Tips for dealing with anxiety without medication (long)

posted 2 years ago in Wellness
Post # 16
Member
584 posts
Busy bee

These tips, I have learned during counseling for PTSD, but I don’t see why they couldn’t apply to other forms of anxiety. I will say though, you really have to find what works well for you!

  1. Deep Breathing: This is what I mean when I say you have to find what works for you – deep breathing was never especially effective for me, but I know other people who really love this technique. There is a correct way to do it – I recommend googling “deep breathing” and learning the process on a professional website.
  2. Writing Down What is on Your Mind: Here, the idea is to get out whatever thoughts are causing you anxiety. I am going to mention this again with another tip, but with anxiety, it is so important to not ignore it or try and put off what is causing you stress until you “feel better.” Two points on this –
  • If you try and ignore the anxiety, it will get “louder” and “louder” until you listen to it.
  • If you put it off, you will feel better in that moment, but as soon as you try to do whatever thing it was you were having anxiety about, the anxiety will come back even stronger. It will try and “use” your putting it off, along with a negative self-voice, to convince: “You gave up the first time and it’s even more pressing that you finish RIGHT NOW.” “You are a failure.” “You are running out of time.” “It’s too late now.” “You have to try, but if you do you are just going to get hurt.”

Writing down your thoughts, recognizes that this is a concern. It gives you a sense that you have done something about it, and that the thought is right there for you to explore later if you need to. This is also good to have for when you meet with the counselor – a list of the anxiety causing thoughts to discuss.

  1. Don’t put off What is Causing the Anxiety: I touched on this above, but it is so important that I want to give it a special category. Make sure you aren’t giving opportunity for that negative self-talk to build. It’s hardest when you first start out, but the more you finish the things that are causing you anxiety, the more “evidence” your brain has for why you CAN accomplish it. As that confidence builds, you will go from less and less anxiety to quite probably no anxiety at all, about those things.
  2. Make a To-Do List: Just being organized will help you feel empowered. With electronic devices it can be easy to type up our list and delete as we go – but don’t do that! Make one list for what you have to finish and another for what you have finished. It can even have stuff as “small” as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Depending on the level of anxiety, these can be real victories that really are worth celebrating.
  3. Remind Yourself You Have a Choice: One place anxiety can stem is from feeling a lack of control. We tell ourselves “I have to do this.” But if you pause and really think about, you don’t have to. To give an extreme, “I have to eat.” No, you don’t. You can argue, you have to eat in order to live, and this is true. But you don’t HAVE to. You can chose not to. No matter how much your mind and body tells you to eat, you are in control and have power in that you are choosing to say yes to that. This is actually why some people have eating disorders because they can feel such a lack of control in other areas of their life, that they look for control in the only area they can find it. So, remind yourself that no matter how “trapped” you feel in whatever the choice is, you do have one. Just that knowledge and empowerment is a powerful thing.
  4. Confront the “Fortune Teller”: My old counselor liked to call our inner voice the “fortune teller.” Most of us wouldn’t believe if we went to a fortune teller and she spun us some story about what our life would be like. Yet, we are so quick to believe our own “fortune teller” of self-doubt! No matter how certain that negative thing may feel, we just don’t know for sure! Remind yourself when those thoughts come up, that you won’t know until that moment comes. This can be hard to do at first. Our brains can become “hard wired” along a path of negativity. At first the path goes, thought – > negative outcome. We have to force ourselves to pause and reroute it. After doing this enough times, we form a new “norm,” a new neural path for our thoughts to take that aren’t negative. Something as simple as ending your thoughts with a positive spin can help with this. Example: “I am doing so bad on this test.” Transformed it. “I am doing so badly on this test, but next time, I am going to do better.” Transform the negative phrase before you let your mind put the period.
  5. Ask Yourself Why? This one I want to relate more to anxiety that extends from our perception of what other people think. Example, we get a bad grade and we convince ourselves the professor thinks we are dumb. While we should use some of the techniques above to address this thought, why is it really there? Do we care what the professor thinks because we worry how his opinion will shape our grade in the course? Or, the less obvious, are we really upset by it because inside we feel like we really are dumb. Be honest with yourself about what is upsetting you and address the heart of what is causing the negative thought/emotion. If the second option was the case, make a list of qualities that you like about yourself. Don’t hold back! Pin it up around the room and remind yourself you are wonder and worthy!
  6. Live in the Moment! This one has really helped me. Anxiety can build everything we have to do in our mind. Example, “I need to know chapters 6, 7, 8, for the exam, but I am not going fast enough. How can I get through all of this? What can I do?” Your brain starts to circle as you look for a way out and even when you go to start your to-do list, it can’t focus because it keeps thinking about what it has to do next. This is where it really helps to put everything aside and tell yourself. I am learning section 6.1. That’s all. This moment is my reality and in this reality all I have to do is learn 6.1. This frees you up to focus on the task at hand and will help you to be happy and enjoy the process.
  7. Have Boundaries: Last tip I am going to mention! Have boundaries for yourself. This was a tough one for me, because I am a people pleasure and like helping people. Remind yourself it is okay not to let everyone in. It’s like how when you are on a plain and the flight attendant is going over the safety instructions – they tell you that in the case of an emergency to put your oxygen mask on first. Remind yourself you are not being selfish for putting yourself first when you need to and that you can’t give of yourself until you have that life mask in place.

