Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in the U.S according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Anxiety can take many forms – generalized anxiety disorder (constant worrying about everyday things), obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder.

When anxiety strikes, you need fast relief. Here are six ways to tame your anxiety. Natural, do-it-yourself techniques that can help calm you down, either in place of medications or as a supplement to them.

1. Ground yourself. When anxiety hits, ” do something tangible, “says John Tsilimparis, MFT, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles and adjunct professor of psychiatry at Pepperdine University.

“Take your house keys out, run your fingers along the keys,” says Tsilimparis. “That sensation will give you ‘grounding.’ Pick up a paperweight, hold it in your hand. Or, get an ice cube. Hold it as long as you can do it. ”

Why does this work? “Your brain can not be in two places at once,” he says. The activity distracts you from the anxious feelings. “Your mind will shift from racing, catastrophic thoughts [that accompany anxiety] to the cold ice cube in your hand,” he says.

2. Try lavender. Try lavender essential oil to calm yourself, Raymer says. “We have people put a drop of it on their collarbone,” she says. “The smell wafts up. The odor is very relaxing.” Or, you can rub it gently into your temple, she says.

In a 2012 study of women anxious about having a medical procedure, the researchers found that those who inhaled lavender a half hour before the procedures were calmer than those who did not.

3. Laugh it off. Cultivate a good sense of humor and laugh, says Karen Lynn Cassiday, PhD, president-elect of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and a clinical psychologist in Chicago. “Even if you do a fake laugh, you get an instant hit of dopamine,” says Dr. Cassiday. Dopamine is a brain chemical that controls feelings of reward and pleasure.

If you’re too tense to laugh on your own, try using the technology, she suggests. For example, find a laugh track phone app. Just google phone apps for laughing.

In a study presented at a medical meeting, Loma Linda University researchers found that even Monday, anticipating a mirthful laugh reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which increases when you are anxious.

4. Schedule relaxation. “Sit down and look at your schedule,” says Katherine Raymer, MD, ND, associate clinical professor of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University, Seattle.

“Is there a time to put in a half hour to do whatever you do that is relaxing?” Dr. Raymer asks. That can be a walk, meditation, yoga, tai chi or anything you find relaxing.

Researchers trying to help shy men with social anxiety found that a period of relaxation helped them, lowering their heart rates after they interacted with people.

5. These GABA. The GABA supplements, sold online and in health food stores, may help calm anxious people, Raymer says.

Short for gamma-aminobutyic acid, GABA is a brain transmitter that counteracts the action of another neurotransmitter, glutamate that increases your excitability.

Researchers found that individuals who ate chocolate enriched with GABA before tackling an arithmetic task were less stressed after completing it than those who did not have the GABA-infused chocolate.

It is important to remember that supplements such as GABA can interact with medications, so it’s crucial to check with your doctor before taking them on your own, she says. “Get your doctor’s permission, even if you are not taking other medications.”

6. Face the fear. “If something makes you scared, face it,” says Cassiday. If you feel shy, go out to social functions, she says. Scared of clowns? Go to the circus.

It can help, too, to understand that when you worry about what might happen – such as no one will talk to you at the party – just your anxiety rises. Your worry is anxious about the uncertainty, she says. “What a worrier really wants is a promise that everything is going to be OK. ”

But uncertainty is part of life, she says.

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