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8 Natural Ways to Manage Anxiety

In the United States, approximately 6.8 million adults—or 3.1% of the population—are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) each year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. GAD is one of several anxiety disorders, which involve excessive, uncontrollable worry about various aspects of daily life, including health, work, and social interactions. GAD often co-occurs with other mental health disorders, such as depression, making a diagnosis and treatment complex.


If you’re among the many dealing with anxiety disorders, finding natural ways to manage your anxiety symptoms can be incredibly beneficial. Whether or not you’re using medication and talk therapy to manage your symptoms, you can incorporate these natural remedies for anxiety into your daily routine, helping you find balance and peace.


How to Tell if You Have Anxiety Symptoms


Anxiety manifests in different ways for different people, and sometimes differently depending on external factors happening in your daily life, often making it hard to pinpoint. Physical symptoms like a racing heart, sweating, and shaking are common, but anxiety disorders can also present as irritability, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can interfere with daily activities and relationships, creating a cycle that’s tough to break.


Common anxiety symptoms include:

  • Racing heart

  • Sweating

  • Shaking or trembling

  • Irritability

  • Restlessness

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Excessive worrying

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Avoidance of anxiety-inducing situations


If you often feel overwhelmed by worry, experience trouble sleeping, or find yourself avoiding situations that make you anxious, it might be time to evaluate your mental health. Consulting with a healthcare professional or mental health professional can provide clarity and guide you toward effective treatment options.


What Are Some Ways to Treat Anxiety Naturally?


two people using running as a natural way to manage anxiety

There are many ways to manage anxiety symptoms. Medication and psychotherapy are two common approaches that can be very effective, but adding complementary lifestyle changes and natural approaches can make medication and talk therapy even more effective for managing depression and anxiety disorders.


From regular exercise to mindfulness practices, natural remedies focus on improving overall well-being and can significantly reduce elevated anxiety symptoms. Here are 8 of the most effective natural remedies you can start incorporating today.


1. Regular Exercise


Exercise is one of the most effective natural remedies to relieve anxiety symptoms. It not only improves physical health but also has profound effects on mental well-being. Engaging in regular physical activity helps release endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, and reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Regular exercise can also provide a structured routine, a sense of accomplishment, and a healthy outlet for stress and tension.


Running and Walking


Running and walking, in particular, can significantly reduce anxiety levels. These activities release endorphins, often referred to as "feel-good" hormones, which help improve mood and reduce stress. A regular routine of running or brisk walking can provide a sense of accomplishment and structure to your day, both of which are beneficial for mental health.

For those new to running, starting with short, manageable distances and gradually increasing them can prevent burnout and injury. Walking, especially in natural settings, offers a more gentle way to reap the benefits of exercise. The rhythmic nature of walking can be meditative, allowing your mind to relax and focus on the present moment.


Yoga


Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to promote relaxation and reduce stress. The practice encourages mindfulness and body awareness, helping to lower anxiety levels. Various styles of yoga cater to different needs, from the vigorous flows of Vinyasa to the calming sequences of Hatha.


Team Sports


Participating in team sports is a great way to manage anxiety—it combines physical activity with social interaction. Being part of a team offers camaraderie and support from teammates, which can help you feel like you belong and reduce feelings of isolation. Sports like soccer, basketball, or volleyball promote teamwork and communication, creating connections that benefit your mental health.


If club sports aren't your thing, consider joining a local running group, which also combines the benefits of exercise with social interaction.


2. Healthy Diet


What you eat can have a big impact on managing anxiety and supporting overall mental health. A balanced diet can help alleviate anxiety symptoms and improve your mood and energy levels.


Here are some tips:

  • Eat whole foods: Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains provide essential nutrients that support brain health.

  • Include omega-3 fatty acids: Found in fish and flaxseeds, these can help reduce anxiety symptoms.

  • Limit caffeine and alcohol: These substances can make anxiety worse and disrupt sleep patterns.

  • Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is important for overall well-being.

  • Maintain stable blood sugar levels: Eating regular, balanced meals can help keep anxiety in check.


3. Quality Sleep


Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for managing anxiety. Sleep and anxiety have a direct relationship, where poor sleep can increase anxiety levels and anxiety can lead to sleep disturbances. Establishing a regular sleep routine, with consistent bedtimes and wake times, helps regulate your body's internal clock.


Creating a relaxing bedtime routine can signal your body that it's time to wind down. Activities such as reading, listening to calming music, or taking a warm bath can promote relaxation. Make sure your sleep environment is comfortable and free from distractions, like electronic devices.


4. Mindfulness Exercises & Deep Breathing


Mindfulness exercises are another powerful tool for managing generalized anxiety, helping you stay grounded and focused in the present moment. These practices can also be beneficial for individuals with panic disorder, providing a way to manage symptoms and reduce episodes.


Mindfulness encourages you to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment, which can reduce the intensity of anxiety and prevent it from overwhelming you. Techniques such as meditation, where you dedicate time to quietly focus and clear your mind, can significantly decrease stress levels and promote a sense of calm.


Additionally, deep breathing exercises, which involve taking slow, deliberate breaths, help activate the body’s relaxation response and reduce physical symptoms of anxiety. Incorporating mindfulness exercises into your daily routine can improve your ability to handle stress and foster a greater sense of inner peace.


5. Social Connections


Interacting with friends, family, and community members provides emotional support and reduces feelings of isolation. Sharing your thoughts and experiences with trusted individuals can help alleviate anxiety and provide different perspectives on your challenges.


Joining social groups, clubs, or community organizations can also enhance your sense of belonging. Engaging in activities you enjoy with others fosters positive relationships and can significantly impact your mood and anxiety levels. Whether through in-person interactions or virtual connections, maintaining social ties is a crucial component of managing anxiety.


6. Journaling


Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you process and understand your emotions. Journaling provides an outlet for expressing worries and fears, which can reduce their intensity and make them more manageable.


Regular journaling can also help you identify patterns in your anxiety, such as specific triggers or situations that cause stress. Reflecting on these patterns can provide insights into how to address and manage your anxiety more effectively. Additionally, keeping a gratitude journal, where you note positive experiences and things you're thankful for, can shift your focus from anxiety to positivity.


7. Spend Time in Nature


Natural environments provide a calming atmosphere that can reduce stress and anxiety. Activities such as hiking, trail running, gardening, or simply walking in a park can help you disconnect from daily stressors and reconnect with the present moment.


Nature exposure has been shown to lower cortisol levels, the body's primary stress hormone. The sights, sounds, and smells of nature can have a soothing effect on the mind and body. Incorporating regular outdoor activities into your routine can provide a natural way to manage anxiety and improve overall well-being.


Should You Take Medication For Anxiety?


While natural anxiety remedies can be highly effective, some people may need medication to manage their anxiety symptoms, too. Medication can be a valuable component of treatment, particularly for those with severe anxiety or co-occurring mental health conditions. It’s important to consult with mental health professionals to determine the best course of action for your specific needs.


Find the Right Balance for Managing Your Anxiety


Still I Run runner using running to manage anxiety

Managing anxiety is most effective when you combine lifestyle changes, natural remedies, and professional support. It's important to listen to your body and mind, and seek help when needed. Professional guidance can offer valuable insights and support, helping you on your journey to better mental health. Remember, managing anxiety is an ongoing process, and finding the right balance is key to maintaining your well-being.


Don't go through it alone—connect with the Still I Run community for support, resources, and a shared commitment to mental health. Join us and take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.

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By Amber Kraus

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