For some, it’s hard to imagine…tranquility without tranquilizers; peace without pills. In fact, the mere thought of going one day without anti-anxiety medication generates anxiety.
For those of us trying to cope with high levels of anxiety, a life free of medication can feel out of reach. But the truth is, that’s a life that might be closer than you think.
Addicted to Anxiety
For many of us, prescription meds have been a life saver, bringing our anxiety down to manageable levels.
For others, the medicine may help with anxiety, but that help can often come with unwanted side effects.
People with addictive personalities can find that taking anxiety medication is particularly dangerous. If someone’s in recovery from addiction, for example, they may subconsciously trade a painkiller dependency for anxiety medication, misusing or abusing the new drug. Or for some, the meds may simply have physical or psychological side effects they’d like to avoid at all costs.
Situations like the ones above make it important to seek out alternatives to managing anxiety. Fortunately, these alternative options exist, meaning what used to seem impossible can now be accomplished.
Here’s a look at five alternative tips for managing anxiety…without depending on medications.
Tune It Out
How does your favorite song make you feel? Have you ever felt soothed by a familiar tune? Study after study has shown that music is extremely beneficial to our health. Listening to music in stressful situations makes an impact. Research has been conducted on patients who were undergoing surgery, having babies, suffering from Alzheimer’s, receiving cancer treatment, living in shelters for abused women and so much more. Playing your favorite tunes (especially styles such as jazz or classical) has proven to reduce stress, improve mood and even reduce physical pain.
Luckily, it’s easy to surround ourselves with music when we need its healing and soothing help. Phones, computers, on-demand music TV channels and a slew of other devices provides us with constant streams of music. So, make use of technology and mellow your anxiety with music.
Talk It Out
Many people have an aversion to the word “therapy,” but CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is an effective method of dealing with anxiety. This type of therapy confronts our self-talk and helps us realize when we are having negative thoughts, feeling anxiety or nearing relapse. It helps us self-soothe rather than spiral out of control with worry. We learn how to cope, redirect thinking and problem solve.
Work It Out
When faced with daily anxiety, daily exercise can help. Exercise relieves stress, keeps us physically healthy and releases happy chemicals in our brains. Studies have also discovered that we benefit mentally from being outside and enjoying nature. With this in mind, exercising outside or playing an outdoor sport provides a double dose of anxiety-diminishing activity.
Feel It Out
Physical touch is a well-documented method of reducing anxiety. If you treat yourself to a massage, this reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, and increases the pleasure hormones, serotonin and dopamine, in your body. A massage can also decrease activity in your “fight or flight” nervous system which is overly active with anxiety.
For some of us, the thought of a table, a towel, and a stranger’s touch actually produces anxiety. Fortunately, other forms of physical touch are also beneficial. A gentle caress or friendly hug from a loved one reduces stress and lowers blood pressure. In fact, the touch doesn’t even have to be human. Petting an animal can also boost our mood.
Breathe It Out
We have no excuse not to try this one. We don’t need any tools, a counselor, or furry animals. It only requires the two lungs we are carrying around with us. Deep breathing slows our heart rate, reduces cortisol levels, lowers our blood pressure, and activates our resting nervous system. Essentially, it calms us down. Taking deep breaths, either regularly or when we start to feel anxious, is an effective way to manage your anxiety, pill-free.
Additional Reading: Tips for Avoiding Social Anxiety Post-Rehab
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