May 15-21 is Mental Health awareness week and this year the theme is anxiety. Most of us have times when we suffer with bouts of anxiety, when our wellbeing isn't a priority and when life just feels busy and overwhelming. But there are some simple steps you can take to help rebalance your wellbeing naturally, and they don’t cost anything.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is our natural response when we feel under threat. We all experience anxiety differently, for some these feelings can be a general sense of unease, or feeling worried and/or tense. Some people may experience physical symptoms like:
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Problem concentrating, can’t focus
- Panic attacks
Whilst it is always advisable to consult your Doctor about any/all of symptoms of anxiety that you feel, the following natural tips and techniques could really help you take the first step to managing anxiety.
7 Natural (and free) ways to help Anxiety
1. Stay Active
Being outdoors and taking a daily walk in nature can do wonders to help alleviate anxious feelings. Exercise is a great way to occupy our minds and divert our attention away from feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
Exercise raises the heart rate which can help change the brain chemistry, allowing more room for the happy chemical, Serotonin. Pack your bag and get walking.
2. Cleanse your body
Stimulants like caffeine and alcohol can impact anxiety, try minimising your intake or even trial a complete break for a week. Chamomile tea has long been a home remedy for frayed nerves and there are many studies which show its efficacy at reducing the signs of anxiety as well as helping with sleep.
Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water is a great way to help stay healthy. Dehydration causes the brain functioning to slow; water is a nutrient your brain needs.
3. Make sleep your priority
Most adults don’t get the 8-9 hours sleep they need. Lack of sleep and broken sleep patterns will affect every part of your life. It’s easier said than done but avoiding TV/electronic devices at least an hour before bed can help. The body’s natural circadian rhythms are disturbed by the blue light that these devices emit. Keep your bedroom device free, dark and cool.
4. Try Aromatherapy
Cultures all over the world have used aromatherapy for thousands of years. Aromatherapy uses natural plant extracts and essential oils to help promote physical and mental wellbeing.
Inhaled via oil burners, diffusers or candles or added to hot baths, essential oils help us relax, unwind and can aid restful sleep. Ylang Ylang is an especially relaxing fragrance.
5. Meditation & Yoga
The word “meditation” means to become aware”. Making time to stop, slow your breathing and focus only on the present moment is an effective technique to help symptoms of anxiety. Meditation is a practise, over time you learn to become aware of your thoughts, without judgement. Learning breathing techniques can equip you to better cope with stressful thoughts and feeling when they do occur.
Yoga has been practised for over 5000 years. A low impact, more mindful exercise, Yoga has many health benefits. Yoga practise helps elevate brain chemicals associated with better mood, it keeps the body moving and helps lower cortisol (stress hormone) in the body.
6. Try Journaling
The simple act of writing down your thoughts and feelings is a helpful technique that anyone can do to help manage symptoms of anxiety. Day to day journaling can also help you identify any patterns in behaviour or your specific triggers and then how best to cope with them.
7. You are what you eat
Eating a diet free from processed foods, artificial flavours, colours, preservative and too much sugar can have a positive effect on your mood. Adding more seeds into your diet is known to promote good mental health. Chain seeds are high in omega-3, while pumpkin seeds contain high levels of zinc – both seeds help promote the functioning of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
For more information on dealing with anxiety visit MIND or talk to your GP