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Natural Approaches for Anxiety

Dear Dr.Kim

I experience a lot of anxiety that it is usually worse over the holidays. With Covid restrictions, it is adding another dimension to my worries. I am wondering if you have any suggestions for natural approaches to help ease my nerves.

G.G. Victoria


Dear G.G.

This is a great question and as we approach this holiday season, we are certainly in a new set of circumstances that can be unsettling. You might be surprised at how common it is for people to experience anxiety and the holidays, without a pandemic, can be tricky to navigate.

There are several natural strategies that can be useful in supporting your body and help to minimize the symptoms of anxiety. Anxious feelings typically occur when the body is in a “fight or flight response” –an increased state of (sympathetic) nervous system activity that puts the body on “high alert.” Unfortunately, this heightened state is draining for the body and in a “chicken and egg scenario,” anxiety is more frequent in people who are drained (of energy). Natural approaches to improving anxiety can focus on rebalancing the nervous system and supporting the body from the detrimental effects of stress. I often use the analogy of a bucket … an empty bucket is easier to knock off keel while a fuller bucket is steadier and may be able to weather the storm with a bit more ease. Focus on nourishing yourself, filling up your bucket, to help you feel more resilient.

Here are several approaches to consider:

  • Breathing exercise – Breathing exercises are a great way to activate the opposite, calming, nervous system state –that governed by the parasympathetic portion of the nervous system. Some simple and effective breathing exercises are: Alternate Nostril Breathing, Square Breathing and Diaphragmatic Breathing.
  • Homeopathics – Single and combination remedies can be effective at preventing symptoms of anxiety and for helping take you out of an anxious state. Calmes Forte and Rescue Remedy are two popular homeopathic products used to help balance anxious feelings.
  • Herbs – Several herbs function as anxiolytic – a term that reflects their ability to reduce anxiety or nervines –herbs that help calm the nervous system. Some examples are Passionflower, Oat, and Skullcap.
  • Adrenal support –The adrenal glands produce stress hormones that contribute to the symptoms of anxiety. Consider using a B-complex, Siberian Ginseng, Licorice (herbal), Ashwaganda, Rhodiola and/or Vitamin C to help support the adrenal glands.Nutrition –Focus on nutrient dense foods (such as whole grains, root vegetables, coloured vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids, and clean proteins) pulsed in through the day to support robust health. Limit overuse of added sugar, alcohol, and caffeine –which can add to overstimulation and make it tricky to feel more balanced.

Finally, consider having some blood work done to rule out low (or low normal) iron, B12, and/or thyroid levels. These are just a few health parameters that, when corrected, can bring about improvements in anxiety.

I hope these tips give you some ideas and help you sail through the holidays with more ease.


“Health from the inside out.”


Dr. Kimberly McQueen BSc, ND is a Naturopathic Physician in Victoria, BC. She has an active practice at Arbutus Physiotherapy and Health Centre: In addition to her clinic work she works with Rowing Canada, providing Sport Performance Nutrition support. Kim McQueen is one of the Co-founders of the nourishing Supershake, Rumble. For more information about Kim go to