Updated: Oct 28
Now more than ever, you may find yourself in need of some natural, effective remedies for stress and anxiety. Though the day-to-day anxieties of work may be temporarily suspended if you’re working from home or on (hopefully) paid leave, the stress of no longer having your daily routine can be overwhelming, too.
If you happen to work in a job that is considered essential at the moment, you have all the usual anxieties of work along with the stress we all feel about these interesting times and the uncertain future on the horizon. Here are some helpful tips to at least keep you in the right state of mind to face the challenges ahead.
TAKE A TIME-OUT
No, we don’t mean you have to stand in a corner facing the wall and think about what you’ve done (but by all means give that a try if it makes you feel better). Instead, just step away from whatever task or thoughts are producing anxiety and do something else for a while. Clean your house or do the dishes, paint or draw, or work on the car or some appliance you’ve been meaning to fix.
Any of these things and more will not only distract and relax your mind, but they will also give you a sense of accomplishment and autonomy, making the things you can’t control in life seem less insurmountable. Combined with one or more of the other tips on this list, taking a time-out now and then can help keep you happier and more productive.
Obviously your anxiety has not gotten so bad that you need to literally be reminded to breathe. It is a natural, involuntary function for all of us, but concentrating on and regulating your breathing can do wonders for your mental state. Practice focused, deep breathing while counting in your head to clear away stress.
Similar to a time-out, counting to ten is one of those things we learn at a young age as a way to calm down, and it works equally well in adulthood. It doesn’t have to be ten, though. Try slowly breathing in through your nose while counting to four, eight, ten - whatever number works best for you - then hold it for the same count, then exhale through the mouth while counting again. Evening out your breath in this way will slow your heart rate and keep you out of panic mode.
Good old oxygen-rich air is enough to clear away some anxiety when consciously regulated as described above, but there are certain scents that can be soothing as well. Whether in the form of oils, incense, or candles, scents like lavender, sandalwood, and chamomile can be highly beneficial to anxiety sufferers. Aromatherapy has been used by cultures around the world for centuries, and can be used for pain management and better sleep quality as well. Which brings us to our next point…
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
We’ve all had those moments when we snap at someone, unintentionally overreacting or just plain being a grump. What is our most common excuse when we realize we’ve stepped out of line? If it’s not hunger (or “hanger”), it’s probably “I’m just tired.” A person is simply not in their right mind if they have not had enough sleep.
It has been debated whether or not a person actually becomes clinically insane after 72 hours or more without sleep, and while it may not be enough for a legal defense, anyone who has stayed awake less than half that long knows the effects sleep deprivation has on the mind as well as the body.
Even if you’re not going to nearly those sorts of extremes, any amount of deprivation or interruptions to the sleep cycle can negatively affect mental health and cause stress, depression, and anxiety. Luckily, practicing the items on this list during your waking hours can help you get better, more restful sleep. As can…
Cannabidiol (or CBD) is an extract of the cannabis plant that can be used as an oil or in various other products, from edibles to lotions and topical creams. Though the other common derivative of the cannabis plant, THC, is still illegal in many parts of the United States, CBD is widely legal and available, and no, it does not get you “high.”
Studies have shown that what it does do is change the blood flow to the regions of the brain associated with anxiety, so it not only makes you feel better, it actually changes the way your brain responds to those anxious feelings in the first place. In other words, it won’t impair your judgment or ability to operate machinery, and it won’t give you the fabled munchies, but it can help you mellow out.
Daily exercise, along with well-balanced meals and sufficient sleep, is very important to mental health and anxiety management. It doesn’t have to be a high-impact workout, by any means. Take a long walk or do 20-30 minutes of yoga, or any sort of stretching. These forms of exercise increase blood flow and regulate your breathing, so even if you’re not consciously practicing meditation (which can also be very helpful), just the simple acts of performing physical movements and regulating your breathing can refocus your mind away from negative thoughts. As an added bonus, regular exercise will help you sleep better, which in turn decreases anxiety further.
WRITE DOWN YOUR THOUGHTS
You’ve heard the old chestnut about writing a letter or email to someone with whom you have a grievance, and then never sending it. Just focusing on the problem enough to write it down is often enough to relieve those negative feelings. The same thing can work for your own anxiety. Just putting a name to your free-floating fears and worries, and externalizing them onto paper or a screen, can be enough to alleviate some of them. You might even find some concrete solutions to specific problems through this sort of focused thinking.