If you're suffering from anxiety problems, just relax.

I know... that's a lot easier said than done. But while you might be anxious to get your hands on the next dose of mind-easing meds, the latest research finds several safe, natural alternatives that work just as well as drugs and even visits to the local shrink.

And it starts with a simple massage--a great stress-buster even for those of us who aren't trying beat anxiety.

Researchers initially set out to see whether massage therapy would be better than simple relaxation exercises for controlling anxiety.

One the one hand, those massages proved to be no better than two other alternative treatments, including relaxation. On the other hand, all three natural treatments proved to pack a powerful punch when it came to knocking out anxiety, according to the study published in Depression and Anxiety.

Researchers randomly assigned 68 patients with generalized anxiety disorder to one of three treatments. One group got to enjoy 10 hour-long massages from a licensed therapist in a pleasant environment. The second group did some deep breathing relaxation exercises while lying down. And the third set of patients was given thermotherapy--that's when the arms and legs are warmed up with heating pads and hot towels.

All three groups saw their anxiety levels slashed by about 40 percent at the end of treatment, and by 50 percent three months later--improvements that matched previous studies on meds and psychotherapy.

I wish the researchers had included a true control group-- a set of patients who got no treatment at all, so we could see how these therapies compare to that age-old healer, time. But even with that omission, it's not hard to see the safest options for anxiety.

And all three of these techniques are cheaper, too.

In fact, the researchers say the most cost-effective option is relaxation... since all you need is a pleasant place to lie down for some breathing exercises. You can teach yourself some great relaxation techniques by simply checking out some books on the subject from your local library.

But really, any of those three treatments--relaxation, massage or thermotherapy--are better than drugs or pricey appointments with a psychotherapist.

And any excuse for a good massage at the end of the day is usually a pretty good one.