About 100 million persons in the U.S. suffer from an anxiety illness of some kind, making anxiety a widespread problem. Anxiety can significantly affect relationships, employment, and daily life, whether it’s a passing concern or a severe and chronic problem.
Some of the most prevalent anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Symptoms range from excessive worrying to weariness and sleep issues.
The good news is that there are a number of methods and strategies that can help people with anxiety disorders and those who are just trying to relax at the moment manage and conquer their symptoms.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Common Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
- The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Medication
- Proven Techniques to Calm Down Immediately
Common Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Symptoms of anxiety disorders can range widely, however, some of the most prevalent ones are as follows:
- excessive or out-of-control anxiety
- feeling tense or uneasy
- attention or concentration issues
- unusual exhaustion
- headaches or tense muscles
- persistent issues with sleep
Although each type of anxiety disorder may have its own unique symptoms, these widespread signs and symptoms frequently overlap.
The Advantages of Medication and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
When treating anxiety disorders, CBT and medication are usually combined. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors, while medication can assist manage brain chemical imbalances that lead to anxiety.
Although it has been demonstrated that both medicine and cognitive behavioral therapy are effective in treating the symptoms of anxiety, other treatments are also available.
Eliminate Anxiety and Find Peace: Quick Techniques for Stress Reduction
Breathing for Better Mental Health
One of life’s most essential and fundamental functions is breathing, but it may also be an effective strategy for reducing anxiety. We breathe more quickly and shallowly when we are concerned, which can quicken our heartbeat and heighten our panic levels. However, we can fully profit from this strategy by concentrating on breathing slowly and deeply.
For Instant Calm, use “4-7-8 Breathing”
The “4-7-8 Breathing” technique is one of the most well-liked breathing exercises for anxiety. This method is simple to use and understand:
- Breathe in for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Exhale slowly for 8 seconds.
- Repeat until you feel calmer.
When we focus on our breathing and really concentrate on it, our thoughts that trigger anxiety start to become more distant. Our heart rate slows down, and we start to feel calmer.
“File It” Mind Exercise for Better Sleep
The “File It” technique is a mind exercise that works particularly well when you’re lying awake at night, thinking of everything you have to do or haven’t done, or rehashing something that happened during the day.
Here’s how to perform this exercise:
- Close your eyes and imagine a table with file folders and a file cabinet on it.
- Pick up each file and write down the name of a thought that’s racing through your mind.
- Acknowledge the thought and how important it is to you, then file it away.
- Repeat the process until you start to feel calmer (or sleepy).
The idea behind this exercise is to take a moment to name your triggers, examine them, and consciously put them aside with a deadline to tackle them later. In other words, you’re validating your own feelings and making a plan to deal with them one by one when it’s a better time.
Humor Visualization: Laugh Your Way to a Stress-Free Mind
Laughter is known to be the best medicine, and Humor Visualization is a technique that leverages this power of laughter to help reduce anxiety. Humor Visualization is all about visualizing something funny, whether it’s a real situation you’ve been in or a funny moment you saw in a sitcom, joke, or cartoon. The goal is to bring a smile to your face and make you laugh.
Why does it work? When you laugh, you contract and expand muscles, which reduces physical anxiety, stress, and tension. Laughter also combats cortisol levels in the body, which is a stress hormone. When you experience “mirth,” the uplifting reaction to humor, you feel emotions such as joy, pleasure, or delight, all of which are powerful emotions that can help you reduce anxiety quickly.
If it’s difficult to think of something funny at the moment, try picking a few funny memories ahead of time so you can go to them as soon as you start feeling anxious. Doing a quick internet search for funny videos can also provide an instant mood boost.
Mindful Meditation: Find Peace in the Present
Mindful Meditation is a simple yet effective technique that can help reduce anxiety and other psychological stresses. The goal of Mindful Meditation is to focus on the present moment, without worrying about the past or future.
To start, simply sit up straight with your feet on the floor, close your eyes, and recite a mantra, either out loud or to yourself. The mantra can be any positive statement or sound you choose, and you should try to sync the mantra with your breaths. If your mind starts to wander, don’t get frustrated. Just refocus and continue.
Practicing Mindful Meditation for just a few minutes each day can make it an easy and accessible tool in your anti-anxiety toolkit. If you’re new to the practice, you may want to try guided meditation with the help of audiotapes or a phone app.
Reach Out for Support
Building a Strong Support System: The Benefits of Sharing Your Feelings
Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or family member can be a powerful tool in managing anxiety. Telling someone close to you about your feelings can offer a new perspective on your situation and can provide comfort during difficult times. If you need someone to accompany you to a movie, go for a walk, or simply sit with you, don’t be afraid to ask. Having a support system can be crucial in handling anxiety.
Physical Activity as a Coping Mechanism
The Power of Exercise: How Physical Activity Can Reduce Anxiety
Physical activity has been shown to be a quick and effective way to reduce anxiety. Even a 5-minute high-speed run around the block or a combination of walking and jogging can help increase your heart rate and reduce anxiety symptoms. Focusing on your breathing while exercising can also have a calming effect. When the amygdala senses a perceived threat, it triggers a natural physiological response to fight, flee, or freeze. Engaging in physical activity can trick the mind into thinking it’s doing something practical to keep you safe, thus reducing anxiety at the moment.
Making Exercise Accessible: No Need to Be a Long-Distance Runner
You don’t have to be a long-distance runner or athlete to reap the benefits of exercise. All forms of physical activity, including walking, yoga, and tai chi, release feel-good chemicals and can help ease anxiety symptoms. If you’re unable to do more strenuous activities, try stretching exercises at your desk or take a short walk during lunch. Remember, any form of exercise is beneficial in reducing anxiety.
