Top Ten Non-Drug Treatments for Anxiety

Many of my patients do not want to take medication for anxiety and I support their efforts to find a holistic solution. Here are my top recommendations:

1) Practice some deep, slow breaths, all the way down, pushing your abdomen out. There’s a reason the Buddha is always pictured as having a big belly – belly breathing produces calm, chill people. Yoga and meditation classes can help you learn about this.

2) Be in the Present. Anxiety is worrying about the future. If you are in the present moment, the now, it, it is actually impossible to feel anxious.

3) Take a walk. In addition to being good for your body and causing a change of scene, walking balances the two sides of the brain.

4) Download some relaxation CD’s and/or music that you know is guaranteed to calm you. Make a playlist you can count on to always put you in a relaxed mood.

5) Watch a comedy: a movie, some stand-up or even read a comic writer. Laughter may or may not be the best medicine, but it will certainly take your mind off your troubles.

6) Get a massage: where I live in LA, there are many opportunities to get a low-cost massage, including the new Chinese Foot Massage places that offer an Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms treatment for 25. Some towns have low-cost massage schools.

7) The calming effect of warmth: take a hot bath, drink some hot tea, wrap yourself in a “blankie” and cuddle up on the couch.

8) Challenge your thinking: Anxious people have a particular way of talking to themselves that contributes to anxiety. A book that can be really helpful with this is “.Feeling Good” by Dr. David Burns.

9) Good nutrition: The way we eat may have a lot to do with fostering anxiety. Too much coffee, refined carbohydrates, additives, and sugar can lead to anxiety disorders. Observe how your moods go up and down with use.

10) Weekly psychotherapy: Long-standing issues, family and cultural programming, habits of mind – these are just some of the issues that might be at cause. Anxiety is a sign that something in your life is not right. Get help to deal with it.

If these treatments have been tried and there is no change in a month, it is recommended get a full evaluation by a healthcare provider. It is important to rule out a medical condition which might cause symptoms of anxiety.

Many people consider taking an anti-anxiety drug a sign of weakness. It is not, any more than it is weak for a diabetic to take insulin. There are actually some excellent medications for anxiety that you can take on an as-needed basis which do not cause addiction. It does not make you a better person to endure needless suffering.