We list 4 ways to reduce your anxiety without using any tablets at all.
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger; an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a stressful situation. In small amounts anxiety keeps you aware of your surroundings and is one of the reasons for our evolutionary survival. The problem is when anxiety begins to take over your daily life. Have you felt scared of having a panic attack when you are out with friends? Or perhaps when you are at home taking care of your children? Maybe it stops you from leaving the house so you become reliant on food delivery, online courses, and working from home. It can change your life. Medication is one way of treating anxiety, but there are several natural ways of treating anxiety as well.
One of the best ways to take on anxiety is to do exercise: get on the bicycle for ten minutes or simply head out the door and go for a good brisk walk while you listen to your favourite tunes. I’ve read blog posts of sufferers expressing fear that exercise will raise their heart rate to the point of a panic attack. Don’t be scared. People associate a fast heart rate with being panicky, but as you start doing exercise (start slowly), your heart rate will go up, and nothing bad will happen. Eventually, you will be able to run farther, run faster, and you will get used to raising your heart rate in a controlled situation. It’s a process of desensitisation, where you will eventually be able to stop associating a fast heart rate with a panic attack. Also, exercise by itself seems to have relaxing effects. These are not perfectly understood there but research shows they are there.
If you smoke or drink excessively, cut it down. Perhaps you turned to smoking as you thought it relaxes you. While this is true in the short run, it doesn’t hold in the long run and both drinking and smoking will make you more stressed. Smokers are surprised to find that when they quit they feel calmer, what they crave is nothing to do with feeling relaxed. The effects of alcohol are even more dramatic. Alcohol does not relax you over the long term. Its calming effects dissapear as you start drinking more and very soon you need to drink very large amounts to feel as calm as you did before. Worse than that, if you get withdrawal symptoms they feel very similar to being severely anxious. At that stage When you drink it is not calming you down at all, its only taking away the withdrawal symptoms, which you would not have in the first place if you were not drinking so much!
A study conducted at UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory involved 18 young adults looking at images while undergoing functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a scanner that takes pictures of the brain as it does stuff and shows which bits are active. The participants viewed 1 of 3 visual cues prior to each image. A red minus sign told them they were about to see a gruesome, scary image. A yellow circle indicated a neutral image (i.e. a soccer ball) and a white question mark indicated the image could be either or. The participants, who had been deprived of sleep and were waiting in suspenseful anticipation for the images, had heightened activity in the bits of the brain that register emotions like anxiety or fear: the amygdala and insular cortex. Moral of the story is: get some sleep, if not you’ll react more intensely than you would otherwise.
When you get a break in your day, try out some relaxation techniques such as meditation, self-hypnosis, and differential muscle relaxation. Our in-app virtual doctor, Dr Freeman, goes through these relaxation techniques with clear and simple instructions. You can refer to him during your lunch break, on the tube, before bed, or anytime that fits your schedule.
We are not saying that tablets are ineffective for anxiety, when needed they can be very helpful. We are providing some legitimate options to replace or supplement the medication. If you suffer from anxiety and have any non-medication ways that work for you, let us know! Leave a comment and spread the knowledge.