Feelings of anxiety range on a spectrum from heart beating fast and stomach churning after a stressful situation up to a chronic clinical disorder that impacts your ability to live your life. Anxiety is pretty common: one in five American adults reported having a chronic anxiety disorder in the last year, and one in three teens ages 13 to 18 said the same.
Whether you experience anxiety every once in a while or you have been diagnosed with clinical anxiety by a medical professional, managing those feelings will help you feel better. Here are some natural strategies that can help you live well while dealing with anxiety.
Moving your body is one of the simplest methods to ease the symptoms of many mental illnesses related to anxiety and depression. There have been many studies on exercise and anxiety. Some research suggests that even one session of aerobic exercise (walking, running, biking, dancing) can help relieve anxiety. And it seems like the type of exercise might be less important than just getting out there and doing it. So lace up your walking shoes, and start moving.
Diet plays a big role in many illnesses, both physical and mental. The systems within our bodies all connect to each other, and your diet is the foundation for healthy living. Some studies have shown the potential benefits of certain herbal supplements for managing anxiety. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you try some of these herbal medicinals since they can be dangerous in large doses or interact with some medications.
Many adults don’t get the recommended 7 to 10 hours of sleep every night. And this sleep deprivation can contribute to anxiety. When you’re dealing with anxiety, it can keep you awake, making it even harder to get good sleep.
Try scheduling a bedtime each night that will get you to your recommended hours, and turn off the TV or filter blue light on your phone at least an hour before it’s time to turn out the lights. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also give you tools to work through symptoms relating to insomnia.
If you’re feeling anxious, relaxing may be easier said than done. But if you can take the time to do something that calms you—like go for a walk, take a bath, drink a cup of tea, or do some gentle yoga—you can help manage anxiety symptoms.
Tools like meditation and mindfulness practices go a long way toward managing symptoms too. This might be in the form of guided meditation from a free app, a yoga class, tai chi, knitting, hiking or fishing. Mindfulness can take many forms that can ease anxiety.
Journaling or letter writing can be a good way to work through tumultuous feelings. You can follow a prompt, brain dump and write your feelings stream-of-consciousness style, or write a letter to your future self or a loved one about what you’re going through. Putting pen to paper is an easy and inexpensive way to process what you’re going through.
A number of studies show that acupuncture helps with state anxiety. That’s the feeling of anxiety in response to a stressor, like a difficult interaction at work or illness in the family. Whether acupuncture is effective as a treatment for clinical anxiety is still being studied. But if it is safe and accessible for you, it’s worth a try to manage your symptoms.
Exposure to animals, whether petting a purring cat or taking a wagging-tail dog on a walk, can ease anxiety. Some studies indicate that time with animals reduces the stress-related hormone cortisol. And quality animal time can also decrease feelings of loneliness while boosting mood. So if you have a pet or know someone who will let you spend time with their’s, snuggle up, and feel the calming benefits.
Talking about your feelings—whether with a family member, friend or counselor—can be a natural way of managing them. Voicing your feelings to a caring listener can ease the burden of difficult thoughts. On the professional end, therapy or behavioral health counseling can give you a strong foundation for managing your anxiety.
Finding affordable counseling can be difficult. CHP offers behavioral health programs on an income-based sliding scale to help bring these important services to the communities of Bozeman, Belgrade, Livingston and West Yellowstone. Reach out to the clinic in your neighborhoodfor more information.