In any professional arena, from sports to surgery to sales, the best of the best are generally the people who can rise to the moment and get results even when they are under pressure.
Below you’ll find some good tips on how you can rise to the occasion, take on anxiety head on, and perform at your best.
Ways to Deal with Anxiety without Medication
1. Exercise Regularly.
Everybody experiences anxiety in some form, and it’s completely normal.
Thousands of years ago when humans were hunting woolly mammoths and other dangerous animals, our bodies triggered a “fight-or-flight” response that floods our body with cortisol, adrenaline, and other energizing hormones that let us know that something important is happening.
This gave us the energy, awareness, and focus we needed to survive in dangerous situations.
Nowadays there aren’t many woolly mammoths walking around, and most of us don’t have to hunt for our own food.
As a result, our bodies adapt and trigger the fight or flight response during other tasks.
Anxiety is just a normal part of our biology.
But if anxiety is something that really stops you in your tracks and hinders your performance, you probably have a low threshold for stress. And this is why it’s so uncomfortable and distracting to experience the physical symptoms of anxiety.
The answer? Training your response to stress. The best and most direct way to do this is by exercising.
Exercising raises your heart rate and floods your body with the same hormones that are present during the triggering of a fight-or-flight response.
When you exercise regularly, you train your body to handle higher levels of stress, and even enjoy it. It may not be easy, but it’s definitely one of the best ways to train yourself to handle higher levels of stress.
Eventually, the anxiety you feel during an important situation is something that energizes and focuses your mind instead of hindering your performance.
2. Breathe Properly.
Most of us don’t breathe properly and use only around 50% of our full lung capacity. This leaves us at a severe disadvantage when it comes to dealing with the energetic force of a stress response.
Imagine your heart pumping like crazy but your lungs aren’t able to handle the increased oxygen intake. Many times this leads to the lungs overworking themselves and overcompensating, which can easily lead to hyperventilation and panic.
There are two very easy ways to fix your breathing and improve your ability to use your lungs to help you harness your fight-or-flight response:
- Nose breathing.
It may sound too easy, but breathing through the nose actually makes a huge difference in our ability to use our lungs at their full capacity.
Nose breathing is a crucial part of our Nitric Oxide intake (the same “laughing gas” that your dentist gives you, but in a much smaller and naturally produced dosage) which lowers the heart rate and blood pressure as a result of blood vessel dilation.
Nose breathing also delivers air to the bottom part of the lungs more effectively than mouth breathing.
The bottom of the lungs is where our Parasympathetic Nerve Receptors lie, which activate the “rest-and-digest” response when activated, flooding our bodies with relaxing hormones. In this way, nose breathing is a way to directly access relaxation.
- Belly Breathing.
Also very simple, but will take a little practice to do effectively, belly breathing exercises the diaphragm.
When we breathe using the diaphragm instead of high up in our chest, we give the muscles in our head, neck, and shoulders a chance to relax. This is where the majority of anxiety-related tension lies.
Belly breathing also gives the heart and other major internal organs a gentle massage, allowing them to open up instead of being constricted by the ribcage.
Related: 7 Natural Stress Relievers
Just like exercising trains your ability to handle stress, doing these exercises regularly will train your ability to relax on command.
About The Author
This is a guest post by Bo Stunkel, the Founder of TurboDog Learning, a test-prep business specializing in helping students beat anxiety with mind-hacks and exercises backed by science.