Brain Hacks for Anxiety & Stress

by Dave Farrow

An Alternative to Medication

Parents are always looking for alternatives to medication when it comes to anxiety and stress. While medication can help, natural solutions are always preferred. They may help on their own or they can supplement other courses of treatment.
Anxiety and stress are very heavily influenced by brain training. You can train yourself to have panic attacks, talk yourself into making them worse, or train yourself to overcome them. Panic attacks are scary. Your brain wrongly senses danger and dumps adrenaline into the bloodstream which puts your senses on high alert. Although it can feel like the world is ending, this anxiety can be reduced with mindfulness and meditation.
Whether you are coping with full blown panic attacks or just a little stressed from work, here are some tips that might help:

Focus on the Edge

Look straight ahead but concentrate on the edges of your eyesight. Focusing on your peripheral vision triggers your parasympathetic nervous system which regulates relaxation and sleep.

 In-In-In * Hold-Hold-Hold * Out-Out-Out

Slowing your breathing instantly changes your anxiety level. This works if you’re having a panic attack or just a little stressed. Try breathing in for 3 counts, hold for 3 counts and then breath out for 3 counts. Put a hand on your chest and a hand on your stomach and feel it rise as you fill your lungs. Big deep belly breaths through your diaphragm activates the relaxation centers in the brain.

Now Walk it Out

Anxiety can trigger the fight or flight response which increases the amount of adrenaline in your body. This response is intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either fight for your life or run. But what happens if you don’t use the adrenaline to fight or flight? It pools in your body making you anxious, sweaty, and even afraid. To get rid of this excess adrenaline you don’t need to fight off a bear or run a marathon. Easy exercises like walking, biking or light weight lifting could do the trick.  Take the dog for a walk. Take a stroll through your favorite park. Go window shopping at the mall or check out an exhibit at a local museum.

Ditch the Iced Caps

It is no surprise that the same substance that wakes you up and gets you moving can also aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks. Switch to decaf or swap your iced cap for an herbal tea or juice.
Remember, anxiety is a complex condition. A one-size-fits-all treatment plan is usually not the solution. Reducing anxiety and stress requires a slow and steady approach. Step by step, look for incremental progress not a big jump.



Dave Farrow

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LINDA March 22, 2010 - 10:20 am

I am very interested in following your information and begin to use some of your techniques.

Malk October 8, 2012 - 3:54 pm

I have a special needs child. She is 9 years old and woirnkg on 1st grade math, K-level spelling, and still forgets how to form some of her letters when writing. It is exhausting and now that I’m also teaching my son (who doesn’t have any special needs that I know of) I’m realizing just how exhausting it really is. With him, I don’t have to repeat the same lesson 15 times before he begins to understand it’s understood the first time. I don’t have to sit with him to constantly keep him on task he’ll finish what is expected of him and do it efficiently most of the time even though he’s just almost 6. Teaching my daughter takes a minimum of 4 hours of my [i]undivided attention[/i] every day for just the basics. Being a single mom with many other responsibilities makes it just that much harder, but I am committed to doing what I believes is best for my children!

andrea January 30, 2013 - 11:18 pm

Thanks for sharing your story. I really feel for you and your situation. Not everyone learns in the same way, and it’s said when some children are left with out options. We try our best to educate people about the tools and skills for learning that are not readily available in the classroom. I hope your situation continues to improve.

Scot November 18, 2012 - 10:07 pm

Your post, ADHD, Dyslexia and Anxiety – Alternatives to Medication | Dave Farrow's Brain Blog, is really well written and insightful. Glad I found your website, warm regards!

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Prudence April 4, 2013 - 10:18 am

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