Ways To Treat Anxiety Without Medication
Many people struggle with chronic stress and anxiety each and every day. Most of the time, they face symptoms like nervousness, agitation, irritability, tension, and even chest pain or tightness.
In fact, did you know that in the United States, more than 18 percent of adults are affected by some type of stress or anxiety disorder each year? When considering such a large number of people, there are likely many for whom drug-based treatments are ineffective, or perhaps even some who simply arent comfortable with taking drugs.
If you are one of those people, the TMS Center of Lehigh Valley is here to help you. Check out these five ways that you can treat anxiety without the use of drugs or medication.
How To Get Over Anxiety Exploring The Avoidance And Escape Profile
Avoidance and escape are behaviors where people suffering from anxiety either do not enter a situation or leave situations after they have entered . Avoidance and escape are common and natural mechanisms for coping with anxiety.
Avoidance coping typically involves doing something, like extensively washing ones hands to try to get rid of all bacteria to avoid disease. It can also involve not doing something like not going to certain social events like parties to avoid awkward conversations and being perceived as stupid.
These behaviors become problematic when used too frequently.
The avoidance instantly decreases anxiety because they have not put themselves in a distressing situation. Avoidance and escape make anxiety better in the short term but will make it worse in the long term.
The reason is we become more and more unwilling to confront the anxiety in the future. As one doesnt disprove their feared catastrophic outcome the anxiety may increase and also be transferred to similar situations and make the problem even worse.
Becoming aware of ones avoidance and escape profile is an important step to overcome anxiety. .
Managing Magical Thinking Ocd
As unpleasant as it is, the anxiety people feel when undergoing ERP is necessary for progress and improvement to occur. It should be interpreted as the brain trying to rebalance its chemistry and normalize its activity. As I often tell my OCD clients, “The pain that you feel is your brain trying to heal.”
If person with OCD simplybut again, not easilystops avoiding anxiety triggers, refuses to escape from irrational anxiety by neutralizing it with a ritual, and resists the urge to seek reassurance, he or she will cut off the fuel that powers the OCD engine. Eventually, like a car that runs out of gas, to a greater or lesser extent, the OCD will stop, too.
To get a good idea how long CBT for OCD usually takes see this post:
Remember: Think well, act well, feel well, be well!
Copyright 2014 by Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D.
This post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional assistance or personal mental health treatment by a qualified clinician.
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Give Yourself An Exit Strategy
Sometimes, anxiety is due to feeling out of control. You cant always be in the driver seat of your life, but you can take steps to identify your triggers and cope with circumstances that cause anxiety.
Does the thought of going into a social situation or meeting new people make you want to jump off a bridge? As everyone at a party engages in exciting conversations, maybe you see yourself holding up the wall and counting down the seconds until youre put out of your misery. You drove with friends and cant leave, so you spend the entire night looking like the punchbowl attendant. Its this fear that makes you decline invitations and sleep through the weekends.
But what if you had an exit strategy in place before leaving the house? For example, instead of carpooling with your party animal friends, you could drive yourself. This way, you can leave if your anxiety starts to build and you cant handle another minute of awkward interactions. The more in control you feel, the less anxiety youll have.
How To Get Over Anxiety: What You Can Do
Getting over anxiety is a process that requires action. Some specific things to rid yourself of anxiety include:
- Biofeedback. Knowing what is happening in your body when you are feeling anxious or having an anxiety attack helps you gather the insight you need to get over anxiety. This knowledge allows you to take charge of your own wellbeing, both mental and physical.
Biofeedback uses non-invasive technology to help teach you what your body is up to. When you know your body’s responses to anxiety, such as increased muscle tension or a quickened pulse, you can target your anti-anxiety efforts to address these physical signs. For example, if muscle tension is one of your body’s anxiety responses, learning muscle relaxation techniques will help you get rid of anxiety.
- Exercise. Regular aerobic exercise is, according to Dr. Edmund Borne , one of the most powerful and effective methods for reducing generalized anxiety and overcoming a predisposition to panic attacks .
Exercise increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, creates alpha waves associated with relaxation, outs stress hormones such as cortisol, and releases enkephalins and endorphins, our feel-good chemicals that relax the brain and reduce anxiety. Exercise is a releaser and a relaxer, and it’s a welcome distraction from our anxious thoughts.
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Practice These Coping Skills Every Day
I recommend doing many if not all of the following coping skills and techniques once a day when experiencing depression. Its important to know you probably wont be motivated to do any of them at first because depression frequently saps motivation. In other words, know that its normal to feel unmotivated until youre halfway done.
The patients I work with who frequently practice these coping skills get better.The seven techniques can be memorized with the acronym MY PEERS.
1. Meaning: Find small ways to be of service to others.
Find personal meaning by serving something larger than yourself. Remember service doesnt have to be big to count. Consider this, Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued it must ensue as the unintended side effect of ones personal dedication to a course greater than oneself. Viktor E. Frankl, Mans Search for Meaning
2. Your goals: Find workable goals that give you a sense of accomplishment.
Most people feel guilty when talking about goals because they set unreasonable or unworkable goals. A goal is workable if its:
If something goes wrong with your goal, adopt a what can I learn from this? attitude . Also, be careful when comparing your progress with others. We usually compare our biggest weakness with another persons biggest strength. This is unfair .