 

Sorry this was so long! I hope some of these help, Bee. Keep looking until you find what works for you! And give yourself a hug and a big congratulations from me! It takes a lot of bravery to have anxiety and chose to face it! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Post # 17
Member
627 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

patchm :  Your tips helped even me! (saving them for myself).

Post # 19
Member
161 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2016

i’ve never been diagnosed but have always suffered from anxiety and OCD. i’ve found that learning about the condition has helped me to understand my reactions and temper my worrying and compulsions. I’ve been reading a book called Brain Lock which breaks things down really well and I think it’s helped me so maybe it can help you too. 

Post # 20
Member
320 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

patchm :  Wow! I literally took screen shots of your whole response! I found it super helpful. I especially liked your line about the “fortune teller”. Thank you to the great tips!

Post # 21
Member
935 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

futuremrss17 :  As someone who has dealt with anxiety since I was 6 years old, therapy helped immensely (which I see you’re already on the ball with that). However, I have taken Ativan for panic attacks (not something you take every day – you take it as needed) and Lexapro daily. If you are waiting a year to TTC, I don’t see the harm in maybe using medication short-term to help you. I have been taking Ativan as needed for 9 years (I don’t use it much, and have gone months without taking any), and was on Lexapro earlier this year for a short period. I tapered off of it over the course of a week when I found out I was pregnant (we weren’t actively trying). I’ve been fine since. All I’m saying is that medication coupled with therapy and other methods/techniques can truly make a huge difference! 

Post # 22
Member
352 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

I haven’t read all the responses but based on your original post, my symptoms of OCD and anxiety sound really similar to yours. I also don’t want to rely on medication for personal reasons and honestly I’m still working out how best to deal with it. However here’s somethings that have been helping me lately:

-Essential oils and oil diffuser. I get a lot of anxiety at night time, and diffusing lavender oil or just holding it under my nose for awhile really helps calm me and I find it grounding. I also try to have the scent around during positive thoughts/calm times so I start to associate the smell with being calm.

-Deep breathing, I think people already mentioned this, it seems so simple but it really helps

-Whenever I’m facing anxiety, I kind of go through a checklist in my head. What do I think will happen? Has this happened before? What’s the likelihood of this ACTUALLY happening? Have I faced this kind of situation before and made it through? I find this especially helpful for example flying, I tell myself I’ve flown many times and nothings happened, therefore nothing will happen this time, etc. I also try to stay really organized so I can reduce what I can be anxious about. For example if I’m travelling or going somewhere new, I will spend hours going over a timeline, itinerary, directions, etc. I find the more I research and know about a situation the less room for anxiety.

Post # 23
Member
44 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: October 2015

futuremrss17 :  I know someone already mentioned one app, but my husband and I really like the Calm app. It has different calm sort of white noise options (waves, rain, wind in the grass, etc.) and options for guided meditation. It really helps when I feel like a panic attack is coming on. There are lots of other apps to that can help you track your symptoms and help identify triggers. I forget which one I used to use but I think pacifica is the name of one.

We also like using essential oils. We’re not super intense about it, but it helps as a placebo I think to sniff some lavender or peppermint (Peppermint was especially good for me since my body seems to panic when I’m nauseated.). 

Best of luck!

Post # 24
Member
1128 posts
Bumble bee

crap double post 

Post # 25
Member
1128 posts
Bumble bee

patchm :  ^^^ thank you for these!

ohhsnap :  although I no longer take it, Lexapro helped my OCD more than any other medication I’ve ever tried (and believe me I’ve tried them all!).  SSRI’s are indicated first line for OCD for good reason!

Post # 26
Member
935 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

megrays :  For the short time I was on it, it helped my anxiety IMMENSELY! I felt like a normal human being again. I had tried avoiding taking antidepressants for years, but finally gave in. I’m grateful I did. If I need to go back on it after giving birth, I will not hesitate to go on something approved by my doctor to use while breastfeeding!

Post # 28
Member
3009 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

futuremrss17 :  I know you’re not looking to start medication again, but would you consider marijuana? Is it legal where you live? I was having horrible insomnia/anxiety/increased heart rate, etc and then being exhausted and obsessed with my inability to sleep just made it worse. I did not want to try Ambien or something- I was really scared of prescription sleep aids, so after trying some “natural” remedies (chamomile, valerian, melatonin) I went to a marijuana despensary and asked them to tell me about relaxing, calming, sleepy marijuana. They presribed the indica strain with low THC. High THC can make anxiety worse (think paranoia). Edibles also last longer, which helped me stay asleep, so that might not be the best choice for you. Anyway, it was amazing. I used the edibles so I could control how much I was taking (a few milligrams did the trick). Unlike SSRI’s, you can use it only as needed and not everyday. I am a firm believer in the medical benefits of weed for pain relief, anxiety, PTSD, anti-nausea, insomnia etc. I used it for a couple months and then stopped when I became pregnant with my second baby. No withdrawel symptoms whatsoever as marijuana is not physically addictive in any way. Anyway, just a thought if you are open to it.

Post # 30
Member
2130 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

MrsAKSkier :  that’s a really awful suggestion. Marijuana is a medication. It can help anxiety immediately, but can cause overall anxiety to increase. It’s not a long-term solution for anxiety at all. 

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