[Source: Healthy Place.]
To get rid of anxiety can seem like an impossible dream when we’re in the midst of struggling with it. While medication is a legitimate treatment option, it doesn’t work for everyone and some people would rather not have to take it. To get through anxiety and come out on the other side, think in terms of things you can do, ways you can be, and how you can replace it with something else to get rid of anxiety without taking medication.
How to get over anxiety: What you can do:
Getting over anxiety is a process that requires action. Some specific things to rid yourself of anxiety include:
- Biofeedback: Knowing what is happening in your body when you are feeling anxious or having an anxiety attack helps you gather the insight you need to get over anxiety. This knowledge allows you to take charge of your own well-being, both mental and physical. Biofeedback uses non-invasive technology to help teach you what your body is up to. When you know your body’s responses to anxiety, such as increased muscle tension or a quickened pulse, you can target your anti-anxiety efforts to address these physical signs. For example, if muscle tension is one of your body’s anxiety responses, learning muscle relaxation techniques will help you get rid of anxiety.
- Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise (exercise that gets your heart pumping) is, according to Dr Edmund Borne (2010), “one of the most powerful and effective methods for reducing generalised anxiety and overcoming a predisposition to panic attacks. Exercise increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, creates alpha waves associated with relaxation, outs stress hormones such as cortisol, and releases enkephalins and endorphins, our feel-good chemicals that relax the brain and reduce anxiety. Exercise is a releaser and a relaxer, and it’s a welcome distraction from our anxious thoughts.
- Connections: Another proven way to get over anxiety is to increase connections to others. Isolation is a legitimate response to the worry and fear that make up anxiety; however, the more we remain isolated, the harder it becomes to face our anxieties. Isolation robs us of human connection. Being connected makes us feel part of something larger than ourselves and can pull us out of our anxious ruminations. A sense of belonging brings support and encouragement. Increasing your connections is a powerful way out of anxiety.
How to get through anxiety: Ways you can be:
- Be flexible – psychologically flexible: Anxiety can make our thoughts, feelings, and behaviour rigid. We easily become stuck in our anxiety as we struggle against it. With psychological flexibility, we can bend without breaking, adapting to situations rather than increasing anxiety by resisting. This kind of flexibility lets us move forward even though our anxiety isn’t fully gone from our lives. It’s a way of limbering up so we can nimbly move through anxiety.
- Be objective: Anxious thoughts are bothersome and disruptive to our lives, and feeling anxious is miserable. Instead of stubbornly trying to change these things, it can be helpful to step back and look at our situations, and the resulting anxiety and negative thoughts and feelings, objectively. Quite likely, there are different interpretations. Snubbed by a friend? Does the friend suddenly hate you, or is she maybe preoccupied with a problem of her own? It’s this type of objectivity and psychological flexibility that can help you get through anxiety.
How to get rid of anxiety: Replace it with something else:
What we pay attention to is what grows. Rather than focusing on and struggling against it, get rid of anxiety by concentrating on what you want in its place. Acceptance and commitment therapy gives us three broad ways to cope with anxiety.
- Accept anxiety: Accepting anxiety allows you to stop struggling and start living. Accepting anxiety doesn’t mean giving up or giving in. It means you’ve made a choice to stop fighting and start replacing. You’ve freed yourself to live.
- Choose your values: Your values are what’s important to you. What is worth your time and energy? What do you want your life to be like when anxiety is gone?
- Take action: Go after what you value. The more you increase the things that are important to you, the more anxiety will decrease.
What is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback allows you to target anxiety in your body in order to get rid of it. Exercise chases out the bad and floods your body with the good. Increasing connections gives you a support system and a sense of belonging. These tactics help create psychological flexibility and greater objectivity.
Biofeedback is a physical and mental health approach in which people learn how to tune into their natural mind-body connection in order to improve their health and well-being. They become more aware of their inner workings and through biofeedback people can even come to control functions such as heart rate and blood pressure.
Biofeedback is a process that someone does with a trained doctor. Different types of biofeedback target different parts of the body, such as muscle tension, skin temperature and brain waves. Biofeedback involving awareness and control of brain waves is used for treating many mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, ADHD and more.
The treatment is non-invasive and does not involve the use of medication. For mental health conditions, EEG procedures are commonly used. Research into the effectiveness of biofeedback is mixed; some studies show that it helps, while other studies report that it has minimal effect. If it interests you, you might consider starting a conversation with your doctor.