9 Natural Cures for Holiday Anxiety
- Written By:Dr. Amy Shah
In today’s world it’s almost hard to imagine being relaxed all the time. We have constant interruptions from our phones, constant stimulation all around us and often, a constant feeling that we’re not good enough.
So what are the symptoms of anxiety? Nervousness, restlessness, muscle tension in the body, rapid heartbeat, difficulty focusing, insomnia, worrying and obsessing. It’s important to remember there are also a host of medical conditions that can mimic anxiety so it's best to try these natural cures along with medical care under a physician.
When faced with these symptoms, it seems easiest to reach for a pill as a quick solution without really looking at the root causes of why you’re stressed and anxious. I implore all of my clients to seek help and really delve deeper into why you’re feeling stressed and anxious before you try any type of natural or pharmaceutical cure mentioned in this article or others.
That being said, once we really deal with the lifestyle factors, which means incorporating good food and exercise, there are some things that can help. Most people have some level of stress or anxiety during the holiday season, so here are a few natural remedies I recommend.
Magnesium has a calming effect on the body, both physiologically and neurologically, by acting as a muscle relaxer and a nervous system relaxant. This powerhouse mineral literally relieves muscular and psychological tension. That’s because it has a hand in promoting good circulation, blood pressure, optimal blood sugar levels and cellular energy production. It also promotes the release of the calming neurotransmitter GABA, affecting mood, heart rate, cravings, sleep and metabolism.
Additionally, chronic stress releases excess cortisol, damaging the hippocampus and creating depression and neurotoxicity. Magnesium can suppress the hippocampus’ ability to stimulate the release of stress hormones into the body and brain.
Vitamin D, the only vitamin that is actually a hormone, modulates the release of neurotransmitters that affect anxiety, like serotonin and dopamine. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with not only anxiety, but depression, panic attacks and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)-symptoms of which cross-over with symptoms of anxiety — like irritability, insomnia and difficulty focusing.
In addition to getting sufficient vitamin D through supplementation, you can eat foods rich in vitamin D (fatty fish, egg yolks, liver) or use a “SAD” lamp to help with symptoms of anxiety in the dark winter months. Many can also be set to gently wake you up on dark mornings, which might also help make your morning wake up more calming!
Oxidative stress has a role in anxiety — the central nervous system affects behavior disorders like anxiety. Anxiety puts stress on the body and weakens its ability to take care of itself in terms of nutrition. Luckily, the body has a built-in defense system that is supported by antioxidants like vitamin A,C, & E. Eating antioxidant-rich foods like deep-colored berries, dark chocolate, pecans, walnuts and green tea, naturally combat anxiety. Personally, these are some of my favorite foods that also release feel good chemicals like serotonin when you eat them and that itself is another great anxiety combatant!
Power napping is a great tool for anxiety because people struggling with anxiety may find it hard to meditate. Taking brief 15-20 minute naps could prove to be just as effective to slow down the mind, central nervous system and heart rate. Doing just 15 minutes is key as anything more can make you groggy and interrupt your sleep the next night.
Anxiety can lead to insomnia so power naps are also an excellent way to get much needed sleep. These power naps can be a mental and physiological reboot that can burst alertness, rekindle energy stores and increase motor and cognitive functioning.
Zinc and copper compete against each other in the body and having the right balance could be intricate in suppressing anxiety. Too much copper in the body and/or not enough zinc can be toxic and may influence the amount of the stress hormone norepinephrine, throw off our emotional balance, increase heart rate, produce anxiety and panic attacks.
Talk to a health care professional about a zinc therapy that has had some good results easing anxiety. Some natural foods that contain good amounts of zinc are nuts, lentils and mushrooms!
CBD is a type of cannabinoid — found in hemp and marijuana. Consuming it doesn’t result in the “high” you would get consuming other cannabis products, but it does have similar influence on serotonin. It seems to harmlessly reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety like nervousness restlessness, tension in the body, rapid heartbeat, difficulty focusing and obsessing as well as help with SAD, PTSD and insomnia.
Anxiety, stress and your “gut” are symbiotic in that anxiety can wreak havoc on gastrointestinal health, and poor gut health can ameliorate anxiety.
That’s because 80-90% of neurotransmitters are produced and stored in our digestive tract — did you know that? Maintaining a healthy gut is imperative to maintaining neurological and behavioral wellness.
Additionally eating fermented foods rich in probiotics and taking probiotic supplements have been linked to lower levels of social and emotional anxiety and lower levels of the stress producing hormone, cortisol. I love the EVOLUTION_18 Probiotic along with apple cider vinegar for my probiotic fix.
I mean even the thought of looking out over trees, flowers and boundless sky gives a feeling of calm and ease. Exercise might be the best stress reducer - especially low impact or moderate heart rate cardio sessions. Nature’s grounding (literally standing on earth instead of concrete), sun exposure and clean air naturally promote deep breathing, which calms the mind and central nervous system.
Get away from anxiety-producing noise, pollution and non-stop stimulation of traffic, crowds and electronics by getting into nature and moving your body. Bring a friend and the serotonin and dopamine will be free-flowing.
Massage has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda for calming the body. Massage, acupuncture and acupressure are positive ways to deal with anxiety and stress. In fact, studies showed that massage reduced people level of salivary cortisol (the stress hormone). It also increases serotonin which can counter feelings of anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety or stress, increasing serotonin is the best strategy!