6 Healthy Ways to Deal with your Anxiety (Without Substance Abuse)

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Fears and worries impact the lives of men and women each day. It is natural to worry about loved ones, taking a test or giving a speech. An anxiety disorder occurs when fears do not have a clear cause and consistently complicate a personal relationships or a personal lifestyle. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) (1), anxiety disorders increase the risk of substance abuse by two to three times when compared to individuals in the general population. When a disorder develops, learning these 6 healthy ways to deal with your anxiety is essential for personal health and well-being.

Take Deep Breaths

According to Psych Central (2), deep breathing causes your body to relax. The relaxation response after taking a deep breath and slowly exhaling reduces the impact of the emotional response and helps calm fears or worries. Take a deep breath in and slowly exhale. Repeat the deep breaths until the feelings recede or get to a manageable level.

Accept the Emotion

The University of Florida (3) explains that anxiety is a normal response to stimulus in the environment. Feeling fear or worry is normal; however, a disorder occurs when those emotions and reactions get out of control. By accepting that you are feeling worried or afraid, it is easier to focus on realistic goals. Accept that anxiety is normal and then focus on managing the fears so that they are not interfering with your life.

Ask a Few Questions

Anxiety causes irrational thought processes, explains Psych Central (2). As a result, you or a loved one starts thinking about illogical or outlandish ideas. When fears arise, follow through on the thoughts that occur.

For example, feeling a fear of death when taking a math test is illogical. The fear stems from worries about failing rather than the actual idea that taking a test will cause your death. Question your thoughts by directly asking if it is logical or realistic.

Set Aside Time for Relaxation

According to the ADAA (4), relaxing activities help clear your head. As a result, you identify the cause of your anxiety or make the situation less immediate. Listen to music, meditate or enjoy a relaxing massage to alleviate stress and reduce anxiety.

Practice Regularly

Several factors cause anxiety and related disorders, including illogical thought processes. A simple way to alleviate certain fears, such as a fear of failure, is by practicing regularly. For example, if you are afraid of being attacked while returning from work, then take a martial arts or self-defense class. If you are afraid of taking a test in school, then take a practice test.

Focus on the Present Time

Psych Central (2) states that anxiety and panic attacks often occur when an individual thinks about the future. By focusing on the current situation and present time, you or a loved one interrupts the negative thought processes.

Substance abuse is not a safe way to manage anxiety because it actually makes the situation worse. Instead, focus on relaxing when anxiety occurs and limit the worries by practicing for different situations that cause panic attacks.


  1. Substance Abuse, The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/substance-abuse
  2. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., 9 Ways to Reduce Anxiety Right Here, Right Now, Psych Central, September 12, 2013, http://psychcentral.com/lib/9-ways-to-reduce-anxiety-right-here-right-now/00017762
  3. Anxiety: How to Cope with It, University of Florida, http://www.counseling.ufl.edu/cwc/anxiety-how-to-cope-with-it.aspx
  4. Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress, The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, http://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress

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