Drug-free Approach to Anxiety and Panic Attacks

It’s quite normal to feel anxious when handling certain situations such as making big decisions or sitting exams, but for some, anxiety attacks occur when handling situations that most of us would just take in our stride.

These can cause so much distress that sufferers cannot live a normal life

Of course there are many drugs and prescription medications that your doctor will be able to provide, but many people prefer natural methods of coping with anxiety attacks.

Here are some top tips for coping with panic and anxiety attacks:

* Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose, not your mouth. It is no longer thought safe to suggest re-breathing into a paper bag; this could cause oxygen starvation.

* Try this exercise: stand near to a wall, put your hand on it and hold your breath, then push as hard a possible, keeping your breath held for as long as possible. This tightens your muscles and can reduce anxiety.

* Most people feel less anxious in the outdoors. Listening to the birds, watching the sea, a river, or even just a pond or a tropical fish tank can be very soothing. A walk in a park or garden smelling the flowers can help relaxation and fight stress. You may even find that a screen-saver using a natural scene is helpful.

* Make a list of your problems, then crumple the paper into a ball and either stand on it, or burn it.

* Yoga is a great stress-buster, which can be practiced by anyone. It will improve mental and physical ability, and boost self-confidence. But you need to go to a class for maximum benefit and to learn the correct techniques.

* Is a poor diet contributing to your anxiety attacks? Caffeine, sugar and diet sodas all contribute to raised blood sugar. Eat less saturated fats, as anxiety attacks are more common in the overweight.

* Find a hobby you enjoy. A creative hobby is better still. The concerns of day-to-day life can melt away when you throw your heart and soul into a hobby you enjoy. Spend time alone and at peace.

* Relax with a good film or a good book. Either can transport you away from the stresses of the world.

* Aromatherapy involves inhaling essential oils, or in some cases applying them direct to the skin. Essential oils can be added to a relaxing bath. Lavender, one of just two essential oils that can be applied to the skin undiluted, has a very relaxing effect. While aromatherapy can be practiced as a self-help therapy, you would be wise to consult a qualified practitioner in the first instance to produce a blend specifically for you.

* Acupuncture targets specific points in the body to promote healing, and has been proven beneficial for anxiety disorders. Unlike aromatherapy this isn’t a self-help technique as you will need to consult a licensed practitioner. Be sure this person is registered with a reputable professional body and will observe good hygiene practices.

* Talking things over with someone trustworthy may bring closure to unresolved worries and resentments. But be careful who you talk to – ideally a completely disinterested third-party, or at least someone completely divorced from the situation that’s causing you anxiety. Counselors or Cognitive Behavioral Therapists are highly recommended to help reduce the occurrence of panic attacks.

* Many herbal products have benefits for panic and anxiety symptoms. Consult a qualified herbalist – this is not an area where self-help is advised.

Before implementing any change in physical activity or diet, check it out with your medical doctor. If he or she is unsympathetic to anything other than medication, consider getting a second opinion preferably from an integrative medicine physician.