Conversations about mental illnesses have been taking place more openly all around the globe, of late. However, we still have a long way to go in breaking the stigma around mental health and make it as common and as acceptable as a common cold.
Talking more and talking openly has led people to understand what mental illness is, why it is not something to shy away from, the different types, and what could be some signs to look out for.
People are reaching out for help more than ever these days, which is a very good sign of progress.
13 Natural Ways to Reduce Anxiety & Depression
In this article, we have listed natural home remedies and methods, that could help one reduce their anxiety and free themselves from the clasps of depression.
However, if you are suffering from anxiety or depression, we are not advising you to replace your medications with these methods. Medicines serve their purpose and act best when complemented with natural remedies.
You must have heard this often. Exercising causes your brain to release the feel-good hormone, endorphin, which almost immediately elevates your mood. Also, when you exercise, your mind as well as your muscles, are engaged, which keeps your mind off your worries, at least for that duration.
It gives you something else to focus on. Do it and see, instead of scoffing it away. Just go out for a walk at least, preferably with a friend or pet.
2. Meditation and Yoga
Even if we have mentioned the two together, these two methods are extremely powerful individually and even more so when practiced together. It is considered the oldest natural home remedy to reduce anxiety and depression.
While exercising gets your body moving and your heart pumps blood faster, Yoga is more mindful and lets you relax into the moment while also giving your body the movement that it needs. For ages, Yoga has been contributing to a healthy mind and is recommended by almost every medical practitioner as well.
Now, some might say that meditation makes them focus more on their thoughts even more. Also, most people are not able to maintain their concentration for extended periods when they meditate. All these tend to make their minds even more restless.
You do not need to have to be a pro at it. If you have never been a part of guided meditation before, all you can do is focus on your breath and let the thoughts come and go without fixating much on them. The internet also has several guided meditations, and you can choose one from a credible source.
3. Writing or Journaling
Often, it is best to pen down the thoughts that are bothering you. It is said that when you acknowledge something, you take away the power it has on you. You could even channel this into writing creative stories or quotes or poems.
Journaling has been reported to help millions of people around the globe reduce anxiety or depression. Often, when you write your feelings down, you realize that they are not as big as they seem in your head. Try making it a daily practice.
4. Planning and Strategizing
A major aspect of anxiety is worrying about things going wrong. In situations like these, having a plan helps. You can have a plan and also a contingency plan that you can implement whenever things go wrong.
It is also good to set a schedule that you try to follow every day. It gives you a sense of control over your time. Having a schedule also stops you from over-stressing about the things that you have to get done throughout the day.
It feels good to lie down in a calm room and relax with some soothing scents and aromas, doesn’t it? Aromatherapy involves different essential oils, most of which have a calm and soothing effect on the mind. This method isn’t expensive, even though it might sound fancy.
You can do some research on which oils have stress-relieving properties, and all you will need is an oil and a diffuser. You can even use a scented candle for the same. The least you can do is light your favorite incense sticks and lie down peacefully and experience yourself.
You have to start somewhere and you can start at your home itself.
6. Herbal Supplements
Herbal supplements having natural herbs like Brahmi, Basil, Ashwagandha, etc will also help you relax and calm the mind. Herbal teas also have stress-relieving properties, which also soothe the nervous system and promote sleep. Chamomile, green tea, catnip, lavender, basil tea have been shown to reduce stress, improve memory, promote better quality sleep, and also reduce depression.
7. Spending Time with Pets / Animals
Often, loneliness and isolation may be the main cause of a person’s depression. Spending time with animals helps reduce loneliness, improve mood, and reduce stress.
Studies have shown that playing with pets and other animals reduces the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body.
8. Eating A Natural Diet
Generally, when people eat junk foods and sweets, they consume a lot of sugar, and unhealthy fats, which can often be the triggers for depression and anxiety for many. Such foods are also most often empty calories and do not provide any of the essential nutrients, which cause a lot of oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain.
Eating a natural diet not only provides all the essential nutrients and minerals that help reduce this damage, but it also keeps your body healthy and, in turn, makes you feel lively.
Eating a natural diet can also help shed some extra pounds and make you look and feel good about yourself, which can boost your self-esteem.
9. Keep Your Gut Clean
Research says that 95% of the happiness hormone gets released in the gut instead of the brain. This makes it very important to keep your gut healthy and clean as it promotes a strong immune system, a healthy brain, good heart health, a strong digestive system, better moods, and improved sleep.
As mentioned above, a diet rich in natural fruits and vegetables is a good way to achieve this while also including pro-biotics in your diet.
You also need to identify if your body resists some things like milk and gluten and completely eliminate them from your diet as they may trigger your anxiety and depression.
10. Avoid / Restrict Caffeine
While a hot cup of coffee every morning may sound tempting, caffeine may be one of the reasons for worsening anxiety. A small amount of coffee may give you a temporary boost of energy.
It can make you feel lively for a while, but studies have shown that caffeine elevates the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
It can also cause chronic stress if consumed over a long period.
11. Restrict Smoking and Alcohol Consumption
There is a common notion that drinking or smoking can help you let out stress or at least make you forget problems for a while. But the fact is that both these items have depressant properties and might give you a feeling of relaxation, but once the effect wears off, the after-effects could be far worse.
Also, people suffering from anxiety and depression are more likely to get even more paranoid or sad and think negative thoughts while drinking.
12. Sleep Well
It’s often said that people suffering from depression tend to sleep more. It may be due to extreme sadness or fatigue. Often when people feel sad, sleep also helps them escape their worries.
In cases of depression, improving the quality of sleep is crucial during treatment. Exercising, eating healthier foods, and talking to friends and family can help.
On the other hand, research has shown that sleepless nights can cause anxiety to spike by 30% every night. So, to cure anxiety, sleep must become a priority, and one must make a conscious effort to create a sleep schedule and get 6-8 hours of sleep each night.
13. Deep Breathing Exercises
Like meditation, deep breathing can have calming effects on the brain and will also help calm your breath. Deep breathing can be especially beneficial for those suffering from anxiety as it helps one calm down, especially during panic attacks.
If you observe, all the remedies and methods mentioned in this article talks more about lifestyle changes rather than shortcuts or promises towards good health.
Inculcating any of these steps into your lifestyle will not cause you any harm but, if you are on medications, do not replace them with natural remedies unless your medical professional explicitly tells you to.
By sleeping well, eating healthier foods, exercising, and staying hydrated at all times, your body will feel good, which, in turn, will help your mind feel good too. Your mind does not work in isolation, which is why it is extremely important to look at mental health more “holistically.”
If practiced regularly, you will be able to notice a considerable difference in the state of your mind within a few weeks.