Believe it or not, the most effective remedy for relieving stress is quite easy to get your hands on. You’ll be surprised at how simple it really is…
I don’t deny that life can be stressful. It’s easy to become anxious when we have a tight deadline at work, and the boss is breathing down our necks. Even at home, we all have obligations. Our spouses are giving us a hard time or our children are acting up in school, etc.
There isn’t exactly an instruction guide on life management when circumstances throw an onslaught of lemons in your direction. The thing about anxiety, though, is that it’s also largely a chemical and hormonal balance issue. It helps to know how the brain works if you want to know how to get rid of anxiety.
What Causes Anxiety?
Yes, undesirable life situations cause anxiety. However, the emotional response is due to physiological changes in the brain, which in turn affect other areas of your body. Learning how to control anxiety begins with knowledge of the brain-emotion connection.
The research in stress and anxiety is still in its infancy. The latest studies, though, do yield some clues. One report published in the PLOS ONE journal, for instance, suggests there may be a genetic factor. Those with a gene called RBFOX1 may be more prone to anxiety disorders in response to unfavorable external stimuli.
Researchers are also studying the brain’s role. The amygdala is especially getting a lot of attention. This is the area that interprets perceived dangers and alerts the rest of the brain when it believes the threat is real. The triggering is what activates the fight-or-flight system in your nervous system. While essential for survival in a real-life precarious situation, an over-triggering can cause excess cortisol release. Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone for a reason. Aside from making you stressed, you’ll also suffer physical effects, such as diminished testosterone and libido.
Understanding how to lower anxiety begins with keeping cortisol levels in check while elevating release of specific feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters.
How to Calm Anxiety Without Medication
Just because depression is a formally classified illness does not mean you need to resort to side-effect-inducing drugs. By all means, see a doctor, but explore natural pathways before even considering prescriptions of any sort. The methods we introduce below will show you how to calm down anxiety while also improving overall health and well-being in the process.
Change Your Diet
The western diet, while convenient, does your health and mind no favors. Too many foods are loaded with processed and refined chemicals that throw your body out of hormonal balance. Consider these foods for reducing the cortisol stress hormone and controlling anxiety:
- Salmon – Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which regulates production of the hormones dopamine and serotonin. These are the body’s natural feel-good hormones.
- Turmeric – This is a spice more than a food, but it’s loaded with curcumin, which studies1 show has anti-anxiety effects.
- Yogurt – This dairy goodness has long been revered as an excellent probiotic source. While probiotics mainly benefit the gut, studies2 also show they boost mental well-being.
- Avocados – This fruit contains B vitamins that aid in brain cell production. B vitamin deficiency has been linked to many ailments, including anxiety.
Get Some Exercise
Considering this is a fitness site, we assume you’re already physically active or at least plan to be. Not only will this benefit your physical health but it may also have anxiety-relieving effects. If you regularly work out, then you’re familiar with what is referred as runner’s high. You also get the same high from anaerobic exercise.
It’s believed that physical activity that gets your heart rate up increases endogenous opioid activity in the peripheral and central nervous system. This induces a euphoric state, which can last for several hours after the workout. Studies3 also show exercise increases a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which has been linked to stimulation and growth of neuronal pathways. While we are advocates of low volume weight training, you can do other forms of exercise as long as it produces that same runner’s high.
You don’t need to retreat to a mountaintop or seek out a guru in India to become a meditator. Meditation can be done for about 20 minutes a day in the comfort of your home. There are so many forms of meditation. We recommend keeping it simple with mindfulness and deep breathing. Just find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Take deep breathes, hold and slowly exhale. Studies4 show diaphragmatic breathing prevents cortisol spikes in healthy adults.
A report published in Harvard Health also suggests meditation may ease anxiety and mental stress.
You may have heard the saying that laughter is the best form of medicine. The very act of laughing causes the brain to release some of the aforementioned feel-good chemicals. Heck, you don’t even need to laugh out loud. Even a smile alone is enough to cause a rise in dopamine release. Studies show laughing causes a surge in endorphins, which not only makes you feel good but also relieves physical pain.
With this in mind, one of the best ways of controlling anxiety is watching a comedy film. In the age of YouTube, you can also seek out funny viral videos of aspiring YouTubers doing outrageously stupid stunts for cheap laughs.
By socializing, we’re not talking about tweeting or Facebooking one of your hundreds of social media friends. We’re talking about good old fashioned, face-to-face interactions. This has become almost a lost art due to the prevalence of Skyping and instant messaging. None of this technology was available just two decades ago, and if you’re old enough to remember those days, we reckon you fared just fine.
Studies show social bonding actually increases the brain’s production of oxytocin, a chemical that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing it to produce a calming sensation.
