8 Ways to Deal With Anxiety That Don’t Involve Drugs

Liv Kelleher
how to deal with anxiety without drugs

Before you turn to these, it pays to try some natural anxiety busters. Photo: Getty

If you have trouble falling asleep, have a constant nervous feeling in your stomach, experience irrational fears, or have nausea when you know you aren’t sick, chances are you’re anxious. And it sucks. Knowing how to deal with anxiety, however, can make it suck a whole lot less.

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According to the ADAA, more than 40 million Americans ages 18 and over say they’ve experienced some sort of anxiety at one time or another, so you can relax—you’re not alone. In fact, the average person who tends to suffer from anxiety admits their symptoms stem from things we all face, like money problems, career stress, family and relationship woes, or health concerns.

The good news? There happen to be lots of natural cures for anxiety that leave you feeling just as calm and relaxed as the serious stuff (Xanax, Adtivan, Lexapro—meds that should only be prescribed by a physician after an evaluation). So, the next time you feel those nerves creeping up on you, try these natural remedies and quickly watch your anxious feelings subside.

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1. Exercise
According to health.com, 21 minutes of physical exercise is enough to reduce your anxiety level significantly. Working out raises your heart rate and releases endorphins, both of which help to ease nervousness and calm you down. Also, exercising on a regular basis can help to raise your self-esteem and make you feel healthier, which could eliminate certain sources of worry. And let’s not forget that if your anxiety makes falling asleep a feat of epic proportion, exercise is a surefire way to allow your body to relax naturally.

2. Tea
Chamomile can mediate jittery nerves, since some of the compounds bind to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium. You can also take chamomile supplements in pill form, which can be found at most health food stores.

Green tea, as you’re probably aware, has a ton of amazing health benefits, some of which alleviate high levels of anxiety thanks to its ability to lower your heart rate and reduce your blood pressure, both of which spike when you get nervous.

3. Lavender
There’s a reason why every spa under the sun smells of lavender—its scent relaxes and calms the body.

For those who have trouble sleeping because of anxiety, experts suggest washing your sheets with lavender-scented detergent, spaying your pillows with a light lavender spray, or lighting a candle that emits a subtle lavender scent. If you feel nervous during the work day, dab a touch of lavender oil on your wrists.

4. Omega-3s
Omega-3s have long been considered positive additions to a healthy diet, and some research has suggested they might play a role in reducing your level of anxiety. Your best bet? Upping your intake of food packed with the compounds—salmon, mackerel, edamame, and walnuts, to name a few—or talking to your doctor about taking fish oil supplements.

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5. Certain types of music.
Yes, music can help assuage nervous energy, but only if you’re judicious about choosing the right stuff. According to Calm Clinic, the key making sure you’re listening to music that represents the way you want to feel. Happy or relaxing tunes, as opposed to any old song on the radio. Sad, angry, or super-frenetic music will only help you get in touch with those negative emotions.

6. Sweat. 

Apart from exercising, sweating itself has beneficial, anxiety-reducing benefits by helping the body open up and relaxing your muscles. Spending a few minutes in the sauna or a steam shower can set you up for a better, stress-free day.

7. Yoga 

There’s a reason yogis are stereotyped as overly zen, people. Yoga combines many stress-relieving techniques, such as focusing on your breathing and stretching your muscles, both of which relieve tension. Additionally, by taking time out of your day to go to a yoga class, or doing yoga on your own, you’re setting aside precious moments to focus on yourself, not on what’s causing you anxiety.

8. A checklist of questions 

Calm Clinic suggests that, when you’re faced with anxiety, to have a checklist on hand of questions to ask yourself about that particular experience. The longer the checklist, the more you’ll find that your thoughts become more realistic. Questions that you can use include:

  • Is there a reason to believe something is wrong?
  • What evidence is there that something is wrong?
  • Is there a chance I’m blowing this out of proportion?