Anxiety is a natural adaptive mechanism that activates an alarm signal before potentially dangerous events. In fact, some degree of anxiety can help you take a more cautious attitude and prepare you to react quickly. A moderate level of anxiety will also allow you to stay focused and face the challenges that lie ahead.
However, there are times when anxiety runs rampant. If you can’t reduce the tension, anxiety, and apprehension, those feelings will eventually build up to the point where you become emotionally overwhelmed. Then you will react with anxiety to almost any situation and you may even start to suffer from panic attacks. In some cases, this anxiety can become so intense that it interferes with your daily activities, profoundly affecting your quality of life.
Daily life doesn’t help either. Work pressures, instability, uncertainty, daily responsibilities and social commitments add up to feed a state of constant tension that easily turns into anguish and anxiety. In fact, it is no coincidence that Spain has become the world leader in the consumption of benzodiazepines, according to a report by the International Narcotics Control Board.
The latest National Health Survey carried out by the Ministry of Health indicated that 1 in 10 people consume tranquilizers, relaxants or sleeping pills. However, these “solutions” often have adverse effects.
The effectiveness of anxiolytics progressively decreases and by 4 weeks it may have practically disappeared, although their adverse effects may persist and even intensify in the long term, according to research published in JAMA Psychiatry. In fact, it is possible to develop a dependency even after relatively short treatment.
For this reason, unless strictly necessary and always under medical supervision, it is better to avoid anxiety medications and resort to natural products that, together with lifestyle changes and psychological help, allow you to eliminate anxiety symptoms.
Natural anxiety relief products that really work
1. Lavender essence
Aromatherapy has been used for years to treat different problems, including anxiety. Lavender, in particular, contains a substance called linalool, which is primarily responsible for relieving anxiety by generating a sense of peace, tranquility, and relaxation.
Neuroscientists have verified that lavender not only activates the olfactory areas of the brain but also those related to emotions, while mitigating the activity of the prefrontal cortex. In fact, it generates an increase in alpha wave activities, indicating a state of relaxation. Lavender aromatherapy has also been seen to produce EEG patterns characteristic of people who feel comfortable.
In addition, a study carried out in Germany revealed that taking lavender oil-based tablets for 6 weeks is as effective as Lorazepam in relieving anxiety disorders. Therefore, lavender for anxiety works, either in tablets or as aromatherapy, which you can use while taking a relaxing bath or trying to sleep at night.
2. Chinese anti-stress balls
Stress balls originated in China. In fact, they are also known as Baoding balls because they take the name of the city where they come from, a place that, moreover, is famous for the longevity of its inhabitants. Over a thousand years ago, they were used by both peasants and emperors.
The difference lies in the material from which they are made, since traditional anti-stress balls are made of metal or wood, which means that they are not squeezed, but rather rolled in the hand. There are even metal anti-stress balls that have a system inside that emits a very relaxing sound with movement, similar to that of Tibetan bowls.
Researchers from the University of Surrey tested its effectiveness among different natural relief anxiety products with 400 patients who were going to undergo surgery. Interestingly, neither the music nor the presence of the partner helped to relieve stress and tension. The anti-stress balls did: they alleviated anxiety by 18%. Those patients even reported 22% less pain during the procedure.
To take full advantage of its relaxing effect, it is recommended to use the Baoding balls several times a day for 3 minutes with each hand. Basically, you just have to spin them in the palm of your hand, rotating them horizontally, first counter-clockwise, then clockwise, and then switch hands. Without a doubt, it is a natural product for the nerves that is particularly effective in dealing with specific stressful situations.
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng or greater nightshade, has become popular under its Sanskrit name: ashwagandha. In fact, it is a plant that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and has been classified within the group of “adaptogens” because it acts on the nervous system and the hormones that regulate the response to stress.
A small study conducted at the D.Y. Patil for 8 weeks verified the effectiveness of ashwagandha in relieving stress and anxiety. Each participant randomly received one of three treatments: ashwagandha extract at a dose of 250 mg or 600 mg daily or a placebo.
Those who took ashwagandha had lower blood levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, than those in the placebo group. They also experienced better sleep quality. Additionally, participants who took 600mg of ashwagandha reported significantly lower stress levels. It should be noted that ashwagandha is a natural product for anxiety that can be consumed in the form of tablets as a supplement, or in liquid format.
4. Anxiety Journal
Keeping an anxiety journal is an excellent therapeutic tool to combat that feeling of apprehension and anguish. Putting in black and white all those thoughts that are running through your mind creating tension and making you always fear the worst will help you to understand them better, feel more comfortable with them and, ultimately, strip them of the power they have over you.
Writing about what you think and feel is like sitting down to talk with anxiety. Perhaps at first this idea will generate a certain rejection because probably what you have done in recent times is try to escape anxiety, but in this way you will only end up reinforcing it. Instead, writing an anxiety journal will help you get to know your anxiety and yourself better.
Keeping a careful record may help you detect patterns of reaction to certain circumstances so that you can avoid them or prepare to better deal with them. In fact, a study conducted at Pennsylvania State University with 70 people suffering from generalized anxiety concluded that “Journaling may be an effective intervention to mitigate mental distress, increase well-being, and improve physical functioning.”
Passionflower has been used for centuries to treat anxiety symptoms and is a common ingredient in mental wellness supplements for its ability to relax the nervous system.
In a study conducted in Brazil, researchers gave 40 participants passion flower and others Midazolam (an anti-anxiety medication) 30 minutes before undergoing a tooth extraction.
They found that passion flower extract was as effective as midazolam in significantly reducing anxiety symptoms. Also, unlike the drug, passionflower did not cause any negative side effects. Passionflower is one of the natural products for anxiety that can be found in the form of tablets or in liquid format.
In any case, it is important that you keep in mind that to relief anxiety you have to address its cause and develop appropriate coping strategies. Understanding why it arises, under what circumstances and what reactions it causes will allow you to better manage it in the long term and not depend on anxiety products that, although natural, are still external aid.
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Dantas, L. et. Al. (2017) Effects of passiflora incarnata and midazolam for control of anxiety in patients undergoing dental extraction. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal; 22(1): e95-e101.
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