3. Pleasant Events: Schedule pleasant activities or events.
4. Engagement: Stay in the present.
Exposure Therapy For Social Anxiety
Social anxiety can lead to agoraphobia, which in many cases can make you unwilling, or seemingly unable, to leave your house. Exposure therapy can gradually build up your confidence to leave your comfort zone and experience the situations that are often anxiety-inducing for you, but you must start with small steps.
When I was fifteen, I went to Santander for a language exchange. I spent two weeks there on my own, and must have spoken about ten words of Spanish overall. The girl I stayed with enjoyed saying how lazy English people were and that she hated the language, which was charming of her. Needless to say, it wasn’t a fantastic experience, and I don’t think I was ready for it. I think I’d have the confidence to enjoy travelling alone now though, as I’ve gradually built up experience of smaller exposure tasks.
The quote below is appropriate here, as it suggests that you need a record of smaller success before facing your larger fears:
“The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.” – William Jennings Bryan
Here are some exposure therapy ideas that I’ve put to good use:
- Smile at a cashier
- Ask a waitress/waiter a question about a meal on the menu
- Go to a shop I’ve never been into before
- Go to a bar with a friend
- Compliment someone
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Tip : Focus On Others Not Yourself
When were in a social situation that makes us nervous, many of us tend to get caught up in our anxious thoughts and feelings. You may be convinced that everyone is looking at you and judging you. Your focus is on your bodily sensations, hoping that by paying extra close attention you can better control them. But this excessive self-focus just makes you more aware of how nervous youre feeling, triggering even more anxiety! It also prevents you from fully concentrating on the conversations around you or the performance youre giving.
Switching from an internal to an external focus can go a long way toward reducing social anxiety. This is easier said than done, but you cant pay attention to two things at once. The more you concentrate on whats happening around you, the less youll be affected by anxiety.
Focus your attention on other people, but not on what theyre thinking of you! Instead, do your best to engage them and make a genuine connection.
Remember that anxiety isnt as visible as you think. And even if someone notices that youre nervous, that doesnt mean theyll think badly of you. Chances are other people are feeling just as nervous as youor have done in the past.
Really listen to what is being said not to your own negative thoughts.
Focus on the present moment, rather than worrying about what youre going to say or beating yourself up for a flub thats already passed.
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Reduce Anxiety With Exercise
This is not news, perhaps, but exercise is an excellent stress-reliever! According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, studies have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self esteem. Remember the stress hormone adrenaline released from your fight-or-flight response? Exercise naturally reduces this hormone, allowing your body back into a state of equilibrium and relaxation. In addition, physical activity helps release those feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins, making you feel happier and less anxious. Aerobic activities also have the added benefit of allowing you to think of something other than what you might be worried about, serving as a form of active meditation.
You dont need to run a marathon to get the benefits of exercise, either. Go on a hike, go to a yoga session, or play a game of tennis with a friend whatever you enjoy! Any form of exercise will help with stress management, and youll get all of the other added health benefits along with it.
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Meditation And Relaxation Exercises
The ages-old practice of meditation may seem crazy, but the reality is, it can help slow things down, making it easier to manage stress and anxiety. Meditation can encompass a wide range of styles too, including mindfulness and yoga.
Some people have a tendency to unconsciously tense their muscles as a result of stress of anxiety, and when this happens, progressive relaxation techniques can help.
Try lying in a comfortable position on a soft, carpeted floor or on your bed, then slowly constrict and relax each muscle group of your body, beginning with your toes and finally working up to your shoulders and jaw. You may be surprised to learn just how effective this was!
Complementary And Alternative Treatments
Some people find that complementary and alternative treatments, such as massage, acupuncture, or chiropractic care, help their anxiety symptoms. A 2018 systematic review of 13 mostly small studies suggests that both acupuncture and electro-acupuncture may ease anxiety.
While some studies report promising results, there is no conclusive data showing these treatments work. So people trying alternative remedies should use them as a complement to other treatments, not substitutes for care.
Other alternative therapies may also have some benefits in treating anxiety.
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Other Strategies To Overcome Anxiety
This is just a small sample of the many strategies for reducing anxiety. Some people find relaxation exercises like visualization and progressive muscle relaxation to be helpful. Others find goal setting, staying socially active, and spending time with fun distractions to be all they need. Others need to consider herbal supplements like kava and passionflower that can help control anxiety.
But the most important thing to realize is committing to changing your anxiety is the most important step.
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What Is Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in Western society. It is characterised by intense fear in social situations, causing considerable distress and impaired ability to function in at least some parts of daily life. The diagnosis of social anxiety disorder can be of a specific disorder or a generalised disorder. Generalised social anxiety disorder typically involves a persistent, intense, chronic fear of being judged by others and of being embarrassed or humiliated by one’s own actions. These fears can be triggered by perceived or actual scrutiny from others.
Self care is extremely important when dealing with social anxiety
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Most Of Us Have Days That Are Great When We Feel As Though We Are On Top Of The World And Can Accomplish Anything
Then, there are the days where life is not so great, and we are filled with sadness, remorse, guilt, anger, or a plethora of other negative emotions. When these negative thoughts begin to consume us, we can easily fall into depression or feelings of anxiety.
Many of us know someone who is taking medication for anxiety or depression. Medical attention may be necessary in some cases, as depression and anxiety can lead to suicidal thoughts. It may be difficult to get out of a negative slump, but certain habits of self-care can also help to ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you struggle with anxiety and/or depression, here are some tips to getting yourself on the road to a happier life: