We all know the feeling of anxiety. When life gets too intense and we don’t have a healthy outlet for that energy, anxiety happens. Anxiety and stress are terrible for the body. Too much of it can limit your career, put a strain on relationships, and decrease overall happiness.
Luckily, there are habits and easy techniques that can improve your well-being by reducing anxiety and stress, naturally (without medication).
Reducing anxiety all about self-experimentation. Read through our list of over 50 natural ways to reduce anxiety and find the techniques that work best for you. Some won’t be the right fit for you, but some will! Let’s jump in.
Think of these techniques as going to the gym for your brain. Reduce anxiety, improve memory, and increase happiness with mindfulness practices.
The daily practice of meditation reduces anxiety, stress levels, improves memory, and increases happiness. Meditation changes the structure of your brain, in a good way. During the practice, you’ll notice certain thoughts creep in. Pay attention to what those thoughts are.
Are you obsessing about work or a personal relationship? This may help you identify something that needs to change in your life. Calm and Headspace are two popular meditation apps to try, both of which offer a free version.
Hypnosis for Anxiety and Confidence
Hypnosis is an interesting topic with varying opinions among experts. This option may seem weird at first, but it’s worth a try! Hypnosis therapy has been successful in breaking bad habits such as smoking, helping people lose weight by limiting cravings and even decreasing anxiety by managing thoughts. Two great options to try, by Surf City apps are the Self-Esteem and Anxiety Relief sessions, which offer free options. You can also find a number of great options on YouTube.
Practicing gratitude is an amazing exercise for the mind and soul. Not only will it curb feelings of anxiety and helplessness, it will help you realize all the good you have in your life. Start small by listing three things you are grateful for before going to bed each night. These can be important elements of your life such as your spouse, kids, and career. Or they can be very small events, such as being grateful somebody waved you in when trying to change lanes on a busy street or being thankful for the tasty meal you at today. This practice may seem hard at first, but it gets easier the more you do it.
“It is thankful people that are happy, not happy people that are thankful.”
On your next car ride, give this 11-minute podcast episode by Jim Kwik a listen. It explains how the process of gratitude rewires the brain and promotes happiness. As Jim says in this podcast “It is thankful people that are happy, not happy people that are thankful.”
This technique involves gazing out into space at stars millions of light years away. It can be grounding and help put things into perspective. The problems in our own head feel big, urgent, and important. Gazing at the vastness of the galaxy you can help but recognize how we’re such a tiny part, in the grand scheme of things.
Also known as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), this exercise involves tapping near the endpoints of specific energy meridians in your body to promote physical and emotional healing. During the tapping, you repeat an affirmative phrase targeted at the issue you’re working to overcome. In short, you focus on the negative emotion you are having and then tap into the body’s energy flow to diminish the feelings.
Daily vitamins and minerals can help correct deficiencies and maintain balance.
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, has been used for over 3,000 years in Indian medicine for its ability to bring the body back to a state of balance. It has been proven to reduce cortisol and other stress biomarkers, improve focus and memory, lower blood pressure, and more. Learn about the best KSM-66 ashwagandha supplements here.
Kava is an herbal plant native to Polynesia that has been known to reduce anxiety and promote better sleep. It is most commonly made into a drink from ground Kava Root powder.
Vitamin B Complex
B Vitamins can help battle stress and stabilize mood. Vitamin B6 can boost mood, balance blood sugar levels, and promote a healthy nervous system. Deficiencies can lead to anxiety and depression. B12 also supports a healthy nervous system and it can improve concentration, mood, and fight chronic stress.
Eating Right (10-15)
What you are eating (and drinking) plays a huge role in physical and mental wellbeing.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Several studies show that there is a connection between the diet choices and psychology, physiology and behavior. Go for foods rich in B vitamins, omega-3s, and magnesium. Some great choices to add are:
- wild-caught fish
- grass-fed beef
- organic chicken
- leafy greens
Reduce your sugar intake. Too much sugar leads to weight gain, insulin intolerance, fatigue, and many other ugly things. But it also fuels the fire to stress levels and anxiety. Studies have shown that sugar in the diet can heighten stress levels and nervousness.
Drinking strips precious vitamins and minerals in your body, many of which keep your brain in balance. These deficiencies can increase the symptoms of anxiety. Excessive drinking in the evening can also disturb sleeping patterns, which can intensify anxiety. Pay attention to your mood and well-being after a night with a few drinks compared to one without drinking.
