Do you feel overly worried about certain matters happening in your life? Do you sometimes feel like something bad is going to happen that your heart is racing, your body’s sweating, and you feel very tense? All these emotions suggest that you are feeling anxious.
As defined by the American Psychological Association, anxiety is “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried, thoughts, and physical changes” such as an increase in blood pressure. Anxiety is something that everyone (both children and adults) experience every now and then. Sometimes anxious feelings last for a brief moment as when you are waiting for your medical exam results in the hospital.
There are times, however, when feelings of anxiety become too intense in people’s lives that they do not go away for a long time and even start interfering with their daily living. When this happens, anxiety turns into various types of mental health illness such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorders, and many others.
If you are experiencing prolonged anxiety that has worsened over time, you are not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States as more than 40 million adults age 18 and older suffer from them every year.
The Risks of Anti-Anxiety Medications
While there are anti-anxiety medications available to help lessen the symptoms of anxiety like panic attacks, and excessive fear and worry, taking them for a prolonged period of time can be harmful. Evidence suggests that people can build up a tolerance to anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines, which means they will need higher and higher dosage to experience its desired effects. When this happens, the person taking it can become addicted.
- Blurred vision
- Decrease sex drive or ability
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty breathing
Holistic Strategies to Address Anxiety
Given the serious risks associated with taking anti-anxiety medications, you may want to consider holistic treatment to manage your anxiety. Unlike medications that only target the symptoms of anxiety, holistic treatment aims to treat the whole person. This means that apart from reducing the symptoms of anxiety, holistic treatment also deals with other mental and social factors that caused anxiety.
Some holistic methods that address anxiety include:
What you eat and drink not only affects you physically but mentally as well. Hence, you should seriously assess your diet and make necessary changes that would be most beneficial to you. Studies suggest that citrus fruits such as lemon, mandarin, lime, and orange have anti-anxiety effects. Kava is also known to enhance mood and produce calming effects. Other foods that have been found to help reduce anxiety include asparagus, avocado, blueberries, turkey, almonds, yogurt, kale, and salmon.
Apart from eating your way to reduce anxiety, you should also avoid food and drinks that may trigger anxiety such as beverages rich in caffeine since they induce anxiety. Moreover, you should also limit your intake of foods that are high in fat and sugar.
In addition to dietary changes, you can also take nutritional supplements that have been found to help people with anxiety such as the following:
- Multiple Vitamin with B6 and minerals
- Omega-3 fatty acids EPA/DHA
- Vitamin D-3
- Probiotics with two or more live cultures
- Magnesium Glycinate
- Folic Acid
Numerous studies support how engaging in exercise or any form of physical activity every day can benefit not only your body but your mind as well. Regular exercise can help with your anxiety in numerous ways. For one, exercise creates physiological changes and adaptations in the body that significantly reduces anxiety levels. Secondly, regular exercise also affects a person’s psychological mechanism as it has been found effective in reducing anxiety sensitivity, the fear of anxiety-related sensations. Thirdly, exercise also serves as an effective distraction technique, similar to meditation, which significantly reduces anxiety. And lastly, exercise does not only help in treating anxiety but more importantly in preventing anxiety.
Turn Off the TV and Find a Creative Hobby
If you are constantly watching the news on television, which is packed with negative reports, it is time to stop. Studies show that watching televised traumatic content such as those shown in the news is linked with increased symptoms of anxiety.
Instead of absorbing all the negative energies from TV programs and be anxious in the process, you should try to find a creative hobby that you enjoy such as listening to music, painting, playing a musical instrument, learning to dance, and many other creative pursuits.
Another proven way to beat anxiety and to improve your overall mental health is by helping others. Volunteer and work for charity events. Giving your time and energy to a worthy cause will help widen your perspective and turn your focus outwards.
The items above are just some of the holistic or natural ways that can help you reduce your anxiety level. Find out which items would suit you best and commit to making the necessary changes. At the end of the day, be comforted by the fact that there are ways to address your anxiety without resorting to drugs.