There are many individuals suffering from anxiety disorders and don’t know what to do to cope with the problem. In cases of true anxiety, the cause of the disorder is in fact genetic, and it is very difficult to get relief. As a person who has suffered from social anxiety in the past, I know how bad anxiety can get. I reached the point where I thought I was going crazy and wanted to just end my life. Most people with anxiety essentially “fight” the disorder, but fail to realize that if in fact it is genetic, “fighting” will not do much.
Having a good attitude and staying optimistic is good, but false hope will only get you so far. Ruling out drugs like marijuana and alcohol – which are not generally healthy for coping with anxiety, I’ve come up with some natural cures for anxiety disorder. They may not work for everyone, but if you practice them over time, your nervous system and brain may re-wire themselves to the point of normal functioning. The unwanted anxious thoughts will go away and you will be able to live a happy life.
Many people with anxiety disorders did not have anxiety from birth. Other outside stressors initiated the “fight or flight” response and the person became so conditioned to this fear response that they forgot what it was like to live without it. Although my list of “cures” below may not work for everyone, they may help some cope or manage the disorder – and that’s my goal.
Looking for a miracle substance or treatment is a lost cause – new drugs come out every year and still have side effects that suck. The real cure would have to be via some sort of genetic therapy for severe cases. But the methods I’ve listed below will change your body, brain, and nervous system functioning – basically like a cure.
10 Natural Cures For Anxiety Disorders
If practiced properly, meditation produces observable changes within your brain waves. Most people with anxiety disorders have too many beta brain waves and they are stuck in overdrive. Additionally, in cases like social phobia, many people experience beta overload when in social situations. Meditation will help you increase your alpha brain waves and learn to consciously relax in all situations.
Perhaps the toughest aspect of meditation is learning the proper way to practice it. You don’t need to get overly spiritual or into the eastern religions just because you meditate. Do it for some relief of your anxiety and see if it helps. Usually the brain changes as a result of daily meditation over time are permanent – your neural networks and firing patterns will shift. So essentially you have some control over your anxiety and theoretically could “cure” it or significantly minimize it with this method.
2. Physical Exercise
Physical exercise will certainly not cure severe anxiety disorders, but will greatly increase physical relaxation and decrease discomfort throughout your day. A lot of doctors preach “cardio” is the best cure for anxiety, but in my experience that’s not totally accurate. I think the whole cardio only thing is totally misguided. You should be getting a balance of cardio as well as strength training. The strength training – if done properly and you actually push yourself – should take tension out of your muscles.
If you are not working out at least 5-6 days for 40 minutes a day – and pushing yourself hard – then you really are missing out on how much better you could be feeling. Over time your arousal level will lower and vigorous exercise will make changes in your nervous system and brain. Exercise will help your anxiety at the very least a little bit and will tire you out to the point that you won’t have energy to worry about things. Read more about the psychological benefits of exercise.
This is a type of treatment that is particularly effective for individuals with ADD and ADHD, but can be used for anxiety disorders too. Basically a licensed neurofeedback practitioner will take a reading of your brain waves via EEG and determine which areas are off base. If you have anxiety, there are a number of regions which could have sped up high range beta waves in places where they should have slower alpha or theta waves.
With a neurofeedback practitioner that knows what they are doing, you can make major progress by training your brain to naturally produce brain wave frequencies that it is not accustomed to producing. Unfortunately this method does NOT work for everyone and can be somewhat expensive. But if your condition is out of control, it’s something that has worked and could really work for you.
The practice of yoga combines breathing with stretching and holding uncomfortable poses. The great thing about yoga is that even though there may be a great deal of physical tension during some of the positions, you can train your brain to relax by focusing on your breathing. Generally most people that practice yoga feel a sense of relaxation when they are done with a session. This is not something I would recommend teaching yourself. Go to a class and follow an instructor to make some real progress – people that know what they are doing will help you out.
As you continue to practice yoga you will notice that your body starts to feel super relaxed, it basically makes your muscles feel like jelly when you are done. At the very least yoga will make you feel physically relaxed and mentally calm. Even if it only takes away your anxiety while you are doing it, that’s better than nothing – I’d call that a success.
