If you have anxiety, you’re not alone. There are about 40 million anxiety-sufferers in the United States, with about 7 million people affected by Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) — the persistent worry about a variety of things. People with GAD also tend to experience excessive feelings of impending doom and disaster. It goes without saying that GAD and other forms of anxiety can make life miserable.
Anxiety can take a toll on your health, your happiness and your everyday life. And while medication can help, many people prefer natural ways to manage their anxiety symptoms. If you’re looking for natural alternatives to prescription medication, here are five ways to deal with anxiety — including some off the beaten path anxiety-busters to try today.
Don’t Avoid Your Triggers
When you’re afraid of something, or you feel anxious when you’re around it, it’s human nature to avoid the source of your fear or anxiety. According to Dr. Gene Beresin, a psychiatrist and executive director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital, “Avoiding the places and situations that triggered an anxiety attack can only increase your stress and create a self-fulling prophecy and lead to anticipatory anxiety.”
To ward off this anticipatory anxiety, Dr. Beresin recommends making an effort to confront the source of your anxiety. “To do this, go back to the place where your panic attack occurred, even if it takes huge willpower. You may need to take small baby steps — for example, if you’re worried about flying, first just go to the airport without getting on a plane. Then take it one step more, and so on. This is called systematic desensitization. It’s a great way to diminish phobias and anticipatory anxiety associated with panic attacks.”
Increase Your Water Intake
How much water do you drink each day? A CBS news report states that up to 75 percent of Americans don’t consume enough water. Worse, many people drink beverages that tend to have a dehydrating effect. One patient quoted in the report said she felt agitated and couldn’t figure out why. The source of her agitation? Dehydration.
Dennis Simsek, Certified NACBT Life Coach, NLP Master Practitioner and founder of The Anxiety Guy, says dehydration can also exacerbate dizziness and anxiety. “Dehydration may not necessarily be due to anxiety, but people prone to anxiety attacks are more susceptible to suffering from anxiety when they are dehydrated.”
So how much water should you drink? The Mayo Clinic says men should try to consume about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) each day. Women should aim for 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) daily. In addition to easing the symptoms of anxiety, sufficient water intake can also help you lose weight, avoid illness, sleep better and ease muscle and joint pain. So drink up!
Try Tapping Away Anxiety
Also known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), tapping has been used to treat anxiety as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine, tapping uses a technique similar to acupuncture. Instead of placing needles in areas of the body the correspond to pressure points, however, tapping involves using your own fingertips to gently tap pressure points.
In a study published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, tapping reduced cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in participants by 24 percent. In recent years, tapping has gone from fringe to mainstream, with Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Rick Leskowitz calling it “the most impressive intervention I’ve encountered in 25 years of work.” As Dawson Church at Huffington Post notes, the Veterans Administration has also approved tapping as a treatment for veterans with PTSD.
Set Aside “Worry Time”
While it may sound counterintuitive to deliberately schedule worry and anxiety into your day, psychologists say that devoting a specific amount of time to worrying can actually help you worry less. Joe Brownstein at Live Science cites a study that examined a therapy technique called “stimulus control.” As Brownstein summarizes, “When people with adjustment disorders, burnout or severe work problems used techniques to confine their worrying to a single, scheduled 30-minute period each day, they were better able to cope with their problems…” When it’s time to worry, mental health experts recommend making a list of whatever worries pop into your head. At the end of each week, review your list. Chances are, you’ll find that at least some of your worries never materialized.
Designated worry time has been shown to work for kids, too. The American Psychological Association advises parents of anxiety-prone children to set aside a certain number of minutes each day for Worry Time.
Try a Weighted Blanket
At SensaCalm, we talk to many parents and caregivers who use weighted blankets for loved ones who have autism or other sensory processing disorders (SPDs). Once they have the blanket around the house, however, they often come back to us and ask, “Are weighted blankets good for anxiety?”
The reason they ask is because many of our customers find that weighted blankets are helpful for a wide variety of health conditions — not just SPDs. It’s not unusual for a parent or caregiver to try the weighted blanket themselves and discover that they experience a profound sense of calm. Others tell us they’ve never slept better, or that their weighted blanket helped ease the symptoms of sleep disorders like insomnia and restless leg syndrome.
Weighted blankets work by mimicking the effects of deep pressure touch stimulation, which involves firm but gentle hugging, squeezing or holding. Deep pressure touch stimulation has been shown to improve mood, decrease anxiety, ease insomnia and improve focus.
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Order Your SensaCalm Weighted Blanket Today
Anxiety can stop you from doing the things you love. A weighted blanket may help you experience more restful sleep, so you feel less anxious during the day. SensaCalm offers both custom weighted blankets and weighted blankets that are ready to ship. Contact us to learn more. You can also reach us by phone at 855-736-7222.
What’s your favorite way to manage anxiety? Let us know by tweeting us @SensaCalm.
Disclaimer: The content on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before undertaking any type of therapy or treatment.