Our mental health faces many challenges, and among them, anxiety is one of the most vulnerable. It has always plagued millions of people and has become a far more serious problem in these uncertain times. Anxiety is an emotion that is often defied by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes such as elevated blood pressure. People with anxiety usually have uncontrollable, recurring thoughts or worries.
In this state, people are always preoccupied with “what if” thinking: “what if something terrible happens to a loved one” or “what if I fail, what if I lose my job”, what if I never get married, what if I never get pregnant, what if people judge me, etc. Samar Hafeez, a psychologist and certified holistic health coach, helps us understand home remedies for suppressing anxiety.
Some at-home tips to manage anxiety symptoms:
1. Try the 4-minute body scan meditation: Sit comfortably and take two deep breaths through your nose and out through your mouth. As you exhale, slowly close your eyes. And mentally scan yourself from head to toe noticing any aches, pains, stiffness, or muscle spasms. This technique helps identify when and where you are feeling the physical effects of anxiety and helps you address them. An interesting study found that practicing body scan meditation regularly reduced the presence of the stress hormone (cortisol) in the body.
2. Mindful Eating: It’s not uncommon to think too much in our free time. Multitasking makes us less mindful and more anxious. Mindfulness is a technique that helps us enjoy the present moment without being overly assertive towards ourselves and others. Mindful eating is one of the best ways to start. Mindful eating means paying full attention to what you are eating – its texture, taste, colors, aroma, etc. It boosts confidence, reduces anxiety and also renews our experience of enjoying food. Similarly, mindful walking is a practice of becoming aware of your surroundings and how your body and mind feel (the sensations) as you walk. It’s interesting to know that meditation isn’t always about being still or sitting in a certain posture.
3. Use the imagination to relax: Using your imagination is a good way to help you relax. One way is to use visualization exercises where you imagine pleasant, relaxing images that bring instant relief, it could be an image of the beach, hill, garden or whatever might calm a person down. Guided imagery serves to draw people’s attention away from what is stressing them out and into an alternative focus. This practice is extremely portable as it relies on nothing but your imagination.
4. Shift from passive to active perspective: Talk to yourself positively and confidently. Know that the “what if” disaster does not validate or guarantee disaster. Terrible things, real or imagined, will make anxiety symptoms worse.
5. Reduce or stop using nicotine: Nicotine in cigarette tobacco and caffeine in coffee, tea, and soda can make anxiety symptoms worse.
6. Sleep well: It is known that lack of sleep negatively affects mood and emotional health. So try to get 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep every day.
7. The Gut-Brain Relationship: You’ve probably noticed how your stomach reacts when you’re upset, angry, or anxious. Your gut and brain are very closely connected. When one is negatively affected, the other is also affected. Research shows that foods rich in probiotics (good gut bacteria that keep immunity strong) may help reduce anxiety symptoms. Foods like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, fermented foods, and buttermilk are great sources. However, you also need prebiotics, a form of fiber that acts as fertilizer for good bacteria. Prebiotics are found in chickpeas, lentils, peas, beans, bananas, apples, pomegranates, watermelon, dried fruits (e.g. dates, figs), oats, barley, onions, garlic and flaxseed.
8. Play soft music: Whenever you feel like getting in the mood, try playing soft music or nature sounds.
9. Nature to Heal: Spending time in nature can help relieve anxiety symptoms. Nature has a unique calming effect on everyone, regardless of age. Being in nature or even observing scenes of nature brings back pleasant sensations. So increase your well-being in nature, bring nature into your home.
Try the above home remedies for improved anxiety symptoms. If you’re still unable to manage your symptoms, try seeking help from a medical professional.
Also Read: World Health Day: Useful Ways to Understand Anxiety Symptoms and Identify Triggers