Mental Health, Health, Lifestyle

Best Natural Remedies for Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are more prevalent than ever. Chances are you or someone you know has experienced stress, anxiety, burnout, or something similar. Our modern world has a lot going for it, but it seems to be taking a toll on our mental wellbeing. In this article, I’m going to share the most effective natural remedies and lifestyle changes for managing stress and anxiety in your life.

Note: This is not medical advice. This information is intended for addressing everyday levels of stress and anxiety. If you suspect you have an anxiety or depressive disorder, please speak to your doctor or call one of many mental health helplines.

 

What are stress and anxiety?

Stress is your body’s response to challenging situations. It activates your “fight, flight, freeze” system, increasing your heart rate and releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.

Your stress response is vital for responding to everyday stressors, like deadlines, stepping out of your comfort zone, or rushing to catch a bus. However, too much stress can overload your nervous system, causing you to feel stressed even when there’s no apparent reason to. This can lead to chronic

Anxiety is your body’s natural reaction to feeling worried or afraid about what might happen. It involves your brain signalling that you need to be alert, which can make your heart speed up and make you feel tense, nervous, or on edge.

Anxiety and stress produce similar responses in your body, but they’re often caused by different things. Stress is generally a response to an external trigger, whereas anxiety is defined by excessive worry and rumination that persists even when the stressor is no longer present.

It’s normal to feel anxious, stressed and nervous from time to time. It can be helpful when you need to feel more alert and ready, such as when you’re preparing for an important meeting, solving a problem, or in a potentially dangerous situation. 

However, problems can arise when anxiety persists and you feel constant worry, restlessness or panic. This can weaken your immune system, make you vulnerable to illness, and affect your ability to lead a full life.

If you are concerned about stress and anxiety in your life, please read on for natural ways to relieve and manage stress.

 

What are the main causes of stress and anxiety?

Stress and anxiety have been around since the dawn of humanity when we were living in caves, worried about the threat of wild animals, other tribes, or where we’d find our next meal. 

However, research suggests stress and anxiety levels are on the rise around the world.

It’s estimated about a quarter of adults in New Zealand have been diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder and the number of antidepressants prescribed to children has increased more than 50% in just five years. 

Globally, close to 300 million people, or about 4% of the population, were affected by anxiety in 2019 and that number skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

It’s safe to say stress and anxiety are major problems in our modern world. But what are the main contributing factors?

    • Fast-Paced Modern Life: The constant need to stay connected through smartphones, the internet, and a 24-7 news cycle can lead to a sense of never being able to fully relax or disconnect, increasing stress levels.
    • Financial Worries: With ongoing economic fluctuations, concerns about job security, and rising costs of living, it’s no wonder people are feeling anxious about their finances.
    • Health Issues: The hangover from the covid-19 pandemic and global and personal health issues can be a source of stress and anxiety for some people.
    • Social and Political Tensions: Current events, political unrest, and news of conflict abroad can create feelings of uncertainty and powerlessness, contributing to your stress and anxiety.
    • Personal Relationships: If you’re managing challenging relationships at home, at work, or with friends, it can create a lot of stress and anxiety in your life.
    • Work-Life Balance: Trying to juggle the demands of both your personal life and professional responsibilities can often feel overwhelming.

The most common treatments for stress and anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), also known as antidepressants.

However, concerns are being raised around the world that these prescription medications are being overprescribed and causing unpleasant side effects. 

While pharmaceutical solutions may be the best course of action in serious cases, there are many natural ways you can support your mind and body to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety.

5 Natural Remedies for Stress and Anxiety 

As I’ve mentioned, stress and anxiety activate the “fight, flight, freeze” branch of your autonomic nervous system, also known as the sympathetic response.

Natural solutions for stress and anxiety involve regulating your nervous system so that it activates the “rest and digest” or parasympathetic response. 

Here are 6 simple ways to support yourself to down-regulate your nervous system and relieve stress and anxiety, sometimes within seconds.

 

The 333 Rule

The 333 Rule is a simple strategy for grounding you when you’re experiencing an intense emotion or an acute stress response.

It’s designed to get you out of your head (thoughts) by getting you to focus on things you can see, hear, and feel.

  • Name 3 things you can see
    When you start feeling stressed or anxious, pause for a moment and look around. Name three things you can see. If you’re in the office it might be a clock, a coffee mug, and a window with a view outside.
  • Name 3 sounds you can hear
    Maybe you can hear the traffic outside, the clicking of keyboards, and the whirring of the air conditioning system.
  • Move 3 parts of your body
    Now engage your body. You could stretch your arms overhead, gently rotate and stretch your neck, and wiggle your toes. 

The 333 Rule is designed to intercept the thoughts in your head, engage your senses, and bring you back to reality. Negative thought loops can fuel anxiety and this simple 3-step process helps to break that cycle.

 

Breathing Exercises for Stress and Anxiety

Did you know breathing is one of the only things that we can do both automatically and voluntarily?

For this reason, it’s a powerful tool for influencing our autonomic nervous system.

When you feel anxious or stressed, your breathing will become short and shallow as your body is preparing to fight or flee from danger.

You can consciously change your breath to tell your body that there is no present danger and it’s safe to down-regulate your nervous system.

Here’s how to breathe to relieve stress and anxiety:

  • Light: Your breathing should be light so that you barely hear or feel it passing through your nose.
  • Slow: It should be nice and slow to signal to your body that you’re safe.
  • Longer exhale: Your exhale should be slightly longer than your inhale. Eg. Inhale for 3 seconds, exhale for 6 (or 4:6, 5:10). Whatever ratio feels comfortable and natural for you.
  • Deep: You should breathe into your belly. It may be helpful to place a hand on your belly to feel it expand and guide the breath.
  • Through your nose: Ideally, you should be doing nasal breathing. Mouth breathing should only be used when you’re exercising, panicking, or your nasal passages are blocked.

If you breathe like this for just 2-3 minutes, you should feel some relief from stress and anxiety.

Do it for 10 minutes and you may feel like a different person.

 

Reduce Caffeine Intake 

If you struggle with stress and anxiety and you’re drinking several coffees a day, I don’t want to be a killjoy, but you may want to consider reducing your caffeine intake.

Caffeine is a stimulant, which is why coffee is such a popular drink for increasing alertness and focus.

However, it achieves this by activating the sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) nervous system and triggering the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Essentially, coffee affects your mind and body in the same way as stress and anxiety. So, drinking coffee is like pouring gasoline on the fire so to speak. It’s going to make your feelings of stress and anxiety worse.

I’m not saying not to drink coffee at all. Just be mindful of how coffee makes you feel and aware of what it’s doing in your system. If you usually have three coffees a day, maybe start by reducing that to two. If you have two, see how you get on with one.

If you’d like to try a natural, homeopathic solution to overcome your fatigue and boost energy (without spiking your stress response), check out our Revive spray.

 

MyCalm Spray 

It’s not like me to explicitly promote one of our products in a blog post, but I’m really excited about the potential of our MyCalm spray to support people with stress and anxiety.

For years, people have been asking me at events and in emails to create a product that relieves stress and anxiety — it’s been the number one request by far.

I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes for months now developing a natural formula that provides fast relief from acute stress and anxiety. 

MyCalm can be used for: 

  • Acute anxiety and panic attacks
  • Anticipatory anxiety (eg. before a social event)
  • General anxiety (daily ongoing anxiety)
  • Stress and nervousness

The formula is designed to soothe your nervous system, help you down-regulate to a parasympathetic state, and rediscover a sense of calm and balance.

It’s a natural product that can be used safely with other anxiety medications.

Get MyCalm here (Coming Soon)

Laughter

You know how they say laughter is the best medicine. Well, that’s no joke 😉

Laughter may be one of the best natural remedies for stress and anxiety we have. 

Unfortunately, as we age, we tend to laugh less. A study found that healthy children can laugh up to 400 times a day, while the average adult only laughs 15 times a day.

You can bring more laughter into your life by watching a good comedy movie or funny videos on YouTube. Or even better, catch up with your funniest friends for a real life laugh fest. 

Laughter can help to:

  • Decrease stress hormone levels
  • Increase endorphins (feel good chemicals)
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Increase oxygen uptake 
  • Boost your immune system

Good Quality Sleep

Have you ever noticed that everything feels a bit more overwhelming when you’re tired? That’s because sleep is vital for helping you manage stress and anxiety.

During sleep, your stress hormone levels naturally decrease and your nervous system down-regulates to “rest and digest” mode. But if your sleep is disrupted or you don’t get enough sleep, the body doesn’t get a chance to reset itself.

Countless studies have found that poor sleep quality and duration are associated with higher stress and anxiety levels. The frustrating thing is, when you have higher stress and anxiety it’s harder to get a good night’s sleep so it can become a vicious cycle. 

I recommend using some of the strategies in this post, such as calm breathing and reducing caffeine, to help with both improving sleep and reducing stress.

Doctor Matthew Walker, a renowned sleep scientist, offers several valuable tips for improving sleep based on his extensive research:

  • Stick to a Sleep Schedule: Consistency is key. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your body’s internal clock, which can improve the quality of your sleep.
  • Keep Cool: The ideal temperature for sleep is around 18.3 degrees Celsius. Cooler body temperatures signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.
  • Watch the Light Exposure: Exposure to natural light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. But make sure to reduce exposure to blue light from screens in the evening, as it can disrupt your ability to fall asleep.
  • Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine: Both substances can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Try to avoid consuming them after lunch or at least six hours before bedtime.
  • Limit Alcohol and Heavy Meals in the Evening: Alcohol might help you relax, but it can interfere with your sleep cycle once you’re asleep. Similarly, heavy or rich foods can cause discomfort and disrupt sleep.
  • Wind Down and Clear Your Mind: Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. This might include activities like reading, taking a warm bath, or meditation to help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.
  • Get Physical: Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep—but try not to exercise too close to bedtime.
  • If You Can’t Sleep, Get Up: If you find yourself awake for more than 20 minutes in the middle of the night, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.


You may also want to try using our natural
Sleep spray which can help to calm you down at night and support a restful and restorative sleep.

 

Find Your Calm

If you’re experiencing stress and anxiety in your life, I want you to know you’re certainly not alone. 

Sometimes when life feels overwhelming, trying to introduce a bunch of changes at once can just make things worse. I suggest choosing one or two changes to implement and see how you go.

Start small, stay consistent, and watch how these natural remedies can transform your life, bringing peace and balance every day.

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