-hour-a-day news. Finally, our egos and political divisions are escalating while traditional norms & institutions are crumbling – causing our anxiety levels shoot through the roof. It’s urgent that we have tools and strategies to lower our anxiety without having to turn to toxic & habit-forming prescription or recreational drugs.
Here are 4 powerful natural solutions for anxiety to consider trying:
Lower Your Inflammation Levels
“When I hear that someone is suffering from anxiety or OCD, one of the first thing I think of is chronic inflammation,” says Dr. Bomi Joseph, a consultant to the Peak Health Center in California. “Many of our neurotransmitters are made in the gut, and if the gut is inflamed it can wreak havoc on someone’s mood.” The best ways for most people to lower inflammation is to eat a natural, whole foods diet that avoids wheat and sugar – two common ‘culprit’ foods that can escalate inflammation. You can also drink green tea (2), take anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric or andrographis, and get plenty of leafy green and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Getting a good night’s sleep (3), a moderate amount of natural sunshine on your skin and sufficient physical activity daily helps a lot, too.
Embrace your Fears and Fully Feel Your Feelings
Anxiety exists for a good reason: it is a designed as an early warning system to make you aware of potential threats and inspire you to make plans or take actions to keep yourself safe (4). But anxiety is such an unpleasant feeling it can be incredibly tempting to try and “block it out” or “push it away” so that you don’t have to experience it. There is something very sneaky and counter-intuitive about anxiety in that the more you try to suppress it, the louder and more persistently it will keep pestering you. Say you are wracked with anxiety about an upcoming public speech and as you try to take your mind off it, the voices of fear or caution keep getting louder in your head. A different way to handle it would be to sit down in a quiet room and deeply feel the anxiety and entertain all the possible negative outcomes, boldly and fearlessly, for 15 minutes. Then try to let it go and move on with your daily activities. This can open up a kind of psychological ‘pressure release value’ and cause your anxiety to quiet down considerably. The excellent book the “Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks” by Barry McDonagh gives a detailed explanation of how to overcome anxiety by fully embracing it.
Cultivate Stronger Systems of Social Support
In his new book “Unfettered,” Dr. Bomi Joseph describes the value of social connections and the importance of having deep, closer relationships. The problem with modern society is that people have partially replaced old-fashioned ways of connecting, such as families, neighbors and community groups, with social media and online activities that take up an ever-increasing number of hours per day. “The more time you spend on social media the less there is for other activities. Human beings are herd animals: we evolved over millions of years to spend a lot of time together and live in small, tribal communities, ” says Dr. Joseph. To fight back against the ‘social atrophy’ caused by people spending more time online, you have to take an active approach. Join clubs and groups, invest in new friendships, and rather than just sitting back and waiting to be invited somewhere…actively reach out and invite others to do things. It’s not easy to connect with others as it takes effort and self-annulment, but by being flexible and giving, you will reap the rich rewards of human connection. The more positively integrated you feel with others, the less isolated and anxious you may feel.
Take Natural Calming Supplements
There has never been more effective supplements available for anxiety than now. L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and some people find it greatly helps soothe their anxiety. CBD, one of hottest selling supplement in history, is taken by many people for an increased sense of calm and wellbeing. “Clinical trials have shown that CBD is effective at reducing anxiety caused by public speaking,” says Dr. Bomi Joseph. While most sources of CBD come from hemp or cannabis, hops CBD is also available. A mushroom called lion’s mane contains compounds that may help regenerated brain cells damaged by chronic stress. A human study in Japan suggests taking lion’s mane for 4 weeks could help reduce depression and anxiety (5) as well as improve concentration. In animals studies, a favorite herb from Indian Ayurvedic medicine called ashwagandha has been shown to be as effective as the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam (6). A 2014 review of human trials suggests that ashwagandha may have calming properties in humans as well.
Take A Multi-Pronged Approach to Overcome Chronic Anxiety
Anxiety is a tenacious & complex issue that just one single intervention, such as medication or therapy, may not be able to overcome. By taking a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach of lowering inflammation, embracing your fears, investing in more social connection and taking natural supplements, you increase your chances of living a calm and satisfying life.
(1) Stress and Brain Atrophy
(2) Anti-inflammatory Action of Green Tea
(5) Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake
(6) Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study
Edited by Andrew Ellis