If a friend is upset we want to help them, we will call them up and talk things through and get our head working to see what we can do. But when we get anxious ourselves, we quickly loose sight of any possible solution. Work stress, financial worries, noise pollution and the ADHD provoking hum of a society that never sleeps and has put screens everywhere you look can leave you feeling overwhelmed and disconnected.
Anxiety has to be one of the worst feelings. It turns everything a shade of grey, drawing your attention to unwanted thoughts and smothering your joy for life.
Ancient Perspectives on a Very Current Syndrome
Ayurveda teaches that anxiety is usually due to a disturbance of vata dosha in the nervous system and it offers some excellent natural anxiety remedies that can help you be your own best friend and feel back in calm and confident control of your life.
1. Acupressure Anxiety Relief Point
Nature has provided us with a network of energy points that we can quickly learn to use for our own well-being. Some of these points are particularly good for inducing calm, one of the most convenient is a special point found in the centre of your palm. To find the point make a fist with your left hand and look at the point where your middle finger touches the palm, now press that exact point with the thumb of your opposite hand and gently massage it for about a minute. Take some deep breaths as you hold the point and, when you feel ready swap hands and repeat.
2. Almond Milk
Almond milk is very soothing to vata and calms anxiety. Here’s how to make it:
- Soak ten raw almonds in water overnight
- Remove the skins and put the almonds in a blender
- Add a cup of warm milk and a pinch of nutmeg and blend together
This is the perfect bedtime drink for anyone suffering from anxiety or insomnia.
3. Nerve Soothing Oil Massage
One of the most effective, yet little known, ways to reduce anxiety is to perform a regular oil massage. Vata responds well to gentle touch and rubbing oil into the skin treats dryness that so often accompanies vata problems and nourishes your nerves from the outside in.
Sesame oil is the best oil for vata body types while coconut is better suited for pitta and kapha types can use lighter oils like sunflower oil.
How to Do a Full Body Oil Massage
Take some of your chosen oil in a plastic cup or bottle and stand it in a pan of hot water for a few minutes to warm the oil before you apply it, then stand on an old towel and rub the oil over your entire body. Use circular strokes over your joints and long strokes on the limbs. Oil massage is traditionally performed before a morning bath or shower, but can also be done before bed if morning times are too busy. A massage before bed is particularly helpful for anxiety and sleep problems, the oil can be rinsed off in a warm shower or bath with relaxing lavender oil before settling into bed.
5 Minute Foot Massage
For a quicker massage try rubbing oil in to the soles of your feet, you can find more details here.
4. Uplifting Aromas
Essential oils can have a very positive effect on the emotions, the reason for this is that whatever scent you inhale has a direct connection with your brain. Calming and uplifting aromas to try include:
Bergamot - Good for relieving stress and anxiety bergamot’s warm citrus fragrance is a real mood booster.
Lavender - the traditional choice for stress relief and relaxation. Lavender can be dripped onto a tissue, your pillow, bath water or infuser for releasing tension and promoting restful sleep.
Rose - cooling and soothing to the emotions, rose is a luxurious way to boost your sense of calm and well-being.
5. Make Like a Bee
One of the many good things I learned in a recent workshop with Ayurvedic teacher Dr Vasant Lad is the Humming Bee Breath, used for centuries to calm the mind and have a positive effect on the endocrine system this simple technique involves making a humming sound that vibrates throughout your head boosting serotonin production and helping you feel deeply relaxed and peaceful.
I was surprised at just how good I feel after practising this technique and some of my friends have got quite hooked on it! Here's how to do it:
- Sit in a relaxed position
- Cover your ears with your thumbs and bring your fingers round to rest over your eyes
- Relax your jaw and allow a slight gap between your teeth
- Now take a deep breath in through your nose and as you breath out make a deep and gentle humming sound
Repeat this between 7 and 17 times. If you feel dizzy stop and take a break and come back to it another time.
To fully benefit from this exercise it's important to sit still and quiet for a couple of minutes after you finish. Just keep breathing slowly and calmly and enjoy the silence, you will find that you feel very relaxed and that your mind will actually give you a break for a while.
6. Get Moving, but Slowly!
Vata governs all movement in the body but it’s movements can become erratic, and jerky when imbalanced. Disturbed vata causes trembling in the body and makes you feel hyper. To help control and calm this hyperactive tendency do something that involves slow steady movements, and try and make those movements a meditation, do them as slowly and smoothly as you can, and make your breath slow and smooth too. The sense of relief from practising this is really tangible.
Try slow mindful walks in nature, gentle stretching yoga, or my guided qigong based meditation designed to help you feel calm and connected with your body.
7. Practice Stillness
This is not so easy to do when vata is disturbed and you feel anxious and antsy, yet it is vital to develop the ability to enjoy a few moments stillness here and there throughout the day to give your nervous system a rest and allow yourself to slide over into the beneficial state of the relaxation response. Start with very short periods of time where you commit to not talking or moving at all. One minute is a good start. Set a timer if you find it helpful, drop your shoulders, relax your jaw, wear a slight smile on your face and… hush. No moving, no talking, just notice your breath and let your thoughts float by. Try this a few times a day and you will soon feel for yourself that it is well worth the effort.
Once you have mastered a minute you can extend the time if you wish, or dabble with some other short relaxation experiences designed to lower your base stress rate so that you become more resilient to stress and overwhelm and enjoy feeling calmer and more in control of your feelings in all areas of your life.
Photo by Carlo Nicora
More on Natural Anxiety Remedies:
How to Control Anxiety by Changing Your Breathing
How to Overcome Anxiety with Grounding Techniques
FREE 5 Finger Qigong Anxiety Relief MP3 & Video
5 Natural Ways to Stop Anxiety & Calm Your Mind
How To Reduce Stress and Anxiety in Just 3 Minutes
Grounding Techniques & Further Resources: