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Natural Remedies for Christians with Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are common in today’s fast-paced society. If you are like many people battling anxiety, you may find that the worries and fears of everyday life can seem almost unbearable. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 18% of American adults and 12% of children are diagnosed with anxiety disorders, making it the most common type of mental illness in the United States. [1]

Anxiety and stress-related disorders encompass a range of illnesses with a variety of causes. These include posttraumatic stress disorder, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, and the most common, generalized anxiety disorder. If you have an anxiety disorder, you are also more vulnerable to developing depression as well.
Even Christians Struggle with Anxiety

Christians, unfortunately, are not immune to anxiety. Despite faith in a big, all-powerful God, doubts, worry, and irrational fears can still develop. God promises to provide strength and comfort, but He doesn’t promise to protect His children from all of life’s challenges and dangers. Anxiety disorders are often insidious and complex; the presence of one is not necessarily an indicator of a lack of faith.

Traditional Treatment vs. Natural Remedies

Most anxiety disorders are treated with psychotherapy or prescription medications, or a combination of both. Unfortunately, psychotherapy isn’t always effective, and it can be very expensive – especially if your health insurance doesn’t cover it or covers just a few sessions. Medications are not without risks and can also be expensive. Many medications used to treat anxiety have the potential for unpleasant side effects. Some have a high potential for addiction as well, especially if used for more than a few weeks.

Fortunately, however, there are many natural anxiety remedies that can be very effective if not just as effective – as medication or therapy. Natural remedies, as a general rule, are much safer than medication. They don’t have side effects (although you may experience a little muscle soreness with a few if you haven’t exercised in a while – but that will usually subside relatively quickly!). They also don’t have the potential for addiction that are typical of many anxiety medications. (Well, that’s not entirely true – you might find that yoga or a morning jog can be very addicting after you do them for a while!).?Overall, there are far more pros than cons when it comes to treating anxiety – or at least helping reduce the symptoms – with one or more of the following natural remedies.

Move Your Body

Regular exercise is one of the very best ways to alleviate and manage anxiety. It will help reduce your overall stress as well. Take a nature walk and enjoy God’s beauty, or jog a few laps at the local track to clear your head and get your blood flowing. Several studies have found that regular exercise not only provides an immediate mood boost, but offers long term relief for anxiety sufferers that is similar to treatment with medications. [2]

Any type of exercise that elevates your heart rate for a period of time can be very beneficial for anxiety. If you don’t care for walking or jogging, other excellent types of exercise include biking, swimming, and dancing. If you find something that you enjoy, or work out with an exercise partner, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it.

Soak in the Tub

Warm water is an excellent muscle relaxant. A long, hot bath can soothe your body as well as your mind. A quick soak in in the tub can immediately relieve stress, but the best results occur when you create a relaxing environment that nurtures all of your senses. Play your favorite music or take the time to listen to an uplifting audio book while you’re bathing. Scented candles or bath oils can also enhance the experience. Try lavender or chamomile to help you relax, or a citrus scent like orange if you need a pick-me-up.

Write it Down

It’s not always easy or possible to talk to a counselor or a friend about the things that bother you most. Writing down your thoughts, your worries, your feelings, and your fears in a private journal will help you clear your mind. Journaling can also give you an opportunity to reflect on the events in your life that make you feel anxious. ?Writing can be extremely therapeutic and can take a variety of forms. Some individuals prefer a simple diary entry that summarizes their day, while others indulge in short stories or poetry to express their emotions. Just make sure you keep your journal in a private place – you certainly don’t want to create additional anxiety for yourself worrying that someone might read it!

Schedule a Massage

Massage therapy is another effective natural remedy for anxiety. It can provide both immediate and long term therapeutic benefits. Relaxation and stress release are the obvious benefits of massage, but they aren’t the only ones. Depending on the technique used, massage therapy can help alleviate toxins and waste buildup within your body. It also helps loosen tight, tense muscles while improving circulation to promote healthy blood flow. Massage therapy is most effective when it is done on a regular basis.

Practice Yoga

As mentioned, a regular exercise regimen is one of the most effective ways to manage stress and anxiety without the use of prescription medications. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise if you struggle with anxiety because it engages your body, mind, and spirit. Holistic treatments that address the whole person are generally much more successful at generating lasting results. Yoga incorporates deep breathing techniques, which are especially beneficial for anyone battling anxiety. The stretching and movement will help you relax and release stress.

Some Christians feel that yoga is not appropriate, due to its roots in Eastern religion. However, the meditative aspect can be used for personal and spiritual reflection and growth. There are even books and DVDs that discuss and teach Christian yoga or Christ-centered yoga

Try an Herbal Remedy

There are dozens of natural herbs that produce very similar effects to many prescription medications for anxiety. One of those herbs – St. John’s Wort – is a leading natural remedy for depression, while skullcap is an excellent choice for individuals suffering from sleep difficulties due to anxiety. Kava, passionflower, and chamomile are other popular options for stress and anxiety disorders. Keep in mind, some herbal remedies can have adverse reactions with other medications. Always talk to your doctor before taking herbal supplements, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking any medications.

Let Go of Your Worries

Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34?Realizing that it does no good to stress over events that haven’t yet occurred is one of the best ways to manage anxiety. However, this is much easier said than done and is really difficult for most people who have anxiety. If worry is keeping you awake at night or interfering with your daily activities, adopt a habit that will help you let them go.

For example, rather than tossing and turning at night or allowing your mind to stray during the day, write down whatever it is that is bothering you. Put the paper in a drawer or box or some other out of sight location. This symbolizes the act of putting the "worry" in a safe place. By doing it, you both allow and encourage your mind to release it and move on to something else more productive.

Dealing with stress and anxiety isn’t easy, but these natural remedies can help you cope with the obstacles life may place in your path. Wherever you are in your walk with God, remember that He is always there to lift you up. He also promises to never allow you to suffer more than you can bear.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him;because He cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind.Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.Resist him,standing firm in the faith because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal gloryin Christ, after you have suffered a little while,will Himself restore you and make you strong,firm and steadfast.1 Peter 5:6-10

References:

?[1] http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

?[2] http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/painter/2010-04-26-yourhealth26_ST_N.htm