Seven natural remedies for anxiety

Self-help tips to help reduce symptoms and promote calm

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Around 3 million people in the UK suffer with an anxious disorder according to Anxiety UK. If anxiety is a problem for you, here are seven natural remedies that may help.

See also: Could you have an anxiety disorder?

See also: Do you suffer from anxiety? Avoid these foods

1. Switch coffee for chamomile tea
Caffeine is a stimulant that can make your anxiety worse. Cut back on cups of coffee and tea, or switch to de-caff, and avoid energy drinks that contain caffeine. If you feel anxious, try to drink at least three cups of chamomile tea a day.

A study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center found that patients with generalized anxiety disorder who took chamomile supplements for eight weeks had a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms compared to patients who were given a placebo.

2. Take L-lysine supplements
L-lysine is an amino acid and one of the building blocks of your brain's chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Research from Japan suggests that increasing your intake of L-lysine can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and lower the levels of stress hormones in the body.

Foods high in lysine include lean beef, cheese, turkey, chicken, pork, soy, fish, shrimp, shellfish, nuts, seeds, eggs, beans, and lentils. You can also take lysine in supplement form.

3. Sniff lavendar essential oil
Many people swear by essential oils to help relieve anxiety. One study found that people in a hospice who received a daily hand massage with lavender, bergamot, and frankincense oil, reported less anxiety and depression.

Lavender is a good choice and helps to relieve headaches, as well as promoting calm and help you get a good night's sleep. Try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your bath water, or dab some on your pillow. You can also buy roll-on lavender sticks which you can run across your wrists for a quick calm-me-down.

4. Exercise outdoors for 20 minutes each day
Exercise is a powerful stress reducer and has been shown to improve your mood. Research suggest that regular cardio exercise (such as going for a brisk walk for 20 minutes) can lower overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilise your mood and help you sleep. According to one study, people who got regular vigorous exercise were 25% less likely to develop depression or anxiety over the next five years.

Try to walk outside in sunlight for at least 20 minutes a day. Why? It will help to boost your vitamin-D levels, which can decrease symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression. If you can exercise surrounded by greenery or near water, even better. Japanese researchers found that people who walked in a forest for 20 minutes had lower stress hormone levels than those who walked the same distance around town.

5. Eat more omega-3s
Studies show that eating omega-3 fatty acids can help to keep your brain healthy and ward against depression. There's also some evidence to suggest that eating more omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety by lowering levels of stress chemicals in the body. T ry to eat oily fish such as salmon and mackerel two or three times a week, and snack on walnuts, which are another great source of omega-3 fatty acids. You might also want to consider taking an omega-3 supplement.

6. Learn a relaxation technique and get support
Whether you use visualisation, meditation or yoga, practising a relaxation technique can help you cope when you feel anxious. Even something as simple as putting a hand on your stomach and taking four slow, deep breaths in and four out again can help. Understanding how anxiety works can help you find useful coping strategies. You'll find lots of books on Amazon, such as Making Friends with Anxiety.

If you find it difficult to talk to a partner, friend or relative about how you're feeling, consider joining an anxiety support group. Meeting face-to-face or talking online with people who know what you're going through can make all the difference. Your doctor may be able to refer you for counselling, psychotherapy or help through an online mental health service, such as FearFighter. You can also find groups through www.nopanic.org.uk and www.anxietyuk.org.uk.

7. Enjoy a hot bath with Epsom salts
A hot bath is always soothing, and raising your body heat may help to promote relaxation. Try adding some Epsom salts to the water, as the magnesium sulphate they contain has been shown to lower blood pressure. If you're out and about and can't have a bath, experts say that immersing your hands in warm water is enough to engage the body's self-soothing mechanism.