Remedies like getting more sleep, limiting caffeine, meditating, and chamomile tea may go a long way toward helping you manage anxiety symptoms.

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Anxiety is related to the stress response, which can be beneficial and useful. It makes you aware of danger, motivates you to stay organized and prepared, and helps you calculate risks.

Still, when stress becomes persistent and recurrent, it may snowball into an anxiety disorder or other mental health conditions. Natural remedies may help.

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or worry that results from a combination of factors that researchers believe may range from genetics to environment to brain chemistry.

Common symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • increased heart rate
  • rapid breathing
  • restlessness
  • trouble concentrating

Anxiety may present differently for different people. While you may experience a butterfly feeling in your stomach, someone else may experience:

Persistent anxiety about different events that have or haven’t happened, may indicate an anxiety disorder or a related condition.

Anxiety is a key factor in conditions like:

Staying active

A 2021 study found that people with physically active lifestyles have about a 60% lower chance of developing anxiety symptoms. This percentage was compared to matched individuals in a general population of about 400,000 people followed over 21 years.

Exercise often diverts your attention from thoughts that may increase your anxiety. Getting your heart rate up also generates changes in the brain chemistry, including in anti-anxiety brain messengers (neurotransmitters), like:

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), regular exercise enhances concentration and willpower, which may improve certain anxiety symptoms.

If you’re looking to really get your heart rate up, something like a HIIT class (high-intensity interval training) or running is your best bet. But if you’re looking to start off with soothing low impact movements, workouts like Pilates and yoga may work great.

Limiting alcohol intake

Drinking high amounts of alcohol may interfere with brain messengers (neurotransmitters) involved in regulating your mood. This interference may cause an imbalance that could manifest as symptoms of anxiety.

A 2019 study indicated that there’s a link between anxiety and alcohol consumption, with anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorder (AUD) often occurring hand-in-hand.

A 2016 review that looked at 63 different studies showed that decreasing alcohol intake may improve both anxiety and depression symptoms.

A 2022 study conducted across 36 years showed that alcohol disrupts your body’s natural ability to sleep and may further diminish sleep quality over time. Sleep deprivation may increase your risk of developing chronic sleep problems. A good night’s sleep is incredibly helpful when managing anxiety.

If you’re used to regular alcohol intake, anxiety symptoms may temporarily increase at first when you stop drinking. However, these often improve in the long run.

Stopping tobacco use

A 2020 review gathered evidence that smoking cigarettes and anxiety symptoms often coexist. Consistent findings showed that people with anxiety are more likely to use tobacco. Additionally, a 2023 study found that stopping smoking significantly improved anxiety symptoms.

A 2020 study also suggests that nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke alter pathways in the brain linked to anxiety and panic disorder symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends finding a substitute for cigarettes, like toothpicks or gum.

You can also take up habits that may distract you to create an environment that works for your smoke-free life. Additionally, you can make a plan with a support system that can provide everything from encouragement to distractions.

Limiting caffeine intake

Caffeine may cause or worsen anxiety disorders. A 2022 review of 10 studies reported that caffeine may increase both anxiety and panic attacks in people living with and without panic disorder. In some people, eliminating caffeine significantly improved symptoms.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR), officially recognizes caffeine-induced anxiety disorder. The DSM-5-TR, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is the reference handbook most U.S. mental health professionals use.

Caffeine-induced anxiety disorder involves caffeine interfering with daily functioning. A diagnosis requires that a person experiences anxiety symptoms related to caffeine consumption.

A 2021 review indicated that caffeine increases alertness by blocking the brain chemical adenosine (which is what makes you feel tired), while at the same time triggering the release of adrenaline, known as the fight-or-flight hormone.

With all this being said, a moderate intake of caffeine is safe for most people.

However, if you’re looking to cut back or completely cut out caffeine, you’ll want to start by slowly reducing the amount of caffeine you drink daily.

Gradually reducing your caffeine over the course of a few weeks can help adjust the habit without the body going through withdrawal.

Prioritizing getting a good night’s rest

Even though a 2018 survey of 400,000 people showed that nearly a third of adults get less than 6 hours of sleep a night, the CDC recommends 7 or more hours every day.

You can improve your sleep hygiene by:

  • sleeping when you’re tired
  • avoiding television or reading in bed
  • limiting phone, tablet, or computer use in bed
  • getting up instead of tossing and turning in your bed
  • going to another room (even if it’s the bathroom) if you can’t sleep
  • skipping caffeine, large meals, and nicotine before bedtime
  • keeping your room dark and at a comfortable temperature
  • writing down your thoughts before going to bed
  • going to sleep around the same time each day

Meditating and practicing mindfulness

A central goal of meditation is gaining full awareness of the present moment, which includes identifying thoughts in a nonjudgmental way. This can lead to a sense of calm and contentment by increasing your ability to mindfully tolerate all thoughts and feelings.

Meditation relieves stress and anxiety. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a type of talk therapy that combines meditation and mindfulness strategies with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, may help.

A randomized clinical trial reported in 2023 that an 8-week program of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) meditation helped relieve anxiety symptoms as much as the frequently prescribed antidepressant Lexapro.

Eating a balanced diet

Low blood sugar levels, dehydration, or chemicals in processed foods, such as artificial flavorings, artificial coloring, and preservatives, may affect your mood. A high sugar diet may also impact how you feel.

If your anxiety worsens after eating, consider checking your eating habits. Staying hydrated, eliminating processed foods, and eating a balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins may help with your symptoms.

Practicing deep breathing

Shallow, fast breathing is common with anxiety. It may lead to a fast heart rate, dizziness or lightheadedness, or even a panic attack.

Deep breathing exercises — the deliberate process of taking slow, even deep breaths — can help restore regular breathing patterns and reduce anxiety symptoms in the moment.

Trying aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that has been used by humans for thousands of years. The practice uses natural plant extracts and essential oils to promote the health and well-being of the mind, body, and spirit.

The essential oils created by the natural plant extracts may be inhaled directly or added to a warm bath or diffuser.

Aromatherapy may:

  • boost relaxation
  • help with optimal sleep
  • elevate mood
  • reduce heart rate
  • balance blood pressure

Some essential oils believed to relieve anxiety are:

  • bergamot
  • lavender
  • clary sage
  • grapefruit
  • ylang ylang

While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

Drinking chamomile tea

A 2016 randomized clinical trial involving people with a GAD diagnosis showed that chamomile may be a powerful ally against the disorder. The study found that chamomile was safe long term and that it significantly reduced anxiety symptoms, although it did not decrease reoccurrence.

Researchers in a 2021 study suggest that chamomile’s anti-anxiety properties may stem from the activity of a flavonoid called apigenin. This flavonoid engages GABA receptors at the same binding sites targeted by anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax.

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Mental health professionals often prefer CBT for anxiety management. This talk therapy may be done in person or online.

Medications, like antidepressants and sedatives, are another option for severe anxiety symptoms. They help to balance brain chemistry and reduce episodes of anxiety.

A combination of talk therapy, medications, and self-care can help you decrease the chance of severe anxiety episodes.

Natural strategies like regular physical activity, aromatherapy, deep breathing, mindfulness, and chamomile tea may help you reduce anxiety symptoms.

If you feel your anxiety is getting worse, consider professional help. Talk therapy, prescription medication, or both, may help with severe or persistent anxiety.

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