Anxiety is your body’s natural reaction to stress or discomfort, marked by feelings of fear, dread or unease (1).
While these feelings often pass as the stressor subsides, for some, anxiety persists and intensifies, leading to overwhelming fear, restlessness, worry, irritability, disrupted sleep, and physical symptoms such as muscle tension and heart palpitations (2,3).
Various factors contribute to anxiety, including genetics, work stressors, life-altering events, family or relationship issues, past traumas, physical health issues, and personality traits such as low self-esteem and perfectionism (1,2,3).
Fortunately, there are natural remedies that can help you increase your resilience to anxiety and stress.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in traditional medicine to promote relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety (6,7,8). Adaptogens are substances that help your body adapt to stress.
It is especially useful when morning cortisol levels are high, which may feel like anxiety in the morning or dreading the day ahead.
The calming effects of chamomile may be due to the flavonoid apigenin, which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, inducing a relaxing effect and alleviating feelings of anxiety (16).
Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) are a type of prebiotic fibre found in certain foods and dietary supplements.
They promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that aid in producing serotonin, impacting mood and anxiety (17).
The gut-brain axis is a communication network between the gut and brain that allows the gut microbiota (the microorganisms residing in the gut) to influence your emotions, mood, and stress response (18).
By promoting beneficial gut bacteria and supporting a balanced gut environment, GOS may contribute to mood regulation and a more adaptive stress response, which is critical for managing anxiety (17,18,19).
It contains kavalactones that interact with brain neurotransmitters, such as GABA, creating a calming effect (25).
It is often used in various forms, such as essential oils, sachets, or in teas, to help create a calming environment and relieve symptoms of anxiety, like nervousness, headaches and muscle pain (30,32).
9 lifestyle tips to alleviate stress and anxiety
Aromatherapy uses essential oils with calming properties to promote relaxation, boost your mood and alleviate anxiety.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy, can help you understand and change the thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to anxiety.
It provides you with practical tools to help you manage anxiety and confront triggers more confidently.
Cold water immersion
Exposure to cold water triggers a response known as the diving reflex (50). This reflex causes your body to conserve oxygen by slowing your heart rate and redirecting blood flow to vital organs (50). This process may induce a calming effect and help reduce anxiety symptoms (51).
Practicing deep, slow breathing techniques that involve your diaphragm—a muscle beneath your lungs—can soothe your nervous system, alleviate stress, and ease symptoms of anxiety (52).
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) involves tapping on specific points on your body while thinking or talking about your worries or fears. This process can help you release stress and change how you think about your concerns (53,54).
By concentrating on the movements and sensations of exercise, you can redirect your attention away from anxious thoughts.
There are numerous natural remedies and lifestyle strategies that can enhance resilience to stress and anxiety.
These approaches focus on regulating neurotransmitters, promoting relaxation, and developing resilience to stressors, ultimately contributing to a more balanced and calmer state of mind.
A balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management techniques, and, if necessary, professional guidance should all be considered when addressing anxiety. If you are considering making any significant changes to your diet or supplementation, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional.