The Best Anxiety Treatments: Tried and True, and Brand New!
This serene image is of the Lee river in Southern China. We cruised there in March, and I wish I could bottle the calm sense of peace it evoked. Today, I will give you a review of the most reliable and innovative old and new treatments for anxiety.
Anxiety is the most common emotional/mental ailment. We all have it at some points, and it’s normal and healthy to experience a certain amount of anxiety. Anxiety generally tries to either warn us about danger or convince us that something negative about us is true. So, yes, we do want to be aware of danger and be aware of ourselves. Often, however, our system is out of whack (how’s that for a fancy term?), and anxiety sends messages that are out of proportion to the circumstance, or simply wrong, and the result is a jittery sense of hyperalertness or gut-aching pain that persists. I’ll give you the goods on exciting new treatments for anxiety, but first, the good old reliable ones:
Exercise: Oh man, if only getting off the couch to exercise felt as good as chocolate tastes, we’d be swimming in happiness. Our bodies are meant to move, and we are losing sight of that. Movement helps thoughts and emotions flow through us. There’s a more scientific chemical explanation out there too, but I say just “do it!”
Address the Underlying Problems: This may sound simple, but if your boy/girlfriend, your job, your addiction or anything in particular is causing you stress, deal with the root of the life problem. Move away from what triggers the anxiety. See a qualified therapist if needed.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a powerful, evidence-based treatment for anxiety. A qualified therapist can help you look at your thoughts and the origin of those thoughts and train your brain to abandon the old ruts in the road and create new ones. CBT is therapy that goes deep fast, and it doesn’t require a lot of sessions. A therapist might also use exposure therapy or desensitization to help with more severe anxiety disorders.
Medication can sometimes be helpful if the anxiety is severe and chronic. It can provide enough relief to help you utilize therapy more effectively. But I wouldn’t start here.
Self-Care is a very important component of good mental health. Understand self-care here and it’s relation to anxiety here.
Vitamin D is increasingly gaining respect as an antidote for depression and anxiety. We’re all indoors in front of screens and I don’t think we were built to be doing that. Get some sunshine!
NEWER INFORMATION about treating anxiety is VERY EXCITING!!
Pets: Pets are calming. The qualitative evidence: in my office, when Shaggy (my old orange tabby co-therapist) starts purring, it sounds like an aquarium, or bullfrogs, and I see smiles. We are discovering a strong connection between pets and good mental health.
Meditation and Mindfulness Apps can teach you how to achieve a state of calm. Acting calm actually makes you feel more calm. Use technology to help you learn to meditate. Breathing Apps like “Belly Bio” use biofeedback to train you to relax your breathing. You actually put your phone on your belly, the music and sounds move with your breathing, then you find out how “deep” you got! I’ve tried it, and it’s very cool.
Music! More than just listening to music, the act of making music seems to reduce stress and anxiety/depression. Evidence of this is the smiles on the faces of my ukulele jam group, where 40+ people gather to strum and sing together every monday night! Come on by!
Nutrition: Maybe you’ve heard already; we are learning more every day about the brain that resides in our belly and how what’s in our stomach affects us mentally. They’ve put stomach bacteria from calm rats into the stomachs of more hyper rats, and it made the anxious rats more calm. Hmmm. Are probiotics the new anti-anxiety meds?
So, take your pick! Many of these interventions have no cost and can make a huge difference in your level of anxiety. Try one out!