Mahesh BS

Consultant - Clinical Psychology

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Reviewed by

Mahesh BS

Consultant - Clinical Psychology

Manipal Hospitals, Mangaluru

10 Ways To Naturally Reduce Anxiety

Reviewed by:

Mahesh BS

Posted On: Apr 01, 2024

blogs read 4 Min Read

Ways to Naturally Reduce Anxiety

Do you frequently experience increased heart rate, jitters, and a sense of unease, how to control anxiety when faced with challenging tasks or new social situations? Welcome to the world of anxiety where everything feels like a threat causing the mind and by extension, the body to go haywire.

Whenever there is a ‘perceived’ threat, the sympathetic arm of the nervous system turns on and increases the heart rate and blood flow to the muscles to ‘fight’ or ‘fight’ the threat. This response is called anxiety, which is essential to tackle many stressors. But if this anxiety remains on for too long, it becomes a disorder. Anxiety disorders show a variety of symptoms like:

  • panic attacks where you are unable to breathe
  • stomach pain and the feeling to poop
  • gassiness and bloating
  • cough
  • sweating
  • nightmares
  • painful and end-of-the-world kind of thoughts
  • chest pain

While persistent anxiety carries with it many physical complications, there are several simple methods to calm ourselves. Some of these methods include:

1. Physical Movement and Exercise:

Exercise diverts your attention away from thoughts that may trigger and exacerbate anxiety. Increasing your heart rate also alters brain chemistry, boosting anti-anxiety neurotransmitters like serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and endocannabinoids.

2. Getting Enough Sleep

A good night’s sleep regulates mood and emotional brain circuits. Even a single night of poor sleep can increase emotional reactivity and cause the amygdala (the part of the brain involved in fear and negative emotions) to overdrive, worsening anxiety. Moreover, a lack of sleep affects concentration, and decision-making, further increasing feelings of worry and stress.

Hence, uninterrupted and proper sleep becomes essential in helping regulate heightened emotions. This can be achieved by incorporating better sleep hygiene habits:

  • Sleeping when tired, 
  • Sleeping at the same time every day
  • Limiting screen time before bed
  • Eating at least 2 hours before bed 
  • Keeping the room dark and cool
  • Writing down thoughts before bed

3. Reducing Alcohol

Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol disrupts the brain's mood-regulating neurotransmitters and increases the risk of chronic sleep issues both of which could potentially induce anxiety. A 2019 study from the University of Minnesota, USA, has found that there’s a link between anxiety and alcohol consumption, with anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorder often occurring in concordance.

Hence, experts advise reducing and even quitting alcohol consumption. While anxiety may temporarily spike due to withdrawal after quitting, these symptoms tend to improve over time.

4. Limiting Caffeine Consumption

While our daily coffee provides a needed energy boost, excessive dependence on caffeine can fuel anxiety. As a nervous system stimulant, caffeine promotes increased adrenaline production, heightened brain activity, elevated heart rate, and raised blood pressure. Consuming caffeine at odd hours also disrupts sleep cycles, worsening anxiety symptoms.

However, moderate coffee intake is not inherently harmful. Drinking coffee in the early hours, ideally before 3:30 pm, and gradually reducing daily caffeine consumption can help mitigate its effects on anxiety. 

5. Practising Meditation and Mindfulness

When you are anxious, you are often caught up with the thoughts in your head. This is where meditation and mindfulness practices step in and anchor you into the present moment. A central goal of meditation is to become aware of the present moment by focusing on the breath and identifying thoughts in a non-judgmental way. This provides feelings of calm and contentment allowing you to tolerate all thoughts and feelings mindfully. 

6. Going Out in the Nature

Numerous studies have shown that spending time in green spaces and exposure to fresh air decreases stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine helping counteract the bodily effects of anxiety. Spending time outdoors during the day (especially in the morning) also exposes us to sunlight or natural light which regulates circadian rhythms and improves sleep quality.

7. Eating a Nutrient-rich Diet

A good diet packed with essential nutrition not only helps the body but also provides an array of benefits for the brain. Many nutrients aid in several brain functions and processes that influence mood and anxiety levels. Some of these include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain structure and function and have many anti-anxiety effects.
  • B vitamins (B6, B12, folate): Required for making and regulating the levels of neurotransmitters.
  • Magnesium: Involved in neural pathways regulating anxiety and stress response.
  • Zinc: Essential for neural communication and emotional regulation.

Nutrient deficiencies can cause fatigue, poor concentration, and low mood - factors that exacerbate anxiety. A balanced diet provides steady energy to help combat anxious restlessness.

8. Learning Time Management Skills

Piling up tasks can leave you feeling overwhelmed which triggers anxiety. One way to tackle this is through effective time management that helps prioritise and accordingly do the responsibilities, making them feel manageable. It provides a sense of control by allowing planning, anticipating setbacks, and adapting schedules. Additionally, separating work and personal time through strategies like scheduling buffers and prioritising life roles promotes better work-life balance, alleviating anxiety.

9. Aromatherapy

Studies have found that the aromatic compounds in essential oils like lavender, bergamot, and chamomile positively influence the limbic system in the brain, which processes emotions and memories. These oils can also modulate neurotransmitters linked to anxiety, such as increasing calming GABA levels or boosting serotonin and dopamine. Additionally, many essential oils possess natural sedative and muscle-relaxing properties that can induce the body's relaxation response, counteracting the physiological effects of anxiety like rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure.

10. Journaling and Writing it Out

Journaling provides an outlet to release worries and negative thoughts from one's mind onto paper. It promotes mindfulness and present-moment focus, countering anxiety's tendency toward excessive future-oriented rumination. Journaling boosts feelings of control while tracking entries over time allows individuals to recognise patterns, effective coping strategies, and their progress. The simple act of putting pen to paper provides a calming ritual for self-exploration and organisation of anxious thoughts.

Having persistent feelings of anxiety can greatly affect a person’s quality of life. Thankfully, there are many simple ways to counteract this constant feeling of dread and help you gain control of the situation. If your symptoms of anxiety persist, don't hesitate to reach out to mental health professionals at KMC Hospital, Mangalore who will help you navigate the disorder and also offer you tools to overcome anxiety.


While biological factors make some more anxiety-prone, managing stress, getting counselling, and practising relaxation can help prevent or reduce symptoms.

If anxiety is persistent, excessive, and interfering with daily life, it could indicate an underlying anxiety disorder requiring treatment.

Symptoms can include persistent worries, intense repetitive negative thoughts, anxious and controlling, feeling restless/on edge, breathing difficulties, uneasiness in the stomach, easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep problems.

Yes, eating a nutritious diet with foods rich in omega-3s, zinc, and magnesium and avoiding processed foods/sugar can help regulate mood.

It is better to first consult an RCI-licensed Clinical Psychologist who will evaluate in detail by gathering the history of the anxiety and understand if you need psychotherapy only or a combination of therapy and medications depending on the severity of the symptoms and the diagnosis. For many, usually, therapy combined with anti-anxiety medications can be very effective, in which case the clinical psychologist usually will refer you to a psychiatrist to understand how to control anxiety. Additionally, lifestyle changes are also important in managing anxiety.

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