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Anxiety is a prevalent issue for people of all ages and backgrounds. It can take a toll on your mental and physical health, leading to insomnia, emotional eating, and more. You can reduce these negative symptoms and take control of your wellbeing by utilizing alternative medicine practices. While they shouldn’t be the sole treatment for severe anxiety, these techniques can help control mild stress or work in conjunction with other treatments like therapy or medications.
Emotional freedom technique (EFT) tapping utilizes the same principles of acupuncture in a much more mild form. This practice involves following five easy steps to reduce your stress, including determining the root of your anxiety, assessing your mental state before and after tapping, picking a reassuring statement to repeat, and tapping different parts of the body in a specific order.
One study of over 200 participants found that people who participated in EFT tapping experienced an increase in happiness and a decrease in anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and pain. Another study on veterans found that those who received six hours of EFT tapping coaching had significant reductions in psychological distress and severity of PTSD symptoms.
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), also known as Jacobson’s relaxation technique, involves lying in a relaxed position, breathing deeply, and briefly tightening muscle groups in the body before allowing them to relax. When performing this exercise, you must not strain your muscles, and you need to focus on how it feels to tighten and fully relax.
One study on nursing students found that those who performed four sessions of PMR experienced less test anxiety than those who didn’t use this technique. Another study found that those who underwent two PMR sessions experienced lower heart rates, reduced anxiety and perceived stress, and a smaller amount of cortisol, a stress hormone, than those who sat in a room and did nothing for the same amount of time.
Guided imagery is a relaxation technique that involves closing your eyes and picturing a desirable location, whether it’s a beach, the forest, or something else entirely. To do this thoroughly, you must engage all five senses, imagining the sounds, tastes, smells, sights, and feelings that come with your desired destination. One study found that people who performed guided imagery experienced reduced anxiety, and those who pictured a nature scene had an even greater reduction in anxiety than those who imagined an urban scene
If anxiety is beginning to take a toll on your mental or physical health, schedule an appointment with your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician. They can suggest methods for improving your mental health or refer you to a psychiatrist if your symptoms are more severe.
Healthline | EFT Tapping NCBI | Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health PubMed | Psychological Trauma Symptom Improvement in Veterans Using Emotional Freedom Techniques: A Randomized Controlled Trial Healthline | What is Jacobson's Relaxation Technique? NCBI | The effect of progressive muscle relaxation method on test anxiety in nursing students Science Direct | The impact of abbreviated progressive muscle relaxation on salivary cortisol Headspace | Guided Imagery https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6176042/
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