Visualize Yourself Calm: A Power Mental Technique to Tackle Stress
One of the most powerful ways to calm your mind is to visualize yourself calm. This technique involves using your imagination to create a mental image of yourself in a relaxed state. To start, take a few deep breaths and close your eyes. Imagine yourself in a peaceful and calm environment, with your body relaxed and your mind focused.
Think about a stressful or anxiety-causing situation and visualize yourself handling it with ease. See yourself staying calm, focused, and in control, no matter what challenges come your way. By creating this mental image, you can refer back to it whenever you feel anxious and remember that you have the ability to stay calm and focused.
Anxiety Focused on the Future? Focus on the Present
Anxiety tends to be focused on the future and what might happen, but this only makes things worse. To combat this, try to focus on the present moment. Ask yourself what is happening right now and what, if anything, needs to be done. If there’s nothing that needs to be done at the moment, make a conscious decision to revisit the situation later when you’re feeling calmer.
By focusing on the present, you can shift your attention away from the future and reduce your anxiety levels. Remember that the present moment is the only thing you have control over, so use it to your advantage.
Soothing Music: A Proven Way to Reduce Anxiety
Music can be a powerful tool in calming your mind and reducing anxiety. Research has shown that listening to music can lower heart rate and blood pressure, making it an effective way to relieve symptoms of mild or severe anxiety.
To get the most out of this technique, create a playlist of your favorite soothing songs or nature sounds. Keep it close by so that you can easily access it whenever you need it. Additionally, singing has been shown to release endorphins and oxytocin, which can alleviate anxiety, so feel free to break out in song whenever you need to!
Making Time for Self-Care
In our fast-paced world, it is easy to forget to take care of ourselves. But it is crucial to prioritize self-care and make time for it. You can start by scheduling daily activities such as a 30-minute walk, a nighttime bath, or your favorite hobby. This can be anything from reading, painting, or playing video games, to playing sports or doing a crossword puzzle. It is essential to make time for activities that bring you joy and peace.
The Benefits of Play
Play is not just for kids. As adults, we need to let loose and have fun too. Play is a crucial aspect of self-care because it allows our brains to take a break. Play promotes flexible thinking, which is important because anxiety can cause our brains to become rigid. So, make time for play, whether that be playing video games, board games, or team sports.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to relax quickly, there are several techniques you can try. For example, try putting a warmed heat wrap around your neck and shoulders, closing your eyes, and relaxing the muscles in your face and neck. Another simple technique is to disconnect from the noise of the world for a few minutes. Turn off your phone, computer, and television, and let the world spin without you for a while. Silent time can be incredibly soothing for the mind and body.
The Power of Creativity
Use your creativity if you have it! An excellent way to relieve tension and anxiety is through the arts. Take a few minutes to sketch or paint your feelings, whether you consider yourself artistic or not. You can also store a photo of a serene location where you can take a mental vacation, like a beach. Additionally proven to be therapeutic, expressive writing helps ease anxiety and sadness. An attitude of thankfulness for all the positive things in your life can be fostered and reduced by keeping a gratitude notebook. You might find that keeping a gratitude journal before bed improves your sleep.
5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique for Anxiety Management
Anxiety can be overwhelming and leave you feeling helpless. However, there are several techniques that you can use to calm your thoughts and manage your anxiety. One such technique is the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique.
How to Practice the 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique
- Five: Take in Your Environment. Give the room a quick once-over and list the five things you can notice. This could be anything that draws your attention, including things or wall patterns.
- Pay attention to touch. Count four nearby items that you can touch. This might be the carpet, a furniture piece, or even your hair.
- Three: Pay attention to your surroundings. Name three sounds you can hear when listening in silence. This could be internal sounds like your breathing or exterior sounds like the traffic outside.
- Two: Identify Smells. You should take note of two smells. This might be the aroma of your soap or perfume, for instance.
- One: Taste Something. Acknowledge something that you can taste in your mouth, such as lip gloss or gum.
To maximize the effectiveness of this technique, it’s best to pair it with deep and slow breathing. This will help you to focus on the present moment and calm your mind.
Master the Art of Distraction: How to Break Free from Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety can be a debilitating condition that can take over your life if you let it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to find a temporary distraction to break free from anxious thoughts. In this article, we’ll explore different ways to distract yourself and find some relief.
- Get Up and Move
If you’re lying in bed, wide awake, and deep breathing and other techniques aren’t working, it’s time to get up and leave your bedroom. Find a distraction in another room that requires some focus and will pull you away from your thoughts. Doing the dishes or cleaning the house can be a good distraction as it makes you feel active.
- Engage in a Relaxing or Mindless Activity
The idea behind distraction is to find something relaxing, pleasurable, or mindless that will pull your focus from your thoughts. For example, some people prefer listening to calming music, watching a favorite TV show or movie (just avoid one that is scary or stressful), reading, painting, or writing. Sometimes, simply petting your cat or drinking a cup of tea can help. Just make sure you pick a low-stress activity to pull your thoughts away from the source of your anxiety.
- Focus on What You Enjoy
Focusing on something you really enjoy can break the cycle of anxious thoughts and give you some relief. Whether it’s a hobby, a favorite TV show, or reading a good book, find something that brings you joy and immerse yourself in it.
- Find Your Own Distraction
Everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Experiment with different distractions to find what works best for you. It could be anything from gardening to playing video games, so keep trying new things until you find what helps.