My stomach is churning, and I feel like the walls are closing in on me. To be honest, I feel like I can’t even breathe. Unfortunately, my anxiety has returned full force and I don’t know what to do. I know I’m not alone in this experience since anxiety is one of the most common mental health challenges people face. When it feels debilitating I wonder how to treat anxiety naturally without medication. Rather than call my doctor, I do a little bit of research and discover 32 drug-free ways to keep anxiety at bay.
Anxiety is more common than you think
Did you know that anxiety is one of the most common illnesses affecting adults around the world?
There are a whole lot of people struggling with this condition so anytime you feel like you’re alone on the island of fear and anxiety, think again.
Unfortunately, I’ve struggled with anxiety my whole life but it truly made its debut after I graduated college. Gripped by panic attacks so severe that I had to lock myself in the bathroom at work to get through them, I finally sought out help from a psychiatrist.
Typical medications for anxiety
Depending on the severity of your anxiety, most physicians will recommend that you take medication. As a licensed mental health professional, I have a more holistic approach to treating anxiety because the medication will not treat the root of your anxiety and is more like a band-aid.
Don’t get me wrong here, some people suffer from panic disorder or severe generalized anxiety and benefit from SSRI medications which are non-habit forming and help with the chemical imbalance in the brain.
However, I’m not supportive of benzodiazepines. These are anti-anxiety medications like Xanax and Clonazepam, which provide short-term relief but are habit-forming and you build tolerance which can lead to addiction.
It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?
Where does it end? Is there a way to learn how to deal with anxiety naturally without medication?
How to treat anxiety naturally
Since I’ve suffered from anxiety for what feels like forever, I’ve figured out some effective ways to manage and treat my anxiety naturally without medication.
It takes a bit of effort on your part but it’s well worth it to regain the feeling of calm and peace.
So next time you notice your feelings of anxiety start to surge, try some of these natural remedies to get you feeling balanced, grounded, and relaxed again.
1. Have eggs for breakfast
Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast is a solid way to start feeling less anxious and more focused.
Even better is if you do some meal planning so you have everything ready ahead of time!
Need some tips and recipes? Check out the best meal planning guide for beginners!
Eggs are a great way to start your day because they contain choline which studies have found to help with cognitive functioning, overall brain health, and reduced feelings of anxiety.
2. Find time to daydream
One of the best parts of my job working with children is that they share their daydreams with me. They’re not afraid to slow down, unlike adults who are always on the move.
Whether you call it mediation or quiet time, you’ll benefit greatly from sitting still for 10-15 minutes and thinking about happy and hopeful thoughts.
Doing this regularly will strengthen your concentration, so you can begin to prioritize your long-term goals over your short-term worries.
3. Drink more water
One surprising way to figure out how to treat anxiety naturally without medication is to have a glass of water.
In a study done at the University of Connecticut, participants who were mildly dehydrated felt more anxious after walking on a treadmill for 40 minutes. Even more, they couldn’t think clearly and their energy levels dropped.
Ready to boost your daily hydration? Here are 8 easy ways to boost your water drinking game.
4. Take your dog (or yourself) for a walk
Going outside and taking your dog on a walk not only boosts your mood but also helps your puppy feel better!
The benefits of taking your dog (or yourself) for a walk include spending less time on your phone and reducing your time reading stressful news.
5. Watch a funny YouTube video
Did you know that one way to naturally treat anxiety without medication is to watch silly and funny videos?
If you’re ready for a positive distraction, find something funny or even cute animal videos.
Studies have shown that viewing a video for 20 minutes significantly decreases levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can hinder focus.
6. Try a weighted blanket
You would probably laugh if you ever saw my blanket and pillow set up in bed. I love snuggling up with my heavy blanket because it helps me feel more relaxed.
Furthermore, research suggests that weighted blankets help reduce or relieve anxiety.
Try it and see, you’ll feel a lot more relaxed after a goodnight’s sleep with your new blankie!
7. Drink some chamomile tea
One tip in my anxiety toolbox is preparing and drinking tea.
There are numerous benefits to drinking tea. This includes my mindful process of boiling water, brewing leaves, and taking slow deep breaths while drinking my tea in the morning thereby lowering my stress.
Unsure what type of tea to try?
Chamomile has apigenin, a flavonoid that binds to the same brain receptors as some anti-anxiety meds. Though more research needs to be done on this, chamomile can help you treat anxiety without medication.
8. Take a multivitamin
Your daily multivitamin can do wonders for your mood, energy, and focus.
Based on a study of 1,300 adults who took a multi-vitamin for about a month, researchers discovered that participants felt less tired and experienced a 65% reduction in both stress and anxiety.
Supplements containing higher doses of vitamin B help improve your mood since daily stress depletes your body of this stuff. Talk to your doctor about which over-the-counter brand to try.
9. Eat more fish and vegetables
If you suffer from anxiety, the last thing you want to do is have a diet high in processed sugar and fats because it will increase inflammation in your body.
Instead, follow a plant-based diet that helps balance chemicals in your brain.
