Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
August 10, 2021
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on:

We have all dealt with some form of anxiety at some point in our lives. Anxiety is very common and often a result of living in a busy, chaotic world.1 So, seeking natural remedies for anxiety has become quite normal nowadays. 

Although anxiety is portrayed as a bad thing, some anxiety can actually help you become aware of danger, motivate you to stay organized, and help you calculate risks.1 But when anxiety starts to take over your daily life and interfere with your quality of life, it’s time to act before it snowballs into an avalanche.1

Here are the 17 Natural Redemies for Anxiety

Fortunately, there are many options out there that can help. There is professional help as well as prescription medications that can reduce the symptoms of anxiety. But there are also many natural remedies for anxiety, such as the following: 

1. Get Moving

Exercise can be beneficial for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Exercising can help you take your mind off of things that may be bothering you or worrying you. Exercise also triggers your body to release “feel good” hormones called endorphins.

A randomized, controlled trial was conducted in 2012 “to quantify the effects of 6 weeks of resistance (RET) or aerobic exercise training (AET) on remission and worry symptoms among sedentary patients with [generalized anxiety disorder] GAD.”3

Their conclusions found that “exercise training, including RET, is a feasible, low-risk treatment that can potentially reduce worry symptoms among GAD patients and may be an effective adjuvant, short-term treatment or augmentation for GAD. Preliminary findings warrant further investigation.”3

There are other studies that have found that exercise may help reduce anxiety; however, further research is needed to determine how effective it is.4

Try to break free for just a few minutes. Take a walk around the neighborhood and breathe in some fresh air. Invite some friends to exercise with you. 

2. Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol may calm your nerves initially; however, once the buzz is over, the anxiety may come back and be even worse than before.1,2 If you rely solely on alcohol to relieve your anxiety instead of finding the root of the problem and fixing it, you may develop alcohol dependence.1,2

3. Stop Smoking

Some people may pull out a cigarette when they start to feel stressed or anxious. Like consuming alcohol, taking a drag on a cigarette when you’re anxious is like a band aida temporary fix that may actually worsen your anxiety in the long run.1,2

“Many studies have suggested that cigarette smoking may increase the risk of developing increased anxiety, although confirmation of this causality is yet to be confirmed.”5

4. Cut Back on Caffeine

If you struggle with chronic anxiety, caffeine can make matters even worse.1 Caffeine is a natural stimulant and can make you feel nervous or jittery, which can make your anxiety even worse.1 Research has shown that caffeine may cause anxiety or exacerbate it.1,6

For some people, eliminating their consumption of caffeine led to an improvement in anxiety.1,6 There are alternatives to caffeinated beverages such as decaffeinated coffee.

5. Get Plenty of Sleep

Anxiety can lead to problems sleeping or even keep you awake at night. Your sleep can be improved by1:

  • Only sleeping when you are feeling tired
  • Going to sleep at the same time every night
  • Not eating in bed
  • Avoiding large meals before bedtime
  • Not using your phone or computer in bed
  • Not watching television in bed
  • Not tossing and turning. If you can’t fall asleep, get up and walk around or go to another room until you feel sleepy.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and cool

6. Meditate (arguably the most powerful among natural remedies for anxiety)

Meditation is used to “remove chaotic thoughts from your mind and replace them with a sense of calm and mindfulness of the present moment.”1

Many people use meditation to help relieve anxiety and stress. Johns Hopkins research suggests that 30 minutes of daily meditation may improve symptoms of anxiety.1,7

7. Eat a Healthy Diet

Dehydration, low blood sugar levels, high blood sugar levels, and chemicals in processed foods may affect some people’s moods.1 If you notice that your anxiety is worse after you eat, evaluate your eating habits.1

It is important to stay hydrated, cut back on processed foods, and eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and lean proteins.

