Anxiety Treatment Without Medication
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines anxiety as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fears often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”
There are some key points I would like to point out in this definition. The first would be that anxiety is “marked by physical signs.” If you have experience with anxiety you know that anxiety will show its ugly face several minutes before or hours before an attack occurs. Either way, an anxiety attack will let you know that it is coming. This concept is what my therapist loves to refer to as “fight or flight mode.” It’s a very common phrase and refers back to our very own primitive instincts built into our very own brains.
Rick Hanson, Ph. D. explains that “the amygdala (as you know, there are two of them, one on each side of the brain) does initiate the fight or flight response through inputs into the hypothalamus (triggering the hormonal part of that response) and to brainstem control centers of the sympathetic nervous system for the neural parts of the fight or flight response.” Referring back to Webster’s definition, anxiety appears by feeling threatened. This is your fight or flight response. The duration and severity of your anxious state all depend on your “capacity to cope with it.” For some people, this may be medication, but for others, the idea of taking and/or relying on a medication every day is a scary thought all within itself. As a person who also struggles with severe anxiety, I have witnessed the very panic in taking medication to cope with my anxiety.
I am here to tell you that anxiety is manageable, to a certain extent, without medication. I must say that I am not a healthcare professional. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. I advise that you should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. From my own experience, I have successfully managed anxiety using methods other than medication and I am here to share them with you!
Practice Mindfulness- Being mindful is one of the most effective ways to manage your anxiety. Be aware of your mind and body sending you warning signs. If you are starting to see signs of anxiety arise, whether it is long term or short term warning signs, utilize some of the upcoming tools to help you work through it.
Breathe- When you start to feel yourself getting overwhelmed, have a go-to breathing exercise. Personally, I mix counting in with my breathing. I count down from 10 and take a deep breath in, hold it for a couple seconds, and then release. This keeps you stay in the present moment and stops you from over thinking.
Meditate- Meditation can center your thoughts and help you overcome your fears. Mediation is a great long-term anxiety method but can also be utilized in the moment of an anxiety attack. You can also mix breathing techniques in with meditation.
Affirmations/Mantras- When you start to feel anxious have a couple affirmations that you can repeat to yourself. Affirmations give you a sense of worth and grounding. You can use them throughout the day, during meditation, during breathing exercises, before and during an attack, every time you look in a mirror, before bed, or when you wake up. Affirmations and mantras are great for developing self-love and positive self-imaging. From experience, self-love can calm the storm when you have anxiety. Some mantras that I repeat to myself are:
-“You are enough.”
-”You are strong.”
-”Worry cannot change my circumstance.”
-”I have everything that I need.”
Self Help/Personal Development Blogs or Books: Reading blogs or books on how to improve yourself, love yourself, manage your anxiety, or even on how to just get the most out of your life will help your anxiety. The authors of these blogs or books are going through or have gone through exactly what you are going through right now. I find it very comforting to know that I am not alone in this. I hope that you do too. The best part about this is that you are already taking advantage of this tool just by reading this!
Exercise- Exercise is a very BLAH way for some people to manage their anxiety. From personal experience it does help. It gives a sense of accomplishment. It makes me feel strong and capable. Sometimes anxiety occurs because of overthinking and being hard on ourselves. Exercising eliminates these aspects of anxiety. If you aren’t able to go for a run or hit the gym you can simply walk, practice yoga, or do some vigorous cleaning. These are lighter forms of exercise that will also give you those same feelings.
Changing Your Sleep Patterns- If you are anything like me then depression and anxiety go hand in hand. One of the most effective ways to manage both of these at once is changing your sleep patterns. Most people will recommend that you get 8-9 hours of sleep a night to become well rested. Although, too much sleeping can be detrimental to your mental health and well being. To a certain extent, I believe in this. On the other hand, I believe sleep can give you a mental reboot of sorts. If I start to feel myself getting anxious I will go to bed early or take a nap.
Brain Dump- Something I use all the time are braindump tools. Myself go a bit overboard and use a bullet journal, planner, writing journal, as well as a counselor. I am very comforted by lists and organization. I feel like I have control over myself, my brain, and my emotions if I am able to put it all on paper. A bullet journal helps me create an environment to place all my lists, plans, and habits.
A writing journal helps me dump all of my overthinking out onto paper. Once I pour everything out I shut the journal and never read it again. Once my thoughts are on paper, then that is it. Worries out the door! I see a counselor whenever I need to work through something that is causing me emotional distress or making me nervous. Having someone unbiased and experienced makes me feel safe and allows me to move forward. I highly advise using any one or more of these tools to help you stop overthinking and causing worry.
These are just some things that have personally helped me overcome my anxiety every day. I hope that they can help you as well.
You are not alone. It is incredibly important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with you and that what you are going through is normal. Anxiety IS manageable especially when you have support. If you start to feel like it is unmanageable reach out for help. Whether it is a health expert, a friend, a family member, or even me. I am always an email or private message away.
You can also read this article to get rid of your stress – Most Effective Stress Management Activities For Stress-Free Life.