It’s the racing thoughts, the fight or flight adrenaline, the feeling of rejection from your spouse because his responses weren’t “right”….it’s all anxiety, stress, and for some, panic. And it can be terribly debilitating not only for the sufferer, but the sufferer’s family. If you suffer from anxiety, you know this.
All information given on this site is for educational purposes ad should not take the place of your own research, and a doctor’s care. I am not a doctor, but rather, an aspiring herbalist who has been studying and using herbs for 25+ years. Please research beyond this site to determine if herbal and natural remedies found on this site are right for you.
These days, anxiety is pretty rampant, and most who suffer badly are on antidepressants. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being on antidepressants–personally, I have had the best experience on them. Taking them changed my relationships in ways that I could never, ever imagine. (More about my personal story here.)
The problem is that any type of medicine can be hard on the liver and on the body, and so it’s not always the best plan for our health to remain on medications for too many years, and that includes herbs!
Can We Handle Anxiety Naturally?
Sure. It’s not the same as taking an anxiety medication, and it certainly takes much more work than popping a pill or two every night. But in the end, it will make our minds and bodies stronger as we learn to put discipline to our thought lives, as well as what we do physically.
Will we experience NO anxiety? Nope. And if you think about it, it’s not even healthy not to. Experiencing some anxiety helps us to learn when things are the wrong choices for us, and to do something different next time.
A good goal to start with is to try to eliminate are those feelings that keep our minds on a loop, and unable to move on from the anxieties we feel. Eliminating the feelings that drive us to do strange and neurotic things, like:
- getting mad at people for things they didn’t do because you are convinced they are doing something wrong
- confronting people when there is nothing wrong
- hiding from others
- anything else that your anxiety dictates that you must do to protect yourself
Tips for Handling Anxiety Naturally
The most important components I am finding are diet, exercise, supplements, and controlling my thoughts. All of those things are part of a workable anti-anxiety regimen that can help a sufferer move from allowing anxiety to have the control, to freedom from the daily agony that anxiety can be.
According to many websites, some of the worst foods we can eat as anxiety-sufferers are the following:
- caffeine – triggers fight or flight response; stimulates the nervous system and can lead to worry, nervousness, and shaking
- alcohol in excess – negatively impacts serotonin levels; also, those suffering anxiety have been found to be more likely to become dependent on alcohol
- fried, refined, and highly processed foods – can cause mood changes and depression
Of course, those aren’t the only foods that can cause issues for us, but focusing on the “can’t haves” is about as productive as eating them for the anxiety sufferer. There are many foods that we can have that are good for us, and actually combat anxiety as a part of a good anti-anxiety regimen. Here are some examples:
- antioxidants – berries, dark chocolate, green leafies
- omega-3 fatty acids – fish, nuts and seeds
- tryptophan – turkey, red meat, oats
- B vitamins – whole grains, eggs
- probiotics – yogurt, milk kefir, kombucha, kombucha brewed with anti-anxiety fruits and herbs
- herbs and herbal teas (more occasionally than the other suggestions) – skullcap tincture, valerian, chamomile
- magnesium – almonds, spinach, bananas
- water – staying hydrated is believed to aid in quelling anxiety
According to this article on the NCBI website, exercising specifically as part of an anti-anxiety regimen should be standard because oftentimes pharmacotherapy just isn’t enough. Moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise 3-5 times per week has been shown to be most helpful to the anxiety sufferer in the 12-week trial they conducted.
There are many supplements and combinations of supplements that can be taken to aid in managing anxiety:
- Nutri-Calm – on hand for those times that I need something to quell my anxiety on an as-needed basis
- Magnesium Citrate – good for depression
- Apple Cider Vinegar capsules – for inflammation
- Garlic Bulb capsules – for inflammation (I got mine from Sprouts, but this one is comparable)
- Milk Thistle capsules – for liver support
- Valerian Root capsules – for sleep
- St. John’s Wort Extract – an herbal SSRI, not to be taken with a prescription SSRI (like Zoloft) – for anxiety and depression
- Vitamin B-12 (sublingual) – alleviates any B-12 deficiency in the body, which can cause anxiety and panic
- Skullcap Tincture – for nervous system support
Not gonna lie, thoughts are a little harder to deal with because anxiety is so convincing. Couple that with the fact that anxiety sufferers tend to watch people very closely for their reactions, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
One very helpful thing to try is cognitive behavior therapy. This method for controlling our thoughts is much like the Biblical advice that Paul gives in 2 Corinthians 10:5:
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV
Basically what CBT does is it forces the sufferer to think about what they are thinking about, and to sift through 10 different thought patterns to identify which type of thought they are thinking. It then leads the sufferer through why that particular thought no longer needs to hurt them in this moment.
This is not a new idea, but it’s a great habit to learn for anxiety sufferers because it allows the mind to once and for all (in this moment) let go of a plagueing thought. It takes practice, though, so expect to be doing this often in the first few weeks you practice it. A great read on the subject is Feeling Good by David Burns.
Are Your Personal Products Messing with Your Hormones?
They definitely could be.
It is said that store bought products like soaps, lotions, and shampoo have something called “xenoestrogens” in them, which are fake synthetic hormones that mimic estrogen.
These endocrine disruptors can, in certain amounts, interfere with the way our hormones work, sometimes causing estrogen-dominance, which can cause other issues that lead to anxiety. Unfortunately, they are in foods, hygeine products, and so many other sources, so we are probably taking in more than we know through sources we don’t realize. (Here’s an interesting article that lists the Top 10 Xenoestrogens. Surprisingly, they aren’t just hygeine products.)
This hot process goat milk soap recipe and lavender-orange linen spray are two great additions to a good anti-anxiety regimen along with taking supplements, exercising, and eating right.
Handling anxiety naturally is definitely doable, but it will take work. The easy way to deal with it is obviously anti-depressants, but there’s a merry-go-round of drugs and drug cocktails that may be involved with that. If that’s your jam, that’s cool. Quality of life is important!
However, many are ready to figure out how to do this without pharmaceutical drugs, and so it’s helpful to have this conversation.
If you are one of those people, please feel free to comment here, or contact me privately on my Facebook page and I would be happy to chat with you about this. I’m not an expert, but I’ve battled anxiety for many years, and experience with both anti-depressants and natural remedies with regard to anxiety.
Kate Johnston says
This is wonderful! I have suffered from anxiety all my life, but I actually avoided taking meds for it because it was important to me to learn how to manage it. I could have used this helpful information thirty years ago, but back then, I doubt anyone really understood how anxiety worked. All of your suggestions are things that I figured out along the way, through trial and error. This is a really informative post.
Kristi Stone says
I hear you, Kate! I could have used it too, but back then, I thought it was 100% hormones, rather than something going on with my brain. I hope this can help others who are wanting to let go of their safety net, or even just develop a safety net of a different type. Thanks so much for your comment!
Suzy Taylor Oakley says
Kristi, there is so much good info here. I’m going to link to this on my wellness blog.
Thank you for taking the time to gather these resources and for being so transparent about your own experience. I used to asked God “why” a lot, but years ago I realized that He allows me to go through certain things so that I can help others who suffer. I think your post is a perfect example of that.
Kristi Stone says
Thanks Suzy! I know what you mean. I’ve been dealing with this so long, and I went through the “why God’s” myself. It is of comfort to know that people can learn something from my experience. Thank you so much for linking to me, that really means a lot. <3
This is so helpful, Kristi. I know someone who had a really bad struggle with anxiety a couple years ago, and end the end finding the right SSRI was the turning point. It’s been a good experience, but this will be helpful to share if/when they’re ready to start shifting to something more natural.
I know so many people who struggle with anxiety right now… it’s a horrible beast, and I’m grateful for any weapon against it.
*in the end. ?
Kristi Stone says
Ohhh, don’t I know that finding the right SSRI can just change a person’s life! To be truly transparent, I struggle with wanting to go back on at least an herbal SSRI, but I’m trying to wait it out to gather all the success I can without it. But I reserve NO judgment at all for anyone that goes that direction. We just have to do what we can do to bring peace and centeredness to our crazy thoughts that can rule every moment of the day. Personally, I felt that my SSRI kept me in a holding pattern that wasn’t really dealing with the real issue. BUT, that holding pattern was VERY helpful to me.
I am with you–so thankful that people have choices on how they can work this beast out of their lives. It takes time and lots of effort, and will be a lifelong endeavor for some of us.
Ems Rixon says
Thanks so much for this! As someone who suffers with anxiety and is trying to live a life without drugs, it’s great to get some info on how to manage it naturally. A big part of anxiety (for me anyway!) is feeling like it’s all my fault and that there’s nothing I can do about it, so it’s good to learn new methods to try and things to be aware of, such as hormone disruptors. Cheers!
Kristi Stone says
Hi Ems! I just took a look at your blog and, I can see what you are about now. Knowing that you are trying to reduce dependency on [whatever], and the fact that you are living your “freedom life” in a van tells me that you are seeking to travel light. Handling anxiety naturally may not be a light a travel as you’d like, but there are many natural things you can do, and likely, you will–in your endeavor to cut back on extras–be able to avoid regularly-ingested endocrine disruptors (you can read more specifically about that here: https://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors#.W56HF-hKjIU). As an aside, I’ve joined your group. I feel like I have some things to learn from you! 🙂
Also—you CAN do this, it will take determination. It’s not your fault, it’s just what is happening inside of your body. There is plenty to do about it, it will just take time. 😀