Most of us experience anxiety during new or stressful situations. This may include public speaking engagements, during job interviews or when you’re on a first date. This is situational anxiety that fades as soon as you’re out of the situation. If you experience feelings of worry, dread or fear that never leaves you, then you’re likely one of the country’s 40 million adults who have an anxiety disorder.
The great news is that you don’t have to continue experiencing the feelings of anxiety. The less great news is that your doctor may want to treat your anxiety with medication. If you don’t want to take medication for your anxiety, try one or more of these three ways to reduce stress without medication.
1. Begin a Regular Exercise Routine
When you exercise regularly, it can manage anxiety symptoms. In fact, for some people, it could take the place of other types of treatment. Exercise releases endorphins. It also improves your confidence and helps you feel more comfortable in social situations.
You don’t have to workout every day to experience the anxiety reducing benefits of exercise. However, if you decide to try exercise to treat your anxiety, be sure to workout at least five times a week.
2. Change Your Diet
Diet changes may decrease your anxiety. Consider decreasing your intake of caffeine. Avoid ingesting caffeine later in the day or right before going to bed. Caffeine is a stimulator, which means that it speeds up the activity that’s happening in the brain and in the body, causing anxiety.
Drink less alcohol. People sometimes self-medicate their anxiety by drinking alcohol. Some drinkers confirm that they experience fewer anxiety symptoms by reducing their intake of alcohol.
Track your diet to determine if your anxiety is higher after you eat particular foods. According to a study performed in 2019, participants who had more sugar and saturated fat in their diet experienced more anxiety.
3. Practice Deep Breathing
Breathing exercises are often helpful for anxiety sufferers. They can be especially beneficial if you hyperventilate when you feel anxious. Try exercises like:
• Square breathing
• Lengthened breathing
• One nostril breathing
For square breathing, exhale. Then, inhale for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of four and pause for a count of four. Repeat these steps five times.
Lengthened breathing involves counting your regular breath to see how long it is, and then, lengthening it by breathing in for additional counts. Try lengthened breathing for about 10 minutes.
With nostril breathing, plug one side of your nose while inhaling, and then, plug that side and exhale out of the other nostril. Continue by breathing in through the nostril that you just exhaled through and exhaling out of the one you plugged first. Repeat these steps five or 10 times.
Anxiety has a useful purpose for humans, which is to protect us from harm. Since humans are no longer animal prey, we experience anxiety from things like being left out of a friend gathering or failing at a work task.
Reduce Stress Without Medication
You may have to experiment with a few different techniques to reduce stress without medication. Exercise, diet changes and focused breathing are a few ways to eliminate stress naturally.