Most of us drink coffee or another caffeine beverage on a daily basis. It helps focus, kick-starts the metabolism, and has been shown to increase cognitive function. However, too much caffeine can lead to jitters, anxiety, and stress. If you already struggle with anxiety, it might be worth stopping for a period and easing on consumption to see how you react to it. If you love the habit of drinking coffee daily, try mixing in some decaf coffee with your favorite coffee to decrease the caffeine concentration.
Many people with anxiety disorders skip breakfast. Try eating a choline-rich breakfast such as eggs. Low levels of choline are associated with increased anxiety.
The act of drinking tea in itself can be calming and soothing. The tea you drink also plays a part in the fight against anxiety. Herbal teas such as Chamomile, Holy Basil, Valerian Root, and Ashwagandha have been shown to ease symptoms of anxiety.
Use Your Mind (16-18)
You’ll be surprised how a few new habits can dramatically change the way your brain functions.
The mind is curious, it thrives on learning and new experiences. As the William S. Burroughs quote goes, “If you are not growing, you’re dying.” Keep your mind stimulated by reading, visiting new places, and trying new activities. It may not seem like this would help with anxiety, but it does.
“If you are not growing, you’re dying”
Keeping your mind occupied and fed with experiences that aren’t contributing to your stress will keep you in balance.
A daily journaling practice can be therapeutic, calming, and you get to the root of the issue. Looking over journals from the previous week or month, you’ll start to notice patterns in the way you think and better understand the areas where you might be obsessing. Once you clearly identify the problem(s), you can work through solutions to fix. It is also nice to have a record of when you start/stop new habits to get a greater sense of what is working best. Looking for a place to start? Check out The Five Minute Journal.
Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) are destructive. They can ruin your mood, reduce confidence, and cause people to be depressed. The way you think controls how you feel. Next time an ANT pops into your head, write it down, then write down a response. For instance, if you think “my husband never listens to me,” write it down. Follow Up with “he is not listening to me right now, he might be distracted. He often does listen to me.” This can take the power away from these thoughts as they creep in. Learn more about ANT Therapy here.
Build a Support Network (19-20)
Find support in others, it’s okay to ask for help.
See a Therapist
A trained professional can help you get to the root of the issue. You wouldn’t hesitate to call a plumber if you have a leaky pipe, but many of us neglect the need to get professional help for their anxiety. If visiting a therapist makes you uneasy, consider trying online therapy.
Join a Community
There are a number of fantastic communities available both online and offline. You’ll find communities on social media, local meetup groups, and forums. Here are some great places to start:
- ADAA Online Support Group
- Anxiety Community (Forum)
- Helpful Chat (Chatroom)
- Anxiety Help Subreddit
- Anxiety Support Group (Facebook Group)
- Meetup Anxiety Support Group (local meetups)
Self Care (21-29)
Treat yourself. Take the extra steps to care for your body and mind.
Exercise for Anxiety and Stress
This has got to be the number one stress reducer that we all know but ignore. Start moving that body! Studies have shown consistent exercise can greatly reduce stress, anxiety and improve mood. It burns excess energy, releases relaxation neurotransmitters, burns cortisol, and improves sleep. A lot can be solved with a few high-intensity workouts per week.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is critical for your body and mind to perform at peak levels. Giving your brain enough time while sleeping allows it to take out the trash from the previous day. The time is used by the brain to make connections from experiences throughout the day.
Even though we know how important sleep is, we stretch the evenings longer and force ourselves out of bed in the morning. The amount of sleep you need varies from person to person. The best thing to do is listen to your body and keep a record of the sleep you’re getting and how you feel throughout the day. Having trouble sleeping? These 7 habits might be destroying your sleep.
In our busy, stressful lives, we often don’t leave enough room for play. This could be throwing a football with a friend, horsing around in the pool, or even playing a board game. If you are having trouble finding ideas, do something you loved as a kid.
It’s amazing what slow, deep breathing can do, even in the middle of a high-stress moment. One technique popularized by Dr. Weil is the 4-7-8 technique. Inhale through your nose to the count of four, hold your breath to the count of seven, and then exhale completely through your mouth to the count of eight. Now complete this routine for a total of four breaths.
Take a Bath
Treat yourself to a relaxing bath. Taking a few extra steps to set the mood can add to your relaxation. Try dimming the lights, playing relaxing music, and adding scented bath salts or some Lavender essential oils.
