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You’ll find a host of over-the-counter natural remedies for anxiety and stress. Be aware that most natural remedies have not been as well-studied as anxiety medications, nor is the natural remedy industry as well-controlled as the pharmaceutical industry. Some studies suggest that natural remedies may not even contain the ingredients listed on their labels.
Many of these anti-anxiety remedies that produce relaxation also make you sleepy, so don’t drive a car or operate heavy machinery until you know how they affect you.
- ” target=”_blank”>Lavender (the smell of lavender alone helps some people)
- Valerian root
- Lemon balm
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements
While panic attacks are a truly horrible experience, the good news is that there are techniques that can stop them in their tracks while teaching you how to deal with anxiety. One of the most effective is deep breathing. Panic attacks are often driven by hyperventilation—or breathing too quickly.
Learning to slow down your breathing and to take deep, slow breaths actually tells your brain to silence those alarm bells. Whether you’re dealing with panic attack symptoms or just having an anxious day, deep breathing should help you feel better within a few minutes.
Try the following “4-7-8” deep breathing technique:
- Inhale slowly through your nose to the count of 4. Be sure to fill your lungs and feel your belly expand.
- Hold your breath while you count slowly to 7.
- Slowly breathe out through your mouth to a slow count of 8, making a whooshing sound.
- Without pausing, start breathing in again through your nose to the count of 4.
- Repeat several times until you feel better. Don’t stop if you don’t feel better immediately, as it can take few minutes before you feel the effect
If you’d like to see whether mindfulness meditation is something you can use as tool against your stress and anxiety, try the following simple exercise.
- Find somewhere quiet and comfortable to sit.
- Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths.
- Gently, pay attention to your breath is as you breathe in and out.
- If you become distracted by a noise, feeling, or thought, simply acknowledge it without judgment. Naming it in your mind helps. Then gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
The key to mindfulness is to be gentle with yourself. It’s normal for your mind to wander or for you to become distracted. In fact, gently bringing your mind back to your breathing is the practice. In other words, without your mind wandering or becoming distracted, there is no practice. So in learning how to deal with anxiety, be kind to yourself. Don’t get frustrated or discouraged when your mind wanders; just bring yourself back to your breathing gently, without force.
Originally published in 2016, this post is regularly updated.