If you want to know how to fight anxiety, call up your friends for a karaoke night or whatever. Even a scheduled bingo night is fine. What’s important is that you’re in close proximity and actively bonding with people you consider important in your life.
Use Supplements for Anxiety
Use an all-natural supplement that reduces cortisol and promotes the release of the feel-good hormones we’ve been talking about. Look for a product with scientifically proven ingredients. Examples include choline, DHA, ginkgo biloba and inositol, just to list a few. These compounds are all found naturally in food. They’re also found in our own Cortigon supplement for relieving stress and boosting mental clarity. Top supplements for depression contain the good stuff found in nature and don’t rely on synthetic compounds.
The Top Ingredients in Natural Anxiety Supplements
If you have been following our blog, then we don’t need to tell you twice that we are natural purists when it comes to supplements. That means we won’t advocate anything in a bottle unless the ingredients are all-natural. The best supplements for depression and anxiety are no exception. All the ingredients we list below have been scientifically proven to reduce cortisol, increase serotonin or promote other pathways to hormonal balance.
According to a Hordaland Health study5, choline plays a pivotal role in alleviating mental illness and may reduce common symptoms associated with anxiety. Doctors also recommend women take choline during pregnancy to aid in the fetus’ brain cortex development.
The brain aside, choline is also vital for forging strong cell membranes and their ability to signal one another. To be precise, choline is not the compound that keeps anxiety a bay. Rather, it’s the compound acetylcholine. Choline is a precursor for acetylcholine, which studies6 show has a strong association with alleviating anxiety states.
2. Valerian Root
The valerian root is a North American and European plant that has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for insomnia and calming the nervous system. The root works by stimulating gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) in the brain. This is what calms the nerves. In this sense, the valerian root has a very similar effect as drugs like Valium and Xanax, which also increase GABA levels.
Studies7 support the use of the valerian root for treating depression-like behavior. The research confirms that a supplement for anxiety can only benefit from containing valerian root as an active ingredient.
The amygdala is a small region in the brain that regulates emotional responses. Research shows that prolonged stress causes physical structural changes in the amygdala. The rewiring eventually leads to anxiety and major depressive disorders.
How does L-carnitine fit into all of this? Studies8 show that the compound may prevent the behavioral and neurological effects of anxiety. Studies show that rats treated with L-carnitine remained more sociable. A brain scan also revealed that their amygdala showed more branching.
While L-carnitine is found in meats, fish and poultry, the best supplements for anxiety will also contain this vital ammonium compound.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Not all fats are created equal. Some fats, like trans fats, are absolute crap and major health wreckers. Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, are perhaps the most beneficial and natural fats available. The health benefits aren’t limited to cardiac health and blood lipid improvement. More studies are revealing a link between omega-3s and stress reduction.
According to a study from the Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science, college students given an omega-3 supplement reported 20 percent less anxiety compared to a placebo group.
Omega-3s are supplements you should be consuming more of anyway for their multitude of benefits. It’s no surprise then that this beneficial fat is found in natural supplements for anxiety.
In simple words, phosphatidylserine is a type of fat that can be found in every cell membrane of the human body that also contains the mineral phosphorus.
Several human studies have found out that phosphatidylserine improves cognitive function, attention and memory. Not to mention that PS is also known as being one of the top supplements for reducing cortisol, fatigue, ADHD symptoms and cognitive decline.
Phosphatidylserine has countless human results, along with an FDA approved health claim regarding its ability to reverse neurodegenerative disease in humans, which is due to its naturally potent action on nourishing the brain’s neurotransmitters and hormonal health (and also mental health).
Why the Best Supplements for Anxiety Should Be All-Natural
We have made it clear in previous posts that we are staunchly against supplements containing synthetic compounds. This is all the more important when it comes to anti-anxiety supplements. There are a lot of anxiety and anti-depression medications. While we don’t deny their effectiveness, their prolonged use comes at a steep price.
One common medication is the sedative group of benzodiazepines, which calm the mind and relax the muscles. These drugs are sold by the names Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Librium, just to list a few. The medication is only designed for short-term use due to the risk of side effects, which include memory loss, drowsiness, sleep disturbance and disorientation. There are also withdrawal symptoms, which may result in irritability, tremors and even seizures.
While natural compounds aren’t totally side effect free, any after effects are minor and dissipate within days. Natural anxiety supplements also never carry the risk of dependency. You can discontinue use any time without your body going into deep withdrawal.
Best Supplements for Depression Promote Natural Well-Being
We never recommend natural supplements for anxiety as a standalone remedy. You should also exercise more, make better food choices and just take the time to smell the roses. While life circumstances are occasionally going to stress you, it’s always up to you how you choose to react. A natural supplement like Cortigon isn’t an anxiety insta-cure, but it will certainly give you a boost in the betterment of your well-being.