Anxiety disorder is a commonly experienced condition that can lead to varying degrees of discomfort and distress in people’s lives. When you feel anxious, the symptoms of anxiety can be overwhelming and often difficult to manage. Fortunately, there are a number of helpful tips that can help calm anxiety and manage anxiety symptoms. One effective tip is to practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation. When you experience feelings of anxiety or a panic attack, taking deep, slow breaths can help calm your body down and reduce some of the panics you may be feeling. Another helpful technique is mindfulness, which involves focusing your attention on the present moment and your physical surroundings, rather than negative thoughts. Additionally, reframing negative thoughts and focusing on positive aspects of your life can also help calm anxiety. By exhaling your worries and focusing on self-care, you can learn to manage anxiety and live a happier and more fulfilling life.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes the best thing we can do is accept how we feel and allow it to take its course. Feelings of anxiety are normal and natural; by accepting what’s happening to us we have sometimes helped to usher our anxiety on faster than we would if we fought it.
Plus, if every time you’re anxious or stressed you try to avoid these feelings, you’ll always be fearful of anxiety creeping up on you – which can often lead to a more intense panic attack. Learning to accept the realities of how we feel can be a positive first step in dealing with anxiety.
When you feel anxious, your breathing becomes rapid and shallow and your muscle tighten. This can impact your body by increasing your heart rate and bringing about light-headedness, nausea, and sweating, among other physical symptoms of anxiety.
There are plenty of relaxation exercises to help reduce anxiety. These focus your breathing and identify areas of tension in your body which you can then release.
Here is a simple breathing exercise that anyone can pick up at the moment to help calm anxiety:
Caffeine and alcohol can often have the opposite effect to what you might think. Coffee for example has been proven to induce more anxiety – especially when drunk in high doses (source). Alcohol too can, on the face of it, help us to calm down if we’re feeling anxious. However, over time alcohol and anxiety don’t pair well together and will worsen any symptoms of anxiety you’re currently experiencing.
Whenever you are experiencing anxious thoughts, doing something that ‘fills your mind’ and needs complete focus can be a good distraction.
Small things like leaving the room or going outside can be effective. One other technique that some people use when calming their anxiety is counting backward.
When trying out this technique, find a quiet place, close your eyes, and count backward until you feel your anxiety subside. If you don’t find that this helps, try something a little more complicated, like counting back from 100 in 3s. Many people, find that they can’t continue to worry when they are focused on subtracting the numbers.
This is a technique that you can then use to calm your anxiety when you’re out and about, whether that is at the shops, at work, or on the train.
Changing focus can be especially effective if you’re experiencing anxiety at night. Sitting in bed ruminating about what’s making us anxious will only prolong our feelings. Get out of bed and distract yourself.
take 10 minutes from your day to ease anxiety and stress with this guided meditation.
Visualization brings together aspects of mindfulness and breathing techniques to give you another way to calm yourself down and stop anxiety from spiraling out of control.
One example is the 5,4,3,2,1 technique. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and:
When you’re anxious, it can sometimes be too hard to perform a technique like deep breathing, as your adrenaline makes it difficult for you to concentrate.
In these moments, try doing something that rids your body of this adrenaline, which could include:
It’s important to try and ‘release’ the anxiety you’re feeling. These activities can calm your brain and body, helping you to focus and think rationally. If doing something physical isn’t working, try writing your anxiety away. An anxiety journal can help get negative thoughts out of your head or be used as a way to think clearly about how you’re going to remain calm once you’ve finished writing.
When our mind focuses on these types of unhelpful and irrational thoughts, rather than being rational and healthy, this causes anxiety.
A useful technique to help calm anxiety is to learn how to pause and move past these destructive thoughts before they have a chance to take hold. Learning this technique may take some practice but is a strategy that is well worth mastering.
When you feel yourself having an unhealthy thought, pause and really think about the following:
You may find it difficult to do this technique automatically at first. So try keeping a journal in the evenings, where you jot down any unhealthy thoughts that you had during that day that made you feel anxious. Take the time to consider these thoughts and answer the questions above. By practicing this, you will then start to feel able to pause and move past unhelpful thoughts as you have them.
The saying goes that a problem shared is a problem halved. You might be surprised how effective opening up to people about your feelings can be. They can offer you some valuable perspectives.
The idea of opening up an even more daunting when it isn’t a member of your friends or family, like for example in your workplace.
Science has shown how music can be great for offering an immediate and effective means of calming yourself down. A study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found that music can be “ considered a means of stress reduction in daily life, especially if it is listened to for the reason of relaxation.”
If you’re able to break away from whatever is causing you anxiety, put on some classical or slow and soft pop – – or whatever works for you. This might be especially useful if you’re experiencing workplace anxiety, as you can get back to your desk and switch off with a few minutes of calm music.
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