Anxiety disorders affect more than forty million adults in the United States alone regularly. Among both adults and children, symptoms of anxiety have increased during the pandemic. Many of these people find themselves alternating between feelings of anxiety and those of depression.
If you’re feeling anxious, know you’re far from alone. Thankfully, there are quite a few things you can do to help ease anxiety symptoms in the heat of the moment.
Ready to learn what those things are? Continue reading to learn valuable tips on how to reduce anxiety.
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Here are our top tips for how to deal with anxiety and stress:
1. Focus on the Present
A lot of anxiety is created by worrying about the future or thinking about negative things in the past. However, neither the past nor the future can be handled now, so focus on the present. Gently remind yourself that whatever is going on now needs your attention.
Some people find it helpful to tell themselves they can worry about something later. Instead of not allowing yourself to worry, you’re simply putting it off until later.
You may even want to schedule a few moments out of your day where you’re allowed to worry. This could be five or ten minutes at any point of the day where you allow your mind to wander to the what-ifs of the past or future. Then, anytime you begin to worry outside this dedicated time, remind yourself you can worry about these things at a later point.
2. Take a Few Deep Breaths
Taking a few deep breaths is one of the easiest, quickest, and most accessible ways to relieve anxiety in the heat of a moment. Focusing on deep, lung-filling breaths will help your thoughts to slow down and your mind to clear.
If possible, aim for five to ten deep breaths. You’ll want to slowly breathe in through your nose until your lungs feel like they’ve fully expanded. Hold for half a second before slowly exhaling through your mouth until your lungs feel empty.
3. Go for a Walk
Taking a walk provides multiple anxiety-relieving benefits. First and foremost, any form of exercise can help to decrease cortisol and offer a welcome distraction from stress. Cortisol is the stress hormone, so reducing body levels can significantly help relieve anxiety.
Going for a walk outside offers additional benefits, however. The combination of fresh air and sunshine has been scientifically proven to have positive effects on your mood. As a bonus, you’ll also get your daily dose of Vitamin D, which primarily comes from sunshine.
4. Fix Your Posture
When you’re anxious, your body naturally wants to protect the upper body. It does this by hunching over, so the heart and lungs are more guarded. Unfortunately, this natural body response has several problems, including producing back pain and inducing muscle tension.
Whenever you’re feeling anxious, attempt to consciously straighten your posture. Doing so will offer a slight but immediate decrease in anxiety. As an added benefit, fixing your posture may lead to better mindfulness and less pain in the back or neck.
5. Talk It Out With a Loved One
Sometimes anxious thoughts simply need to be said out loud. The power of voicing your thoughts should never be overlooked. You may find that the worries you have aren’t nearly as bad as you thought.
Whenever you’re feeling anxious, try talking out your worries with a loved one. Not only will you give voice to your thoughts, but you’ll be provided with multiple other benefits. Being around someone you’re close with can increase happiness levels and provide feelings of safety or security.
6. Listen to Music
Music has the power to boost your mood, especially if you listen to music that feels calming or happy to you. Which music boosts your mood is unique to you, so just put on your favorite playlist.
Feel free to dance around to the music if you feel like it. Dancing can help release endorphins and distract your mind from your anxiety. Additionally, movement can help decrease muscle tension, lower cortisol, and help you stay in shape.
7. Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine, and Sugar
Many people turn towards alcohol or sweets to make themselves feel better. Caffeine is often used to keep people awake when they’re tired. Feeling excessively tired can be a byproduct of prolonged stress or anxiety.
There’s nothing wrong with alcohol, caffeine, or sugar in small doses. A morning cup of cup can help get you moving, while a small glass of wine can help you relax. An occasional piece of birthday cake, homemade cookies, or ice cream cone can be a well-deserved treat.
When you’re feeling anxious, however, you’ll want to avoid these three things entirely if at all possible. Why? All three of these are stimulants, which can make your anxiety worse.
8. Distract Yourself
We’ve mentioned distraction a few times, but it’s worthy of its own section. It doesn’t matter what you do, but distracting yourself can help your anxiety disappear. It takes the focus off your racing thoughts or worries and places it on something else.
A few examples of simple, easy ways you can distract yourself include:
- Do a small cleaning task you’ve been putting off
- Write everything down in a journal (or inside a journaling app)
- Call up a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while
- Get something to eat (even if it’s take out)
- Take a drive in your car while listening to music
- Play fetch with your dog
- Play with your cat using their favorite toy
These are only a few examples of ways you could distract yourself. Anything that takes your mind off your anxiety is an excellent distraction.
9. Work Out
Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel happier. Regular exercise also makes you healthier. A healthy body and mind are better equipped to deal with anxiety than an unhealthy one.
Working out doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym or going for a run. You could play a sport, take a nature hike, or even go swimming. Parents with children could work out by playing games with their kids, like tag.
10. Sip Some Green Tea
Green tea contains many polyphenol antioxidants and has been used throughout history for a range of ailments. Some studies have shown that green tea may help decrease anxiety by potentially lowering your stress response. Antioxidants are great for your overall health, anyway, so there’s nothing to lose by having a warm cup of green tea.
11. Use Aromatherapy
Some people swear by aromatherapy. This is the idea that certain scents cause your body to react in specific ways. To this effect, certain scents can help calm your mind or relax your body.
A few of the most common calming scents include:
- Orange Blossom
To use aromatherapy at home, you can light a candle or burn incense in your favorite calming smell. If you’re on the go, try carrying a small bottle of essential oils in your bag. When you’re feeling anxious, give the oil a smell.
They say laughter is the best medicine, and science has been proving this to be true. Laughter has been shown to relieve the body’s natural stress response and relax tense muscles. One study found that laughter helped cancer patients experience less stress when compared to those who didn’t laugh.
13. Learn To Say “No”
Anxious people often have too much on their plate. Helping people with their problems is a commendable task. Accepting extra duties at work often means more money in the form of overtime or a raise.
That being said, you need to prioritize your mental health over these things. Learn to say “no” to additional tasks or favors when your plate is already full.
14. Have a Nice, Long Hug or Cuddles
Hugging or cuddling with someone you care about is an excellent, easy way to reduce anxiety. Positive physical contact can help release oxytocin (the happy hormone) and lower cortisol (the stress hormone).
Next time you’re feeling stressed out, get a hug from one of your favorite people. No people around? Cuddling and petting your cat, dog, or other furry friends can provide many of the same benefits!
More Questions About How To Reduce Anxiety?
Anxiety affects millions of American adults every year. During the pandemic, the number of children and adults suffering from anxiety has drastically increased. The good news is that you can use the valuable tips listed above to help you deal with anxiety symptoms.
Do you have more questions about how to reduce anxiety, how to cope with stress, or how to stop an anxiety attack? Check out our other blog posts, where you’ll find articles on mental health, physical health, and other related topics to help you learn more on the subject. Also, feel free to leave us a comment below, and thanks for stopping by!