Medication can make a big difference for people who wake up every day to a racing heart and a sense of dread. This treatment approach isn’t for everyone, though. Medication doesn’t always work, and some people suffer side effects such as drowsiness and difficulty concentrating. For people who have heard that anti-anxiety medication can sometimes be dangerous, taking medication might even make anxiety worse. If you’re already taking medication, talk to your doctor before making any changes. If you’re interested in natural methods for treating anxiety, you might be surprised to learn that some treatments can work as well as medication.
Find the Right Therapist
Therapy is one of the most effective ways to treat anxiety without taking medication. Through therapy, you’ll examine the sources of your anxiety and develop coping skills that can help you manage anxiety attacks. Some people even find that therapy causes their anxiety to vanish completely. If you need help finding a therapist who specializes in anxiety, check out GoodTherapy.org’s therapist search tool.
Exercise remains one of the best things you can do for your health, and it can also help treat your anxiety. Immediately after exercise, you’ll get an endorphin rush that can help you feel happy and elated rather than anxious and overwhelmed. Over time, exercise can also ease an anxious mind. Try exercising in the morning or afternoon, or at least several hours before sleep. Doing so can help you sleep better, since exercise also has insomnia-busting benefits.
Consider Trying Supplements
Research on the benefits of supplements for treating anxiety is mixed, but some people have excellent luck with vitamins and minerals. Magnesium may help reduce anxiety, and some anxious people swear by herbs like rhodiola or kava. If you’re concerned about your diet but worried about trying an herbal supplement, consider a multivitamin, which can help ensure you get the basic vitamins and minerals you need to keep your brain functioning well.
Notice Your Thoughts
When you struggle with anxiety, your thoughts can feel like an endless, uncontrollable stream of panic and negative self-talk. Pausing to notice your thoughts can help you begin to uncover your anxiety triggers. Once you understand what causes your anxiety, you can develop a coping plan for anxiety-inducing situations. Don’t stop there, though. Begin to challenge your negative thoughts. If you tell yourself something terrible will happen at the doctor’s office, counter this thought by contemplating all of the positive appointments you have had and considering that it’s actually quite unlikely that something bad will happen. Remind yourself that worrying about something will not change it.
Remember to Breathe
People experiencing moments of intense anxiety may hold their breath or begin hyperventilating. Doing so deprives your brain of oxygen, making it harder to think and easier to become overwhelmed by anxious thoughts. Focus on slow and steady breathing, and consider counting your breaths to help distract yourself from a stream of anxious thoughts.
Meditation can help you quiet an anxious mind and gain better control over your thoughts. Simply focusing on deep breathing, a soothing image, or a calming mantra is all it takes, but you might also want to consider a meditation course or book. Research suggests that some people are able to get a handle on their anxiety with meditation alone. Even if meditation doesn’t “cure” your anxiety, it provides a healthier way of dealing with moments of panic, and meditating when you’re overwhelmed can help get your thoughts back on track.
- Anxiety Disorders and Effective Treatment. (n.d.). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/anxiety-treatment.aspx
- Corliss, Julie. (2014, January 8). Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress. Harvard Heart Letter. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967
- Managing Anxiety Without Drugs. (2007, June 13). Retrieved from http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/reports/depression_anxiety/1156-1.html
- Reynolds, G. (2013, July 3). How Exercise Can Calm Anxiety. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/03/how-exercise-can-calm-anxiety/
- What Are Some Non-Prescription Anxiety Medications? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/drugs/non-prescription
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