The mind that continues to go to the same obsessive and continuous thoughts, the attention always focused on the search for possible solutions, which however are not found, at night a great effort to fall asleep and nocturnal awakenings and during the day anxiety and nervousness that do not let us enjoy the little things that life offers. Can natural remedies in these cases help to restore calm, clear the mind and drive away anxieties in order to recharge us with energy and put us in the best conditions to face obstacles and problems, bring out resources and find serenity? In previous articles we have had the opportunity to understand the beneficial and relaxing action of yoga, in particular with special breathing techniques called pranayama, but also of herbal teas, such as linden, lemon balm or lavender. Today we explore other remedies and techniques to drive away anxiety and create our little paradise, always at hand, even among the thousands of worries of everyday life.
Some essential oils, more than others, help to relax body and mind and promote a good rest. It was observed that a blend of lavender, bergamot and ylang ylang essential oils, poured onto a cotton ball and held next to the pillow, improved sleep quality. Notably, study participants undergoing aromatherapy reported that they woke less during the night and generally experienced a calmer, more restful sleep than those who hadn't smelled any essential oils (McDonell et al, J Altern Complement Med, 2019). Massages with sweet almond oil and marjoram essential oil in a 2% concentration have also been shown to relax and improve the quality of sleep, even in the case of stressful jobs that also require night shifts with consequent alteration of the sleep-wake rhythm (Chang et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med., 2017).
What if you can't walk in nature?
Contact with nature has been shown to counteract anxiety. 71% of people after a walk in nature reported a reduction in perceived tension while an opposite effect occurs with an afternoon of shopping in the center. In this case, 51% of people reported an increased feeling of tension instead. Hence, a walk in a forest or park certainly has beneficial effects to counteract anxiety, stress and nervousness. However, this is not always possible. Let's think for example of people who live in the city center, far from the parks, who work a lot and who can only afford a weekend trip. Or, as it is happening in the current context of the pandemic, it may happen that it is not possible to leave the house and reach the woods and countryside. So what to do in this case? We can resort to imagination. Indeed, it has been shown (Nguyen et al, Front Psychol, 2018) that imagining scenes drawn from nature, such as a sunrise, the sun reflecting on a calm sea, a stream gurgling among the rocks, also has a beneficial effect to recharge energy and drive away anxieties and worries. It is a question of recalling natural landscapes and involving all the senses, not only sight, but also touch, for example imagining the fresh and wet grass that touches the feet, the sense of smell, like the scents of flowers on the breeze, hearing, like the chirping of birds or the sound of a waterfall, and also taste, like the sensation of drinking pure and refreshing water. In this way, it is possible to make our mind believe that the images displayed are real! In fact, it has been shown that visualizing images with the mind's eye and perceiving images with real eyes involve very similar mental processes. Imagining always has an anti-stress action but imagining scenes of natural landscapes has shown to have a more powerful anxiolytic action (Nguyen et al, Front Psychol, 2018).
Well, cooking is not just a necessary action aimed at ensuring nourishment but it can become an excellent anti anxiety remedy! In fact, it has been shown that cooking, kneading, mixing, all actions that are done in the kitchen, help to take away the mind from obsessive worries and thoughts, driving away anxiety (Farmer et al, Health Educ Behav, 2018). It has been observed that cooking has allowed people, who had burns and therefore felt pain, not to think about that, you can imagine what cooking can do against the "pain" of the mind! Not only that, cooking improves concentration, attention and even self-confidence (Hill et al, Journal of Burn Care and Research, 2007).
With saffron sweet dreams
Saffron has been shown to relieve symptoms related to mild and moderate anxiety. Not only that, studies have found that saffron extracts have similar effects to that of common antidepressants such as fluoxetine and imipramine (Yeung et al, Phytother Res, 2019). In the evening you can prepare a soothing and yummy drink. Heat a cup of vegetable milk, soy but also rice or almond milk, in a saucepan. The milk should not be hot but pleasantly warm. Remove from heat and add a pinch of saffron powder, mix and enjoy the drink!