You know the feeling.
You’re worried something bad is going to happen and you feel the energy rushing up in your body. Your heart starts racing, your chest gets tight, your mind spins in circles at a million miles a minute.
The problem might not even be real, but it feels so completely overwhelming in the moment that nothing else matters to you. You’re experiencing apprehension so extreme that it becomes anxiety.
Diagnosable anxiety disorders, which are characterized by chronic fearfulness and uncertainty lasting more than 6 months, affect about 18% of American adults in any given year. But even if it’s not diagnosable, everyone suffers from bouts of anxiety at some point in their lives.
In Chinese medicine the upward rushing sensation associated with anxiety is called “running piglet qi.” Running piglet qi is caused by a disturbance in the body’s overall qi (“life-force”, energy) dynamic.
Therefore, to treat anxiety we have to reverse the excessive upward rushing of the running piglet qi, bring the energy back down to Earth, and smooth the flow of the whole energetic system throughout the body.
Whether you experience anxiety every day, or only get the jitters in some specific situations, this article will give you 5 natural remedies for anxiety that can help you calm down before you feel the need to reach for a pill bottle*.
Passionflower has been used as traditional medicine for thousands of years, and is a very useful herb for those suffering from anxiety. Studies have shown that it may be as effective as some prescription medications in reducing symptoms.
When experiencing acute anxiety, take 3 drops of an organic passionflower tincture and wait a minute to see if symptoms subside. If symptoms are not reduced, increase the dose to by 10 drops every 30 seconds or so, up to 4 droppers full.
Remember that when it comes to herbs more isn’t always better, so make sure you start small and work your way up to find the dose that’s right for you.
Passionflower can also be used to treat insomnia.
2) California Poppy
Cousin to the more infamous Oriental Poppy (though without the opiods), California Poppy is a widely used sedative and nervine.
It is especially useful at treating flight anxiety, but can also be effective in more grounded situations too, especially when you are also experiencing simultaneous muscle tension.
Similar to passionflower, begin with a 3-drop dose of an organic California Poppy tincture to treat acute anxiety, and increase the dose as needed.
Be careful not to over do it though, because California Poppy can have strong sedative and sleep-inducing effect when taken at a higher dose.
3) Bach’s Rescue Remedy
When it comes to anxiety, few natural products are more targeted than Bach’s Rescue Remedy. Rescue remedy is composed of a combination of flower essences specifically formulated to reduce stress and anxiety.
Rescue remedy comes can be bought in its traditional liquid form, or as chewable pastilles (gummy candies) in a variety of flavors. You can buy Rescue Remedy at almost any health-food store or natural pharmacy.
I always have a box of these handy in my purse in case I come across any nerve-wrecking situations throughout the day.
4) Deep Breathing
Another remedy for anxiety is in the air around you.
This may seem silly but hear me out.
When you are anxious, your body kicks into fight-or-flight mode, activating your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and releases excess amounts of the hormone epinephrine into your blood stream. This makes your heart race and blood rush out of your core organs and into your muscles, which can cause the sensation of running piglet qi.
Deep breathing will activate your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), bring your blood back to your core and slowdown your heartbeat to reverse the SNS stress response. Basically, if you are able to activate the PNS you’ll calm down faster.
The best way to breathe when you want to reduce anxiety is to close your eyes, breathe in to your lungs and let your belly expand for a count of three, hold for a beat at the top of the breath, and then exhale for a count of three, holding for a beat at the bottom before you inhale again, slowly.
Your breath may be longer or shorter, and you can adjust the counts to whatever length is comfortable for you.
Breathe like this for 3-10 cycles and you should feel better.
For added relaxation, see if you can extend the exhale for a couple of extra beats.
5) Feel Your Feet
There’s an acupuncture point in the center of the sole of your foot called Gushing Spring.
It is the first point on the Kidney channel, and the Kidney channel extends up the center-line of the body to the throat. When qi is surging up it often causes anxiety. Focusing on Gushing Spring can pull that energy back down and make you feel calmer quickly.
To use this technique, try to put your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes and focus on the space in the middle of your foot below the ball. See if you can feel your weight pushing down on the ground, and feel gravity pushing back up.
This technique is especially effective when you combine it with deep breathing.
If you experience anxiety regularly, you might want to try changing your diet to see if certain foods trigger your symptoms.
You should also think trying a practice like yoga or taiqi to help you learn more effective strategies to overcome anxiety. You might not recover from chronic anxiety right away, but with the right support you can significantly reduce your day-to-day anxiety**.
*If you take prescription medications, please consult your doctor before you stop current treatments.
**If you experience severe anxiety, please consult a doctor or trained cognitive-behavioral therapist so you can get the help you need.