Anxiety has a knack for overtaking your entire life. From that pit you feel in your stomach on first waking to the racing thoughts that keep you from drifting in peaceful repose, anxiety has the power to make every aspect of life more challenging. For many anxiety sufferers, anti-anxiety medications don't work, or come with side effects so severe that taking them just doesn't make sense. There's no shame in taking medication, and if you haven't tried it, you should absolutely consider it. If medication has failed you or you want to try a natural route first, consider these five proven anxiety remedies.
1. Anti-anxiety supplements
Research into anti-anxiety supplements has yielded results that are, at best, mixed. Some people get great results, while others see no results at all. If you're willing to give supplements a try, though, you might be one of the lucky few for whom they work. Try one supplement at a time so you know what's working and what's not. Many anxiety sufferers swear magnesium changed their life, while others are dedicated to the powers of rhodiola and kava.
Anxiety changes the way you feel, think, and behave, but study after study has shown that therapy can reverse these effects. In therapy, you'll explore unhelpful negative thoughts, then look into better ways of thinking. Your therapist will work to help you identify your anxiety triggers, offer you feedback on how your choices lead to anxiety, and help you more effectively navigate your relationships and your life.
Meditation isn't just for people embracing alternative spirituality. Hundreds of studies on meditation have found that it can actually change the way your brain functions and processes information. In so doing, it can help you better cope with anxiety while offering you a break from anxious, racing thoughts. Spend 20 to 30 minutes each day clearing your head, focusing on your breathing, and repeating a calming mantra to yourself. If you get off track, simply refocus your mind. You'll get better at it over time, and you may be stunned by how quickly your anxiety begins to lift.
Exercise is something of a miracle pill for good health. Not only does it release feel-good endorphins; it can also help you quite literally burn off your anxious energy. Commit to at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise – such as swimming, walking, or cycling – per week and watch your anxiety melt away.
5. Controlling your thoughts
Most anxiety sufferers face a constant barrage of negative thoughts over which they feel like they have little control. You're the architect of your thoughts, though, and if you learn to control them, you can stop them from controlling you. Focus on observing your thoughts at first. Then, begin developing positive thoughts to counter the constant stream of negativity. When you feel your thoughts racing out of control, work to consciously replace the negative with more positive insights. This can feel silly and a bit contrived at first. Over time, though, it becomes automatic. And when you have automatic positive thoughts instead of negative ones, anxiety can disappear altogether.