How To Calm Down: 18 Ways To Reduce Anxiety And Stress
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We are in the midst of a global anxiety crisisone that didn’t disappear once we hit 2021so naturally, were all wondering how to calm down. You cant keep a fight-or-flight response up for a year, says Miranda Beltzer, a Ph.D. candidate researching emotion regulation and anxiety disorders. Its a perfect storm of things that can make people emotionally disregulated.
According to the Household Pulse survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Census Bureau, well over 50% of adults in their 20s and 30s exhibited symptoms of anxiety- or depression-related disorders in November. The stats have been high since the weekly survey began in April 2020. As anxiety rises, so does our need for self-care.
Of course, were all feeling down, but that doesnt mean we get to skip taking care of ourselves, says , DSW, LCSW, a therapist and adjunct lecturer at Columbia University. It’s important to honor any and all emotions, and continue to seek out support as you may have before the pandemic.
We asked experts in anxiety and emotion regulation for their favorite stress reduction strategies so you can figure out how to calm down.
Tip : Challenge Anxious Thoughts
If you suffer from chronic anxiety and worry, chances are you look at the world in ways that make it seem more threatening than it really is. For example, you may overestimate the possibility that things will turn out badly, jump immediately to worst-case scenarios, or treat every anxious thought as if it were fact. You may also discredit your own ability to handle lifes problems, assuming youll fall apart at the first sign of trouble. These types of thoughts, known as cognitive distortions, include:
Causes Of Anxiety Fear And Panic
There are many different causes of anxiety, fear or panic and it’s different for everyone.
When you’re feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
This can be helpful in some situations, but it might also cause physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating. In some people, it might cause a panic attack.
Regular anxiety, fear or panic can also be the main symptom of several health conditions. Do not self-diagnose speak to a GP if you’re worried about how you’re feeling.
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If You Find Yourself Feeling Anxious Here Are 5 Quick Tips To Help Calm Yourself Down Fast
1. Breathe. Anxiety can reduce breathing, especially if you are feeling a heightened state of emotion. No matter where you are or what you are doing, connecting to yourself again through breath can help you feel more relaxed quickly.
You can choose a breathing exercise that works best for you, but an example includes the box breath. With this breath, you breathe in for the count of 4. Hold your breath for the count of 4. Release your breath for the count of 4. You can repeat it as many times as you need to feel calm and safe again.
Slow down your breathing.
2. Find your feet. Anxiety is usually caused because you are worried about what is going to happen in the future. Your brain may be replaying grand schemes and plans that are made up about catastrophic events. These occurrences may feel like they have happened several times to you already, but the reality is that they are unlikely to occur. You are doubling the pain of events that havent happened and are unlikely to happen. Stop torturing yourself for the adrenaline rush.
Notice your feet on the ground.
3. Get mindful. Sometimes anxiety can happen when you least expect it, whether its because of something someone said or something you are telling yourself. It can feel like elephants are dancing on your chest. Your throat may feel constricted. It takes everything you have not to hyperventilate. This is a good time to get mindful.
Tap into your five sense. Notice what you feel, taste, see, smell, and hear.
When To Seek Therapy
You may get to a point where you have tried all the techniques meant to help you calm down and create a more balanced life, but you are still suffering thats okay! Its by no means a failure, in fact, I congratulate you for being proactive and open to trying suggestions. If your feelings of anxiety or stress, however, are impacting your day-to-day life in areas such as your appetite, ability to sleep, meet deadlines at work, or care for yourself or your family it is time to seek the professional help of a licensed therapist.
Really, anytime you feel overwhelmed by stress or anxiety, seeking help from a therapist is an excellent idea.
These days, you dont even have to leave your house to connect to a therapist. Virtual and telehealth therapy appointments have become the norm, which is a great thing for so many of us. This means that you can receive therapy in the comfort of your own home, on your own time, and in a way that feels emotionally safe for you.
Your therapist can help you come up with calming techniques specific to your situation and personality. They will help you understand your triggers so that you can work through them more easily. Your therapist will listen to you with compassion and make sure you know that your feelings are normal, understandableand most of all, that you have the capacity to feel better and calmer.
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Learn How To Manage Your Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety doesn’t come out of the blue. When you have anxiety attacks, it’s often because your mind tends to spiral into negative thoughts – often without your control. Sometimes you can control this anxiety by keeping these thoughts at bay and learning to dismiss triggers that cause you anxiety.
For many, this is easier said than done. But there are many different strategies you can try that may be effective. These include:
A Question Checklist
When you feel anxious, have a checklist on hand of questions to ask yourself about that anxiety experience. The longer the checklist, the more you’ll find that your thoughts become more realistic. Questions that you can use include:
- Is there a reason to believe something is wrong?
