Feeling anxious all the time will hinder your quality of life. We live in a world practically set up to cause anxiety, with constant stimulation and fast-paced living the norm. So it is no surprise that over one-third of Americans1 struggle with stress-induced anxiety.
It requires serious work to overcome the stress-anxiety cycle, especially if that’s how you’ve lived for years. Luckily, there are holistic solutions for stress and anxiety, and we’re happy to share some with you today.
In this article, we will share our top holistic recommendations for overcoming stress-induced anxiety, including herbal remedies, aromatherapy, and foods for stress relief.
What is Anxiety? Understanding the Mental and Physical Landscape
Anxiety happens when you’re in a situation that causes you to worry or fear. When anxiety gets out of hand, you may feel anxious even when you don’t really have any reason to worry, such as when you’re lying comfortably in your bed at night.
Anxious feelings can pop up at any time, and the causes vary.
Common symptoms of anxiety include2:
- A feeling of restlessness and worry
- A fast or irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling dizzy or short of breath
3 Ways Stress Causes Anxiety and Impacts Mental Well-being
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that anxiety and stress are connected. Stress is very similar to anxiety, but they are not the same.
Anxiety is usually a reaction to a stressful situation. Dealing with poorly managed stress daily can definitely make anxiety worse.
Ways that stress causes anxiety include:
- When you manage stress poorly, you may start to fixate on the things you are stressed about, causing you to worry about those things even when it isn’t necessary.
- When certain aspects of your everyday life are particularly stressful (such as a demanding job or unhealthy relationships), it can cause you to feel higher daily anxiety.
- Sometimes, chronic stress leads to unhealthy lifestyle habits like binge drinking and substance abuse, which can worsen mental health issues like anxiety.
How to Recognize and Address Stress-Induced Anxiety
It is important to pay attention to what parts of your life are particularly stressful so that you can make adjustments and learn healthy coping mechanisms where needed. To recognize stress-induced anxiety, you must first be aware of the signs of stress.
If you are stressed, you may feel3:
- Irritable or angry
- Overwhelmed or like there’s too much on your plate
- Like your mind is racing, and you can’t switch off your thoughts
- Worried or tense
The Impact on Your Body and Mind: Consequences of Stress and Anxiety
Anyone who has felt anxious or stressed knows that it takes a toll on the mind, but you may not realize that it also takes a toll on the body.
Poorly managed stress and anxiety can lead to long-term health problems4 such as:
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Elevated stress hormones
- Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Poor sleep
Depression, Stress, and Anxiety: The Triad’s Overlapping Influence
Depression, stress, and anxiety all feed into each other. If you have one, you may be more likely to develop the other. If you struggle with more than one of these conditions and one worsens, the others will decline too.
Poorly managed stress can lead to both anxiety and depression. Many people with anxiety also have depression,5 even though the symptoms of these conditions are very different.
Studies have found that stress can lead to both anxiety and depression.6
3 Herbal Remedies to Naturally Reduce Stress-Induced Anxiety
Finding natural and effective ways to overcome stress and anxiety is crucial to feel your best.
- Kava tea. Kava is a plant-based extract that helps slow down the mind and body.8 Some studies have pointed to kava as a useful method for overcoming anxiety, but negative side effects such as potential liver damage have occurred. Therefore, this remedy still needs to be studied more for its safety.
- Chamomile. Chamomile has calming effects9 and can help to enhance sleep quality.
- Valerian. Valerian has reduced anxiety in some people. Because it hasn’t been widely studied, it is unclear if long-term use is considered safe.
Aromatherapy’s Soothing Embrace: Essential Oils for Stress and Anxiety
Aromatherapy involves using essential oils with different scents to produce feelings of peace and calm.
Some of the best essential oils to use for stress and anxiety include10:
- Lavender. The scent of lavender can reduce anxiety levels11 and encourage sleep.
- Geranium. Scientists have studied geranium oil for its effects on stress reduction. One study12 found that it helped reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in pregnant women in labor.
- Lemon. Inhaling the aroma of lemon oil can help reduce anxiety levels, as one study13 found.
- Bergamot. According to one study, bergamot effectively reduces stress levels14 when the aroma is inhaled. This oil may work by signaling the brain to release dopamine and boost mood.
Nutritional Nourishment: Stress-Relief Foods to Support Mental Well-being
Did you know that food can help you manage your stress? And we don’t just mean scarfing down a big unhealthy meal when you’re feeling emotional.
Certain healthy foods actually contain nutrients that can help you manage stress and anxiety.
Some of the best foods for stress management include15:
- Oatmeal. Because it is a complex carbohydrate, oatmeal helps to balance blood sugar to keep stress levels at bay.
- Asparagus. Asparagus is high in iron, folate, and B vitamins, which may help stabilize the mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Tuna and salmon. Fatty fish like tuna and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These oils help with keeping stress hormones regular.
- Berries. Berries are high in fiber and antioxidants. High vitamin C levels help keep stress levels low by regulating blood pressure and cortisol levels.
Stress and anxiety feed into each other, and together, these two conditions can take a serious toll on overall health and quality of life. Learning healthy coping methods and trying natural solutions whenever possible is essential.
Talk with your doctor before taking any herbal extracts or supplements to ensure that they’re safe for you. If the remedies you try don’t help, seek support from a mental health professional.
- Apa.org. Published 2023.
- Mayo Clinic. Anxiety disorders – symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Published May 4, 2018.
- Mind. Signs and Symptoms of Stress. Mind. Published March 2022.
- American Psychological Association. Stress Effects on the Body. Apa.org. Published November 1, 2018.
- Sawchuk C. Depression and anxiety can occur together. Read about the connection. Mayo Clinic. Published June 2, 2017.
- Bartolomucci A, Leopardi R. Stress and Depression: Preclinical Research and Clinical Implications. Baune B, ed. PLoS ONE. 2009;4(1):e4265.
- Bauer B. Herbal treatment for anxiety: Is it effective? Mayo Clinic. Published 2018.
- Kava – Alcohol and Drug Foundation. adf.org.au. Published February 28, 2022.
- Mao JJ, Li QS. Long-Term Chamomile Therapy of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Study Protocol for a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo- Controlled Trial. Journal of Clinical Trials. 2015;04(05).
- Cho MY, Min ES, Hur MH, Lee MS. Effects of Aromatherapy on the Anxiety, Vital Signs, and Sleep Quality of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Patients in Intensive Care Units. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;2013:1-6.
- Donelli D, Antonelli M, Bellinazzi C, Gensini GF, Firenzuoli F. Effects of lavender on anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Phytomedicine. 2019;65:153099.
- Rashidi Fakari F, Tabatabaeichehr M, Kamali H, Rashidi Fakari F, Naseri M. Effect of Inhalation of Aroma of Geranium Essence on Anxiety and Physiological Parameters during First Stage of Labor in Nulliparous Women: a Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of Caring Sciences. 2015;4(2):135-141.
- Özer Z, Teke N, Turan GB, Bahçecik AN. Effectiveness of lemon essential oil in reducing test anxiety in nursing students. EXPLORE. Published online February 2022.
- Lv XN, Liu ZJ, Zhang HJ, Tzeng CM. Aromatherapy and the central nerve system (CNS): therapeutic mechanism and its associated genes. Current Drug Targets. 2013;14(8):872-879.
- Doran M. Top foods to relieve stress. www.allinahealth.org. Published April 21, 2021.