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Naturally Treat Anxiety & Stress in the Elderly

According to reports one in every 6 Americans take some type of psychiatric drug, mostly anti-depressants. Nearly 17% of the American population is thus dependent on anti-depressants or other drugs to help them deal with stress, worry, anxiety, sleeping disorder, panic attacks and other psychiatric needs.

The OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that antidepressant use is on the rise in most OECD countries. And we in the US would top that list of countries with the most number of adults on antidepressants for every 1000 persons. That is a staggering number of Americans dependent on medicines and chemical drugs to find peace and comfort.

In todays uncertain times with global economic upheavals, migration shifts, technological revolutions and changing demographics it makes it difficult for most of us to have a calm and uneventful life.

What is the answer then? Do drugs like antidepressants work? While the chemicals in these drugs certainly soothe and calm a certain percentage of those who take them, the very fact that most people are on antidepressants for long times, over 14 years or so on average, is a clear indication that we are just addressing the symptoms and not the root cause for anxiety and stress.

We can take antidepressants to calm ourselves temporarily but is there a deeper, more long term solution? Can we get rid of anxiety naturally ?

While there are no magical over night cures and mystical solutions there are a number of things we can do. We can try incorporating simpler natural ways for handling stress, worry and anxiety.

We can choose to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness starts as an inner deliberate thought that makes us slow down, take in events in such a way that they do not overwhelm us. By practicing mindfulness, we consciously let ourselves take in whatever is happening but then we adjust our mind and how we feel towards it in order to better handle the situation with a calmer and more controlled attitude.

Mindfulness acts can be anything and everything that makes us slow down, take in events and assimilate facts calmly. Some common types of mindfulness are described below:

Take Deep Breaths

Ok, when you are coming down with a full scale panic attack you are hardly in the mood to think about deep-breathing techniques, yoga postures and meditation mantras. But have you ever wondered where the common saying comes from ‘Take a deep breath before you say something emotional’?

It is because breathing in deep and concentrating on our breath calms us down. It focuses us to look in and also the deep breaths that we take send us some fresh oxygen which helps clear the negative emotions and shake off the cobwebs in our mind. It forces us to focus on the inside as against the outside stimulus that is pressurizing us, be it physical, emotional or psychological.

Though it might not work wonders when you first start out, keep at it. Practicing this simple yet efficient method of calming down will help you get better at handling stress naturally.

Remember That Nothing Stays the Same

Who hasn’t heard the saying ‘The only constant is change itself’. At periods of stress, panic and anxiety, repeating the mantra that nothing ever stays the same, that this too shall pass can be comforting. Maybe you are worried about your health, anxious for a loved one’s state of mind or some other physical or emotional pain is bothering you.

Fortunately for us all, nothing ever stays the same. Things change, the world around is in a state of constant flux, both good and bad. Things happen and we are glad and happy. Other events take place and we are the opposite. This has always been and will always be the case. Reminding yourself of this can help you naturally battle stress and worry.

Another thing to remind yourself is this. If something bothers you and stresses you, and if there is anything you can do to change it, then do it. If you cannot do anything to change it, then you are just wasting your time because no amount of worry or stress will change the outcome so why worry? Enjoy the present or try to.

Concentrate on Your Hand

Look at your hand when you feel that your worry or anxiety is going to tip over. Why? Because by forcing your mind away from your inner thoughts and making it focus on your hand, what you are holding, what you are touching, feeling etc, you push your conscious in another direction of thought.

Our mind is a curious animal. Difficult to control. We feel so many things within, that at moments of anxiety this can turn into uncontrollable emotions. By focusing on the concrete, the solid, the real things in and around your hands you put a stop to the spiraling thoughts that are difficult to control. Instead you tame your mind to think of something more real.

It helps if you use some massaging techniques, one hand massages the other and you feel your hands. But this is not necessary. You could be writing, cooking, cleaning. Watch your hands, at what they can do, what they feel. And it will calm you down naturally. Gives you more control over your anxiety.

Create a Gratitude List

Making a list of things we are grateful for is a great way to bring things into perspective. So often, so many of us take so many things for granted. We need not wait for once a year thanksgiving to remark on all that we are thankful for. Make a grateful list whenever you start feeling frustrated, anxious or stressed.

You will be surprised at just how many things you can list. You may have some trouble to begin with, but try making this a habit, everyday in the morning, during your coffee and breakfast or at night just before going to sleep and see if this does not calm your anxiety and stress.

Actively Seek Joy

All of us have something we love to do, experience, enjoy. Go seek it out. If it is a walk in nature, a long drive, a good book, a heartfelt chat with a friend or close family member, a hobby or interest, go do it now. Try to do this as regularly as possible.

Seniors need social contact, joy, a meaning in what we do, feel and hear. Sometimes we want to participate as in talking with a friend and sometimes we just want to be passive spectators and not participate as in listening to some music. Whatever activity it is, and whether you are an introvert or extrovert we all have things that make us smile, bring us joy and inner peace. Make it a habit to provide that for yourself and you will see that it has a direct effect in naturally reducing your anxiety and stress.

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