A few weeks back I shared a list of three great natural ways to reduce stress and anxiety to complement my video interview with med student Brookes Regenhardt about her story of overcoming stress and anxiety through hiking. Today I’m sharing part two of our fascinating interview — along with 3 more great tips for reducing stress and anxiety using natural means.
So without further ado, here are 3 more natural solutions to anxiety. (And if you missed the first one, find it here!)
1) Cuddle up with an animal. Your relationship with your pet is actually medicine! As we’ve talked about on the blog before, pet therapy reduces anxiety, promotes relaxation, and provides comfort. Research shows that even just the physical act of petting an animal releases an automatic relaxation response, releasing mood-elevating hormones like serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin.
A 2005 article from the American Heart Association showed that just 12 minutes visiting with a dog was enough to help heart and lung function by “lowering pressures, diminishing release of harmful hormones and decreasing anxiety among hospitalized heart failure patients.” They reported that researchers studied three groups—patients visited by a volunteer and a dog, patients visited by just a volunteer, and patients visited by no one. The anxiety scores of those with no visitors stayed the same; those with just a human volunteer saw a 10% decrease in anxiety; but the dog-volunteer group saw a substantial 24% reduction in their anxiety scores. So if you’re looking for a natural way to reduce anxiety, giving your pet a cuddle should be on your to-do list!
2) Start a home garden. Whether you’re in the country, the suburbs or the city, it’s actually surprisingly easy to start your own home garden. Even us city mice can start herb gardens on balconies or windowsills, while country folks can really “dig deep” with fruits and veggies. And for good reason: gardening can be an extremely useful therapeutic tool for reducing stress and anxiety.
A 2011 study involved patients who performed a stressful Stroop task and were then randomly assigned to 30 minutes of either outdoor gardening or indoor reading. Both groups had a decrease in cortisol, but the effects were significantly more pronounced for the gardening group; furthermore, the study adds that “positive mood was fully restored after gardening, but further deteriorated during reading.” The study concluded that gardening can provide relief from acute stress.
3) Get cooking! And what better way is there to put your brand new home garden full of fresh veggies or herbs to use? Why, cooking, of course!
Save the take out menus for another day and get to cooking something fresh and delicious. Cooking with fresh ingredients, especially fresh herbs, is a really simple way to bump your home cooking from meh to marvelous — and it’s even good for your health! Herbs that have been shown to reduce anxiety and stress include rosemary, sage, and tulsi basil. (And that’s not all they’re good for; check out my blogs to learn more about the therapeutic properties of herbs and spices.)
For more natural ways to reduce anxiety, check out today’s video: part two of my video interview with med student Brookes Regenhardt about her story of overcoming stress and anxiety through hiking.