Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adult Americans, making anxiety the most common mental health problem in the United States, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. You may have experienced this yourself– your palms are clammy, you become shaky, you break into a cold sweat and your brain fogs over. When you’re anxious or worried, your body responds both mentally and physically. There are conventional medications to calm you, but all of them come with side effects which are sometimes worse than the actual panic attack. Fortunately, you can help to keep the jitters under control and sleep better with these all natural remedies.
Valerian extract is used throughout the world as a treatment for both anxiety and insomnia. Some studies have shown Valerian to be as effective at treating general anxiety and panic attacks as prescription medications.
Kava is a popular herb for treating anxiety. It acts quickly to calm the nervous system and create feelings of euphoria. The herb also has sedative and muscle relaxant effects, making it useful for the treatment of tension and insomnia. While kava rarely causes side effects, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine warns that kava supplements can pose a risk for liver damage, so you may want to speak to your physician first before taking it.
Chamomile is a beneficial herb for both children and adults suffering from anxiety, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, and it is typically taken for nervous tension, insomnia and gastrointestinal problems. Side effects are generally mild, but some people may experience a severe allergic reaction to chamomile if they are allergic to ragweed, marigolds, or other plants in the daisy family. Symptoms of an allergy to chamomile include rash, difficulty breathing and throat swelling. In rare severe cases, anaphylaxis may develop requiring medical attention.
It shouldn’t surprise you that many of the “comfort” foods we’re drawn to in times of stress—fast food, refined sweet, and process carbohydrates—often end up exacerbating our stress levels rather than soothing them. So rather than seeking temporary emotional anesthesia with a chocolate bar that will quickly wears off, try eating these foods with naturally-calming properties.
Do you know that sleepy feeling that washes over you after enjoying your Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey? That’s tryptophan, the amino acid required to produce serotonin (the “feel good” hormone). Just 4-ounces of white meat from this sleep-lulling bird will calm you into a peaceful slumber and help you ward off stress-related depression.
Believe it or not, in addition to providing a healthy amount of antioxidants, which reduce the effects of oxidative stress, asparagus, like turkey, is a rich source of tryptophan, and a food source that helps balance mood, supports healthy sleep cycles, and calms anxiety attacks and stress.
Often time stress worsens when we are nutritionally deficient, particularly in zinc, which helps the body manage stress, balance mood and appetite, and supports immunity. Luckily, just a small handful of pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc. Not to mention the fact that they taste great combined with a healthy trail mix or when used as a crunchy salad topper.
While magnesium deficiency can cause undue stress in the form of migraines and high blood pressure. Foods rich in magnesium, like Swiss chard, and other leafy greens, can soothe the nerves and de-stress the body so effectively that magnesium has been dubbed the “anti-stress” mineral.
You might not think much about the parsley that garnishes your restaurant meal. However, this stress-busting herb is rich in flavonoids, a plant-based antioxidant that safeguards the body from free-radical damage, which is brought on by stress. So add this spicy vegetable into sauces, stir fries, salads, and smoothies.
AROMATHERAPY and ESSENTIAL OILS
Did you know that scent can powerfully affect our emotions? Out of all five senses, our sense of smell is the only one directly linked to the limbic system in the brain, which is our emotional control center. What this means is that scent can impact not just emotion, but the body’s physical response to it. Mood matters.
The top choices for oils that are calming and relaxing.
One of the oldest known materials, sandalwood is held in such high regard because its aromatic scent has meant its been a primary ingredient in incense. The fragrance of sandalwood essential oil creates an ecstatic yet grounding effect, promoting a sense of comfort and serenity. Due to its sedative and antidepressant effects, it can help improve sleep as well as support circulation and the nervous system. To achieve its sleep inducing effects, simply place a drop on the wrists and massage it in.
These are just a sample of some of the herbs, foods and essential oils which can help with stress, anxiety and insomnia. Do a little research of your own and you will find many more all natural ways to ward off the effects of stress.