Everyone feels anxious now and again. Whether it’s those tests the doctor is running or that big presentation at work, feeling nervous or anxious about something is natural. Yet, for millions of Americans feeling anxious is the norm.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects millions of people worldwide, with women twice as likely to be affected in the US, per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
“GAD is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things,” says ADAA. “People with GAD may anticipate disaster and may be overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. Individuals with GAD find it difficult to control their worry.”
For many, medication is an answer to GAD.
However, what can you do when an anxiety attack happens and its hours until your next dose? Or what if you’re trying to handle your anxiety in a more holistic way?
Manage Anxiety and Calm Your Worries Without Medication
Here are five things you can do to calm your worries and fears and get past an anxiety attack.
1. Meditate or Pray
Before you start thinking about hippies in the park or monks levitating, hear us out on this one. Mindfulness meditation – that is, meditation without religious ties – can help to significantly reduce depression and anxiety. It also has positive effects on the brain.
Making meditation a daily habit can help to bring clarity to your thoughts and your emotions, and that can have a great impact on anxiety in our daily lives. Headspace has some free resources to get you started with meditation.
2. Try Cannabidiol
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the primary compounds found in cannabis that is showing promise in the treatment of anxiety. That is not to say that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) won’t help anxiety, but many high-THC strains give the kind of cerebral high that tugs at anxiety. High THC has also been found to heighten anxiety and paranoia.
Instead, consider going for a high CBD strain. To get it working fast, you can use it with a vape pen. Take enough puffs until you feel relief and then put it away until you feel anxiety start up again.
3. Repeat a Positive Mantra
Write something positive about yourself or your situation – it can be a short sentence, phrase or simply just one word. Write it on a sticky note or index card and put it somewhere you’ll see it several times every day.
Repeat the mantra in your head or out loud – it will help to break the brain’s worry cycle by giving your brain something else to focus on for a bit.
Make sure the mantra is something positive.
4. Execute a Brain Dump
While having a diary may seem like a teenage girl’s thing to do, keeping a journal can actually help you discover the triggers for your anxiety.
Set aside a few minutes – preferably in the morning to jot down your thoughts on the things happening in your life.
Writing down your thoughts can help to give you great clarity on them and give you a view of your internal dialogue. It can also help you to recognize the people and situations in your life that are unhealthy and give you a path to empowering yourself.
The key here is to find time to journal – try to avoid doing it at night because it can make you focus on your worries. Writing down your thoughts when you first wake up is best.
5. Question the Negative Thoughts
Your brain can be trifle and deceptive when you’re worried or anxious. It has a way of coming up with the most outlandish things – many of which are outside the realm of probability. So, be sure to challenge any negative thoughts that pop up in your mind.
When challenging your thoughts, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this really likely to happen?
- In the worst possible outcome, what would be truly bad about it?
- Is this really true or does it just seem that way?
- Is this worry realistic?
Asking yourself these simple questions can help you to realize that your worries and your fears are unfounded and that can go a long way towards quelling anxiety.
By practicing these key things, you will eventually begin to feel relief from your anxiety. It also helps to have a support network of friends and family that you can talk to. Sometimes just having someone listen to can work wonders for beating anxiety.