Knowing how to deal with stress without medication can be difficult, especially if this is your first foray into learning to manage your stress. Medication can be an effective treatment for stress and anxiety management, but there are also a number of lifestyle and therapeutic management methods that do not utilize medication.
How to manage stress without medication
Our habits, like skipping meals because we are too busy or not making time to check in with ourselves, can exacerbate our stress. Here are some tips to help you cultivate healthy habits while combating stress and anxiety without medication:
- Drink water – More than you think you need; being dehydrated can make you feel irritable and fatigued which can contribute to your stress, especially if you aren’t sure of where these feelings are coming from. Fill up a large insulated water bottle with ice and water every morning, and make sure to get up and walk around during the day so you can top up on water.
- Eat regular meals – Some people prefer two to three large meals every day; others like to have smaller, more frequent portions. Figure out what kind of eating schedule makes your body happy, and eat nourishing foods to prevent blood sugar crashes, irritability and food-related stress.
- Practice mindfulness – It is easier said than done, but focus on grounding yourself in the present rather than catastrophizing the past or future. Stay mindful, especially during periods of heightened stress, using techniques like the 5-4-3-2-1 method.
- Meditate every day – Meditation is a great way of checking in with yourself throughout the day and calming your mind at night while identifying any points that might be causing stress or anxiety.
- Write things down – Write all of your feelings in a journal when you are feeling stressed as a form of release. If you are feeling overwhelmed with work, school or home life, create a realistic to-do list each day of what you would like to get done.
- Avoid using alcohol and substances – Especially if you find that you feel anxiety after their effects wear off.
- Get plenty of sleep – Stress will quickly disrupt normal sleeping patterns, usually by way of nightmares or insomnia. Give your brain the rest it needs by ensuring you get an appropriate amount of sleep every night to the extent possible.
- Practice breathwork – Controlled breathing exercises and techniques can prevent you from hyperventilating when you are feeling stressed and can serve as forms of meditation in your own rights.
- Take up a hobby – One that will relax you, rather than stress you out further. Get lost in a project that will require you to use your hands and focus your mind, like knitting, reading, writing, drawing, painting or playing an instrument.
- Take a break – A break from work, a break from social media, a break from cooking for the evening; listen to your body and recognize when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Exercising is a great way to loosen tight muscles, burn off extra energy and rid yourself of the physical symptoms of stress:
- Practice yoga. Integrate breathwork, known as pranayama, into your yoga practice.
- Go for a run. Start slow – even by walking – and work your way up.
- Lift some weights.
The key to sticking to an exercise routine is to find a style that you enjoy and that suits your needs. Don’t give up on exercise entirely if you don’t like running – try a few different workouts.
Natural supplements often serve the purpose of making up for lost vitamins and nutrients that we normally get through food or our environment. If you are taking any other medications or have an underlying health condition, be sure to check with your doctor prior to starting any new supplements to avoid any unwanted interactions or side effects.
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic adaptogenic herb that is thought to help lower and manage stress levels by reducing levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress and anxiety.
- B complex vitamins: B complex vitamins are made up of eight B nutrients that manage brain health and stress.
- Chamomile: Chamomile, most commonly ingested in the form of tea, is an ancient herb known for its calming effects. Integrate a cup of chamomile tea into your daily routine and see if you notice a reduction in symptoms of stress and anxiety.
- L-theanine: L-theanine is an amino acid that is found in green tea leaves and is thought to promote relaxation, relieve stress and reduce heart rate.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency is linked to symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you are not absorbing enough vitamin D from food or sunlight, consider taking a supplement to meet the recommended daily amount.
Something as simple as speaking about your stress and anxiety out loud can ease a huge weight from your shoulders. Joining a support group for other individuals wanting to manage their stress and anxiety will help you to feel less alone, learn from the experience of others, and share your own learnings with those who need it.
Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare is committed to helping you manage your stress and anxiety through the methods that are right for you. Get help today by reaching out at 678-274-4936.