Anxiety disorders are no joke. They have become one of the most common mental health problem in the United States, effecting one out of five people at any given time.
Anxiety can take many forms, so it's hard to pinpoint when someone is suffering.
Generalized anxiety disorder has someone constantly worrying about everyday things, while obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorders, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder also plague many people across the country.
While there are many medications to help treat anxiety conditions, there are also many natural ways to help yourself calm down when you need to.
Next time you're too tense to cope, consider one of these natural options to relieve your stress.
Laugh it off
As strange as it sounds, laughter is often the best medicine.
"Even if you do a fake laugh, you get an instant hit of dopamine," says Dr. Karen Lynn Cassiday. Dopamine is a brain chemical that controls your feelings of reward and pleasure.
If you find yourself too tense to laugh on your own, try finding a laugh track to giggle along to. Laughter can definitely be contagious.
Research has suggested that even anticipating a laugh can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which increases when you are anxious.
Schedule time to relax
If you find your day planner gets full really quickly, block off some time just for you.
"Is there a time to put in a half hour to do whatever you do that is relaxing?" Katherine Raymer, MD, ND, associate clinical professor of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University, Seattle says. Relaxing can be a walk, meditation, yoga, reading a book or anything you find that will refresh yourself.
Take a GABA supplement
GABA is a brain transmitter that counteracts the action that increases your excitability.
Research has found that people who ate chocolate that was enriched with GABA before tackling a tough arithmetic task were less stressed after completing it, than those who didn't have the GABA-infused chocolate.
Taking GABA supplements can help with your anxiety, but it can also interact with other medications, so it's important to check with your doctor before you start taking them.
Try lavender essential oil to calm yourself when you get worked up.
"We have people put a drop of it on their collarbone," Raymer says. "The smell wafts up. The odor is very relaxing." Or, you can rub it gently into your temple, she says.
In 2012, a study of women who were anxious about having a medical procedure done, inhaled lavender half an hour before and they were calmer than those who did not.
When anxiety hits, do something tangible, suggests John Tsilimparis MFT, a marriage and family therapist.
"Take your house keys out, run your fingers along the keys," says Tsilimparis. "That sensation will give you 'grounding.' Pick up a paperweight, hold it in your hand. Or, get an ice cube. Hold it as long as you can do it."
This will help distract your brain long enough to calm your anxious feelings.
"Your mind will shift from racing, catastrophic thoughts [that accompany anxiety] to the cold ice cube in your hand," he says.
Face Your Fears
"If something makes you scared, face it," says Cassiday. Whether you get anxiety about facing social groups of people or you have a fear of clowns, facing what scares you will help lower your anxiety in the long run.
"What a worrier really wants is a promise that everything is going to be OK," she says.
Unfortunately uncertainly is part of life, so the sooner you can face those fears, the better you will be at learning to live with them.
What causes you to be anxious? Share with us in the comments.
Source: Everyday Health