Natural Ways To Deal With Anxiety

Today I’m addressing one of my most frequently asked questions in my mental health question box.

*Deep breath.*

Do you take medication for anxiety? If not, how do you deal with it?

natural remedies for anxiety

I’ll let ya’ll know now, that I think the reason why it took me so long to share about my anxiety was because I was really hesitant to talk about medication and my experience with it. It’s no big deal to chat with your girlfriends about how much you love a Midol and a Diet Coke when you have terrible cramps and I’m the first person to have Advil for any ache and pain in my purse, but talking about anti-anxiety medication is…heavy.


I was at a party this summer with a bunch of people I just met. Being the anti-social, non-drinker that I am, I spent about 40 minutes standing in a corner with a Sprite chit-chatting with a girl I had met there. We were discussing how much we loved Target’s clothes when she pointed out how her beloved high-wasted cutoffs had become too big because she’d recently lost about 10 pounds.

“Oh wow that’s great!” I exclaimed, and without hesitating, she told me why.

“Yeah, I’ve been taking medication for my anxiety, but it started making me feel kinda fuzzy, so I’ve been backing off.”

Maybe it was because she was being so honest or maybe I wanted to kill more time being anti-social in my corner, so I shared my story with her.

I used to take medication. I took it for almost 10 years to be exact. When I was 19, I started to wonder what it would be like to not take three different pills twice a day. So I went to my doctor, who laughed in my face and told me I’d be sorry, and I got off of all the medication.

So let’s pause for a second. The answer to your question is, no, I don’t take medication. But I used to. See, when you’re nine years old and your crippling anxiety keeps you from getting on the school bus each morning, medication sounds like a great idea. And it did work really well for me. I could participate in the school spelling bee without a meltdown, have fun at friend’s birthday parties, and even go to summer camp for almost the whole week.

A lot of people, and maybe even some of you that asked the question, shy away from medication because they are worried of how it might make them feel. Well, I can’t tell you really how it made me feel because, I don’t remember. Maybe I was tired, maybe I had less motivation, I don’t know.

And then I just carried on my merry way all through elementary, middle, high school and the first semester of college.

I’m not putting down medication. I still, to this day, am glad I took it. I guess next time around I’d be more cautious and really monitor how I was feeling and any weird side effects, but honestly, when I was 9, I really just cared about getting home from dance class in time to see That’s So Raven.

January of 2015 was a very interesting month. I was going off the medication and it was a very difficult process. “Withdrawal” is a scary word that you wouldn’t associate with a 19-year old journalism major who loves pastel colored sticky notes and going to the mall with friends, but that’s pretty much what was going on. For once, my body had to work, on it’s own, to push through the pestering anxiety and go about my daily routine. It was weird and uncomfortable, but I got through it.

I ended up feeling a lot better. My hair grew, my skin cleared, and I slimmed out a lot. I had more energy and more zest. It was the first time in a while that I woke up every day and relied on nothing but God, a glass of water, and my own heart and soul to get me out of bed and into my day.

I was also pretty freaked out to be going at it alone. Every night after I had dinner at the dining hall and kissed Cam goodbye for the day, I’d go to my room, change into comfy clothes, make tea, and spend about three hours doing research on my laptop. I’d read free e-book after free e-book (because #brokecollegestudent) about anxiety, yoga, meditation, diets for anxiety, etc. I’d watch Youtube video after Youtube video teaching me how to eat healthier, have more energy, and how to get through my day stress free in 5 easy steps. I’d make lists of my goals and I’d journal out my day. Some days, I even sat in front of my computer on my webcam talking to myself to get through how I was feeling. I thought I’d look back on the videos one day and be so proud of how much I’d fought for myself.


For the past year and nine months, it’s been an incredible journey. Most days are tough, which is not to discourage you – just to be honest. I’m in a different spot than most people where I’m just now teaching myself certain strategies and coping mechanisms that I didn’t take advantage of learning several years ago.

I really wanted to answer this question now, the one about “how do I deal with my anxiety naturally”, rather than later because I know many of you out there really want some good advice. The honest truth is, I’m still figuring it out. I actually have a counseling appointment today where I hope to gain some more practical advice, and I’m also in the process of eliminating certain foods out of my diet to see how I feel. So, I’m sure in the next couple months, I’ll be back for an update.

For now, I want to tell you what I know works.

The first, is talking about it.

I’m naturally someone who enjoys talking about their feelings, but I know it’s not for everyone. However, it is so beneficial. I’d say, pick who you’re most comfortable talking with. If you really only care to talk to your Aunt Stephanie about things like this, and she gives you good advice and comforts you – good. That works. But also, don’t be afraid of therapy. I love talk therapy, especially when it involves a licensed professional who’s unbiased opinion in how I should take charge of my anxiety really helps me out. It’s great. Don’t be scared.

