If you’re anxiety-prone like me, you’ve tried virtually everything, with and without doctor’s advice, to try to manage your anxiety long-term.
I’ve utilized everything short of shock therapy: pills to treat behavior fluctuations, mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, sometimes all at once. Addictive therapies which are no good for me at all such as benzodiazepines (they work…but the price is simply too high) and smoking cigarettes (they kinda work…and the price is WAY too high). Meditation (works great when I make time for it), massage (works wonderfully when I can afford it), retreats and reiki. Yoga, spiritual development work…the list goes on ad infinitum.
I keep coming back to these simple, cheap therapies: because they work, they’re non-addictive and because sometimes even anticipating the treatment can give me some relief.
1. Face your fears.
This one is the biggest, baddest and for some, the hardest to do. Often, however, doing so will destabilize the fear and empower your release from that anxiety forever. Fear of clowns? Go to a circus. Fear of social situations? Make attending your workplace’s next team build a high priority, head out with some friends, or even attend a community event where crowds are sure to be found and make it a point to chat with some stranger while you’re there. It’s your fear, so you can figure out how to best face it. This particular technique is called Exposure and while it is cheap and simple, you may want to bring along a friend who can assist you in case you have an anxiety attack.
2. Ground yourself.
When you know you’re edging towards an anxiety attack or a higher anxiety threshold but aren’t quite in it yet, do something to occupy your mind otherwise. Mop your floors, use a stress ball at work, hold an ice cube until the pain gets too intense and you have to let it go. Still feeling anxious? Do something else. Here are a few suggestions for you.
3. Try lavender.
Hate lavender? Try another essential oil you find calming and soothing. Place a drop on your collarbone so that the scent wafts up, or massage a drop into your temple (be careful NOT to get this stuff in your eyes; it will likely be quite painful). Lavender is frequently recommended because it does feel relaxing to so many people but if you can’t stand the stuff, find -and use!!- an essential oil that you do find relaxing.
4. Give GABA a shot.
GABA is a neurotransmitter affected by alcohol, marijuana, benzodiazepines and more to make you feel at ease and relaxed. Taking supplemental GABA can help you feel more relaxed as well…without the dangerous, addictive and/or illegal side effects. You can find GABA in many natural grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s or Natural Grocers, and you can find more information about its use here.
5. Schedule relaxation.
That’s right: if you have increasing amounts of uncontrollable anxiety or even just the same levels of anxiety, chances are you might not be getting enough relaxation. So schedule it in: don’t make it something you’re going to put off for later, make it as important as going to work or taking necessary medicine or keeping an appointment with a therapist or dear friend. And use that time to relax.
6. Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more.
Laughing -even fake laughing- increases your dopamine levels, increasing your mood through natural chemicals responsible for doing so in your brain. Too tense to laugh? Watch some stand-up or just listen to a laugh track for a bit…you’ll be laughing as well in no time.