Life has been throwing a lot at us so I want to offer you some natural remedies for stress and anxiety relief. In this period of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, tension and stress can mount very quickly. Here are some tips to self-soothe yourself.
Have You Heard That Sunshine Is An Anti-Depressant?
Yes! The Vitamin D and sunshine are natural remedies for stress and anxiety relief. Be sure to get exposed to sunshine and take a 30 minute walk every day and avoid using sunblock and sunglasses. We are not in the summer months yet that have a high exposure risk and we need all the sunshine and Vitamin D we can get! Vitamin D is helpful for our mental health and here is a study that talks about the mental benefits of sunshine. The retina needs to be exposed to 20 minutes of sunshine in order to send a message to the brain to turn on happy feelings.
Are There Any Herbs Or Spices That Can Lift Your Mood?
Of course! Mother nature likes to offer natural remedies for stress and anxiety relief. If you are looking for a spice to fight the blues, try adding saffron to your diet. In the ancient Persian language, saffron is called “the flower of laughter” and the benefits of saffron as an anti-depressant are well documented.
Ashwaganda is a wonderful herb for reducing stress hormones. I recommend Innate Tranquil Response with Ashawaganda (Innateresponse.com) to help you sleep. Ashwaganda is well known for its stress-reducing effects and lowers the likelihood of insomnia in people who are experiencing stress and anxiety.
Chamomile tea is another delicious flower to help you relax and get a good night’s sleep. Why not enjoy a soothing cup of chamomile tea before you go to sleep tonight?
Can You Reduce Your Stress and Anxiety With Good Nasal Breathing Techniques?
One of the best natural remedies for stress and anxiety relief is practicing a proper nose breathing technique that reduces your day time anxiety and also gives you a good night’s sleep which further reduces anxiety. Anxiety can cause you to breathe through your mouth and take fast, shallow breaths. This kind of breathing results in too much loss of CO2, the gas that is responsible for the release of oxygen into the tissues. When too much CO2 is lost, there is insufficient oxygen delivery to the brain and body and more anxiety, a vicious cycle. This is why if you are having a panic attack it feels good to breathe into a paper bag as the recirculation of your breath increases the CO2 in your body.
Practicing the habit of nose breathing and slow breathing while engaging the diaphragm are the best ways to reduce anxiety, and improve oxygen delivery to all the organs of the body. It is crucially important to breathe through your nose at night while you are asleep. If you are waking up with a dry mouth and feeling unrefreshed, you are most likely breathing through your mouth at night and having fragmented sleep instead of restorative sleep. This feeds into the body’s anxiety.
My favorite breathing instructor is Pat McKeown, author of The Oxygen Advantage and director of the Buteyko Clinic. I highly recommend his online breathing exercise classes and his website is full of great information on the benefits of slow, nasal, diaphragmatic breathing. Patrick teaches breathing techniques to Olympic athletes as well as the Navy Seal! You can register for a class or find out more by clicking here.
What Does The Tongue Have To Do With Anxiety?
The tongue is the primaty dilator of airway muscles and must be positoned on the roof of the mouth in order to nose breathe.
If you have a small jaw or a tongue tie or if you have been mouth breathing for a while, your tongue might not have enough space or strength to posture against the roof of the mouth at night and can fall back into your throat at night, causing you to breathe through your mouth and have fragmented sleep. This causes the brain to wake up and the heart to start racing, feeding into your anxiety. Mouth breathing is not efficient for gas exchange so your body will get depleted of oxygen and you will start to feel anxious throughout the day. Remember that breathing is the most fundamental process to our brain stem and anything that goes wrong with our breathing habit will make the brain and body feel nervous and anxious.
How Can You Conquer Nose Breathing At Night While You Are Asleep?
You know you are mouth breathing at night if you wake up with a dry mouth and feel tired.
While we are asleep we must breathe through our nose in order to get deep, restorative sleep. We want to avoid the tongue falling back into the throat because that can cause mouth breathing, snoring and sleep apnea. The brain will keep waking up. Do choking and snoring and subconscious arousals sound like a recipe for calm? No!
There are 4 things you can do to nose breathe at night:
- Practice Buteyko breathing during the day
- Wear a sleep appliance designed to help you mouth breathe. This special appliance postures the tongue on the roof of the mouth so that it doesn’t fall back into your throat and also protects your teeth from the damages of grinding. This appliance also helps to prevent and alleviate TMJ pain, bonus! If you would like more information call my office at (310) 205-0900 or schedule a 20 minute Video Visit.
- Consider orofacial myofunctional therapy. I will spend 12-16 weeks giving you a series of isometric and isotonic exercises to strengthen the tongue, lip and throat muscles to promote nasal breathing. A recent study in the prestigious Sleep journal showed that sleep apnea patients who underwent myofunctional therapy had 50% fewer arousals at night. You can read this study here. The other benefits of myofunctional therapy include better gum health, more efficient chewing and swallowing and a better facial appearance!
- Tape your mouth at night. I know this sounds weird! Mouth tape was made for people like us who want to nose breathe while we are asleep. I recommend 3M Micropore tape as well as Simply Breathe . For children who snore there is a special tape developed by Patrick McKeown of Buteyko Breathing Clinic that does not cover the lips called MyoTape. Adults can wear it too!
The appliance I make for my patients can be used with weird mouth tape to ensure nose breathing. The appliance and mouth tape are a marriage made in heaven for a good night’s sleep! You can wake up feeling like a new person, refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of our fast-paced lives.
Chronic anxiety and depression can be debilitating and can be helped with nose breathing. Some people need the help of an appliance and orofacial myofunctional therapy to establish nose breathing. If you would like more information on my functional approach to help you sleep better, breathe better and reduce your anxiety click here to schedule a 20 minute Video Visit or give us a call at 310-205-0900 to book an appointment in the office.
I hope you will find my natural remedies for stress and anxiety helpful for keeping your mental composure as you turn on the news. I wish you the best of health.