The next, is crafting your attack plan.

Anxiety will come and go, but always remember – anxiety lies. You can go to class, you can go to work, you can do that report, you can make that meeting, etc. You’ll feel anxious for whatever reason and however often….it happens. Just have your attack plan of how you’re going to deal with it. I stay organized. I stay on top of my school work, so that way if I come home one afternoon and feel particularly defeated and just need to lay in my bed, I can do that. I keep in contact with my friends and family so I feel comfortable texting them and the drop of a hat and letting them know I need to talk. I know the things that calm me down when I start to feel anxious and I make sure I have them all around me: paper for watercoloring, plenty of healthy food in my fridge so I can stay home and refuel when I need it, and I always have a book checked out from the library. Craft your attack plan.

Find the things you love and make time for them.

After a particularly bad week of anxiety, I got on my computer and searched for meet-up groups for writing. I knew how much I loved writing (and how much I wanted to get my novel started up) so I thought meeting with a group a couple times a month would be a great idea. Now, every other Thursday night is filled with chamomile tea and discussion about prose and stylistic quotation marks. I love it. Just like I love my weekly library dates, my peppermint hot chocolates from Starbucks when I need a reward for a hard week, and Facetiming Cameron. Do what you love and always make time for it.

Use essential oils

I love diffusing lavender oil when I sleep. One thing I sacrificed to go the natural route with my anxiety is my sleep. I used to crash and sleep the night through because the medication I took at night made me drowsy, but now, my anxiety is particularly bad at night and I wake up a lot, sometimes only sleeping a few hours. My essential oils and a dark, cool room has helped.

Follow a healthy diet

Don’t get me started. If you’re a regular reader, you know healthy eating is my life and now you know why. I posted about my anxiety diet a couple weeks ago if you’d like to check that out. I’m learning more and more about diets that are good for anxiety, and I’m excited to do some experiments in 2017. The key is really just to eat whole, natural, good foods. There’s speculation about how well gluten free diets can work to reduce anxiety and how cutting out sugar can help as well, but again, that’s something I’ll try here and there and update you on.

Give yourself time-outs

You know how you feel. You know what can really heighten your anxiety or even seasons that may bring increased senses of depression, loneliness, etc. Give yourself extra time to relax. My friends love to poke fun at me for going to bed early and not going out, but I just know that, being me, I need more sleep and more down time than most. I spend this time doing activities that calm my mind and bring happiness to my soul such as reading, writing, and painting. (Psst…I’m selling some of my pieces here if you’d like one for your home!)

Vitamins maybe??

I was recently reading Mary Kate Robertson’s amazing blog post on her battle with depression, and I was interested to find that she learned part of her depression had stemmed from a lack of B-12. It’s well researched that people who suffer from anxiety and depression may be lacking in common vitamins like B-12 (or zinc, magnesium, etc.) so if you feel so inclined, in may be worth talking to your doctor and getting your levels tested. While I’ve never done this, I do see the science behind it, and think it’s a great idea.

Grab your support system

All those hours spent in my tiny dorm researching natural anxiety remedies, this was the tip I found most often. It annoyed me actually, and sometimes even made me feel hopeless because I was positive I didn’t have a “support system”. I wasn’t the girl who had a ton of friends who took me for cool hikes and threw me surprise birthday parties with donut cakes, so I thought I just didn’t have anyone. And I was so wrong. Only recently have I started to really rely on my family with my mental wellness. I know that they’ve always (always!!!) been there for me, but I guess I didn’t want to worry them if I opened up about how I was doing.

Now, I call them several times a week, even if it is just to recap what I did at Write Club the last night. I just love feeling like we have this communication basis where I can call them at any second and get a comforting word. Now that we live so close, they’ve even come to take me out to dinner when I’m having a rough time, or for example, these past two weeks I’ve driven maybe a total of 12 miles in my car because they keep picking me up and taking me home so I don’t have to drive, haha!

Just start talking to someone. Actual support groups for anxiety and depression are great, too.

I hope in this 2,000 word blog post (transfer some of that motivation to this final ethics statement I have to write for Media Law please and thanks, haha!) that I’ve answered your question and given you some good resources to manage your mental health.

Please, never hesitate to send an email, ask me something anonymously on Twitter, or submit something (also anonymously) to the mental health question box.

Some other really great resources:

Anxiety Guru website (great podcasts and blog posts) 

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (website with free resources and webinars)

If you are in college, Google your school’s name followed by “counseling center” and you should be directed to your school’s psychological services.

Thanks for reading this whole thing, and I hope you have a beautiful week!