Anxiety is a normal emotion everyone feels in response to perceived threats. It is something we all have to deal with on a day to day basis and, though always an uncomfortable feeling, can actually be beneficial for us since it can make us more focused and be more motivated to solve problems in a more efficient manner.
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The problem with anxiety is, therefore, not the feeling itself but a person’s inability to cope with it in a healthy manner on a day to day basis resulting in chronic anxiety. For many, having chronic anxiety means seeking relief through medication. Unfortunately, this tack often brings with it a new set of problems as its many adverse side effects end up affecting the patient’s quality of life. While in some extreme cases medication is undoubtedly essential, a more natural approach to anxiety reduction is often enough and may even be more beneficial in the long run. Furthermore, whether taking medicines or not, it is critical that you acquire other tools to deal with anxiety if you don’t want to be dependent on your anxiety meds all your life.
So just how can you deal with anxiety without taking medication?
Liz’z “Self-Help Tips to Beat Anxiety” is a good place to start as it outlines some useful ways to deal with anxiety, including breathing exercises, visualization, the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), mindfulness, and dietary changes. Aside from her tips though, let me outline some more ways you can beat anxiety without popping pills.
1. Identify stressors – Though anxiety is often said to be a feeling of “apprehension without apparent cause”, you should never dismiss it as illogical. Notice that is says “without APPARENT cause”. So while the threat is not immediate and so not easily perceived, there is still something causing the emotion. Learning what the source of your anxiety, especially those that cause high levels of anxiety for you, is the first step to beating it because you can never address an issue unless you know what it is.
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2. Figure out how to deal with your stressors – There are stressors that you can avoid, and other you just have to face and put up with. Avoiding stressors that you can will help lower the amount of anxiety you feel on a daily basis. Examples of such stressors include simple stuff like traffic jams during the rush hour and drinking too much coffee. Fixes for these are simple. You can leave your home an hour earlier to avoid the rush and just skip that cup of coffee. On the other hand, other stressors are unavoidable, like a seeing your child grow up, an overbearing co-worker, and death in the family. These are the times you need to have your self-help tools ready so that you can deal with the stressors in a healthier manner.
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3. Going back to your self-help arsenal - Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis by living in the moment will help you get the minor stressors out of the way. For major stressors, you may have to resort to rushing to a quiet place to meditate or pause for some breathing exercises to deal with anxiety when it hits you. The important thing is that you already have an emergency plan BEFORE anxiety hits so that you can respond in a better way.
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4. Get help / Find support – Self-help tips are all well and good, but there are times when you’ll still get overwhelmed. Instead of turning to pills, turn to people for help. There’s nothing like a good support system to help us get through difficult times. So talk to a handful or even just a couple of friends and family members you trust about your anxiety issues. Explain to them how you’ll need their support and put them on speed dial so that the next time anxiety strikes, they can rush to your aid or at least help talk you through during the panic attack. Of course, just knowing that there’s someone to support you may lessen frequency the anxiety attacks altogether. And yes, this help includes help from your psychiatrist or your therapist because just because you don’t take medication does not mean you shouldn’t get professional help.
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