Overcoming Anxiety


How to overcome anxiety and not to depend on medicine for this.

—Alok Ranjan Behuria, India


Dear Alok,

Chronic anxiety has its roots in body, mind and spirit. The state of anxiety is the result of a longer history of responding to life in certain ways. Therefore, be patient and consider using whatever medication is offered to you that helps you. Don’t disdain medication if it helps you. Be practical in your struggle to overcome anxiety.

If any one person had the “answer” to “how to overcome anxiety” he’d be a billionaire or a saint! Paramhansa Yogananda actually wrote a lesson decades ago on overcoming anxiety. His general prescription however is only general, not specific to any one person’s needs.

I could make a long list of suggestions but it can only be general. Proper sleep, fresh diet, regular exercise, prayer, meditation and being active in service (at work, at home, in your neighborhood), these are all helpful. Practicing daily thoughts of gratitude and daily acts of service to others without thought of self: these also are essential and helpful.

It would be easy to say that anxiety revolves around the ego but would that help you? Devotion and service to God in others are very, very helpful. But if anxiety is acute, medication may be needed to take the edge off.

Think less; do more! Avoid having lots of “screen time” and work with your hands and body. Consider all the people around you and in the world who are worse off than you. Be thankful for the many gifts you have received and find ways to share your possessions, your income, your talents, your kindness, and your thoughtfulness with others.

Thus all of the above comes down to re-directing your attention from your self to the Self of others. Simple, perhaps. Easy, no, at least not at first. But it is well worth the effort. Then at some point the need for medication will simply have vanished in the joy of service and devotion.

Blessings to you!
Nayaswami Hriman