People suffering from anxiety disorders have many options to choose from when it comes to treatment. These alternative treatments give people more ways to deal with their anxiety disorder and improve their mental and physical health in general, with few or no side effects. Even people who are just suffering from more anxiety or stress than usual will find these alternative treatments helpful.
- Eat a balanced, healthy diet.
Your diet can have a significant effect not only on your physical condition but also on your state of mind. You’re able to think more clearly when your body has the proper fuel, so it’s important that you have a balanced, healthy diet. As much as possible, focus your meals on fresh, whole foods and not on processed food or junk food.
Health experts also recommend limiting your intake of sweets, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Too much caffeine can give you the shakes, which only decreases your ability to handle anxiety well. Alcohol and nicotine, on the other hand, provide only temporary relief for your anxiety. In fact, these can actually worsen anxiety symptoms. Plus, frequent, long-term consumption of alcohol and nicotine often results in addiction and causes a wide variety of serious health problems.
It’s also best to ensure that you drink plenty of water every day. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water each day ensures that your body can hold up under stress and anxiety.
- Exercise regularly.
Regular exercise not only helps you stay in good shape but also relieves stress. Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can reduce stress levels and anxiety, aside from improving immune system functions. Cardiovascular exercise involves getting your heart rate up for at least thirty minutes. Running, jogging, walking, swimming, and cycling are all excellent cardiovascular exercises you can take up to help lessen your anxiety.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep each night.
Health experts recommend getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. The amount of sleep you get every day can actually affect your anxiety levels. Health experts say that the lack of sleep can make you more prone to having negative thoughts. Studies even show that sleep debt, which occurs when you don’t get enough sleep for multiple days in a row, can cause anxiety and make it harder for people to deal with the symptoms of anxiety disorder.
- Massage your muscles.
Results of various studies show that muscles can store stress. This is why massage therapy is believed to be effective at relieving muscle tension. Massages can also promote blood flow to key areas of the body, which can help in releasing built-up stress and anxiety. The beneficial effects of massage therapy on anxiety and depression are some of the most consistently documented results of massage.
- Clear your mind through meditation.
Make sure you have some time each day to clear your head and just relax. While it won’t change the world around you, meditation will help change the way you respond to the different triggers for your anxiety. By meditating and quieting your overactive mind, you can understand the source of your anxiety and even overcome it. A recent study published in the Psychological Bulletin also found that a mindfulness-meditation practice had an overall positive effect on improving psychological factors such as stress and anxiety.
Other relaxation techniques you can use to deal with anxiety include muscle relaxation and mental visualization, which help you focus on a calming thought or feeling. Breathing techniques help you control your breathing so you can avoid hyperventilating during a panic attack. Biofeedback, which is a technique that promotes relaxation by allowing you to control your body’s functions, is also said to help you identify and control the physical signs of anxiety.
Since it combines breathing techniques, meditation, and stretching, yoga is one of the most popular complementary and alternative treatments for a variety of mental disorders, including anxiety and depression.
- Try out dietary supplements.
Studies are currently exploring the effectiveness of herbal remedies in treating mild to moderate anxiety. These herbs are said to have some positive effect on the symptoms of anxiety:
- Fish oil
- Kava root
- St. John’s wort
- Vitamin B12
Health experts emphasize, though, that there is no strong evidence for the effectiveness of herbal remedies at easing anxiety. Doctors and patients should both be aware that these herbs may have some side effects and potential risks. Kava root, for instance, has been associated with liver problems and has been found to interact dangerously with medications that are metabolized by the liver. Likewise, valerian may cause headaches and upset stomachs.
If you do have an anxiety disorder, or if you’re prone to suffering from panic attacks and other severe symptoms of anxiety, these alternative treatments may not provide as much relief as you need. These alternative treatments work, but their effects may take some time to manifest. You may have to consult your doctor if you plan to begin an alternative treatment program, too, as these therapies often work best alongside traditional treatment methods like counseling and medication.
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