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New—and Old—Solutions for High Anxiety

New—and Old—Solutions for High Anxiety

High Anxiety may have been Mel Brooks’ idea of funny, but it’s no laughing matter for over 7 million North Americans who struggle with the insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, eating problems (too much or not enough), and relationship conflicts that generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can trigger. But there have been some interesting treatment approaches making the news.

Related: The Many Faces of Anxiety

A free smartphone app called Personal Zen, designed by a clinical psychologist, offers an anxiety-reducing game that helps shift your attention away from a seemingly threatening situation or thought to a nonthreatening one. But immediately we wondered: “What if my battery dies? Or there’s an incoming call while I’m using the app?” So if you’re trying this, we suggest you find a quite spot and put your phone on airplane mode.

Related: Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Then there’s the recent study that suggests you shouldn’t try to calm down. Instead reframe your feelings by convincing yourself you’re excited, a far more positive revved-up feeling, say the researchers. We say that may work if you’re nervous about public speaking, but not if you’re fretting about paying your bills or losing your job—those thoughts are never exciting!

We like a third approach: According to Johns Hopkins researchers, mindful meditation can ease anxiety symptoms for some folks as well as medication. Daily, sit comfortably in a quiet room for 10 minutes. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly, in and out. If thoughts pop into your brain, expel them as you exhale. You’ll decrease your stressful feelings, reduce inflammation, and release feel-good brain chemicals.

Related: The Impacts of Meditation on the Body

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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