How to deal with anxiety and stress without medication
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In this article I will be describing the 4 stages of anxiety and how you can manage stress and anxiety without medication I'll also tell you which natural method I used to overcome crippling anxiety forever myself.
What is anxiety?
There are many different types of anxiety and symptoms. In addition to that, each person may experience the same type of anxiety in a different way. What one person calls stress another will see as anxiety, so where does stress stop and anxiety start? Well, that depends on you.
The difference between stress and anxiety
Stress can be a positive thing in your life. It can help you achieve and perform and you can get great satisfaction from dealing successfully with a stressful situation. In these beneficial situations you have periods of stress, not continual stress. Stress becomes anxiety when it is there on a daily basis and you start to have symptoms of anxiety. This may then negatively affect your health.
I have been through the whole process of anxiety, from just normal, everyday stress right through to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) that left me basically unable to function on a daily basis. I found that there were four stages that I went through from managing quite happily to not managing at all.
The stages of anxiety
Stage 1 - normal stress
This is the normal everyday stress that most people get. It could be problems at home, at work, in relationships, about your health or money. You may even be worrying about someone else and their problems.
These issues 'stress you out' but you deal with each issue as it comes up and normally it doesn't impact the rest of your life too badly.
Stage 2 - chronic stress
The stress starts to get a bit more persistent. The issues that you have been having are becoming more frequent and are beginning to get you down. You find them harder and harder to deal with but you are still coping. You might find yourself feeling a bit more down or depressed but you carry on regardless.
You might start having an extra drink or two to wind down and your sleep patterns may start to change. You may wake in the middle of the night for no reason, or much earlier in the morning. Even if you do sleep through the night, you don't feel fully refreshed when you wake up. (Some women find that starting the menopause or perimenopause gives rise to unexplained anxiety, panic attacks and sleep issues and your Dr should be able to help if this is the case).
Stage 3 - anxiety
This is when you start to notice symptoms of anxiety. They are tiny little things to start with and you probably don't take much notice because of everything else that is going on.
As time goes by you start to get more weird symptoms and it may pop into the back of your mind that there might be something medically wrong with you which makes you anxious which leads to, yes you've got it, more symptoms. These symptoms can get so bad that you start to change your everyday routine or decisions because of them. You may start to feel a bit detached mentally, as if you are going through the motions but not really enjoying life at all. You can also start to feel completely exhausted and pessimistic about the future.
Some people will just suddenly start with full blown anxiety attacks without having any previous symptoms.
Stage 4 - severe anxiety
This is when you stop living life to the full as a free person. Your anxiety symptoms or anxiety attacks have taken control of your daily life. You may not want to leave the house or socialise and you can't understand why this is happening to you. At this stage you can barely remember how life used to be and start to think that for you, this is the new normal.
Taking control of anxiety
I had my moment of enlightenment when I was researching anxiety and found out that one of the major symptoms that I had was probably a symptom of my anxiety disorder. As soon as I recognised this could be the case, the symptom went!
This showed me the power of my mind over my condition and made me determined to rid myself of the anxiety that was ruining my life.
This realisation that all my symptoms could be down to anxiety suddenly put me back in the driving seat, and relegated my anxiety to a back seat driver. Deciding to take action was empowering in itself and I suddenly felt hopeful and with a purpose again.
Fear does not prevent death, it prevents life.
Tools to help with anxiety
There are different natural remedies that you can use as tools to manage anxiety. I have listed the best ways to relieve stress and anxiety naturally for the different stages of anxiety listed above. I also found that as I started to recover, then I could also move down the scale of natural treatments that I was using for stress and anxiety.
Every time I made enough progress to go down a stage of treatment it felt like a massive achievement and milestone. You can always go back up a stage if you need to but just remember that you will have good days and bad days and one bad day does not cancel out all your progress. It's normal.
Natural remedies for anxiety
Natural remedies for normal anxiety
Take steps to control any stress in your life. If there are issues at work or at home can you talk with your employer or partner to help resolve them?
Take regular exercise. Walking is excellent especially in nature. Put your phone on silent.
Keep to a healthy diet. Avoid processed foods and reduce sugary foods and drinks to a minimum. This will improve your mood enormously.
Restrict caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, energy drinks and cola.
Try some yoga stretches and deep breathing exercises before bed.
Cut down on social media use and constantly monitoring the news channels.
Make sure you are getting 7 - 8 hours sleep at night and don't look at your mobile for at least an hour before bed.
Don't use the Kindle app on your phone to read at night as it prevents you sleeping. Read a physical book or use a Kindle device.
Natural remedies for chronic stress
If your stress has gone further and hit Stage 2 then as well as the natural remedies to manage stress above you can also try the following:
Take a really good magnesium supplement (I highly recommend a form of ionic magnesium).
Try magnesium baths. You need approximately 250g of magnesium for a bath and need to lie in it for at at least 20 minutes (although you can stay in longer). To get the greatest benefits from this method you need to be bathing about 2 - 3 times a week. Magnesium baths relax the muscles and help relieve tension and stiffness and can also promote skin health. Try BetterYou Magnesium Flakes £5.39 for 250g or Westlab Magnesium Chloride Flakes £8.99 for 1kg.
Make sure you are keeping to a good sleep routine and going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time each day. I found a Lumie Light Body Clock really beneficial especially in the winter. It has a gradual sunrise to allow you to wake more naturally and a fading sunset to ease you to sleep as the light dims at night. It has been proven to treat SAD/low winter mood too.
One really great product that I have tried is The Relax Capsules by Innermost. These are a natural product but have some seriously good science backed ingredients in them and really do work. Take a look at my The Relax Capsules Review which lists all the ingredients, what they do and how I got on when I tested them out. Highly recommended.
Try a sleep spray. I like the award winning Neal's Yard Goodnight Pillow Spray £15 which you can spray in the bedroom and on the pillow. It includes essential oils of chamomile, lavender, mandarin and geranium and 81% of 100 trial participants found it helped calm and relax them. Read the full review on Goodnight Pillow Mist.
Give Bach Flower Rescue Remedy a try. You can either put a few drops in a water bottle and sip throughout the day or put 4 drops straight on your tongue but remember that this product is in a grape alcohol solution as a preservative, which some people may not find acceptable. I found they work best for anxiety if you sip a couple of glasses of water with it in throughout the day, or put it in your water bottle if you are out and about. I found the drops on the tongue work best for things like flying or other situations where you may need a quicker effect. I have tried it in the pastille form but did not find any noticeable difference at all with them.
You could try using an aromatherapy diffuser which slowly disperses a mist of essential oil into the atmosphere. I have one of these and I love it. Great blends to try are Neals's Yard Aromatherapy Blend Calming £13.50 or I often use Neal's Yard Aromatherapy Blend Women's Balance £15.50 which is so good that I frequently use the Remedies to Roll Women's Balance as a perfume throughout the day as well.
Look at friendships and relationships. Are they all serving you as well as they should or are you the one doing the giving all the time? Do they make you happy when you spend time with them and do they support you? Set some boundaries if you need to and don't feel guilt about it.
Natural remedies for anxiety
If you feel like the anxiety is getting a firm grip and you have started to get anxiety symptoms then as well as trying the natural remedies for stress and chronic stress above:
Make an appointment to see your doctor and talk through what is happening. If nothing else it should help confirm that what you are feeling are the symptoms of anxiety and that there is nothing seriously wrong with you. Your doctor may also be able to offer other options such as counselling too.
Distraction. This is one of the best tips although you probably just read that and thought, Meh. Trust me, it really works. Try getting into a good book or if you are not a big reader or find you can't settle try listening to some audio books. I found these invaluable as when I was concentrating on a voice my anxiety disappeared. Watch a film or try and talk to someone but not about your anxiety or your symptoms. By all means let people know you are having a problem but simply repeating details of your symptoms over and over just reinforces the problem in your mind.
Have a massage or a facial. My facial muscles were so tight at one point I could not yawn and it hurt to smile. Massage and facials help enormously with tension in the body.
You could try CBD oil. There is research to say it can help enormously with anxiety but when I tried it I just felt sick (this is a known side effect). A note of caution though. There are absolutely loads of CBD oils for sale out there and the quality varies enormously. If you are going to try CBD oil for anxiety make sure you buy a full spectrum oil. This is one that has all the cannabinoids (the other naturally occurring parts of the cannabis plant) in it, apart from the psychoactive THC. It should be cold pressed and not mixed with a carrier oil. If you are taking any sort of medication you should speak to a Pharmacist or doctor before trying CBD oil.
Hypnotherapy/Hypnosis. There have been studies that have shown improvements in anxiety and panic attacks using these methods. Personally I have not tried it, it just didn't feel right for me but I did consider it. Remember though that hypnotherapy is not a regulated profession in the UK and someone does not need any qualifications to set up and practice. If you do decide to try this method make sure that the person you are using is registered with the Professional Standards Organisation. You can also find out more about clinical hypnotherapy.
