Try these all-natural remedies to take the edge off your anxiety.
"What if I can't make my mortgage payment? Or if my health suddenly turns?" We all have nagging worries that keep us up at night. In fact, worrying is hard-wired into our DNA, and can even be beneficial, especially when it motivates us to save for the future. But worrying can become toxic to your health when you always expect the worst, or can't stop asking "What if?" Here, Dr. Oz reveals three methods to manage your anxiety, without the use of prescription medication.
Break the Worry Loop: Quiet the Brain
By realizing that worry is a neurological process, rather than simply a "feeling," we can take steps to relieve it. Deep inside our brains is an almond-shaped structure called the amygdala, which acts as our fear and anxiety center. When we experience a potential worry, the amygdala sends warning messages to the cortex, the rational part of our brain, which can assess whether that worry is of true concern. As the rational cortex is flooded with more and more warning signals from the amygdala, however, it is unable to process them all, leading to worry loops or anxiety.
Fortunately, there are several steps we can take to quiet the brain and worry less:
Spend 15 minutes a day acknowledging your worries in a tangible way. Creating a list of your top 10 worries or a calendar of stressful upcoming events allows you to strategize and deal with each problem directly, so they don't balloon to an unmanageable size.
Deep belly breathing, whether in a yoga class, at the office, or on your couch, is helpful in interrupting irrational thoughts. If you frequently experience toxic worry, try carrying a balloon in your pocket. Blowing up a balloon forces you to take long, slow breaths from the diaphragm, which slows down your heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and helps your body use oxygen more efficiently, having a calming effect.
Treat Worry-Related Stomach Issues: Soothe Your GI Tract
Your stomach acts as a "second brain" when it comes to worrying. In fact, like our brains, our stomachs have their own nervous systems, called the enteric nervous system. When we worry, millions of receptors embedded in the gastrointestinal tract react to fear by speeding up or slowing down our digestion, which can lead to nausea, diarrhea and heartburn.
Lemon balm has been used since the Middle Ages as a calming herb. Take 400 mgs twice daily to prevent your stomach from reacting to your worried thoughts, available in drugstores for about $4.
You can also try iberogast, available in health food stores for around $20. Iberogast is a blend of plants and herbs, including caraway, chamomile, licorice, milk thistle and peppermint. Adding 20 drops to your water can sooth the receptors in your stomach when anxiety hits.
Take an Integrative Approach to Worry: Focus on the Mind-Body Connection
Conventional medicine views worry on a physiological level; integrative medicine seeks to evaluate the mind, body and spirit in conjunction, looking for imbalances in "energy."
Try an anti-anxiety elixir of 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, and a half teaspoon of honey, taken 3 times per day. This traditional Indian remedy is thought to balance the body by increasing energy in the digestive system, thereby reducing excess energy in the mind. Additionally, studies show that lemon juice lowers blood pressure by strengthening capillaries and may stimulate weak constitutions. Ginger calms the stomach, while honey controls the blood sugar instability that accompanies worrying.
When you need to calm down quickly, you can try Escents Stress Relief Aromatherapy Inhaler, available online for around $7. The scents of bergamot, lavender, eucalyptus, petitgrain, and jojoba go straight to the amygdala—the brain's fear and anxiety center—creating an immediate sense of calm and lowering your blood pressure.