Treating Anxiety Without Drugs or Alcohol
Written by Family First Adolescent Services,
in Section Addiction
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the body’s physiological and psychological response to stress. The primary function of anxiety is to protect us from potentially dangerous situations by giving clear warning signals.
However, when anxiety becomes a part of everyday life it can lead to serious issues. Over a prolonged period of time, exaggerated stress responses can lead to anxiety disorders and panic attacks, which are extremely unpleasant.
Panic Attack Symptoms Include:
- Feeling like you’re going crazy
- Chest pressure
- Pins and needles
- Shortness of breath
- Choking sensation
This is an abbreviated list of symptoms. There are many more ways in which anxiety can manifest itself both mentally and physically. In short, anxiety disorders and panic attacks can be an overwhelming burden. For this reason, many teens who suffer from anxiety reach for substances such as marijuana and alcohol to self-medicate.
Self-medication establishes a cycle of dependency which leads to addiction. By self-medicating, the problem is ignored in favor of treating the symptom. This temporary solution gives the illusion of relief while intensifying the underlying anxiety disorder. There are healthier and more holistic ways of treating anxiety, which are medically proven to lower the body’s response to stress. We will discuss a few of them here.
Treating Anxiety Naturally:
Yoga for Anxiety
Yoga has steadily increased in popularity over the last several decades. More and more health gurus and medical professionals preach the mental and physical benefits of a regular yoga practice. This is with good reason. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, research suggests a correlation between practitioners of yoga and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
Anxiety occurs when the body’s stress responses are exaggerated. Implementing a regular yoga practice can be a great way to manage the symptoms of anxiety. Starting a practice is easier now then ever. Every city is loaded with centers that practice various types of yoga at various levels of proficiency. Hatha Yoga is the most widespread type of yoga practiced in the United States.
If you are unable to locate a center near you, or you’re looking to save money, YouTube is full of wonderful channels that provide free resources for studying and practicing yoga. As always, you should consult your physician before making any major changes in diet and exercise.
Breathing Techniques for Anxiety
Breathing with intent is one of the most effective ways to manage anxiety. It can be done virtually anywhere. Breathing slows the heart rate, which in turn will reduce the body’s physiological response to anxiety. There are various breathing exercises you can do that will have an immediate effect on an anxiety or panic attack. Here is a great article that outlines some of the different breathing options when it comes to reducing anxiety.
Another form of breathing that can have a profound and positive impact on anxiety is a technique called, pranayama. It is a yoga breathing technique that has been around for thousands of years. It is an excellent way of calming anxiety without the use of drugs or alcohol. This quick video details the pranayama technique.
Toning the Vagus Nerve
The Vagus Nerve is the longest cranial nerve, running from the base of the brain through the whole torso, and connects the brain to the body. It interacts with the heart, lungs, digestive tract, and is a fundamental nerve in the parasympathetic nervous system.
Anxiety is a disorder in which the mind produces stress responses in the aforementioned bodily systems. This is why toning the Vagus Nerve can be so beneficial in treating anxiety naturally. The health benefits are numerous, covering ground from reducing inflammation to regulating anxiety. Check out this comprehensive article on understanding and improving the function of the Vagus Nerve.
If you suffer from anxiety, don’t fall into the trap of self-medicating with drugs (such as marijuana) and alcohol. The temporary relief provided by these substances will be self-defeating in the long run. Instead, try these holistic and natural remedies that are scientifically proven to lower anxiety.
Family First Adolescent Services specializes in treating teens who suffer from drug addiction, alcohol addiction, mood disorders, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Our treatment plans offer solutions for the whole family.