Anyone who suffers from anxiety knows that there's tons of the same advice out there telling people to breath deeply, meditate, or write your worries down. However, if the same old advice isn't working for you, you might want to try out some more little-known holistic remedies for anxiety that therapists swear by. Just because a solution isn't mainstream doesn't mean it can't help, and even if holistic practices can't completely eradicate your anxiety, picking up on a few new habits might lessen the day-to-day symptoms.
"There are no shortage of 'holistic cures' available on the internet that claim to cure anxiety," Dr. Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW of Ambrosia Treatment Center tells Bustle. "However, we know when it comes to mental health, a quick fix is often too good to be true. But, this doesn’t mean we have to discount holistic methods as a whole. The truth is, holistic by definition means something that treats the entire person, physically, mentally and spiritually. Although these tips don’t 'cure' anxiety, they certainly offer relief, especially when used as part of daily maintenance."
Since experts say natural treatments tend to come with very few side effects, there's really no harm in trying out something new. Here are nine little-known holistic practices that reduce anxiety, according to therapists.
Hypnosis tends to sound like some fantastical witchcraft, but you can actually use the practice on yourself to help manage your anxiety symptoms. "Hypnosis isn't anything to be scared of," Mike Dow, Psy.D., Ph.D., author of upcoming book Heal Your Drained Brain, tells Bustle. "It's just a simple way to help your brain shift from 'fight or flight' into 'rest and digest.' It also helps to slow your brainwaves down — from the fast beta brainwaves associated with work (and stress and anxiety) down into very slow, dreamlike, and restful theta brainwaves." If you're wondering where to begin, there are several apps that you can use to help get you started with self-hypnosis.
2.Combining A Prebiotic With A Probiotic
Believe it or not, your gut health plays a role in your mental health, so balancing out your gut microbiome with some prebiotic foods and probiotic foods can work wonders. "Consuming a probiotic food has been shown to clinically reduce anxiety," says Dow. "But you can boost the effect even more by combining it with a prebiotic, which is essentially the food for the probiotics in your gut."
3. Coloring A Mandala
Adult coloring has risen in popularity lately, and for good reason: Research has found that coloring for even just 10 minutes a day can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to a study out of the University of Otago in New Zealand. "Adult coloring books really do work," says Dow. "But you shouldn't just color anything. Research compared coloring different patterns, and coloring mandalas were the most effective at healing anxiety."
4. Figure Out What Foods May Be Contributing To Anxiety
Experts say certain foods can affect mental health. For example, eating too much refined sugar or refined flour can increase anxiety, so finding a balance in your meals is key. "Foods containing refined flour and sugar are favorites of the bad type of bacteria in your gut, and poor gut health has been proven to contribute to anxiety and other mood disorders," Carolyn Connolly Liot, MA, LMSW tells Bustle. If you notice that your anxiety has been difficult to manage, make adjustments where necessary and try incorporating more gut-healthy foods.
It might sound pretty hippy dippy, but standing barefoot on some dirt or other natural surfaces of the earth can do wonders for anxiety. Research from the Journal of Inflammation found that earthing helped reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and irritability in subjects. "As humans, we are fundamentally connected and wired to be in rhythm with the planet," Dr. Amy E. Chadwick, ND of Four Moons Spa tells Bustle. "Our bodies and minds are affected by the rhythm of the day to night, the seasons, the moon cycles, and more. Most of us recognize that we palpably feel differently when standing on a beach with our feet in the waves than we do when standing on a mountain top, and even more differently when we are in a high rise building."
6. Flower Essences
Flower essences are herbal infusions made from the flowering part of the plant, which uniquely address emotional and mental aspects of wellness. "Flower essences do not contain any plant material and therefore are safe, without side effects, and can be prescribed very specifically for an individual person and their particular challenges as well as the ways in which anxiety manifests," says Chadwick. "For example, one flower may be more specific for a sense of fear, while another is more appropriate for worry or another for obsessive behaviors. Each is addressing the underlying mental and emotional patterns that have gotten stuck and led to a particular imbalance."
7. Yoga Nidra
It's common knowledge that yoga is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, but yoga nidra is another form of yoga practice that actually does not involve exercise or movement. "Yoga Nidra is a yogic deep relaxation therapy," says Chadwick. "It utilizes a specific guided meditation technique listened to while in a comfortable, lying down position for 20-35 minutes a day." A study published in the International Journal of Yoga showed that patients with mild to moderate anxiety and depressive symptoms showed significant improvement following six months of daily yoga nidra practice.
Multiple studies have found that volunteering and helping others can actually improve your own psychological wellbeing. "Do something meaningful in the meantime, as time will keep passing anyway," integrative therapist Dr. Karin Luise tells Bustle. "These were some of the wisest words ever spoken to me, and why I started volunteering and after the bottom dropped out of my world." If you like to remain active and work with people, volunteering could be a good solution.
9. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) combines the use of meridians, or pressure points, from Chinese medicine, mindfulness, and acupressure to help reduce anxiety. "Using tapping with fingertips to input [moving] energy into specific meridians as a person thinks about a specific problem, they then continue tapping and gently move toward positive affirmations," Dr. Linda Miles tells Bustle. "There is some preliminary indication in research that this approach may reduce the stress hormone cortisol, help veterans with PTSD, and reduce anxiety."
These holistic therapies may be offbeat, but experts say they may help reduce anxiety in a natural way.