- What evidence is there that something is wrong?
- Is there a chance I’m blowing this out of proportion?
Affirmations not for everyone, but those that do use them find them to be very beneficial. Affirmations are things that you say to yourself to make yourself feel better. These include:
- I’m okay. This is just anxiety and I will get passed this .
- I have a great life and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
- My anxiety won’t control me.
Getting Used to Physical Symptoms
The latter is known as “exposure therapy” and there are countless ways to create exercises that will habituate you to your panic attack triggers.
Easing Your Mind With Self
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Ways To Calm Down In The Moment
Probably the biggest challenge is how to calm down when you are in a moment of anxiety or panic. Again, its important to remember that you are experiencing both an emotional reaction as a well as a physical one. So you want to utilize techniques that address both so that you can bring your body and mind back into a place of homeostasis, i.e., calm.
So, how to calm down when feeling overwhelmed? What are ways to calm yourself down in the moment?
These are my favorite tried-and-true methods that have gotten me through many moments of anxiety and panic.
Using Quick Anxiety Relieving Techniques
Also Check: How To Deal With Anxiety At Work
Most Importantly Stay In The Moment
Learning to manage anxiety takes time. Its important not to get ahead of yourself. That means being patient with your progress. Typically, it takes a holistic combination of approaches that is unique to you. So, dont live too far in the future or in the past. Do your best to stay in the moment and remember that feelings are only temporary.
Use Deep Calming Breaths
Deep breathing is one of the most immediate steps you can take to calm anxiety.
When we are anxious, we tend to tense up, leading to rapid and shallow breathing. Using deep calming breaths can help us immediately calm down our physiological response to our racing thoughts. Deep breathing involves diaphragmatic breathing.
Breathe slowly though your nose and release your breaths slowly through your mouth. Consciously extend your abdomen while taking deep breaths instead of taking shallow chest breaths.
How can you tell if you are breathing deeply? Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest when you breath in, the hand on your stomach should be moving up and down while the hand on the chest stays relatively still.
To help concentrate on your breathing, imagine a color as you breathe in and out.
Count slowly either forwards or backwards for up to the count of 10 as you breath in and as you release your breath.
Use a mantra you repeat on each breath, such as the word RELAX or CALM.
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Write A Letter To Yourself
Colangelo recommends future writing, a technique to envision a time beyond the stress of here and now, to help you calm down. Mindfulness is great until we get stuck in the present moment, she says. Writing to your future self can be cathartic and start to bridge the gap between the stuckness of here-and-now and the excitement for what good might come down the road.
How To Calm Down When It Feels Nearly Impossible
- 7 minute read
Lets face it: there are many stressors we face in life from relationship problems and job issues to the uncertain state of the world. Whether its just a little stress or a big ball of panic in the pit of your stomach, learning how to calm down is essential for all of us.
The problem is that learning how to calm down isnt always easy, especially when you are in a moment of panic or stress. As someone who has dealt with anxiety for all of my life, there have been many times when I have felt flooded with stress and anxiety, with no clear way of relieving it.
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Instant Ways To Calm Yourself Down
Becoming easily overwhelmed or over-aroused is common in highly sensitive people. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned to take the edge off.
As a highly sensitive person , I’m easily overwhelmed or over-aroused. As such, I am always looking for ways to calm down. Here are some techniques I have compiled over the years. Some of them I picked up in Arons book, some as part of the mindfulness-based stress reduction program I participated in, and others in Lauren Brukners fantastic book The Kids Guide to Staying Awesome and in Control .
Ways To Calm Anxiety In The Moment
Feeling anxious is a normal part of life. It can play a role in focusing our attention or alerting us to potential threats, however, experiencing it frequently and with no clear cause can painfully disrupt our lives. When your palms sweat, heart races, chest hurts or other signs of anxiety suddenly appear, you may feel powerless to control them. In these tense moments, try using some of the following techniques to help you gain control over your anxiety:
1. Focus. Try mindfulness exercises to help you concentrate on something else and reduce your anxiety, such as:
- Focusing on your senses. Bring your attention to the present by concentrating on what you see, hear, taste, smell, or touch. Try to focus on each sense individually before moving on to the next.
- Visualizing youre somewhere relaxing. Imagine being at the beach, watching the waves crash or in the woods listening to a babbling brook. If youre having trouble, try playing some relaxing sounds or music to help you visualize.
- Using essential oils, scented candles, or other inviting aromas to open the pleasure centers in your brain.
- Taking some deep, calming breaths. Try breathing deeply into your belly instead of your chest. Place your hand on your belly and concentrate on its rise and fall while you breathe in and out.
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