Natural remedies for severe anxiety
If you feel you have reached Stage 4 and tried the natural remedies for stress, chronic stress and anxiety:
You should definitely make an appointment to see your doctor. There are many treatments said to help anxiety such as talking therapies, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), counselling and psychotherapy so talk to a professional about your situation.
What to do when having a panic attack - control your breath to stop yourself shallow breathing when things get really bad. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds and breathe out for 5 seconds. Repeat a personal mantra in your head whilst you are doing this. You can make one up to suit yourself but something positive like 'nothing bad is happening to me' or 'I am in control of this'.
Try listening to binaural beats which have been shown to reduce anxiety, lower stress and increase relaxation. You must listen to these on full headphones to get the full benefit though. You can find binaural beats on Amazon Music and Spotify and you can get different ones for sleep, stress and relaxation.
Meditation is very good at this stage although it can take a little getting in to, but it really does help. You can try an app, Headspace is quite good but there are others out there.
I like to meditate to the sounds of nature and you can find these on Spotify and Amazon Music. Read about meditating for beginners at www.mindful.org and then you can meditate where and when you want simply with your phone and headphones. You will also probably find after you have been meditating regularly for a period of time that simply listening to whatever you normally listen to when you meditate will actually calm you down. This is because the brain is getting conditioned to recognise that this is your normal state when it hears these sounds. A very useful natural tool for anxiety as you can listen to the sounds on earphones to calm yourself even if you can't mediate.
You can also up the ante on the meditation by putting an essential oil in an oil burner or a diffuser whilst you are meditating and listening to your sounds of nature or your binaural beats. The thing is, this has to be a smell that is new to you, so you need to use an essential oil that you have never tried before. A good oil for this is basil or perhaps a mix of a couple of drops of ylang ylang and a drop of lime. Make sure you use good quality oils (not synthetic or blended) - try Neal's Yard essential oils - see Neal's Yard essential oils. The brain will learn to associate the smell of the oil with your state of relaxation when you are using it. You can then take a paper tissue with you when you go out with a few drops of the oil blend on it. If you feel stressed simply smell the tissue and it helps put you in the state of relaxation that you achieve when you use the oils. This really works, I used this method a lot.
Try listening to visualisations. I found these particularly helpful and again you can find specific ones on Spotify by searching for 'visualisations for anxiety' or 'visualisations for relaxation'.
How to get rid of anxiety
When I was at my worst with full blown PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) I didn't want to take any medication. This was because I felt it would just mask the symptoms and wouldn't cure my anxiety
I had been through so much medical treatment with cancer and I just didn't want any more drugs. All the medications had side effects so how would I know what was a side effect and what was a symptom of my anxiety? How would I know if I was getting any better? What would happen if I then came off the medication, would the symptoms return and would I then just end up addicted to the medication?
My research led me to The Linden Method which has now been around over 20 years and has some well known Brand Ambassadors such as Jodie Kidd (supermodel), Miranda Hart (actress), Linda Robson (actress), Plum Sykes (Editor of Vogue) and others.
Review of The Linden Method
I found the method easy and the results were quick and impressive.
I loved the feeling of empowerment that the method gave me and the feeling of control over my situation and I could literally see the progress that I was making. The more it worked the more confident I became and I got my life back.
I have been free of panic attacks and anxiety ever since. I did this method 15+ years ago and since then have recommended it to others and all have had 100% success with it too.
There is also a similar program called 'Panic Away' which seems to be based along similar lines to The Linden Method and from reading the details I feel it would probably be just as effective.
If you are suffering anxiety or panic attacks I know just how much of your life and personality they can suck away. If you have been to your doctor and have tried other methods and they either haven't worked or you are still only just coping then I recommend you have a look at either The Linden Method at www.thelindenmethod.co.uk or Panic Away at www.panicaway.com.
I should state that I have no affiliations whatsoever with either The Linden Method or Panic Away, although I do have personal experience of using The Linden Method.
The tools that you select to treat your anxiety naturally are very personal and you have to feel comfortable with what you decide - that way you have the highest chance of success. Whatever method you try I wish you the very best. Even though you may read on the internet, as I have, that anxiety can't be cured and that you just have to use medication and coping mechanisms to manage it, trust me when I say that this is not true. If I can get over the incapacitating PTSD that I had then it is possible to be anxiety free and get your life back once again.
Don't forget to check out my review of Innermost Relax Capsules, said to reduce stress, relieve anxiety, promote relaxation and aid a good night's sleep, they are extremely effective.
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