Accept Yourself (in Current State)
Accept that there is a gap between your real self and your ideal self. This is the case for everyone, we’re human. Focus on the paths that help get your ideal self.
Try going to a nearby yoga class. If you’re not comfortable going to a class, start with beginner yoga poses in your own living room.
Spend 15 Minutes in a Sauna
Studies have shown spending time in a sauna can reduce cortisol levels. Heating up your body can reduce muscle tension and anxiety. Sensations of warmth may alter neural circuits that control mood, including those that affect the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Get a Massage
Not only do massages feel great, they can reduce cortisol levels, lower blood pressure, and regulate heartbeat. Opt for a moderate pressure Swedish Massage, which can trigger the anxiety-busting benefits.
Easy Hacks to Reduce Anxiety (30-40)
Take a Cold Shower
Immersing your body in cold water, also known as hydrotherapy, shocks the entire nervous system. Exposure to the cold can activate the sympathetic nervous system, which increases blood levels and the brain release of norepinephrine, a hormone that can boost mood and energy. While taking an ice-cold shower is uncomfortable at first, it can be an easy morning hack to manage anxiety.
Laughing is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body. In the short-term laughter can relieve stress response, activate major organs, and soothe tension. Long-term it can improve your immune system, relieve pain, increase personal satisfaction, and improve mood.
The simple act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. Dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are all released when you smile.
Take a Walk
Long, slow walks are very therapeutic. Walks get you moving, change the way you breathe and they can provide a healthy distraction. Take in all the surrounding noises, sights, and smells.
Take a Break from Social Media
Social media can be great for staying connected with friends, family, and loved ones. But it can also be addictive and unhealthy in excess. Try deleting the social apps you use the most from your phone.
Cuddle a baby, a pet, or significant other.
The act of chewing gum or eating food can calm the senses. One study showed positive effects on mood, anxiety, and fatigue after two weeks of chewing gum.
Shoulder and Neck Roll
You can do this quick technique in-the-moment, anywhere. Drop your shoulders and do a gentle neck roll. Repeat.
Touch Your Lips
Lightly run one or two fingers over your lips. This will stimulate the parasympathetic fibers in your lips and you’ll feel calmer.
Massage Your Hands
The pressure point, known as Pericardium 8, in the center of your palm is about an inch below the base of your pointer and middle fingers close to where the lines on many people’s palms meet. Massaging this point can have a powerful influence on your mental and emotional state.
Call a Friend
Make time to call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Get Organized & Get Stuff Done (41-43)
Give yourself a much needed distraction while you get stuff done (that wasn’t getting done).
Straighten Up Environment
Put something that is out of place, in its place. This technique can help you feel a sense of mental order.
Try going through your closet or pantry to remove items that are no longer needed. Organizing and removing unneeded items can bring peace-of-mind.
Rip Through Your To-Do List
Make the phone call you have been putting off. Run the errand you’ve been dreading. Once you get in the flow, you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish in a day!
New Thought Approaches (44-53)
A few thought exercises and approaches to certain areas of your life can lead to amazing benefits.
Forgive yourself for not handing a situation in an ideal way. We can’t change the past. What are some things you can do moving forward?
One study showed that giving led to positive effects on happiness, well-being, and decreased depression. It’s not just money either, you can also volunteer your time to help others. Find a cause you’re passionate about and start there.
We all compare ourselves to others. Make note of when this happens and how it makes you feel. When you’re aware of these thoughts, you can course correct.
Try doing a task much slower than you normally would. Not only will this help you focus on the task at hand, it can be calming.
Focus on the Good
Spend two minutes thinking about what is going well in your life. A few minutes in the morning can change your outlook for the entire day.
Do One Thing at a Time
Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking decreases the quality of focus and it is often less productive. Complete one task and move on to the next.
Learn to Say No
It’s easy to overcommit which can leave you overwhelmed. Practice (politely) saying no to commitments that are difficult to fit into your schedule. As Derick Sivvers puts it “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.”
“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.”
Give Yourself Credit
Becoming aware of anxious thoughts is the first step in finding treatment. Give yourself credit for identifying though patterns that you want to change. Get a little better every day.
State the Emotion You’re Feeling
Say the emotions you’re feeling out loud (to yourself). “I feel very anxious right now.” Take it a step further by describing the sensations you are feeling. “My heart is beating fast.”
Imagine the Worst Thing
Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Then, ask yourself, “How would I cope if that happened?” Now answer the questions. This can help put situations into perspective.