Occasionally when dealing with a dual diagnosis, if one of your mental health concerns happens to be anxiety, you may not be able to be prescribed a class of anti-anxiety rescue medication called benzodiazepines because they are considered habit forming. There are, however, several non-prescription things you could try to help manage your anxiety.
While yoga has been around for eons, we are just now starting to prove its benefits beyond just exercise. One element of yoga is called controlled breathing, which helps reduce your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure, both components of a panic attack. Continued practice of yoga can help you translate this technique to control your anxiety in your everyday life and improve your mental health.
Regular exercise is not only good for your body but your mind as well. Exercise releases endorphins, which act as mood stabilizers and natural painkillers. It doesn't mean that you need to work out for hours a day, or even go to the gym. You can usually achieve this with just a simple 10-20 minute walk around the block.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can make you a little more on edge than you would normally be, which in turn can aggravate the symptoms of a panic attack or even trigger one. So try to wean yourself off of your daily cup of coffee by trying to get enough sleep and sticking to a regular schedule.
Focus less on perfectionism and more on just doing your best. When tackling a big project, try breaking it down into smaller and more manageable parts. Only addressing one element of something at a time can help you not be overwhelmed by the larger project and possibly help you avoid a panic attack.
Much like exercise, laughter also releases endorphins into your system, which in turn helps suppress the release of adrenaline during an episode of anxiety. Going to a comedy show or even watching your favorite comedian on Netflix can help you to relax and remain calm.
Take some time to sit down and be honest with yourself about your mental health and what triggers a panic attack. Try to notice what is happening around the time one occurs. Are you usually about to give a presentation at work or school? Then public speaking might be a trigger for you. Do you feel anxiety when you have to make a phone call to someone you don't know? That might also be a trigger for you.
Talk therapy is very helpful for anxiety disorders and other mental health issues. It helps to have a neutral third-party to help put things in perspective for you in ways your friends and family may not be able to. Don't be afraid to take your time finding someone you are comfortable with, either. You will only be able to open up and let someone help you if you are comfortable around them. Treating your anxiety without the use of rescue medication may not feel like something you can do, but if you identify your triggers, you will be able to find ways to counteract that anxiety episode correctly, such as yoga and exercise. With the help of a mental health care professional and willingness on the part of the patient, anything is possible.
Sydney DeZinnois a writer from Tucson, AZ. A graduate of the University of Arizona, she an active advocate that is passionate about addiction recovery and helping those in crisis.
| Twitter @sdezinno
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