Try to eat foods that are high in magnesium by eating more dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and dark chocolate.
In addition, add fish to your diet since omega-3 fatty acids (which are found in many types of fish) have been found to improve cognitive health.
Having a healthy diet is one easy way to learn how to treat anxiety naturally and productively.
10. Get warm and toasty
Getting warm is one of the best ways to engage in how to treat anxiety naturally.
Think of it this way, do you ever feel anxious after leaving the beach or a hot tub?
You don’t right?
There’s a reason for that: warm sensations may alter brain circuits that directly involve serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood.
Don’t have a hot tub? Take a warm bath or use a hot water bottle on your belly.
11. Practice self-care
Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir, but I’m a firm believer in self-care.
You can NOT be there for others consistently if you don’t prioritize yourself first.
Take control. Feel better.
Start your Self-care Journey.
Remember you don’t have to spend a ton of money getting a massage to pamper yourself.
Instead, focus on dedicating time every day for your self-care. Think of it as an investment for your physical, emotional, and mental health.
12. Distract yourself
The minute I feel the toxic worry of anxiety begin to engulf my brain, I try to do something to break its hold.
Rather than going on social media, try going on a walk, calling a friend, or even taking a shower. Move away from your negative thoughts and into the sensations of your body.
13. Reframe your anxiety
This will sound a little weird but typically when you feel anxious, your body is responding to a perceived threat.
So next time you feel anxiety before a big meeting, presentation, or even a trip, tell yourself the following:
“I am safe, this is a thrill, not a threat.”
Changing your view of anxiety as a stimulus instead of a hindrance helps shift your perspective and gives you more control.
14. Schedule a weekly massage
I can honestly say that one of the best investments I’ve made in figuring out how to treat anxiety naturally without medication is getting a regular massage.
It’s no secret that getting a massage alleviates stress and muscle tension in the body.
Moreover, having soothing touch boosts the levels of endorphins in your brain (the feel-good chemical).
If you’re on a budget, find a local massage school and other affordable ways to get a massage.
15. Stay in the present
Oftentimes anxiety stems when we’re worrying about the future. Uncertainty is uncomfortable especially if you like being in control.
To learn how to be more present orientated, start practicing meditation which helps you learn to be more rooted in the present moment.
Not sure where to start? Here are Simple Meditation Exercises You Can Do in 30 Seconds or Less.
16. Drink matcha instead of coffee
Though I love having Earl Grey tea, I have swapped it out for matcha since I’m prone to anxiety.
The caffeine that comes from coffee stimulates the production of adrenaline, which activities the fight-or-flight response in your body. This can further exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety.
As a result, you’ll feel more on edge and potentially have more anxiety.
Instead, try drinking matcha which has half the caffeine in coffee and also contains the amino acid l-theanine which helps create a feeling of calm.
17. Spend time in nature
Have you ever noticed that you feel significantly calmer after going to a park? It’s no surprise that spending time in nature is key for maintaining a sense of calm and balance in your life.
There’s a new trend in Japan called forest bathing which is basically just taking a walk in the woods. Studies have shown that 15 minutes of doing this activity lowers your blood pressure and increases your sense of calm.
Don’t live near a forest?
Go to a park or even look out your window since being in close proximity to natural green space is one of the ways you can engage in how to treat anxiety naturally.
18. Turn off the news and your notifications
I noticed that during lockdown my anxiety was spiraling out of control. To combat this, I stopped listening to the news and removed notifications on my phone.
If you’re prone to stress, this is one key way to treat anxiety naturally and quickly.
19. Focus on getting good quality sleep
Sleep deprivation is hard for anybody, but if you’re prone to anxiety then you’re far more vulnerable to the negative effects.
Have a hard time falling sleeping? Then check out 10 Ways To Put A Racing Mind To Bed And Sleep Now.
If you have sleep problems, avoid medication and read these 8 tips to finally say goodbye to your sleep problems.
20. Take deep, slow breaths
Have you ever noticed that when you’re anxious you hold your breath or breath rapidly?
One effective step on how to treat anxiety naturally is to learn how to regulate your breathing. Try to focus on taking a deep inhale and a slow long exhale. Repeat this 10 times.
21. Call a friend
Worry, stress, and anxiety are far worse when you’re dealing with them on your own.
Next time you’re feeling that way, call a friend, go to a store and just start having a conversation with someone.
When you feel connected, your anxiety will naturally reduce.
In addition, talking about our worries helps us find solutions and realize that our concerns aren’t so overwhelming.
22. Learn the facts
Struggling with toxic worry and ruminating about the what-ifs?
Yeah, I do that too so I’ve started using this mantra to help me:
“I choose not to freak out until I have all the facts.”
Typically when you’re worried about something you think about the worst-case scenario.
Next time ask yourself if you have all the facts?
It’s easy to spiral with worry and anxiety about the unknown. Instead, focus your energy on gathering all the facts and coming up with an action plan.
23. Envision the worst
This might sound like a weird way to treat anxiety naturally but it actually works.
Next time you find yourself in an anxiety-provoking situation, ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s the worst that can happen?
