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Posted on 03/24/2022

11 Natural Remedies For Calming Anxiety in Parents and Kids

11 Natural Remedies For Calming Anxiety in Parents and Kids

Disclaimer: This blog does not provide medical advice. It is intended for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. Please consult privately with your medical health practitioner before making any dietary or physical changes. 

 

Question:

My child and I both have anxiety. I'm not sure we are ready to try medication, but I will consider that possibility. I just want to try some other things first.  What are some ways to cope with anxiety that does not involve medication?


Answer:

Adults, kids and teens who cope with anxiety know how overwhelming and all-consuming anxiety can be. The fear that anxiety induces can feel suffocating and paralyzing, and it is important to know when and how to get help. If you are looking for ways to manage anxiety in your family but are hesitant to try anxiety medication, then this may be a place for you to start.

 

For some people, an anxiety prescription can be a positive game changer, but not everyone handles the side effects of anxiety medication well. There are many reasons why some parents may opt not to take anxiety medication or seek a prescription for their child or teen, but whether you are ready or open to trying medication or not, it is always beneficial to incorporate self-regulating methods into the overall anxiety management strategy at home.

 

You’ll find some great coping strategies as you read through this article, but our advice is to start with one new practice at a time. Do not try to do everything on this list at once! Simply choose one anxiety coping strategy that seems easiest for you or your child and add it to the day. As you help yourself or your child work towards healing and peace, you will most likely discover or warm up to solutions that may have never been considered. 

 

Not sure how to start treating anxiety all-naturally?  Here are 11 all-natural ways for adults and kids to cope with anxiety. 


1. Stay hydrated.

Dehydration affects not only a person’s mood, but also mimics anxiety symptoms and lead to headaches, stomach aches, poor digestion, and fatigue. Unfortunately, most people do not drink enough water for their mind and body to perform optimally, and by the time many of us realize we are thirsty, we’re already dehydrated. Hydration is crucial to coping with anxiety because the brain and body must have sufficient hydration to function properly.


2. Maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Diet plays a crucial role in anxiety. (Seriously! You cannot underestimate the power of a healthy diet.) Eating small, balanced meals throughout the day will help keep your bodies regulated, and foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are best for regulating blood sugar. Help your family avoid sugary, salty, and greasy foods in diets on a regular basis, and instead opt for healthier foods like lean protein, apples, nuts, carrots, protein shake, or healthy snack bar most of the time.


Pro Anxiety Tip: Not sure if your diet is balanced? Check out this article, Nutritional Strategies to Ease Anxiety, and consult your health insurance plan as many include a wellness program which offers a consultation with a nutritionist or dietician. Always consult your doctor before starting a new health program.

 

3. Reduce or avoid caffeine.

Caffeine stimulates similar physiological reactions as anxiety, and caffeine has even been known to trigger anxiety attacks in some people. If you, your child, or teen is coping with anxiety or any type of panic disorder, then you may be way more sensitive to caffeine than other people. Consider gradually reducing caffeine consumption from energy drinks, sodas, and coffee, or else avoiding it altogether, and replace it with energy boosting supplements like ginseng, green smoothies or lattes, or peppermint tea. Pay attention to the times and amounts of caffeine you or your child consumes in the day and begin to decrease it a little at a time. Try to stay away from caffeine in the afternoon or evening so you can get better sleep.

 

4. Practice self-care.

Families are always on the go, and often time we neglect practices that would restore energy and good physical and emotional health. Parents, take care of yourself, just as you do others around you. Teach your kids to do the same.  It’s important not to neglect our needs.  Women, especially mothers, tend to sacrifice their self-care to keep up with the pressing demands that surround them, but this is not sustainable.  It will take a toll on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and negatively impact your important relationships. 

 

Self-care is not an indulgence, it's necessary. Prioritize your self-care by seeing your doctor for regular appointments and be faithful with lab work to check up on your hormones and thyroid. Spend time with friends who care about you. Take a short trip by yourself or with your family. Take a nap! Do something nice for yourself! You deserve it. By integrating self-care into your life, you are modeling and teaching your child about managing their anxiety through balance-balance in rest, sleep, hygiene, hydration, and exercise.

 

5. Get moving.

Have you ever noticed how you (or your child) plays with your hair, taps your foot, clicks your pen, or fidgets when you are anxious? This is most often you (or your child’s) body’s way of trying to self-regulate. 

 

Research shows that the sedentary lifestyle is linked to a host of problems including higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other diseases such as digestive disorders and heart disease. Not only is consistent exercise healthy, but rhythmic repetitive activity is also meditational and calms our nervous system. In the words of Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D. “Rhythm is regulating.”   Empower your child or teen by teaching them about how their brain works and identify ways for them to use rhythmic, repetitive activities to calm their nervous systems at home, school and in the community.   

 

Pro Anxiety Tip:  Learn to lean into that natural rhythm by taking a walk whenever you are on a break, standing up when the health app on your phone or watch reminds you to, taking a family walk with the dog, or trying a yoga class together.  

 

6. Find a breathing exercise that works for you.

Anxiety is our body and brain’s way of managing fear. You cannot regulate fear without breathing. There are loads of different breathing apps and breathing techniques such as rainbow breathing, hand breathing, or color breathing. A favorite breathing technique is what renowned integrative medicine expert Dr. Weil calls the 4-7-8 breathing technique. The important thing is to find a breathing technique that works for you or your child and habitually practice it by working it into a daily routine.  

 

Pro Anxiety Tip: Practice with your child how to do the techniques when they are not feeling anxious. It will be almost impossible to teach your child to do anything new in the middle of a panic attack or fear response because they are not able to access the part of the brain (pre-frontal cortex), but are instead stuck in the amygdala. Learn more about the brain here.

 

7. Self-sooth with a personal sensory-based coping strategy.

We love this method because it is an effective idea that can easily be customized to accommodate personal preferences. Essentially, what this strategy encompasses is finding things for you or your child that provides a calming experience to each of your senses when you are feeling overwhelmed by anxious thoughts. Learn more: Ideas for self-soothing your senses.

 

8. Prioritize sleeping better. 

Getting quality sleep is one of the most important things you and your children can do for your bodies. Everything from hormonal imbalances, detoxification, digestion, along with all other bodily functions are connected to the quality of our sleep. Sleep disorders (especially insomnia) are often a key player in most if not all anxiety problems, so if you or your child is not getting sufficient rest, that could be a primary source of your anxiety.  

Pro Anxiety Tip: Develop a consistent nighttime routine for you and your child. If this isn’t realistic, take time out for rest. Even just a 20-minute time of slowing down in their room or taking a nap can help reset our body and brain. Get creative-find a babysitter, ask your partner or family member to watch the children for an hour or two on the weekend, or schedule your kids for a sleep-over on a Friday or Saturday night with grandparents (aunts, uncles or friend), so that you can have nap. When the time does come to rest, consider using the sensory-based coping strategy listed above to improve your quality of sleep. 

 

Touch – Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and bedding.

Smell – Use relaxing essential oils or room spray.

Sound – Ensure your sleeping space is quiet or use a sound machine, fan, or playlist.

Sight – Stop all electronic use at least an hour before bedtime.

Taste – Don’t eat a big meal or drink caffeine or sugar before bed.

 

If you are a new parent and not able to get your child to sleep, consider hiring a sleep consultant.  If you, your partner, or child does not get good, quality sleep, it may be time to consult with your doctor or pediatrician about the causes and explore the need for a sleep study.

 

9. Practice mindfulness to reconnect with the present. 

If you think that meditation is not right for you or your child, think again. There are many different types of meditation – nine to be exact. So, whether you or your child chooses to practice movement meditation, art therapy, or sit cross-legged on the floor in stillness, the important thing is to find a form of mindfulness practice that draws attention back to the present moment. 

Pro Anxiety Tip: Be adventurous, try something new with your child in the form of meditation.  Rigid thinking is a hallmark of anxiety, and teaching your child or teen flexible thinking strategies, such as experimenting with a new approach to managing anxiety, challenges this rigidity and boosts self-confidence. 

 

10. Be nurtured by nature. 

The best place to cope with anxiety and regain our regulatory rhythm is in nature. Nature’s extraordinarily rhythmic quality impacts our wellbeing in transcendent ways, and research has found that spending even just five minutes in nature, even watching a video of nature, can improve cognitive function and overall sense of wellbeing. There is much truth to the concept of being nurtured by nature, so sit on the back porch with your child, play an outdoor game, such as basketball or hopscotch, walk around the block with them, practice a breathing technique outside in the fresh air, do an outdoor chore together such as washing the car, go fishing or on a family hike. Help your child identify ways to spend time in nature. Not only will this provide an opportunity for more vitamin D, which is good for mental health, you will be connecting with your child in a playful, meaningful way and creating awesome family memories.

Pro Anxiety Tip: As you both interact with nature be mindful of the colors, sounds, and smells that surround you. Take pictures or play I-spy games with your child.

 

11. Laugh hard.

Not only does laughter burn calories and release toxic chemicals, but it soothes stress responses, improves immune systems, and enhances your mood. Take the time to watch a funny tv show or a movie with your child, scroll through a few funny memes or videos, play a goofy game with your children, or read a list of jokes. Laughter really is the best medicine and taking the time to help your child find joy will lighten everyone’s spirit.

Final Thoughts

For mild to moderate anxiety, the all-natural anxiety techniques listed above might be very helpful to you, your child or teen, and if more support is needed we encourage you to reach out to your doctor, your child’s pediatrician, a mental health professional, or a naturopathic psychiatrist. There is no shame in deciding that medication is what is in you or your child’s best interest. Regardless of what you decide, creating a customized treatment plan is essential for healing and wellbeing.

  

Do you need more support? 

If you or your child is struggling with anxiety, find a qualified mental health provider  in our directory or join our free parent community today.

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