While some prefer anxiety medication, I do not. In my opinion, the side effects far outweigh the treatment, and most of the time people end up dependent on medication. If you’re on anxiety medication, I do not judge you for it. It’s just my personal preference to look for other, less addictive ways to overcome anxiety. Even if you’re on medication, these alternatives can still ease the discomfort of anxiety on a daily basis.
This past year, I’ve gone to the doctor because of difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, and chest pains. Pretty serious stuff, right? Every time I go, they give me an EKG, and they say my heart and my breathing are completely normal. The doctor or PA (whoever is available at the time) tells me I probably have anxiety and try to prescribe me some sort of medication. Each time, I refuse. There has to be another way to treat anxiety besides popping pills.
If you are like me and want some alternatives, here are ways I’ve found to treat anxiety.
Diet. Sugar and caffeine can both contribute to panic attacks because they energize us and make it difficult to sit still. In addition to these, if you have food sensitivities or digestive issues, foods that are more challenging to digest can cause physical unrest as well. This website lists ten foods you should avoid if you have anxiety. Although we don’t have to completely alter our diet, we can try to cut out some of these foods.
Exercise. I’ve been told that anxiety is just stored up energy. When you think of it that way, it’s easier to control. Studies show that after just five minutes of physical activity, anxiety starts to decrease. Make an effort to walk, jog, bike ride, or dance for 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a day, and see if you feel more calm.
Essential Oils. I feel like every time I look through an essential oil catalog, each description of an oil is “A calming blend.” Lavender always tends to calm me down (is there anything lavender can’t do?), but check out your favorite essential oils website to see what blends or oils can work for you.
Breathing. The best part about air is it’s free! When God created us, He breathed into our nostrils. Ever since then, we’ve needed air to survive. I didn’t realize that I forget to breathe when I’m anxious until someone had to remind me one day. That’s a little scary! If you’re anxious, take a minute to focus on your breathing (inhale, exhale). Don’t worry if you think you look silly while you’re breathing heavy. Your survival is more important than how you look.
Pressure Points. A good friend of mine taught me two pressure points that are helpful for me. Since they are difficult to describe, here is a website that has several points you can use on your body to relief stress and other psychosomatic symptoms from anxiety.
Journaling. By far, this is my favorite and most effective way to treat anxiety. Anxiety begins in the mind, and then extends to the body. I’ve seen the difference in my life when I don’t take the time to write. My mind is jumbled, I can’t sit still, and I’m considering all the worst case scenarios. Sometimes, I write ten pages in one day, just trying to process my thoughts and feelings. Every time I write, though, I end up feeling better. Through journaling, I learn what I’m feeling and thinking, and how I can change those thoughts and feelings into more positive and productive ones.
Counseling. I’ll admit, counseling is scary. If you don’t want to invest in a counselor, at the very least, consider speaking with a friend about your feelings. We were created for community. Join a small group, take your friend out for tea, or send a note on Facebook to someone.
Self-reflection. This is part of journaling. Self-reflection goes a little deeper than journaling, though. Journaling is the what, while self-reflection is the why. You may realize through journaling that you’re afraid of rabbits. Self-reflection is looking at your past and trying to figure out where that fear started. Did you have a rabbit as a pet when you were younger? Did you watch a scary movie about rabbits? Once we know why we’re afraid, we can learn how to overcome the fear.
As you know, trusting in God has been the ultimate cure for my anxiety. While anxiety is still a daily struggle for me, I know God is my constant and is able to help me through it. I am thankful that He has provided all of these ways to help me through this battle.