5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This is a type of therapy that combines cognition (i.e. retraining thinking) and behavioral change for favorable results. A psychologist or therapist usually tries to understand your thinking and behavior, discuss it, and then re-train your thinking and behavior to produce positive changes. It can be very difficult, but it is the best natural treatment for most people. If you have a good therapist, they will get you out of your comfort zone and on track to living a more successful life, despite your anxiety.
I know going to therapy and finding a good therapist can be quite a quest, but once you find the right person, it can change your entire perspective on life. If you have someone good they will challenge your thinking and help you see the world from a completely different perspective. Keep in mind that there are therapists out there that you may not make progress with – keep switching until you find one that gets you on the right track.
6. Brainwave Entrainment
Brainwave entrainment is not very well understood, and rightfully so. However, the studies that are out demonstrate that it can significantly increase relaxation. Some people report crazy experiences with this technology, and like I said, it’s not very well understood. There are risks associated with this technology, but unless you are prone to seizures, under 18, or are pregnant, you should be okay. Basically what this technology will do is help entrain your brainwaves to a certain frequency of choice – typically in the alpha wave range.
For this I highly recommend Neuro Programmer – it is the best value for your money by far and gives you access to professional technology for very cheap. It is not a cure for everything though, and in my opinion really works best for severe cases of anxiety. In addition to slowing your brain waves (i.e. lowering arousal) it also increases hemispheric communication – which is another reason why it can promote relaxation. The great thing about this technology is that you can try it for free online – you don’t need to pay for it.
The emWave or emWave2 is essentially a heart rate variability device that gives you feedback about your heart rhythms. It is able to detect interaction between your heart, brain, and the rest of your body. When you are stressed, your heart waves become desynchronized and incoherent. This technology gives you feedback to help train you to relax and reach a state of coherency in regards to your heart waves.
This product generally retails for over $200 – so it’s not cheap. I would recommend trying one somewhere before you invest in one. I personally own one and really love using it because it helps take my mind off of stress and focus on relaxing. This is essentially a type of biofeedback that will help train you to maintain a happy relaxed state of mind and body. There is more science behind it that you can read up on if you are serious.
Most people have a gross misunderstanding of hypnosis – it doesn’t make you do anything that you don’t want to do. The only thing that it does do is relax you to the point that you are more open to suggestion. Under hypnosis, you wouldn’t do anything that you normally wouldn’t want to do. A professional hypnotherapist would be able to help you relax, but if you don’t want to go to someone, you can always download self hypnosis recordings online.
When I was at a breaking point from panic and anxiety, I resorted to self hypnosis to help me fall asleep at night – and it worked better than anything. It’s basically a recording that will give you instructions to deeply relax your body and mind. You can buy these online and most are pretty cheap – they will help you focus your thoughts and relax. These can really increase your confidence and self esteem too by implanting new thoughts.
9. Regular Sex
For this ninth cure on my list, I was going to say massage therapy, but I don’t think massages beat regular sex for relaxation. If you don’t get regular sex, you really don’t know how beneficial it could be for your anxiety. If you are in a relationship and are frequently having sex, it can be both pleasurable and when you finish, your body should feel significantly more relaxed. So what’s the difference between regular sex and masturbation?
The reason I’m listing regular sex has to do with the fact that you are physically intimate with another person. When you are “getting off” alone, the relaxation effect is not nearly as extreme as having good sex with someone. Provided you are of age, and are having consensual sex with a clean, healthy partner, it can really work wonders for your anxiety.
10. Face Fears
Sometimes the one thing that keeps anxiety going for people is the fact that they haven’t faced their fears. If you keep facing your fears and never feel comfortable time after time, then you have a severe disorder. But if you consciously force yourself to do uncomfortable things and be in uncomfortable situations, it may help a lot. Most people find out that situations that seemed really scary actually aren’t that intimidating. At the very least, by facing your fears, you won’t be letting your anxiety dictate what you are doing in life – which is very admirable.
I personally found that at my most severe anxiety, hypochondria, and OCD, facing my fears was really the only cure. A drug eventually is going to wear off, other things wear off, but no one can take away your inner strength. Even if you blush, feel scared or weird, push yourself and keep trying. The day you give up is the day you lose and stay a slave to your disorder.