5 Ways To Reduce Anxiety Naturally
There’s a lot to worry about these days. We’re in the midst of a global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the financial markets are jittery and the political climate is tense. The 24/7 news cycle feeds us gloom and doom daily.
So, let’s put things into perspective. The events I just mentioned are largely out of our control, and how we respond to them is what gives us the stress we feel. Stress is a response to an external cause, such as the fear of getting the coronavirus or losing lots of money on the stock market.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is how we react to the stress. Its origin is internal. Anxiety gives you that constant feeling that something is going to happen, whether it does or not. It’s about the anticipation. What differentiates anxiety from stress is that, unlike stress, anxiety persists even after the stress has passed. The coronavirus will eventually go away, and the stock market will recover, but the feeling of uncertainty lingers within you.
Let’s be honest, in some instances, anxiety can actually be good for you. You can feel anxious before an exam or a big interview, and that feeling pushes you to prepare and do your best.
But here’s the difference between good and bad: you can be anxious about your child not returning from school on time (good anxiety), but it’s not normal to feel anxious every minute your child is out of your sight (bad anxiety).
Anxiety becomes a problem when it’s excessive; when it’s out of proportion to the threat at hand.
The consequences of persistent anxiety can play out not only in the mind, but on the body as well.
Common physical symptoms include:
Problems with digestion
The most common ways we treat these symptoms is with over-the-counter medication or prescription drugs. But long-term, these medications can be taxing on your body. Tapping into natural approaches can give you the added support and nourishment your body craves when it begins to feel depleted.
Here are 5 ways you can manage and reduce anxiety, naturally:
Access your favorite scent - When you use your sense of smell, you’re tapping into your emotions. Your emotions are housed in the limbic part of your brain, specifically the amygdala, and when you smell something, your olfactory (smell) system taps into that same part of the brain. Smelling something you love, something that taps into a favorite scent memory, can help harvest positive emotions, and thereby reduce negative feelings of anxiety. What the mind feels, the body responds to. Applying your favorite perfume and/or diffusing your favorite scent can help take the edge off. It helps to ease both mind and body.
Try this: start your day with a splash of perfume (spray behind the neck), wear a necklace or bracelet with a ceramic bead that lets you add scent; apply a few drops of a blend of calming essential oils onto a cotton ball and rest it in your cup holder while you’re driving, or bring a personal inhaler to the office and take a quick whiff whenever you feel anxiety rising.
You can also read my article “What Essential Oils Can Make You Happy” to give you inspiration.
2. Indulge in a massage - The feeling of anxiety often plays out on your body, specifically the muscles. It’s very common to have a stiff neck or sore muscles. Physically massaging (touching) creates movement within these tension-filled muscles. It helps loosen and relax the muscle, while also encouraging blood flow to help ease the pain.
But there’s also a mental aspect to massage. The act of feeling more relaxed after a massage creates a general feeling of wellbeing. Being in a more relaxed state usually gives you renewed energy and vitality.
Try this: Make a small blend of warming essential oils (juniper berry, ginger, black pepper) at 3% dosage and add to a carrier oil like jojoba oil or coconut oil. After a long day, or as needed, gently massage into the neck and shoulders.
3. Take a relaxing walk - I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get outside and connect with nature. We humans are wired to sense the world around us. We are meant to see the green trees, the blue sky and the brown tree trunks. We are meant to inhale the scents of the trees and flowers that surround us. We are meant to hear the birds chirp and the wind blow. By simply taking the time to disconnect from the noise, from the events you can’t control, and being present with the world around you, your mind starts to relax and your body gently lets down its guard.Try this: if you feel anxiety start to creep up, put down what you’re doing (as soon as you are able to) and move your body. Go outside, around the block, or on a long walk with no distractions like listening to music or a podcast. Simply observe and smell the world around you.
You might also enjoy my article “7 Super Easy Ways To Integrate Nature Into A Busy Life”.
4. Diffuse before sleeping - Anxiety brings with it the inability to get good rest. Our minds continue to race even while we’re trying to go to sleep. A simple, and effective, thing you can do is to create a sleep sanctuary for yourself before you actually go to sleep. Fifteen minutes before you go to bed, diffuse a calming blend of essential oils (sweet orange, lavender and cedarwood are wonderful) in your bedroom. While the scent is diffusing, leave the room and close the door behind you. Now, when you are ready to go to sleep, return to the room, turn off the diffuser and ease into bed. The room has been filled with a calming scent that will help you slowly drift off to sleep.
Try this: if you don’t have a diffuser, you can also apply the essential oil blend to a cotton ball and leave it next to your bed on the nightstand. In this case you don’t need to wait 15 minutes, but rather use the gentle aroma near you to help you fall asleep.
You might also enjoy my article “The 5 Most Common Mistakes Made When Diffusing Essential Oils”.
5. Meditate with a scent - Anxiety is also very active in the mind. It creates a level of activity that can become downright debilitating. Meditating, or being mindful, is a wonderful way to focus the mind, to bring more clarity and emotional calm. While simply closing your eyes and focusing on the body is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness, another approach can be using scent as your guide.
Try this: find a quiet corner to sit. Place a drop of your favorite scent (essential oil, perfume, spice, herb, etc.) in front of you. Now close your eyes and focus in on the scent. Notice how it evolves over time. Track in your mind how it comes in and goes out of your awareness. Try connecting it to something familiar, a joyful experience you had. Feel that in your body. Continue “listening” to the scent for 5 minutes.
You can read more in my article “How To Reduce Stress Through Mindful Aromatherapy”.