Anxiety is incredibly common and can affect every area of a person's life. Struggling with chronic anxiety on a daily basis can make it hard to perform simple daily tasks, build relationships, and create a life that you love.
If you are struggling with your mental health, you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. It affects a reported 40 million adults every year. That is 19% of the population!
Some days, it may feel like your anxiety is ruling your life and there is nothing that you can do about it. However, that's not true!
With a dedication to daily practices, you can reduce your anxiety without medication!
Before we dive into how to do that, let's talk about what anxiety is…
Doctor Tanja Jovanovic, professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Emory University, offers this definition of anxiety:
Anxiety is the mind and body's reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It's the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before a significant event. A certain level of anxiety helps us stay alert and aware, but for those suffering from an anxiety disorder, it feels far from normal - it can be completely debilitating.
Anxiety is actually a good thing! If you are sitting there thinking I am crazy, bear with me for a minute.
Anxiety is a biological tool designed to help us be aware of potential dangers. Hundreds of years ago, anxiety is what told humans to keep their eyes on the horizon for potential threats, like lions or unfriendly tribes.
The human mind doesn't like unfamiliar situations because they could mean that there are unknown dangers lurking. Anxiety is a mechanism to help keep us safe. But, sometimes it goes into overdrive and does more harm than good.
Anxiety causes physical changes, as well as mental. When your mind perceives danger, your nervous system will go into what is called "fight or flight." That means that your body is preparing to either fight the threat or run from it.
Either way, an excess of energy is required to perform these tasks. When a person enters into fight or flight mode, an excess amount of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body.
An excess of these hormones redirects your body's energy to the functions necessary to get out of immediate danger. It does that by taking away resources from functions that are not as important. Some of these less important functions include digestion, memory, and tissue repair.
This is great if you need to fight off an attacker or run from a bear. However, when you get stuck in this mode as your day-to-day default setting, it can cause great harm to your health.
The great news is, that if your mind is what is causing you to stress, then your mind can bring you back to a peaceful state!
Anxiety medication has become increasingly popular over the past 50 years. In 1964, the first popular benzodiazepine came on the market– Diazepam, commonly known as Valium.
Between 1969 and 1982, Valium became the most prescribed drug in the US. It became known as "mothers little helper" because it was most often prescribed to mothers who were struggling to find purpose and happiness in their lives.
The drug became controversial in the 90s when concers about over-perscription and dependency arose. Despite concerns, Diazepam and related drugs continue to be the most widely prescribed drugs in the US.
Though medication is the right choice for some, there are many natural tools that can help reduce anxiety without side effects like confusion, memory loss, dizziness, and fatigue.
It may be less time consuming to just pop a pill and feel better, but the only way to truly cure anxiety is to get to the root of it.
I could go on for days about all the ways that to help reduce anxiety! There are many different tools that you can use to reduce your anxiety and stress levels so that you can live a happy life!
Some of these tools will work for you, and some will not. Unfortunately, your anxiety is not going to disappear overnight. It is the result of years of conditioned thought patterns, and it is going to take time to change those.
You will have days where you feel amazing and healed. You will also have days where you feel horrible and question if all the hard work that you have been doing was a waste of time.
It wasn't! Take it day by day, try new things to figure out what works for you, and remember– it will get better!
On that note, let's jump in! I will go over a variety of different tools that you can use to help reduce anxiety naturally. If one jumps out at you, I urge you to do more research into it and give it a shot!
It might feel uncomfortable at first. After all, you are learning something new. Keep practicing and you will feel your anxiety subsiding in no time!
Therapy has become increasingly accepted over the last decade, especially since the beginning of Covid. Therapy is amazing because…
You don't need to do it alone!
Humans are not meant to go through life alone. We are meant to support each other. Getting help from a professional is a great place to start if you are struggling with anxiety.
With the growth of online therapists, you can even do it from home!
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used form of therapy for people struggling with anxiety. In this approach, your therapist will help you discover the source of your anxiety and build alternative ways to deal with the stressor.
This is the most commonly used form of therapy, but there are tons of different approaches that could help you reduce anxiety naturally. Check out this comprehensive list of different approaches to find what works best for you!
Mindfulness is simply having awareness of your thoughts, which influence your emotions. Thoughts are incredibly powerful, and learning how to control your thoughts will have a significant impact on your happiness.
Mindfulness practices include meditation, breathwork, positive affirmations, and simply being mindful throughout your day.
Practicing mindfulness throughout the day can help you build awareness of the thoughts and actions that are causing you stress. It will help you focus on the moment rather than stressing about the past or future.
If you don't know how to start, Take2Minutes has some great tools to help you build mindfulness practices. Through the service, you receive daily affirmations that will brighten up your day! It has a library of meditations to help you practice mindfulness and lots of other tools to improve your mental health naturally!
The thought of sounding like your mom makes me cringe, but I have to say it… YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT!
You may be surprised at how much your anxiety subsides when you eat a healthy diet and work out.
When your mind becomes stressed, it influences the way your body functions by releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. And, your body can influence the way you feel mentally too.
Eating well and working out will help lower cortisol levels. Lower cortisol levels mean that you feel less stressed!
Okay, you've read this far, so I am ready to tell you the secret…
PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!
Yes, the only way that you are going to be able to reduce your anxiety long-term is to continue practicing the tools that you learn.
It may be hard at first, but with time it will get easier!
The truth is, you are never going to have a life completely free of anxiety. Afterall, anxiety is a mechanism to help keep you safe.
In your journey of reducing your anxiety naturally, you will likely come across some self-proclaimed gurus who claim their is a way to live every moment of your life in absolute bliss. Those people are full of it.
The key is to learn how to reduce unnecessary stress and how to deal with anxiety when it does come up. Use anxiety as a tool, but don't let it run your life.
Life is going to have its ups and downs, but you have the power to build a life that brings you joy, not stress!