Anxiety is typically a body’s response to stress in different situations and it is normal to happen occasionally, either before a big event, a job interview or when a person has to speak in front of many people. However, if one experiences anxiety constantly and the feeling seems overwhelming, with no apparent reason at all and it’s interfering with everyday life, it may be anxiety disorder.
The general term for anxiety disorder is referring to psychiatric disorders involving extreme fear or panic. Anxiety is known to be part of various disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Although anxiety feels different from person to person, the most common symptoms are insomnia, increased heart rate, rapid breathing and trouble concentrating.
While doctors have been treating anxiety for a long period of time and medical treatment helps with overcoming severe episodes of anxiety, there has been an increased interest in natural remedies. Natural remedies have been used either as a complementary way of treatment or as a sole treatment for mild episodes, as many of them include making changes in the daily activities to relieve stress.
There is no need to say that the benefits exercise has on your body are plentiful, from mood enhancing to improving the quality of sleep. For individuals with panic attacks and other anxiety-related conditions, exercise has been found to help with releasing tension as well as reducing fear and worry feelings.
Starting an exercising plan is typically recommended and encouraged by doctors, but patients with severe anxiety disorder can find the increased heart rate and shortness of breath to be triggers for an anxiety attack. Before beginning to plan an exercise routine, it is best to talk to your doctor and make sure it will not interfere with your condition. There are many cardio exercises that help reduce anxiety, including swimming, hiking, dancing, running or biking, as well as yoga and Pilates.
After stating an exercise plan, stick to it even after the initial boost of motivation flows away, but don’t overdo it. The purpose is to include exercise into your everyday life. Take it slow at the beginning and build up your routine over time. Although your motivation may fade after a while, it is important not to stop exercising, but come up with ways to alternate or change your routine. Adding a new exercise, changing your route if you are running or biking or joining an exercise group are great ways to cope with the lack of motivation you may experience.
Meditation is another long-known method to cope with anxiety and multiple studies have been conducted to determine what exactly is the effect meditation has. Researches have discovered that meditation has long-lasting changes in the activity of the brain, improving the ability to control emotions. It helps the individual acknowledge the triggers that cause anxiety attacks, liberate themselves from those thoughts and learn to differentiate between rational and irrational episodes.
The type of meditation typically used in treating anxiety disorders is mindfulness meditation. Individuals practice awareness, understand their thinking patterns, they are taught to identify the tension that builds up in the body and deal with intense emotions.
Although mindfulness meditation is typically practiced with an instructor, there are ways it can be done at home by dedicating it a few minutes each day in the beginning and gradually increasing the time period after a while.
A simple way to start getting familiar with meditation is to follow these few steps:
- Sit up in a chair or on the side of the bed, with your feet flat on the floor
- Pay attention to your breath. Don’t change the rhythm, just observe how your body reacts when you inhale and exhale
- Although you may feel your focus shifting, keep concentrating on your breathing
- Acknowledge the thoughts that pass through your brain, don’t judge them, let them pass and bring your focus back on your breathing
- Continue this for 7 to 10 minutes, then open your eyes and observe how you feel, without evaluating
The purpose is to acknowledge and accept everything that happens around you, form a place of observation, rather than reacting.
Another practice that increased in popularity in the last years is the use of Cannabidiol (CBD) in anxiety treatments. A study performed in 2011 on a group of individuals has shown the effects CBD has on people with anxiety disorder before performing a simulated public speech. The subjects were divided in three groups and an hour and a half before the speech one group received 600 milligrams of CBD, the other one received a placebo and the third group performed the test without CBD. The results showed that pre-treatment with CBD significantly reduced discomfort and anxiety in patients while delivering the speech. But how does CBD work?
CBD interferes with the neurotransmitters available in the cells of your body, called ECS (endocannabinoid system) that are responsible for our appetite, sleep, memory, mood and perception of pain, helping with stress recuperation.
While there are many products that are rich in CBD for sale, like edibles and vapes, the most popular use is CBD oil, because it contains no THC and has no odor.
Throughout time, there have been many herbal supplements believed to help with anxiety, the most popular being:
- Kava Kava: found most frequently in pill form, some of the benefits of this root are muscle relaxation and enhanced cognitive ability.
- Chamomile: mostly used in tea, it helps with insomnia and also has a good impact on digestion
- Lavender: is used in pills and oils and it is believed to help with sleep problems and stress relief
- Lemon Balm: found in capsule form and herbal tea mixtures, it is a known mood booster and stress reducer.
Whether you choose to alternate medical treatment and other remedies to treat anxiety, keep in mind that everybody is different and methods that work on other individuals may have little to no effect on you. Research thoroughly and choose the treatment that helps you best, be it medical, alternative or a combination of both.