4 ways to reduce your anxiety without medication
By HopeQure |
19 Nov 2020
Very often, stress is renamed as anxiety when spoken. Hence, understanding first what you are going through is important- is it stress or anxiety? A stress response is brought about in an emergency state when an individual’s stable internal state is threatened. During this, a person initiates mixed reactions that include behavioural and physiological responses. On the other hand, according to the DSM-5 (2013), “Fear is the emotional response to a real or perceived imminent threat, whereas anxiety is the anticipation of a future threat.” Thus, anxiety can be defined as a temporarily diffused emotional state triggered by a hypothetically/possibly harmful situation, with a very low or perhaps uncertain chance of happening (Goes et al., 2018).
Moreover, facing stress or anxiety to a small degree is considered to be positive as it encourages optimal behavioural functioning and enhances thought processes. However, if these levels are extended from average can disrupt day-to-day activities. Once it passes the standard level, it can become frustrating and might lead to chronic anxiety/ anxiety disorders.
You are wondering what may have caused you to be anxious? Genetics is a primary factor; some people are born with it. If not nature, then nurture, then the environment can play a significant role; if one or more family member(s) suffers from anxiety, then you are highly likely to pick it up. Another cause can be a huge life change or experience. A bad experience/ trauma, such as abuse or losing a loved one, may develop anxiety. Additionally, consuming high doses of drugs and alcohol can stem from anxiety (MH-UK, n.d.).
Non-clinical anxiety has the following mental and physical symptoms:
- Racing thoughts
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Fast breathing
- Highly alert all the time
- Stomach aches and headaches
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Uncontrollable overthinking
- Shaking (fidgety legs and hands)
If you are someone who faces these issues, then you are not alone. General anxiety is highly common. 1 in 3 people has anxiety, according to WHO (n.d.). Lots of people with anxiety turn towards quick fixes and pop pills to reduce or stop their anxiousness. However, this is just temporary. There are ways to reduce your anxiety without medication that works in the long run.
Face your fears
We tend to begin avoiding situations where we know we may face some troubles. Due to this, you will stop doing those things that you want or need to do. If you avoid those tasks, you may begin to avoid tasks similar to them, and you will miss out on understanding and managing your fear and anxiety and finally reducing them. Hence, these may become a pattern, and exposing yourself to your fears can help overcome your anxiety. It is challenging as it sounds, and so you can make your way upwards by exposing yourself initially to fears you expect not to be very harmful. That is when you can build trust and address such fears or beliefs about your anxiety.
Write it down
Writing journals have shown to improve various aspects of personal health. Adams (1998) note that journaling can be a form of therapy for growth and healing psychologically. Keep a diary to record your anxious thoughts- of when it happened (triggers) and what happens (behaviour). Once it is out of your mind on a paper (or even digitally), it will make it less daunting.
There are numerous benefits of exercise for physical health. But there are even more benefits of exercising for your mental health. Exercising has been shown to alleviate stress and anxiety (Arent, Walker, & Arent, 2020). While exercising, your body and mind are combined and concentrated. This can shift your focus from your fears and anxiety.
Relaxation and nutrition
Learn a few relaxation techniques, such as meditation and breathing exercises. There are guided videos online if meditating by yourself is difficult initially. Meditation and breathing mindfully can help calm and drop your shoulders in any anxious situation in no time if you have good practice of it. Additionally, caffeine and sugars increase your anxiety levels (Mind, 2010) as they give your nervous system a jolt, and when you are under anxiety, your nervous energy can boost an attack. Hence, moderate the levels of caffeine and sugar in your diet.
Even other small things can help you cope with your anxiety, such as sleep; a content 6-8 hours of sleep is essential for psychological well-being. If you are religious or spiritual, connecting with something superior can help you with coping healthily.
Managing anxiety is hard, but there are many ways you can win this battle. You can initiate non-medication techniques to improve your well-being. If your anxiety does not get in control or worsen even after that, consider consulting a therapist. Also, remember that anxiety does not have control over your life.
4 ways to reduce your anxiety without medication
Mental health- United Kingdom (n.d.). How to overcome fear and anxiety. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/overcome-fear-anxiety
Mind, (2010). “The Mind Guide to food and mood.” https://www.mind.org.uk/media/7498/mind-guide-to-food-and-mood-2010.pdf
Mental health- United Kingdom (n.d.). Anxiety. https://mentalhealth-uk.org/help-and-information/conditions/anxiety-disorders/
Arent, S. M., Walker, A. J., & Arent, M. A. (2020). The Effects of Exercise on Anxiety and Depression. Handbook of Sport Psychology, 872-890.
Adams, K. The Way of the Journal: A Journey Therapy Workbook for Healing (2nd Edition). Towson, MD: Sidran Press, 1998.
Goes, T. C., Souza, T. H. A., Marchioro, M., & Teixeira-Silva, F. (2018). Excitotoxic lesion of the medial prefrontal cortex in Wistar rats: effects on trait and state anxiety. Brain research bulletin, 142, 313-319.
World Health Organization (n.d.). Mental health. https://www.who.int/health-topics/mental-health/
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013.