Post on: April 27, 2020.

Posted in: Read.

The best tips and natural supplements to help with anxiety.

It’s okay to feel anxious, stressed, angry or depressed. These are uncertain times. But, you can manage it!

In times of drastic change, it’s natural to have some feelings of anxiety – here are quick tips on ways to treat anxiety, cope with stress and improve your mental health during COVID 19. Anxiety can be useful in high pressure moments; however, when it happens on a daily basis, it can disrupt your mental and physical health. From commonly known strategies, like practicing deep breathing, to natural medicines, like passion flower, here are 12 ways to treat anxiety naturally and improve your mental health during COVID 19.


What anxiety can do to your body

Anxiety plays a major role in your ability to maintain good physical health. It can affect a person’s ability to participate in behaviours that promote health, from fulfilling relationships to healthy eating. 

It feels like your heart is racing, or there’s a weight on your chest so heavy you can’t breathe – anxiety can really take a tool on your health.

Symptoms of Anxiety

It’s common for adults to experience symptoms of anxiety in today’s society. When you feel anxious, it activates your body’s fight or flight responses. This can leave you feeling nervous, tense, and restless. Some people talk about a tightening in their chest, or feelings that they can’t breathe. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of mental illness, including anxiety, can vary, but could include:


Improving Mental Health during COVID 19

Feeling anxious is a normal reaction when things are uncertain. For many of us, the COVID-19 illness has made the future uncertain. You may have worries about finances, your health, career, school, having to cancel social events, or the health of loved ones. It is okay to feel more anxious than usual.

You’re doing the best you can. Take time for yourself. Take time to take care of yourself, and focus on creating healthy habits that you can carry into your lifestyle after this is all done.   

Wearing bright colours can help lift your mood.

Why Do I Feel Anxious during COVID-19?

Panic can build in uncertain global times when it’s not needed. Panic is unhelpful. Stock piling items is not helping your community – your neighbour may be unable to find the supplies they need to survive. Try to use some of the techniques below to help you reduce feelings of panic or stress. Alternatively, try not to swing too far the other way, and adopt denial, which for some helps them avoid anxiety. Denial can be obstructive. Denial can cause you to ignore recommendations by health authorities. The best place on the stress scale is somewhere between panic and denial. This illness is serious and we should be concerned about it, but it is not catastrophic. It will be okay. We will get through this together!

If you are feeling hopeless, take action. Look to trusted organizations such as the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control for information. Avoid information overload – turn off the news, or social media if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Take positive and protective actions, such as practicing good hygiene, communicating with a friend to see if they need a virtual hug, or supplies. Most importantly, stay home as much as possible, and isolate if you feel sick. 


How do you fix anxiety naturally?

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in Canada and the United States. To calm your mind and relieve stress, medications are not your only choice. There are many ways you can treat anxiety naturally. But, go farther! Don’t just treat anxiety, improve your mental health during COVID 19. Embrace the idea that you aren’t just surviving, but taking this unprecedented time to thrive!


Getting outside can help reduce anxiety and boost your mental health in stressful times.

12 Ways to Treat Anxiety Naturally and, Improve Your Mental Health during COVID 19

1. Rule with Routine

Turn off the lights at night and wake at a reasonable time. Practice self-care, exercise daily, eat regular meals and snacks. Embracing a routine can positively impact your mental health. With a routine, you know what to expect. That makes it easier to work towards counteracting negative thoughts. Plus, better sleep and mood come with a schedule, according to the Lancet Psychiatry – a schedule that includes an active daytime routine, instead of late nights. As for children, routines make them feel safer. Making family routines is a helpful way to cope and manage stress.

2. Play Dress Up

It’s amazing how what you wear can impact your mood. Try it! Put on some bright colours and feel your mood lift. Wearing yellow could inspire feelings of ha happiness and optimism. Green is linked with feelings of hope. While, orange is a colour associated with energy, fun and warmth. Keep it comfortable if you’re staying home.

