Nine tools for soothing anxiety

by Sarah Hamilton

Research shows that around one in seven Australians experience feelings of anxiety that affects their daily quality of life. Anxiety can range from general worry to overwhelming or debilitating signs and symptoms.

Anxiety can present itself in any of the following ways:

  • Physical – Panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, shortness of breath, quick and shallow breathing, tension and pain, appetite changes, weight loss/gain, sleep disturbances
  • Psychological – Constant worry, obsessive thoughts, fear, catastrophising, self-doubt, poor memory and concentration, irritability, mood swings, poor motivation
  • Behavioural – Avoidance, withdrawal, substance abuse, poor diet intake

Here are nine ways you can support yourself to relieve anxiety:

Maintain good sleeping habits

Sleep deprivation is associated with maladaptive changes in the HPA axis, leading to neuroendocrine dysregulation. Support the body’s natural circadian rhythm by waking up with the sun and going to sleep with the moon. Wind down at night by minimising exposure to screens and bright lights. Use candles or low-light lamps, pour yourself a cup of calming herbal tea and take a bath or hot shower – whatever helps aid relaxation for you.


Meditation and mindfulness

Take 5 minutes each day to tune into what is happening in your environment, in the present moment. What can you hear, smell, see, and feel? Guided meditations and breathing exercises can be helpful with this practice.


Practising gratitude and journaling

Gratitude is an activity designed to cultivate a sense of gratefulness. It is known as one of the most effective positive psychological interventions. This practice can influence our interpretation of situations and coping mechanisms more positively. We can practice gratitude by writing down or visualising a few things we are grateful for each day or vocalising these to others.


Reduce stimulants

In some people, stimulants, including coffee and black tea, can induce symptoms of anxiety, agitation, insomnia, increased heart rate and gastrointestinal disturbances. Try reducing your intake of these and see if you notice a difference.


Self-care rituals

Each day find one thing to commit to that connects you back to yourself and fills up your cup. What are some things you love to do that bring you joy?


Soothing natural medicines

We know that specific herbal and nutritional medicines can calm an anxious mind and body by supporting a healthy stress response. Simultaneously, these medicines can increase the activity of the calming neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Some of my favourite botanicals include passionflower, lemon balm, magnolia, withania, lavender, and saffron.


Talk to your Naturopath

It is vital to identify potential underlying physiological causes of anxiety and the most suitable treatment strategies for you. Physiological root drivers of anxiety include nutritional deficiencies, gut microbial imbalances, inflammation, hormone dysregulation, blood sugar imbalances or dietary triggers. The correct herbal, nutritional, diet and lifestyle techniques can support you to feel at home within yourself again.


This article is intended to be informational only and represents the opinion of the author. It is not intended to be used as medical advice and does not take the place of advice from a qualified health care practitioner in a clinical setting. Please check with your healthcare practitioner before embarking upon any of the treatments discussed.