4 Ways to Overcome Anxiety Without Medications
Living with anxiety is a serious issue for many people. It can be debilitating and paralyzing. Millions of people who suffer from it are constantly searching for a way to escape it. Numbing out becomes a way of life and sometimes a constant state of being. Learning to control. and eventually heal, anxiety is a long process that cannot be learned overnight. However, there are a myriad of ways to cope with, combat, and even heal anxiety over time. Here are just a few:
- Movement (aka Exercise)
Exercise serve as one of the best ways to combat anxiety. To some, it may seem dreadful, but for so many people suffering from anxiety, it can be essential to balancing your brain chemicals. To help overcome the resistance a lot of people have to working out, I like to tell my clients to focus on regular movement. Instead of dreading a grueling workout, focus on getting outside and having fun. Walk your dog. Go for a walk. Go for a hike with your friends. Whatever it is you decide to to the main thing is to ENJOY it. When you are physically active, your body releases endorphins. When you are having fun and moving around, it's double the mood boost. These happy chemicals, as I like to call them, are responsible for new brain cell growth, increased focus and higher self-esteem. To simplify, you feel better!
- Daily Mindset Development
Another way help combat anxiety is to nurture the proper mindset by focusing on a positive perspective and practicing mindfulness. Just because you experience negative things doesn’t mean your life is negative, or that you should give up. Negative things happen to all of us, but how we allow it to affect us determines whether we are controlled by the negativity or not. The negative things that happen to us are out greatest teacher in this life. It's from the struggles, that we grow, learn from our challenges, and teach us how to succeed in the future. Adopting a positive mindset offers a huge array benefits in your life. It prevents your body from being in a constant state of stress and inflammation. It also gives you a chance to live happier and more satisfied with the things that you already have, even the simplest things.
One of my favorite tools is a daily gratitude practice. Starting your day off with a short acknowledgement of what you are grateful for shifts your perspective to an abundance mindset. It also helps to set a positive energetic pace for the rest of your day. You can also use the gratitude practice throughout your day to help shift your energy from negative to positive.
Another tool I use daily is meditation. Meditation is a great stress and anxiety relief tool. Just 5-10 minutes of quiet stillness, can totally reset your nervous system. If you are new to mediation, keep it simple. It does not have to be complicated or hard. I have found that to help quiet our monkey mind mantra meditation is simple and effective. Focusing on a simple phrase like, So-Hum (inhale So, exhale Hum) or Sat-Nam (inhale Sat, exhale Nam), helps keep our minds focused on the mediation, and yet strategically distracted from all the other crap going on in our lives that stresses us out. Start with 5-10 minutes in the morning or at night before bed, and try to work your way up to 20 minutes twice daily. You will notice so many positive shifts in your life with a daily meditation practice.
- Get Good Sleep
Our sleep quality and quantity has huge affects on our mood. Sleep also affects our productivity, as well as our ability to cope with the ups and downs of our daily lives. Our sleep-wake cycle has a direct effect on our hormone balance, which determines the balance of happy chemicals in the brain. One of the side effects of SSRIs (a class of medications used for anxiety & depression) is altering the sleep cycle and decreasing sleep quality. The very medications meant to treat the problem are actually contributing to making the problem worse. Also, if you've ever tried to wean yourself off of psychotropic meds, I'm sure you've noticed the withdrawal induced insomnia.
Good sleep hygiene is essential to maintaining a happy and healthy mind and mood. What exactly is sleep hygiene you ask? It is the habits you put into place to help maximize your sleep quality and quantity. Try to keep the same sleep hours every night. Your body works in rhythms. Keeping a steady schedule for sleep lets your body know what to expect and what to do next. Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only. No working in bed on your laptop. No reading you kindle in bed at night. No TV in the bedroom. Try to decrease or eliminate blue light starting about an hour before you plan to sleep. Blue light disrupts the sleep chemicals in our brain. Make your bedroom as dark as possible. If you use your phone for an alarm clock, try not to have it near your head. The EMF your phone puts off also disrupts your brain chemicals. Eliminate caffeine at least 6 hours prior to sleep. Also, try not to have a heavy meal less than 3 hours before bed. These are just a few of the many ways you can set yourself up for a good night sleep.
- Food is Medicine
Food provides your body with information. If you are filling yourself full of stimulants, sugar, and crap devoid of any nutritional value, your going to feel frazzled, jittery, high then low, and constantly hungry but not nourished. Give your brain and your body the best possible tools in the form of food to optimize functionality and ultimately how you feel. Even though Western culture would tell us otherwise, we are very in-tune, connected beings. Mind, body, & soul are one. What we put into our bodies, we feel on a soul level. When you eat crap you feel like crap both physically and emotionally. Ok, so back to the food.
Eat real food. What does that mean? Eat food that grows in the ground, on a plant, on a tree. Do not eat food that comes out of a box, or any other processed foods. Eat with the seasons and as locally as possible. Eat grass fed meat raised in a humane way. Eat good fats i.e. olive oil, coconut oil, fish oils. Stay away from trans-fats, soybean, corn, and canola oils. These oils are inflammatory and damaging. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Although low in calories, studies have shown that they can prevent you from losing weight, in addition to possibly leading to stroke and dementia. Avoid sugar! Sugar has many different names these days. The food industry is very good at sneaking it into almost everything they process. High sugar diets disrupt metabolism, disrupt hormone balance, and therefor directly affect your mood and can lead to an anxiety roller coaster.
All of the above are just tid-bits to get you started in managing your anxiety with out being dependent on medications. Be patient and loving with yourself. Be introspective and self aware. Take small steps. Pay attention to what makes you anxious and learn how to deal with those situations little by little until you begin to feel in control of your anxiety. If you are on medications and want to get off of them, DO NOT STOP COLD TURKEY! Besides the inevitable withdrawal (which is not fun), some medications could cause seizure or other serious problems if stopped abruptly. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how to taper off the medications safely once you are ready to take that step. As a clinical pharmacist myself, I recommend starting with the tools above. Build a strong foundation and then when you are ready, with the proper support, you can begin the process of healing past the medication. It is very possible to heal your mind, body and soul and ditch the meds for good. I have done it myself.
I am here to support you in your healing journey. Please feel free to leave a comment below or send me a private message if you need further guidance. My passion is empowering women to take control of their own health and happiness. If you are ready to take control, sign up for a FREE Clarity call to learn more about how coaching can improve you life.