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How to Calm Anxiety

Friday January 27, 2023
How to Calm Anxiety

Lemon balm and theanine and have been studied for their calming effects.


Feelings of worry are completely normal response to new or unsettling events.  However, worry is termed anxiety when worry becomes prolonged, lasting for several months.  A person may start by worrying about an event and develop feelings of fear and apprehension.  The difference between worry and anxiety, is that anxiety affects the quality of life and influences decisions.

Anxiety can be caused by life events or experiences such as the death of a loved one, long-term illness, work events, or family pressures.  Anxiety is experienced by most people in their lives, and it is normal, however it can become detrimental if prolonged.  


Identifying the triggers to anxiety

Persistent anxiety can be crippling so it is useful to identify the triggers and create a management plan.  Anxiety can be identified by prolonged rumination that often triggers a state of stress.  


Recognising the triggers and the initial behaviours characteristic of anxiety is a great start to managing the state. Common signs of anxiety include increased heart rate and breathing rate, tension in muscles, often the shoulders, arms and neck, and agitation or restlessness which can impair the ability to go to sleep and sleep well. Furthermore, concentration can be difficult and so tasks where concentration is necessary become overly difficult.


Any event that strikes fear, hesitation or tension may trigger an anxiety attack which can include feeling faint or dizzy, sweating, shortness of breath, dry mouth, sharp changes in body temperature, intense fear and tingling or numbness in the extremities.  


Because anxiety is stressful, the body responds with the stress response, namely the secretion of a hormone called cortisol which if continued for a long time will stimulate inflammatory signalling agents.  So not only is anxiety piqued, but also the stress response and inflammation are ramped up.


Ways to calm anxiety


Recognising the triggers to anxiety can provide the opportunity to manage and prevent it from occurring.  The following tips may be useful to gain control over anxiety and reduce its influence day-to-day.


  • Journaling about the day, your feelings and the things that have made you happy, it could be something like seeing snowdrops on your way to work.
  • Mediation can be a good way to work though things that are causing anxiety, setting aside a specific time each day to be mindful of how you are feeling is reported to be beneficial.  However, if sitting alone with your thoughts increases anxiety, consider a guided meditation.
  • Breathing techniques can be calming. Try breathing in for the count of 4, hold for 4, out for 4 and hold for 4. This is called box breathing and many people start with one or two rounds, gradually increasing over time.
  • It can be easy to opt for quick foods when you are feeling anxious, plus often anxiety can trigger cravings for sweet foods. Go for wholefood choices which are nutrient dense and are beneficial to your body.  Wholefoods are foods eaten in their entirety, such as vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds and fruit, that have not been processed. 
  • Food supplements can be useful to support anxiety, consider magnesium to calm the mind and body, B vitamins and vitamin C to support the stress response and formulations containing the lemon balm herb. Lemon balm has been shown to support relaxation.
  • Theanine is the water-soluble amino acid present in tea. Studies show that theanine stimulates alpha brain waves which have a calming effect.  It is considered that benefits can be experienced after just one 200mg dose of theanine and that it holds therapeutic benefits in mental health conditions.


By recognising the triggers, engaging in activities that support self-care, and taking a nutritional approach, it’s possible to manage and reduce anxiety. You can visit your local health store for a chat to discuss personal nutritional and lifestyle advice to support anxiety.  Find your local health store at


Author: Jenny Carson is a Nutritional Practitioner and Technical Services Manager at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Science and is a Master of Research (MRES) in Public Health. 




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Hidese S, Ogawa S, Ota M, Ishida I, Yasukawa Z, Ozeki M, Kunugi H. Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 3;11(10):2362.


Jerath R, Crawford MW, Barnes VA, Harden K. Self-regulation of breathing as a primary treatment for anxiety. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2015 Jun;40(2):107-15.


Saeed SA, Cunningham K, Bloch RM. Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Benefits of Exercise, Yoga, and Meditation. Am Fam Physician. 2019 May 15;99(10):620-627.


The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.


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