If it feels like anxiety is on the rise, that's because it is. Due to recent events, both anxiety and depression have seen a 25 percent increase worldwide, and understandably so. But for a lot of us, why it happened is less important a question than “How do I stop feeling this way?”
There are a lot of ways to treat anxiety, although many of the solutions come down to prescription medications. For those who want to avoid stuff like Lexapro, we've prepared a list of five natural ways to reduce anxiety.
1. Utilize grounding techniques
Sometimes, the best way to deal with your inner turmoil is to utilize grounding techniques. These are not one size fits all, and can come in many different forms. You may even have to do some experimentation to figure out what works for you in particular.
One grounding technique that gets a lot of use is the countdown technique. How this works is that you, well, countdown from 5 until you hit 1, but it's a little more complicated than that. Here are the steps:
- 5: Look for five things around you to identify
- 4: Look for four things around you to touch
- 3: Listen for three things you can hear
- 2: Identify two things you can smell (failing that, identify two smells you find pleasant)
- 1: Identify one thing you can taste (failing that, identify a taste you find pleasant)
For the final step, you will sometimes see a substitution where it instead encourages you to think of something good about yourself. This is especially good for people who are also struggling with low self-esteem.
On the note of self-esteem, it can also be good to refocus negative thoughts or feelings into either positive thoughts or actions. For instance, if you don't win in a video game, but you didn't get last place, a good way to frame that is to at least be glad that you at least ranked decently in the leaderboards.
2. Be mindful of what you put in your body
While it'd be hypocritical to admonish someone for the things they put in their body, it's still true that we could stand to be more mindful of that. Whether it be consuming too much caffeine, smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol, or just not getting enough vital nutrients, a lot of things can influence your anxiety negatively.
Be sure to prioritize healthy foods; for instance, steer clear of foods and drinks high in sugar, like candy and soda. Processed foods like chips and frozen foods are also linked to a rise in anxiety. That doesn't necessarily mean that you cannot partake in them ever, but exercising moderation is generally a good idea in this case.
3. Consider medication alternatives
Popular medication options like Lexapro are a good solution for a lot of people, but not everyone wants to do that. However, they may still be interested in trying alternatives, such as using cannabidiol (CBD) products. According to one study, CBD is useful to treat anxiety disorders. CBD products come in multiple shapes and sizes, so figure out which method works best for you.
Even with CBDs, however, there are people who would sooner ingest it due to the presence of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). After all, not only do people often prefer to avoid drugs when possible, but in some states, it may be a concern to possess due to their respective laws. Thankfully, you can get CBD products that have no THC. If that is of interest to you, we recommend that you look into broad spectrum CBD.
Broad spectrum CBD contrasts with full spectrum CBD – where full spectrum has multiple cannabinoids from the hemp plant, THC included, broad spectrum CBD excludes THC from it. Just like with any medicine, however, you should also ensure that you talk with your doctor before you take it. Not only to make sure that it is the right thing to take for you, but also to make sure that it doesn't interact with anything you're already taking.
4. Get a good night's sleep
It may seem difficult, but getting a good night's sleep is an important part of managing your anxiety. Try to go to sleep at a consistent time of day, and if possible, avoid sleeping too little or for too long. After all, sleep is our time to charge our batteries, and with more energy, we are more able to deal with our stressors. Of course, if you're having trouble sleeping, this suggestion is easier said than done.
If you are one of those people, you should try to make sure to reduce distractions as much as humanly possible. One common issue is that people have too many light sources visible while they sleep (or trying to do so, anyway). Block standby lights where possible, and make sure that you don't go to bed with distractions, especially electronic devices. The blue light from these devices is not conducive to sleep, and they make it more difficult to actually get settled into sleepiness.
5. Stay active
If you feel like your anxiety is getting out of control, fitting some fitness into your schedule might help out with that. Exercise is shown to reduce the propensity and severity of symptoms of depression and anxiety. Mind you, that does not necessarily mean that you have to go all-out with respect to your exercise regiment, nor do you have to do intense styles of exercise.
If you want, you can go all out – run a mile, get into weight lifting, take playing a sport seriously. However, you can instead go for something that is less intensive, and if you are not used to being active, starting out light is generally a good idea. Doing some light cardio, like going for walks every day, will do a world of good for not only your physical health, but your mental and emotional health as well.