Whether you are one of the 40 million Americans who struggles with an anxiety disorder or not, everyone experiences stressful situations that cause anxiety and restlessness. Anxiety can cause many unpleasant symptoms, including an inability to concentrate, an upset stomach, and an increased heart rate, just to name a few. The tips below may help you to manage anxiety and sometimes even prevent some of these symptoms from worsening.
1 Remember to breathe
Taking a moment to center yourself and focus on your breathing can help in moments of panic or stressful situations. It only takes a few seconds and it can help you feel a lot calmer and rationalize the stressful situation. To help with anxiety, try inhaling through your nose for 7 counts and exhaling completely through your mouth for 8 counts. Repeat this cycle three times or as many more as necessary. You can also google an anxiety breathing gif to help you complete this exercise or click on the one linked down below.
2 Use mantras
Creating a personalized mantra to repeat when experiencing anxiety can be helpful. You can either repeat the mantra out loud or in your head depending on the situation and if the environment permits it. One common mantra is “I am…” where you would then fill in the blank with words like “okay”, “compassionate”, or “safe”. Another one to try is “all is well”. You can personalize your own mantra to be the most helpful to you, but try to keep it short and simple so you can easily remember it and repeat it multiple times in times of high stress.
Writing about your feelings or the situation causing you stress can help release some of your emotions and anxious thoughts. Writing down your feelings can help you work through them and help challenge negative self-talk. Writing about the situation causing you stress can help you to think rationally about it and about why it’s causing you feelings of stress and anxiety. You can either write about this with pen and paper in a journal or a notebook or even a scrap of paper or you can type it out on a laptop or smartphone.
Though crying carries a somewhat negative connotation in our society, tears is actually a great way to release negative emotions and can be very therapeutic. Research shows that crying releases endorphins, including oxytocin, that help with physical and emotional pain. Crying also helps release bottled-up feelings which could be contributing to anxiety and the process of crying can ultimately have a calming effect.
5 Get outside
Research has shown that exercise, such as walking, improves anxiety and that walking outside in nature has even greater benefits. Even getting some fresh air for just a few minutes can improve mood and decrease anxiety.
6 Distract yourself
Taking time to relax and distract yourself from your feelings can temporarily provide relief from anxiety and stress. Calling a friend, doing housework, or watching a movie can provide some stress relief. But keep in mind that distractions won’t cure your anxiety, especially if it’s chronic.
7 Acknowledge your feelings
Acknowledging and validating your anxious feelings in itself can provide a sense of relief. While giving yourself permission to feel anxious may feel uncomfortable at first, this feeling often passes and it can assist in releasing tension and help you feel better and more relaxed.
8 Seek professional help
When anxiety is chronic and/or greatly interferes with your life, relationships, and daily functioning, it might be time to look for a therapist or other mental health professional in your area. You and your therapist can work through your feelings and experiences, and learn how to better manage your anxiety and healthy coping skills.
*Natalie Rosado, LMHC offers a texting support service to those who are interested in receiving 1-on-1 daily support regarding life’s stressors. For more information please visit: www.counselingwithnatalie.com/RealTalk.
By Samantha Srichai, Content Contributor
Anxiety breathing gif:
Barnes, S. 9 mantras for anxiety that experts use themselves. (2018). HuffPost.
Govender, S. Is crying good for you? (n.d.). WebMD.
Mental health benefits of getting outside. (2018). UNC Health Talk.
Newhouse, L. Is crying good for you? (2021). Harvard Medical School.
Tapp, F. 10 anxiety hacks therapists swear by. (2018). HuffPost.
Weil, A. 4-7-8 breath relaxation exercise. (2010). Arizona Center for Integrative