Natural ways to shrug off anxiety

Extreme anxiety can be paralyzing and in today’s stress-filled world, it’s no surprise that about 40 million Americans have anxiety issues. But be reassured, if you are plagued by anxiety day after day, there are ways to escape this distress.

But first, let’s admit how awful anxiety can be. I’ve had periods of my life where anxiety filled me with worry and dread and left me expecting the worst about what was going to happen in my life. And that happened even when I couldn’t clearly picture what it was I was so anxious about.

I have also discovered, and researchers confirm it, that being stuck on a chair for too long, as many jobs demand, can foment anxiety. (For us writers, it’s definitely an occupational hazard.)

A study at Deakin University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research in Australia, shows that when you do too much sitting, without moving around much, your anxiety levels climb.

The research shows that low energy activities like watching television, working on a computer and playing video games are the kind of sedentary behaviors that lead to an increased risk of anxiety.

The Australian scientists note that this type of sitting around too long can also disrupt your sleep and lead to metabolic problems like type 2 diabetes. But I’d add that when you sit too much, your lack of physical release plays havoc with your emotions. You need to dissipate potential anxiety by moving around. Otherwise, your worried emotions can stagnate like a fetid pool.

So, if you’re looking for natural fixes for anxiety, use these tools:

  • Exercise: Anyone who knows me well would know that this is first on my list. Without exercise, I would be an emotional puddle on the ground. But it’s not just me – A study at the University of Georgia shows that exercising can cut anxiety by an average of 20 percent. And their research included people suffering from illnesses like heart disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer and arthritis. Those folks had good reason to be anxious.
  • Meditation and mindfulness: These are also techniques I depend on to keep my emotions balanced. On a walk or jog through a park, I often focus on the shape and demeanor of the trees. I’m also a big believer in losing myself in the behavior of slow-moving clouds. If you need help with being mindful or meditative, find a local course you can take. Research at Lund University in Sweden shows that being taught mindfulness is an effective way to improve your emotional outlook.
  • Melatonin: This natural chemical that your body produces to help you sleep can be taken as a supplement to help you avoid insomnia and reduce anxiety. A study at Capital Medical University in Beijing, China, found that melatonin can help you fall asleep even in a noisy environment and improve your feeling of calm.

If you have a persistent problem with anxiety, consult a professional healthcare provider for advice on other alternatives to ease your difficulties. But be careful about succumbing to the lure of pharmaceuticals to solve your problem. Their side effects and long-term problems often turn out to be worse than the problem you are trying to solve.

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Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.