Do you have feelings of panic, unease, or fear? Problems falling asleep, or wake up constantly? Suffer from shortness of breath, sweaty or cold hands and feet, heart palpitations, or a dry mouth? If the answer to most of these questions is yes, you could very well suffer from anxiety.
Anxiety is a recognized medical condition. Medical professionals often prescribe medications in order to help patients deal with anxiety. Other treatments that can help calm anxiety symptoms include, not only herbal supplements, but certain relaxation techniques. You can practice relaxation techniques on your own and in the comfort of your own home, whenever you need.
Relaxation Techniques for Anxiety
There are several types of treatment for anxiety. One in particular, relaxation techniques, are a great option to try to help control your anxiety. Studies have shown that relaxation techniques for anxiety can also be beneficial for those going through grief or depression.
Here are seven simple ways to relieve anxiety and stress, naturally.
Mindfulness meditation is best described as a combination of meditation and breathing exercises. It is usually practiced either laying down or in a comfortable seated position. The aim is to concentrate on your breathing while slowly relaxing the different muscle groups. Start with the feet and progressively work your way up your body, ending with your head.
There are lots of ways to practice mindfulness meditation, so feel free to find a strategy that works for you!
- Here’s is one example of how to practice mindfulness meditation, step-by-step:
- Sit or lay down in a relaxed position
- Focus on taking in, holding, and expelling deep breaths
- Focus on the muscles in your feet, and picture them relaxing
- Move up your legs to your knees, then thighs
- Move up further, to your torso, chest, and shoulders
- Do the same with your fingers and hands, moving up your arms
- Next concentrate on your neck, facial muscles, and scalp
- Then focus on your mouth, tongue, and eyes
- Slowly open your eyes after a few last, deep breaths
Most of us are aware that exercise is good for us. It is a means of controlling weight, building muscle, and it helps prevent certain health problems. However, research also shows that exercise can help with certain mood disorders, including anxiety.
Does this mean that you have to train for a marathon in order to control your anxiety? Definitely not! Just thirty minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise, a few times a week, can be enough to make a difference.
Why is exercise such an effective relaxation technique for anxiety? Exercise causes the release of dopamine in the brain. This “feel good” hormone that counteracts the effects of cortisol and lessens your anxiety.
Any sort of rhythmic exercise is great! Walking, running, dancing, or yoga are great forms of free and fun exercise.
Aromatherapy has been proven to have noticeable positive effects on anxiety. For example, in one study, patients recuperating in an intensive care unit were treated with a blend of aromatherapy essential oils: lavender, roman chamomile, and neroli. They subsequently showed a vast improvement in reduction of their stress levels, better sleep quality, and faster healing.
There are a wide range of essential oils like these that can have positive effects on both the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety.
Although we do it all day long without even thinking, many of us actually breathe incorrectly! This refers to shallow breathing that limits the movement of your diaphragm, instead of deeper breathing that fills the lungs. When you breathe slowly and deeply, all parts of your lungs fill with air. This can lower your blood pressure and decrease anxiety.
Why is this? A person who tends to breathe shallowly never has the bottom portion of their lungs filled with oxygenated air. The result is a faster heart rate, erratic blood pressure, and feelings of anxiety.
People who practice deep breathing exercises find that their blood pressure becomes more stable, their heart rate goes down, and many of the symptoms of anxiety start to fade. This relaxation technique is especially helpful because it can be used anytime, anywhere — without anyone even noticing you’re doing anything different!
Certain types of music seem to get the blood flowing and your feet tapping. Other kinds of music, on the other hand, evoke feelings of nostalgia, heartache, joy, or even sadness. Most of us shrug this off without even considering the implications.
Research, however, finds that certain music has a definite calming effect on those with stress. This goes for both physical and mental stress. Music is also a very versatile relaxation technique for anxiety, as you can listen to it in a variety of situations, whether over speakers or headphones — while you’re out walking, doing chores in the house, in bed, in the car, or even at work.
Try to find a type of music that you enjoy listening to. Music that doesn’t evoke any negative or intense emotions. That has a tempo that feels like it matches your mood. You could even create different playlists for your different moods and feelings.
There is a strong link between your social activity and stress. People who regularly interact with others — whether it is face-to-face in a social setting or on the telephone — tend to have fewer incidents of anxiety attacks than those who tend to be more reclusive.
Of course, it’s also important to take time for yourself if you feel that you need to have your own alone time. However, it’s not good to be totally closed off by yourself all the time. Being around trusted friends and family can help you feel supported and part of a community. It will remind you that you’re not alone.
If All Else Fails…
Conventional pharmaceuticals for anxiety work well for some people, though not for everyone. Some are affected by side effects or don’t see as many benefits as they hoped. One alternative therapy to traditional medicine is supplements.
Usually composed of a combination of herbs, vitamins, and other natural compounds, these supplements can have a positive impact on anxiety sufferers by filling dietary and chemical deficiencies in the body and brain. Consult your doctor or a holistic health practitioner to find out if there is a supplement(s) that could be a good option for you.
What Happens During an Anxiety Attack?
Besides the noticeable physical symptoms of trembling, fear, and shortness of breath, anxiety also affects your body on a subconscious level. These effects include:
- increase in blood pressure,
- muscles tension,
- increase in heart rate, and
- decrease in blood flow to the brain.
In other words, it affects your parasympathetic nervous system, causing the amygdala, the brain’s fear center, to go into overdrive. Your brain believes that you are under threat, and begins to ready your body for ‘fight or flight.’ In this state, your body releases cortisol, the “stress hormone,” into your bloodstream.
If you were being attacked by a tiger, this would be a life-saver — it would leave you highly alert and ready for action. However, in the case of modern-day anxiety, this self-produced chemical release can simply leave you feeling overly agitated and stressed out.
The most frustrating problem is that many people suffering from anxiety often cannot pinpoint what exactly triggers such intense reactions. It can be caused by a myriad of interrelated reasons, ranging from:
- your diet,
- stress in your job,
- or difficulty coping with tough situations in your life.
Of course, this is may be different for everyone.
Natural Treatment for Anxiety
Anxiety has become a common condition in today’s society — to the point that some people live with it everyday and consider it normal. But we can help ourselves by living consciously and naturally.
In addition to using herbal supplements, like Tranquilene, being proactive in incorporating relaxation techniques into our daily routines is not only good for controlling anxiety symptoms, but everyday life!
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by trying to deal with all the stress in your life? What measures do you take to cope?
Please feel free to share your experience(s) in the comments below and contribute to the conversation on stress and anxiety.