8. Try Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the use of fragrant essential oils to promote health and overall well-being.1,2 You can add the oils to a diffuser1,2 or even to a warm bath.1Common scents that may help reduce anxiety include1,2:

  • Bergamot
  • Clary sage
  • Lavender
  • Grapefruit
  • Ylang Ylang

9. Drink Chamomile Tea

A cup of chamomile tea is commonly used as a home remedy to promote relaxation and sleep.1,2 A study showed that chamomile reduced symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) versus placebo.1,2,8

However, “long-term clinical and observational studies are needed to establish the safety of prolonged use of [chamomile], as well as overall efficacy, in the context of anxiety symptom treatment and management.”8

10. Practice Deep Breathing Exercises

People who have anxiety may have rapid, shallow breathing.1,2 This can increase your heart rate, make you feel dizzy, or even lead to a panic attack.1,2

Deep breathing exercises involve taking deliberately slow, even, and deep breaths that help restore normal breathing patterns, and in turn, reduce anxiety.1,2 

11. Cover Up with Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets are heavier than standard blankets and come in various sizes and weights. The pressure from the weight helps put your body into “rest mode,” which can reduce symptoms of anxiety and help your body relax.2 

12. Do Some Writing or Journaling

Writing down your feelings and emotions can help you release that built up anxiety, helping you to better cope and manage your anxiety.4

A 2016 study suggests that “creative writing interventions such as bibliotherapy, expressive writing, and therapeutic stories can have a significant impact on anxiety disorders.”9

13. Practice Your Time Management Skills

You have probably run late a time or two for work, your child’s ballgame, or a hair appointment. Running late can certainly make you feel like a “hot mess.”

You have probably felt flustered and a little anxious because you needed to be there at a certain time. Practicing time management can help reduce those feelings of anxiety and stress.

If you are prone to hitting the snooze button a time or two in the mornings, try setting your alarm clock 5 or 10 minutes earlier than your usual time.

You can also have your clothes picked out and your lunches packed the night before that way you can just get up, get dressed, grab your lunch, and get out the door. 

Also, don’t procrastinate filling up your car with gas. Try to fill it up the day before so you won’t have to stop the next morning. Plan ahead. If snow is being predicted for the next day, get up a few minutes earlier to give you time to safely get to work.

If you have a lot of commitments or projects, invest in a desktop calendar or a planner to help keep everything on track. All of these things can help you focus on your tasks with efficiency and can help prevent feelings of anxiety and stress.

14. Spend Time with Your Pets

Pets show us love and support. They truly are “man’s best friend.” Pets can help people cope and better manage their anxiety.4 Although cats and dogs are the most common pets, people with allergies can have a pet that’s not furry but still provides support.4

A study in 2015 found that caring for insects is not only cost-effective and safe, but it also helped improve psychological health in elderly people.4,10 

15. Ground Yourself

When you feel anxiety creeping up, ground yourself. When your mind seems like a chaotic whirlwind, grounding can help bring you back to the here-and-now instead of being trapped by the thoughts in your mind that are making you feel anxious.11

Pick up an object and hold it, focusing only on that object.11 Feel how heavy or light it is and how the texture feels under your fingers.11 Because your brain can’t be in two places at once, this activity will help distract you from your feelings of anxiety.12 Your mind will shift from the whirlwind to that object in your hand.12

16. Herbal Remedies

Several herbal remedies claim to reduce anxiety, but there is little scientific evidence that support these claims.4 More research is needed to determine their efficacy and to understand their risks and benefits.

Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha, frequently referred to as the “Indian ginseng,” is a very powerful herb in Ayurvedic healing.13 It is a highly rejuvenating herb that can help reduce anxiety without making you feel drowsy.13 In addition, “it helps to stabilize the body’s response to stress.”13

Kava root: Kava root is not addictive nor hypnotic. According to a meta-analysis reported by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, “compared with placebo, kava extract appears to be a symptomatic treatment option for anxiety.”14

The data available from the reviewed studies suggest that kava is relatively safe for short-term treatment (1 to 24 weeks), although more information is required. Further rigorous investigations, particularly into the long-term safety profile of kava are warranted.”14

Valerian Root: Valerian root has been found to increase the brain’s levels of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA).13 GABA helps to control nerve cells and soothe anxiety.13

Some herbals can interact with certain medications or cause unwanted side effects, so it’s important to talk to your doctor first before you start taking new herbals and to determine the best treatment for you.

17. Supplements

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP): 5-HTP is made from tryptophan, an amino acid that functions like a mood stabilizer.13 Taking 5-HTP increases the brain’s levels of serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter, which can lead to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety.13

It is very important to note that “this is a natural supplement that should not be taken with any prescription antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.”13

Magnesium:  Magnesium is important for many functions of the body, including calming the nervous system.13 It is also essential for the proper function of GABA.13

Magnesium in the chelate, citrate, or chloride forms are absorbed best by the body.13 Too much magnesium can cause diarrhea, so be careful with the dose. And always talk to your doctor before you start taking new supplements and to determine the best treatment for you.

Vitamin B-Complex: B vitamins can help reduce stress and balance moods.13 Pyridoxine, or Vitamin B-6, can specifically be considered as a natural remedy for reducing anxiety because anxiety is one of the signs of a vitamin B-6 deficiency.

Vitamin B-6 can help to improve mood, regulate blood sugar levels, and support a healthy nervous system.13

The Bottom Line

Anxiety is considered to be the leading mental health disorder in the United States, affecting about 40 million Americans.13 Anxiety can stem from jobs, negative news, social media pressures, economic concerns, and so on.13

Fortunately, there are many natural remedies for anxiety that you can try that may help reduce your symptoms, but they don’t replace professional help.1

Keep in mind that what works best for some, may not work for others. “Increased anxiety may require therapy or prescription medication.”1

Talk to your doctor about your feelings and concerns. And it’s always important to talk to your doctor before you start any new therapies, treatments, herbals, supplements, or other medications. Your doctor is there to help you determine the best treatment for you. 

References:

  1. McDermott A. 10 Ways to Naturally Reduce Anxiety. healthline. https://www.healthline. com/health/natural-ways-to-reduce-anxiety. Updated June 29, 2020. Accessed August 3, 2021.
  2. Natural Remedies to Alleviate Anxiety. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/natural-remedies-for-anxiety. Accessed August 3, 2021.
  3. Herring MP, Jacob ML, Suveg C, Dishman RK, O’Connor PJ. Feasibility of exercise training for the short-term treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Psychother Psychosom. 2012;81(1):21-28.
  4. Villines Z. How to treat anxiety naturally. MedicalNewsToday. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/. Written January 7, 2020. Accessed August 3, 2021.
  5. Moylan S, Jacka FN, Pasco JA, Berk M. How cigarette smoking may increase the risk of anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders: a critical review of biological pathways. Brain Behav. 2013;3(3):302-326.
  6. Winston A, Hardwick E, Jaberi N. Neuropsychiatric effects of caffeine. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. 11(6):432-439.
  7. Meditation for Anxiety and Depression?. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/meditation_for_anxiety_and_depression. Released January 6, 2014. Accessed August 3, 2021.
  8. Mao JJ, Li QS, Soeller I, Rockwell K, Xie SX, Amsterdam JD. Long-Term Chamomile Therapy of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Study Protocol for a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo- Controlled Trial. J Clin Trials. 2014;4(5):188.
  9. Rombough K. The “Write” Way: Creative Writing as a School-based Approach to Treat Childhood and Adolescent Anxiety. QSPACE. https://qspace.library.queensu.ca/handle/1974/15611. December 23, 2016. Accessed August 3, 2021.
  10. Ko HJ, Youn CH, Kim SH, Kim SY. Effect of Pet Insects on the Psychological Health of Community-Dwelling Elderly People: A Single-Blinded, Randomized, Controlled Trial. Gerontology. 2016;62(2):200-209.
  11. Allen S. 7 Simple Grounding Techniques For Calming Down Quickly. https://drsarahallen.com/7-ways-to-calm/. Accessed August 3, 2021.
  12. Doheny K. 6 Cheap, Natural, and Quick Anxiety Remedies. Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/cheap-natural-quick-anxiety-remedies/. Updated November 12, 2014. Accessed August 3, 2021.
  13. Sibley, C. 10 Natural Remedies to Consider for Treating Anxiety. Pharmacy Times. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/10-natural-remedies-to-consider-for-treating-anxiety. October 26, 2017. Accessed August 3, 2021.
  14. Pittler MH, Ernst E. Kava extract for treating anxiety. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;(1):CD003383. 

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