3. Aromatherapy

Fragrant essential oils can promote a sense of calm and wellbeing. Whether added to a bath, diffuser, or applied topically, studies have shown essential oils can help you relax, sleep, and boost your mood. Bergamot appears to be beneficial at reducing feelings of stress in the workplace, says researchers. Some calming oils include lavender, ylang ylang, and bergamot. By choosing sustainably sourced essential oils you can breathe easy knowing your purchase helped make the planet a better place.

Hanging out in the trees is scientifically proven to help reduce stress.

4. Feel the Wind On Your Face

The healthiest thing you can do is go outside and move. If you are worried about contact, head outside early in the morning when there are few people out – it’s very peaceful. Your body was made to move, and fresh air can reduce feelings of cabin fever quickly. Plus, us Canadians are in much need of vitamin D from the sun, after our long winter. It’s amazing how fresh air can improve your mental health during COVID 19, or other times you’re feeling stressed.

5. Consider passion flower, and adaptogens

Passion flower has been traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help relieve restlessness and nervousness. Health Canada recommends 0.25 to 8 grams of dried non-standardized extracts of passion flower for adolescents 12-17, and adults 18 years and older. Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress – they sort of act like your wingman in stressful moments. Ginseng and ashwagandha have been used in Herbal Medicine as adaptogens to help increase resistance to stress in times of mental distress.

6. Get Sweaty – Exercise!

Need a bit of motivation to get you exercising? Exercising keeps you healthy! Regular exercise makes you less likely to get a cold, reported the British Journal of Sports Medicine. For many, this stressful, anxiety-filled time can drive you to hide on the couch, stay up late binging on yet another Netflix series, and crave sugar, or other comfort foods. Find time to move each day and you’ll be thankful you did. Exercise causes the release of chemicals in the body that boost mood. You don’t have to sign up for a marathon. Grab your calendar. Get your red pen ready to make check marks, and start moving! Exercise is an excellent way to boost mood. 

7. Take a moment

Sometimes the best thing you can do to treat anxiety naturally is to take a break. It could be as simple as spending a moment doing some slow breathing exercises. Simple breathing exercises help you improve your anxiety quickly. Close your eyes. Take 10 breaths. Let each inhale last to the count of 4, hold for a second, then slowly exhale for the count of four. In anxious times, people tend to breath only in their upper chest – deep breathing exercises can greatly improve both your mood and energy levels. It can also help you practice mindfulness. The practice of mindfulness, being present in the current moment, can help you let go of negative, or difficult emotions about a past experience or a future concern, that is weighing you down. Putting some attention on the sensations (smells, sounds, textures) around you can help you focus. 

8. Eat Well

As for those cravings rallied by stress, anxiety or depression in uncertain times, tell your inner cookie monster that you have to eat an apple (or other fruit first). Then, if after that, you still want the cookie, you can have it. Healthy eating is not about will power. Eating to comfort yourself is not uncommon, but by avoiding emotional eating triggers, re-wiring your brain with healthier habits, and taking the guilt out of the equation, you can not only cope with this stressful situation, but take this pause in your busy lifestyle as an opportunity to thrive by building healthier habits.

9. Hug a Tree

Stroll, or even sit, in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature can significantly lower your stress hormone levels, reported researchers in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology. Whether you simply wiggle your toes in the grass outside your door, or stroll through the trees in a nearby park, spending time in nature can help you alleviate emotions that are building up. 

In fact, nature therapy, also known as forest bathing, has been shown in 64 research studies to reduce stress. The practice of forest bathing is a traditional Japanese practice of immersing oneself in nature by mindfully using all five senses. Walking in a forest  benefits to one’s mood and mental state, says studies,  versus walking on a treeless city street. Nature truly is the ultimate stress buster!

Researchers say your mood is affected by what you eat. Eating this bean, mango salad is a healthy choice.
You’ll love this Revitalizing Mango Bean Salad, from Allison’s book, Aging Bites.

10. Munch on Some Plants

Your brain lives on food. It consumes 20% of your daily calories. As such, it’s no surprise researchers say your mood is affected by what you eat. Shifting towards a dietary pattern that is rich in whole foods can help your brain produce more of the neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine) that are needed for mental health. 

11. Give Space

In times of stress, people can have moments when they are not at their best. Be kind to yourself. As for others, give space, compassion and try not to hold grudges. Everyone is doing the best they can to cope and manage stress. “Extend kindness to others around you, particularly those struggling to communicate their stress and sense of worry,” advises Psychologist Dr. Eileen Feliciano, based in New York. Remember that children can also be affected by stress, sometimes needing additional attention, hugs or reassurance.

12. Make a Self-Care Tool Kit

Self-care can be the embrace of a soft blanket, the beat of a good tune, or the fragrance streaming up from a warm mug cradled between your fingers. Self-care strategies are unique to each person, but usually involve sensory components such as touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell or movement, explains Dr. Feliciano. There are many self-care ways to cope and manage stress: hot baths, facials, hugs, foot rubs or meditation. Swinging on a rocking chair, a weighted blanket, a coloring book, blowing bubbles, or writing in a journal are all forms of self-care. Consider putting many of these soothing favorites in one spot to create a retreat space. Having a place that feels safe and relaxing can help sooth emotions. Kids make forts: cozy, small spaces filled with soothing treasures that bring joy. Why not build your own?


Fresh vegetables, mango and salad are examples of good foods to help boost your mood in times of stress.
Eating a salad may not seem like your go-to in a stressful situation, but it should be. Salads help boost your mood.

What should I eat for anxiety?

When you think of brain food, fish usually comes to mind. Fish and seafood are one of the most nutrient-dense brain foods, containing omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins needed for optimal brain function. More specific to anxiety, munching on kale, figs, raspberries, chickpeas, and nuts may help. These foods are rich in magnesium and zinc. Not eating enough magnesium can increase anxiety-related behaviours. Eating food that is rich in zinc has been linked to lower anxiety. Eating these and other whole, plant-based foods is a great way to regulate your mood. Researchers at West Virginial University interviewed 1956 students and found those who ate more fruits and vegetables, and less sugar had better mental health. Whole, plant-based foods help regulate blood sugar and improve gut health, two major players involved in anxiety. Eating more natural, whole-food, plant-based meals can help you improve your mental health during COVID 19 and help you adopt healthy habits that will last long after these uncertain times are over.


References

Urban nature experiences reduce stress in the context of daily life based on salivary biomarkers. Front Psychol 4 April 2019.

Effects of aroma hand massage on pain, state anxiety and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi 2008 Aug; 38(4):493-502.

Aromatherapy benefits autonomic nervous system regulation for elementary school faculty in Taiwan. Evid Compl Alt Med 2011.

Effects of regulating intestinal microbiota on anxiety symptoms: a systematic review. General Psychiatry 2019;32:e100056.

An exploration of the aversive properties of 2-deoxy-D-glucose in rats. Psychopharmacology 15 Aug 2018; 235.

Effects of nano and conventional zinc oxide on anxiety-like behavior in male rats. Indian J Pharmacol 2013 Sep-Oct;45(5):508-12.

Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacology 2012 Jan; 62(2): 304-312.

Canadian Mental Health Association, 2020. 

National Institute of Mental Health, 2020.

Mental Illness, Mayo Clinic, 2020.

Ashwagandha, Health Canada.


Ginseng, Health Canada.

Passion Flower, Health Canada.

Food, Mood and Brain Health: Implications for the Modern Clinician. Mo Med 2015 Mar-Apr; 112(2): 111-115.

Relationship between diet and mental health in a young adult Appalachian college population. Nutrients 2018 Aug; 10(8): 957.