It is quite normal to feel a little anxious every now and then. In fact most people experience some mild anxiety at some point, for example before a test or a public speech. You might feel a bit restless, sweat and go to the bathroom more, struggle to concentrate and feel a bit nauseous. ¹Usually these feelings of anxiety or tension will pass on their own without causing much concern. However, when someone feels mildly anxious more frequently without any apparent cause or the symptoms become more severe, it can start to become disruptive to day to day activities and needs to be addressed.¹
What do we do to help manage those feelings of mild anxiety? There are natural ways to help calm the nerves, so let’s have a look at some of those now.
Scents of Calm with Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy uses natural essential oils to promote health and balance in the body. ² Some studies have shown that aromatherapy can help to reduce feelings of mild anxiety. For instance, a group of patients in an ICU had their feelings of mild anxiety significantly reduced after inhaling a combination of lavender, roman chamomile and neroli oils. Sleep was also improved. ³ Orange Oil has also shown some benefit in reducing the feelings of mild anxiety. ⁴
Breathe, Stretch and Relax with Yoga
There are many different types of Yoga, some gentle, others a bit more stimulating. Yoga practices generally involve a series of stretches and poses to help build strength and flexibility, ⁵ while there is some benefit to the mind as well. Research has been conducted to investigate whether Yoga has beneficial effects for people suffering from stress and mild anxiety, with promising results. One recent study found that symptoms of mild anxiety and stress were significantly reduced in participants of a 16 week yoga programme.⁶
Lovely Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm is one of the herbs we use traditionally for its calming benefits. Studies have been conducted to investigate whether this herb shows any benefit in the management of symptoms associated with mild anxiety. One study found that patients who took a Lemon Balm supplement experienced a reduction in symptoms of mild anxiety of about 15%. The supplement also improved their sleep substantially, ⁷ which may prove helpful to those who struggle to sleep as a result of mild anxiety.
A Sense of Wellbeing with Withania
Withania, otherwise known as Ashwagandha, has a variety of uses in Western Herbal Medicine, including helping the body adapt to stress, modulating thyroid function and antioxidant benefits.⁸ Another area where this herb is helpful is in the management of mild anxiety. In fact, a review of studies conducted to test the efficacy of Withania in the management of mild anxiety has shown some very promising results, with most studies reviewed showing some improvement in the symptoms of mild anxiety.⁹
This nutrient is essential to a variety of functions in the body and is used to help manage several imbalances, from PMS to headaches and muscle cramping.⁸ There are several studies that suggest that magnesium may also be helpful in the management of mild anxiety, especially when combined with Vitamin B6.¹⁰ It is an important factor in the modulation of the body’s stress response system ¹¹ and as such should not be discounted as a helpful nutrient to add to the management regime of mild anxiety.
I couldn’t finish off this article without mentioning an age old favourite for calming the nerves – Chamomile. This herbs has been used for centuries in both tea and extract form to help with a variety of conditions, including digestive complaints, sleeplessness and as a calmative. ¹² More recent studies support the calming benefit of chamomile. One study involving 61 participants experiencing mild anxiety showed chamomile to significantly improve these symptoms,¹³ while a more recent, larger study involving 179 participants showed similar results.¹⁴
It is quite normal to feel mildly anxious from time to time, and luckily there are natural means to help keep these jittery feelings under control. However, if you suspect that what you or someone you know is experiencing goes beyond feelings of mild anxiety, seek medical advice, see you doctor and contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Head Space on 1800 650 890 for some help and advice.
3. Cho, M. et al. 2013, “Effects of Aromatherapy on the Anxiety, Vital Signs, and Sleep Quality of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Patients in Intensive Care Units”, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.
4. Kanani, M. 2012, “The effect of aromatherapy with orange essential oils on anxiety in patients undergoing haemodialysis”, Journal of Sabzevar University of Medical Sciences, Vol 19, no 3, pp 249-257. [Abstract]
6. Maddux, R.E.; Daukantaite, D. & Tellhed, U. 2018, “The effects of yoga on stress and psychological health among employees: an 8- and 16- week intervention study”, Anxiety, Stress, Coping, Vol 31, No 2, pp 121-134 [Abstract].
7. Cases, et al 2011 in Braun, L. & Cohen, M. 2015, “Herbs and Natural Supplements, Volume 2”, Churchill Livingstone, Chatswood NSW, Australia.
9. Pratte, M. A. et al 2014, “Systematic Review of Ashwagandha for the Treatment of Anxiety”, J Altern Complement Med, Vol 20, No 12, pp 901-908.
10. Boyle, N.B.; Lawton, C.L. & Dye, L. 2016, “The effects of magnesium supplementation on subjective anxiety”, Magnesium Research, vol 29, No 3, pp 120-125.
13. Amsterdam, J. et al. 2009, “A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy of generalized anxiety disorder”, J Clin Pharmacol, Vol 29, No 4, pp 378-382.
14. Keefe, J. 2016, “Short-term open-label chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L) therapy of moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder”, Phytomedicine, Vol 23, No 14, pp 1699-1705 [Abstract].