- How bad would it be?
- What’s the likelihood of it happening?
Interestingly enough, the worst thing that can happen usually isn’t that bad and seldom happens.
In all likelihood, you may wonder in the future why you worried about something like that in the first place.
24. Write it down
Schedule some time to worry and write down all your worries, fears, and what you’re anxious about.
This is something I do regularly because once I put my thoughts and feelings down on paper, they carry less weight.
Not sure where to start? Read Journaling for Beginners: A Guide to reduce your stress and solve your problems.
25. Practice gratitude
The moment you begin feeling anxious, start listing in your head or out loud a few things you’re grateful for. It can be simple like “I’m grateful for my comfortable bed” or “I’m grateful I have a job.”
Anxiety works on a scarcity mindset, and therefore to counteract that, focusing on what you’re grateful for helps reduce the anxiety naturally.
When you focus daily on remembering the blessings in your life, it may turn out to be the best anti-anxiety agent of all!
26. Stop the stimulus
If you’re anxiety-prone like me, one of the critical ways to figure out how to treat anxiety naturally is to decrease your stimulation.
Here’s a list of ways to reduce the stimulus
- Turn off notifications on your phone
- Turn off the car radio
- Don’t answer the telephone at home
- Turn on your do not disturb on your phone
- Take a lunch break away from your office
- Turn off your phone when you’re not using it
- Turn off notifications on your computer
- Limit screen time
- Don’t watch the news
- Focus on single-tasking not multitasking
Once you stop the stimulus you’ll notice that you feel calmer and in control.
27. Be proactive, NOT reactive
If you’re worried about your job, health or finances, then be proactive and do something about it.
Instead of letting worry and anxiety be in charge, create a plan to solve potential problems. You can start a savings account, schedule a work evaluation with your boss or even go see your doctor.
Taking action is one way how to treat anxiety naturally because even if it doesn’t solve the problem, it will reduce your anxiety.
28. Let it go
You know that incredible song in the movie Frozen where Queen Elsa belts out the tune “Let it go?”
If you are a chronic worrier (like me) it’s tough to let it go.
Trust me, I get it.
You may hold on to the worry as though it will fix the problem.
Instead, try visualizing letting go of your worry. You can take a shower and “watch” your worries go down the drain or go ocean swimming and release your worry into the vast ocean.
Another way to let it go is to write down your worries on a piece of paper and burn it or throw it in the trash.
29. Get sweaty
One of the best ways to keep your anxiety at bay is to have a regular exercise routine.
I can personally attest to the importance of exercise in not just managing my depression and anxiety but actually lowering it.
When you exercise you naturally boost feel-good hormones in your mind and body.
In addition, there are benefits for your cardiovascular health and decreasing the risk of chronic health issues like diabetes and heart disease.
Not feeling motivated to exercise? Try these 10 foolproof ways to boost your motivation and work out right now.
30. Conquer your clutter
Ever notice that you feel more anxious when your house is unclean or full of clutter?
UCLA researchers found that clutter has a strong effect on mood and self-esteem. Therefore, when your environment is messy then you’ll feel more stressed because your senses are overwhelmed.
To tackle this, focus on one area at a time so you don’t feel swamped and notice the benefits once the area is cleared.
31. Build a better budget
As a clinical social worker, I work with a wide variety of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Yet one thing theme I notice with almost every family I encounter is that they are stressed and worried about their finances.
However, know that you have a LOT more control over your finances than you think.
Instead of losing sleep over it, come up with an action plan, make a budget and stick to it.
32. Speak to a professional
As a licensed mental health professional and someone who suffers from anxiety, I can tell you that it is critical to seek help when you’ve tried doing everything you can and it still isn’t working.
There’s no shame in getting professional help and it will only empower you to learn even more effective tools to treat your anxiety naturally without medication.
Ready for the next step? This is how to start therapy the right way.
Remember that anxiety can happen to anyone and that it can feel overwhelming and overpowering especially if you’re facing a lot of stressors in your life.
Having lived with anxiety nearly my entire life, I can attest to how challenging it can be.
What I’ve learned though is how important it is to practice self-care and attend to my mental health on a regular basis. Oftentimes we are going full force only to find ourselves burnt out, overwhelmed, and exhausted because we neglected to take the time to slow down and examine how we’re feeling on a day-to-day basis.
Yes, you’re busy and have a lot to do, but it’s far easier to keep anxiety at bay by taking a little bit of time daily on figuring out how to treat your anxiety naturally than wait until you’re experiencing full-blown panic attacks.
If you only have a minute, then try this exercise:
Stand tall with your feet about hip-distance apart and then start shaking your body. Shake your head, your shoulders, your torso, and your legs. Imagine your body rippling all that anxious energy out and keep breathing while you shake it out.
How do you feel now?
Remember anxiety is negative energy in your body that needs to be released.
If you’re a chronic worrier and suffer from anxiety (like me) let me know what you have done to treat your anxiety naturally? Are there any tips you used in this article that were especially helpful? Please share your stories and comments below.