If you've been feeling edgy or worried lately about some life event (or one that is yet to happen or may happen), you're not alone. In today's fast-paced, unsure world, feeling anxious once in a while is a given for most people. If that worry is sapping your strength or taking up time that could be spent on more productive activities, you should consider one or more solutions for everyday anxiety. If you are considering natural remedies for anxiety, here's what you need to know.
Occasional anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder should be treated differently. People suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) find themselves in a state of ongoing worry about events in their everyday lives, the future and even past events. This worry keeps them from being able to concentrate on daily tasks, sleep restfully, or enjoy social gatherings. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a person is diagnosed with anxiety disorder after worrying daily about a variety of personal issues (usually without any reason) for at least six months. Ongoing anxiety can be treated through therapy or one of over 50 prescription medications. Popular anti-anxiety drugs include Lexapro, Xanax, Paxil and Clonopin. While drugs are effective, they may have side effects should only be prescribed for patients with serious, ongoing anxiety. Talk to your doctor if you feel you have ongoing, unprovoked anxiety. Occasional worries over problems at work, relationships or money are better off being treated with natural remedies for anxiety.
If you suffer from occasional worries that rob you of sleep or cause you to perform poorly at work or school due to anxiety, there are dozens of methods that can help you restore your focus and positive thoughts. Many natural remedies for anxiety also work for alleviating depression, sparking energy and guarding against disease. Any time you're under stress, try one or more of the following anxiety-busters and you should feel calmer in no time.
According to a study cited in the May 2006 Journal of Psychiatric Research, gingko biloba extract worked just as well as the prescription anti-anxiety drug benzodiazepines in GAD patients who took the extract for four weeks. Study participants experienced no serious side effects or dependency issues after using the gingko biloba extract.
If research indicates gingko biloba will work for patients with generalized anxiety disorder, it can most certainly control occasional anxiety. Studies have shown that gingko helps reduce psychological and physical PMS symptoms.
Gingko biloba has also been shown to improve memory, and can even guard against Alzheimer's disease by protecting nerve cells. Gingko is widely considered a good herb to boost brain function in people of all ages, and it contains flavonoids, antioxidants that help prevent age-related eye problems.
Animals provide comfort and companionship, but a dog, cat, bunny or other furry friend can also relieve stress, improve your mood and even decrease your risk of heart disease.
Pets help owners willingly make lifestyle changes that lead to better stress management, a brighter mood, and increased social activity. Walking your dog is a great form of exercise – for both you and your pet. Playing with your cat – or chasing a rambunctious kitten down the hallway – will keep you active without even realizing it. The physical activity revs up mood-enhancing endorphins – and your metabolism! Cuddling a kitten or puppy soothes frayed nerves and takes your mind off your worries. Walking a dog is a non-threatening way to meet new people. If you have social anxiety, it can help you get over your worry about what people will think of you – the focus will be on your pet, not you. Once your pet helps break the ice, you'll be less stressed about talking about other things.
If you live alone, a dog or cat greeting you at the door when you come home provides much-needed companionship. Talking to your pet is therapeutic they may not answer back with words, but a head butt or wagging tail is often more comforting to a stressed out pet owner.
Dry extracts made from hawthorn berry can lower blood pressure and chest pain caused by excessive nerves – or from any other cause. It's mainly used to treat symptoms of mild to moderate heart failure, but research has indicated it can help people suffering from anxiety. Hawthorn seed and Hawthorn pulp have a relaxing effect on the brain, according to a study published by Pharmaceutical Biology in August 2010. Hawthorn enhances opiate activity in the central nervous system, producing a pain-numbing effect that reduces hyper or anxious behavior.
Sitting in a quiet space and achieving a meditative state is one relaxation method that can reduce anxiety. Transcendental Meditation (TM) a relaxation technique that involves repeating a mantra to help clear your thoughts, was popularized in the United States in the 1960s. First associated with the hippie counterculture movement, it has since gained approval from the scientific and medical community. Once or twice a day, you sit in a cross-legged position with your eyes closed and repeat a mantra (“Om” or some other simple sound or phrase). You accept and then let go of thoughts as they enter your mind and return to your mantra. This technique may not sound like it will make much of a difference to people who haven't tried it yet, but it is invaluable for relaxing the mind and body and improving an individual's ability to think clearly. Instead of repeating a mantra, you can either focus on you breathing or a candle.
Mindfulness, a type of Buddhist meditation, has been shown to have a positive effect on anxiety, stress and the negative thought patterns that exacerbate such feelings. The American Journal of Psychiatry reported that 90% of clinical anxiety sufferers in a university study experienced major reductions in stress and depression after practicing Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the daily practice of paying attention to your thoughts, words and actions in a non judgmental way as they occur, or “the gentle effort to be continuously present with experience.”
Mindfulness is helpful in reducing an anxiety-prone person's focus on what might happen or what has happened in the past. Focusing on the present moment leaves little time for “What if” thoughts. Mindfulness can be practiced throughout the day or only at certain times.
Omega 3fatty acids, healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, are found in some foods and available as supplements through fish oil capsules. There are 3 types of Omega 3's - alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in flaxseed oil, walnuts, spinach, kale, Brussels Sprouts and soybean oil, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), found in catfish, shrimp, canned tuna and wild salmon.
