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Five Natural Ways to Help Ease Anxiety

Do you often get stuck in a loop of fear and discomfort (including physical attributes such as pounding heart, muscle tension, dizziness)? Are you unusually fearful of social situations and public speaking? Do you suffer from panic attacks?

There's a difference between feeling anxious on occasion and feeling constant anxiety. Persistent anxiety can interfere with daily living and relationships.

Anxiety disorder leads to mental fatigue, often hurting relationships as well as affecting work, school, and activities. Anxiety can also lead to other mental health issues, such as depression.

Besides the mental battles that anxiety causes, prolonged or chronic anxiety also has many negative physiological effects -- by raising levels of the stress hormone cortisol and raising blood pressure, which then contributes to heart problems, stroke, kidney disease, and sexual dysfunction. Experts state that increased body weight and abdominal fat, high blood pressure, and greater levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose have all been linked to anxiety.

Anxiety comes in many forms, including post-traumatic stress (PTS), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), phobias, and panic disorders. While the causes of anxiety range from genetic to environmental, there's no question that anxiety not only afflicts many people, but that anxiety -- untreated -- can grow to untenable levels and lead to serious health issues.

Anxiety is the most commonly diagnosed mental condition, with estimates that some 40 million Americans (and 260 million worldwide) suffer from anxiety. And, sadly, we are seeing increased levels of anxiety with teenagers.

Conventional doctors most often prescribe one or more medications for "treating" anxiety (meaning that these drugs work to ONLY relieve symptoms, not the underlying condition), including: Xanax, Tenormin, Buspar, Klonopin, Valium, Cymbalta, Lexapro, Ativan, Inderal, and Zoloft.

What can you do besides taking a pharmaceutical pill to mask the anxiety? Here are five natural ways to help ease anxiety.

Natural Ways of Easing Anxiety

1. Plant Medicines. The most amazing thing about psychedelics and psychedelic plant medicines is that most are heart-opening, meaning they allow the user to discover deeply hidden traumatic events and see them in a new light -- safely and without judgment and fear. Emerging studies are showing the power of psychedelics on anxiety and panic attacks, especially MDMA and psilocybin.

These psychedelic medicines are the start of healing -- by facing our fears and traumas -- but the only way we truly change well ingrained behaviors is through integration, which involves using reflection and coaching to understand the psychedelic visions and lessons and integrating them into our lives, forcing real changes in attitudes and behaviors.

Psychedelics are not for everyone nor are they a cure-all, but most of these medicines work far better than the prescription pills that simply make one feel better without treating with the root cause.

There are also studies showing the power of cannabis, specifically CBD (with low THC levels), to help with anxiety.

2. Breathwork. We often take our breathing for granted, but when facing high levels of anxiety and during panic attacks, people often feel they can't get enough oxygen -- resulting in short, rapid breathing and increased heart rates.

It's true: breathing techniques can both relieve that issue AND calm the mind. Deep or rhythmic breathing (from the diaphragm) is a good way to decrease symptoms of anxiety. An added benefit: breathing can also help focus your thoughts, and calm your mind.

There are multiple breathing techniques that have calming effects -- from simply focusing on deep, steady breathing to counting breaths to meditation breathing. All these breathing techniques involve being in a calm place, sitting comfortably, and focusing on the breath.

Studies show that controlled breathing may improve various types of health conditions from insomnia and anxiety to post-traumatic stress and depression.

3. Aromatherapy. People have been using the essential oils from plants for centuries to improve health and overall well-being, and many scents can be used to help to boost mood, foster relaxation, and reduce anxiety.

Essential oils are fundamentally plant extracts, produced by steaming or pressing various parts of a plant (flowers, bark, leaves or fruit) to capture the compounds that produce fragrance. For consumers, the key is finding pure, organic essential oils, as there are many diluted and weak oils sold on the market. (Personally, we recommend either REVIVE or Young Living, as both are focused on quality and sustainability.)

Aromatherapy means using essential oils for therapeutic benefit. They can be used in a variety of methods, including diffusing into the air, using an aroma stick, or applying directly to the skin (usually when mixed with a carrier oil).

Some scents to use for anxiety include: lavender, rose, ylang ylang, valerian, jasmine, grapefruit, clary sage, chamomile, vetiver, frankincense, and bergamot.

4. Relaxation. Life is stressful -- and the higher level of stress, the more likely our anxiety will flare up and be affected. Another name for relaxation is meditation, but some people have a negative connotation with meditation -- so, think relaxation. (For some people, prayer may also serve as a relaxation technique.)

Relaxation may work better as a preventative practice than as a tool to use during the peaks of anxiety.

With relaxation/meditation, it takes time to develop the skills needed to sit quietly for roughly 20 minutes. You also have to believe it is helping you.

Some people find focusing on good things and gratitude really help with relaxation. While sitting someplace comfortable and cozy, think about the good people in your life -- as well as the other positive elements (such as having food, shelter, transportation, etc.). You can also use a mantra or other technique (such as positive affirmations) to help with your relaxation... "I love myself" or "I am in a good place in my life" or "I feel cozy, comfortable, and calm."

5. Exercise. We are becoming a sedentary society -- and we as humans are not meant to be. Thus, it truly is amazing what light to moderate exercise does for our minds -- especially if we also do that exercise in nature.

Research shows that light to moderate aerobic exercise -- such as walking, yoga, biking, dancing, etc. -- can be a powerful tool for those suffering from chronic anxiety.

Exercise works by diverting your thoughts to the exercise itself; it decreases muscle tension, increases heart rate (which changes brain chemistry, including increased levels of serotonin and endorphins), and activates parts of the brain that reduce the amygdala response (which deals with our flight or fight reaction).

Like relaxation, exercise works best when part of a daily/weekly routine.

Finally, if you can exercise in nature, then you have the added benefits of the calming elements of the flora to also assist in calming the mind, lowering the anxiety levels. In fact, spending just minutes a day in nature has been found to lower blood pressure, calm the mind, reduce stress, and boost the immune system.

Final Thoughts on Anxiety... and Easing Anxiety Naturally

Some levels of anxiety can be beneficial, as anxiety helps keep us stay focused and alert for possible dangers -- but chronic anxiety needs to be reduced or eliminated, as it is a methodical and deliberate killer.

The good news is that for those suffering with chronic anxiety, there are things that can be done to not only manage the anxiety, but unpack and heal the underlying causes.

For starters, as you contemplate your future healing, keep a running journal of your anxiety -- and look for underlying patterns and triggers. Use your journal to unpack your anxiety.

Anxiety Disorder and Healing Additional Resources

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and advocate, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen's latest book, Triumph Over Trauma, is available in paperback and ebook versions. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.


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