When it comes to learning how to calm your anxiety, the stakes couldn’t be higher. If you have ever experienced a sudden and overwhelming sense that something terrible is about to happen — you may have experienced an anxiety attack. And you are not alone!
Anxiety Is An Epidemic In The U.S.
Anxiety has become an epidemic in the U.S., so much so that it has overtaken depression as the leading mental health disorder. It is estimated that 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety.
Even more troubling, a recent paper from Harvard and Stanford determined that health issues from job stress and anxiety causes more deaths than diabetes, Alzheimer’s or influenza.
So it goes without saying that learning how to calm anxiety is critical to extending the longevity of our life and improving our overall quality of life. If you are looking for a natural approach to easing your anxiety symptoms, here are five to consider.
6 Scientifically-Proven Methods To Calm Anxiety
1. Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
Numerous studies have shown meditation and mindfulness are effective ways to reduce anxiety. A meta-analysis combined the results of 163 different studies and concluded that practicing mindfulness and meditation produced beneficial results with a substantial improvement in anxiety.
Don’t know where to start? Here is a great resource from Psycom:
Drink a cup of chamomile tea to calm your nerves. Chamomile contains compounds that bind to theas anti-anxiety drugs like Valium.
Alternatively, you can take Chamomile in supplement form. In this, patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) who took chamomile supplements for eight weeks had a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms compared to patients taking placebo.
3. This Song Reduces Anxiety by Up to 65 Percent
Mindlab International conducted a study on participants who were solving difficult puzzles as quickly as possible while connected to sensors. The puzzles induced stress as participants listened to different songs. Researchers measured brain activity and physiological stats that included heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate.
Interestingly, one song produced a greater state of relaxation than any other music tested.
In fact, listening to that one song – “Weightless” – resulted in an amazing 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates.
Japanese Buddhist monks could meditate for hours alert and relaxed. One reason may have been an amino acid in their green tea called L-theanine, says Mark Blumenthal, of the.
Additionally, research shows that L-theanine helps curb a rising heart rate and blood pressure. In one, anxiety-prone subjects were calmer and more focused during a test if they took 200 milligrams of L-theanine beforehand.
According to Psychology Today, a calming effect is usually noted within 30 to 40 minutes after taking L-theanine. And it typically lasts 8 to 10 hours. Moderate anxiety symptoms often improve with a regimen of 200mg once or twice daily. More severe anxiety symptoms may require spaced doses of 600mg to 800mg daily.
5. Breathing Exercises
You can reclaim your sense of calm by teaching yourself to breathe through anxiety or panic attacks. Mindful breathing, requiring conscious thought, relaxes your autonomic nervous system which minimizes anxiety.
To start, try the 4-7-8 method. Carry out the following steps in the cycle of one breath:
- First, let your lips part. Make a whooshing sound, exhaling completely through your mouth.
- Next, close your lips, inhaling silently through your nose as you count to four in your head.
- Then, for seven seconds, hold your breath.
- Make another whooshing exhale from your mouth for eight seconds.
When you inhale again, you initiate a new cycle of breath. Practice this pattern for four full breaths.
The held breath (for seven seconds) is the most critical part of this practice. You can gradually work your way up to eight full breaths.
6. Spend Time With Your Pet
Recent studies have confirmed the benefits of the bond between humans and animals. Pets, especially dogs and cats, have evolved to become acutely attuned to our behavior and emotions. For example, dogs dogs are experts at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures. And like any good friend, a loyal dog will look into your eyes to gauge your emotional state and try to understand what you’re thinking and feeling.
Studies have found that:
- Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
- People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
- Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
- Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
- Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.
- Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
- While people with pets often experience the greatest health benefits, a pet doesn’t necessarily have to be a dog or a cat. Even watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce muscle tension and lower pulse rate.
Source: The Mood Boosting Power of Pets
The Takeaway For Calming Anxiety
When you feel a panic attack looming or overwhelming worrying consumes you, these remedies can calm the brain, relax the body and help you return to status quo. And, don’t be afraid to talk to a medical professional if you need a little extra help tackling anxiety issues!
Additional Resources For Calming Anxiety