There’s a lot of information out there about treating anxiety naturally. Type the phrase into a search engine and you could click through the results for days. It’s a topic we’re passionate about on this blog as well. We’ve detailed how natural approaches to treating anxiety can effectively supplement or even replace prescription medications, and how a healthy lifestyle is the BEST thing you can possibly do to overcome anxiety.
Things like yoga, herbs, meditation, and exercise often receive much of the fanfare when it comes to natural anxiety treatment, and rightfully so. However, there’s one thing I find is often overlooked: the impact that can be made by simple acts of kindness toward yourself. They are the simplest of all home remedies for anxiety.
These acts do not require a huge lifestyle overhaul, and they don’t cost hundreds of dollars or eat up hours of your time. They don’t even require you to leave your comfort zone — which, although important, is often unrealistic when you’re in the midst of severe anxiety. You can take advantage these at-home anxiety “remedies” on a whim, with very little preparation.
They involve applying the concepts of mindfulness and a focus on the present moment, creating meaningful rituals out of small tasks. You can choose just one of these home rituals when you’re feeling anxious, or you can set aside a few hours to do them all as part of a regular anxiety management strategy.
1. Creating a Harmonious Living Space
While you may not realize it on a conscious level, a living space filled with clutter, dust and grime, and excessive stimuli can be a significant anxiety trigger. Of course, most people are simply never going to have the time or energy to keep their homes spotless, but maintaining a certain level of cleanliness and organization can very important for anxiety sufferers.
If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed or anxious while you’re at home, examine your surroundings. Identify a room in that you would like to feel at peace in. Maybe you want your kitchen to sparkle so you can calmly enjoy a cup of coffee and the newspaper at the table in the morning. Or perhaps you want to tidy up the living room for movie night with your family.
Start by putting anything away that’s out of place, wiping down surfaces, and cleaning the floors if necessary. Rather than focusing on the drudgery of the chores, keep your goal in the forefront of your mind. Take pleasure in clearing away the “dirt,” both mentally and physically. When that’s done, now think of what you can do to add a little something extra, such as lighting candles or clipping a few flowers from the garden to display. You can even consider redecorating a bit or rearranging furniture. (Look into feng shui for advice on how to place furniture and other items to maintain a harmonious energy flow in your space.)
These small details can transform your ability to concentrate on what’s really important, rather than what’s weighing you down. Over the long term, consider a plan to sort through drawers, closets, cabinets, and other storage spaces to get rid of what you no longer need.
2. Calming Tea Ritual
Tea is well known for its calming properties, particularly green tea and certain herbal blends. In Japan, the tea ceremony, or the Way of Tea, is an important part of the culture. Ceremony practitioners are meticulous in their attention to detail and spend years perfecting their art. And studies have shown that when a person participates in a tea ceremony, he is doing more than just putting on an elaborate performance.
Participants “develop a mind set and body control that enables them to transform tension-producing details of everyday life into moments of beauty, meaningfulness and tranquility. … Such discipline of mind and body also enables tea people to concentrate solely on the present moment, thereby shutting out worries about the past and anxieties about the future.”
You don’t have to put on an intricate ceremony to reap the benefits of a tea, however. You can transform the simple task of brewing a cup of tea into a meaningful personal ritual. Focus on remaining present in the moment — each step of this process is an opportunity for mindfulness, from selecting the tea you want to drink, to choosing a mug that suits your mood. As you wait for the kettle to boil, remain quiet and patient. This isn’t a time to multi-task.
Once you have your cup of tea, choose a favorite tranquil spot within your home to sit and enjoy it. If possible, sit near a window, or on a balcony, porch or in another pleasant outdoor spot. Do nothing while you enjoy your tea. Notice the heat and steam coming off the mug as you wait for it to cool. With each sip, focus on the sensations of the process: the weight of the mug, the fragrance of the tea you chose, the warmth of the liquid as it makes its way into your body. Let your thoughts come and go but do not dwell on any one thought in particular. Practice this ritual at least once a week, if not more often.
3. Taking a Soothing Bath
Taking a bath — or a shower if you prefer– is an extremely simple yet effective anxiety-relieving strategy. Similar to the tea ritual, bathing with intention (rather than simply out of habit) encourages mindfulness and allows you to place all your focus on the present. Start by creating a harmonious space in your bathroom, applying the steps discussed above. Light candles, dim the lights, and put on soothing music if you’d like.
During your bath or shower, pay attention to the sensation of the water on your skin and the scent of the oils or soaps you’re using. Breathe deeply as a sense of relaxation washes over you. Have a soft towel or a comfy robe waiting for you when you’re finished. To complete the ritual, apply oil or lotion to your skin, and perhaps a dab of your favorite
fragrance or essential oil. Take note of how it feels to treat yourself well, and be sure to tell yourself that you deserve it!You can use a favorite bubble bath, or you can apply concepts of aromatherapy, which is the use of natural essential oils to maintain mood and well-being. Or consider taking an Epsom salt bath – the magnesium sulfate is said to detoxify and soothe sore muscles. Epsom salts can even replenish your body’s supply of magnesium, which is an important mineral for maintaining a calm and stable mood.