A report published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity in 2011 stated that young adults who consumed fish oil supplements exhibited reduced stress and inflammation. The findings indicated that at-risk people and senior citizens could experience even greater benefits from Omega 3's than the study's young participants.
Anxiety increases the presence of inflammation-causing cytokines in the body, especially a cytokine called Interleukin-6, which break down immunity. This leaves the body susceptible to type 2 diabetes, heat disease and osteoporosis. Allergy sufferers also find their conditions worsen when they're under stress. Taking fish oil capsules or increasing the intake of Omega 3 rich vegetables and fish can fight cytokines and increase your resistance to stress. This, in turn, strengthens your immune system.
We know that exercise benefits the cardiovascular system and helps control your weight, but it improves your health in other ways. Regular physical activity provides more oxygen to your lungs and heart, increasing energy for everyday tasks. It helps you get to sleep faster and enjoy restful, uninterrupted slumber (as long as you don't exercise right before bed). Exercise activates endorphins and the neurotransmitter serotonin, to help calm you down and make you happier. Anxiety causes your brain to produce the stress hormone norepinephrine, which can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. If this happens for an extended length of time, it can cause insomnia, restless leg syndrome, a heart valve abnormality called mitro valve prolapse (MVP), depression or stomach pain. If left untreated, chronic stress may cause heart disease. That's why controlling stress through lifestyle changes and natural remedies for anxiety is so important.
If you're feeling anxious, go outside for a walk around the block. The combination of fresh air, Vitamin D (from sunshine) and anti-stress hormones endorphins and serotonin will modify your body's stress response. The body's different physiological systems (nervous, cardiovascular, renal, etc) communicate with each other more effectively during physical activity, and this contributes to better stress management. If you can't go outside, do any type of exercise – even stretching or a few jumping jacks can alleviate the effects of stress.
A regular exercise routine will help your body produce a good supply of anti-stress hormones. You don't have to get a gym membership or run a half-marathon everyday to battle anxiety (unless you want to). Aerobic exercise, Tai Chi, yoga, participating in sports or a daily walk can all reduce stress levels. While all types of exercise can reduce anxiety, only the more moderate forms of exercise, such as jogging, swimming, dancing or cycling, can aid in significantly reducing high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure and anxiety, talk to your doctor about the best exercise program to combat both problems.
Lack of sleep does more than leave you tired in the morning. It increases worry in the already-anxious and creates it in previously calm individuals. Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley have found that sleep deprivation harms parts of the brain that deal with processing emotions. Naturally anxious people suffer the most from insufficient sleep, as it can increase the frequency of panic attacks or worrisome thoughts. Getting between seven and nine hours of quality sleep each night should be a goal for the anxiety-ridden.
Practice different sleep inducing techniques before bedtime, such as drinking calming chamomile tea, meditating or doing yoga. Taking a hot bath is another anxiety-reducing pre-sleep trick. Shut off your computer and TV at least a half hour before your scheduled bedtime and resist the urge to keep a glowing iPad or Smartphone on the nightstand. Keep your room dark– use blackout screens or a sleep mask to block out light, and avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine late in the evening. Finally, write down your worries earlier in the day, so your brain can focus on them and deal with them before bedtime. When you hit the sack, focus on happy memories.
Gotu kola, used in Indonesia, China and Indian as a natural remedy for thousands of years, contains triterpenoids, compounds that were shown to relive anxiety and increase brain function in studies on mice. In the article “An Ancient Remedy for Modern Anxiety” in the December 2011 issue of Prevention Magazine cites a study conducted by Royal Ottawa Hospital in Ontario, Canada, in which participants given a large dose of gotu kola responded had a calmer response to a sudden loud noise than participants receiving a placebo.
Gotu Kola can also be used to treat insomnia, which is often a symptom of anxiety. This herb can be found in many nutritional and mood enhancing supplements, blended with other vitamins and minerals for better overall health benefits.
L-theanine, an amino acid in green tea and green tea extract, lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Studies have shown that L-theanine helps anxiety sufferers remain calm and focused while taking a test. The researchers concluded, “Results evidently demonstrated that l-theanine clearly has a pronounced effect on attention performance and reaction time response in normal healthy subjects prone to have high anxiety.”
L-theanine reduces anxiety and depression by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and GABA, which send messages to receptors in the brain. L-theanine also improves attentiveness without the jittery effects of caffeine. Green tea also contains antioxidants called catechins, which protect cells and reduce the chance of cancer and other diseases.
Natural remedies for anxiety do a lot more than calm frayed nerves. Restful sleep, a diet rich in Omega-3's, meditation and worry-reducing herbs offer other health-enriching qualities to keep you in better shape from head to toe.
For even better protection against occasional anxiety, consider an all-in-one anti-anxiety supplement. Happy Girl Mood Enhancer from Wheatgrass Love has a proprietary blend consisting of anxiety-busters Hawthorne Berry, Green Tea extract and Gotu Kola, plus vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll-rich wheatgrass. Referred to as a superfood by many nutrition experts, wheatgrass contains B-complex vitamins, including energy-boosting B12; magnesium to improve muscle tone, regulate blood pressure and boost learning, memory and brain function and iron for healthy blood. It's full of antioxidant-rich Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, potassium and essential amino acids and enzymes. Happy Girl is one of the most complete natural remedies for anxiety available today. Call WheatgrassLove today to order a bottle at 877-303-1717 or visit us online at Happy Girl.
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