50 ways to calm anxiety in this new, crazy world
Anxiety isn't new, but the number of sufferers has grown exponentially in 2020. It's really no surprise, what with the pandemic, job losses, restrictions, school closures, and so much more.
Anyone can experience anxiety. If this is your first time, it might be scary to feel out of control of your body.
Anxiety is something that roots in your mind but manifests in your body, causing physical symptoms. These symptoms can range in severity and can include
shortness of breath
lack of concentration
In severe anxiety attacks, the symptoms are tough to differentiate from a heart attack.
Your anxiety may be triggered by something physical (such as a location, smell, or person) or by a thought. Often, anxiety is tied to rumination and catastrophic thinking.
Rumination is when your thoughts play on a loop, and you can't get those thoughts out of your head. Catastrophic thinking is when your thoughts turn dark, and you essentially feel like it's the end of the world.
It's amazing how powerful your thoughts can be, and how those thoughts can trigger physical reactions in your body. That mental trigger creates a physical cascade of hormones in your body that amp you up and make your heart race.
How to calm anxiety
Understanding your triggers plays a role in calming your anxiety.
It's also important to understand that your symptoms are caused by a physical process inside your body. It takes time for those hormones to clear out, which is the first step in calming your anxiety.
The process may have started in your mind, but it doesn't stay there.
50 ways to calm anxiety
Therefore, calming anxiety involves techniques that focus on both the mind and the body. Both need soothing.
Take deep breaths
Count to 100
Sit with your head between your knees
Name everything you see in the room around you
Drink warm tea
Write about your feelings
Take a walk
Work on a puzzle
Talk to a therapist
Talk to a friend
Write down the worst thing that could actually happen
Consider how you'd deal with it if it did happen
Consider the hardest thing you've overcome in your life
Recite a positive affirmation
Play with a pet
Make a list of things you can control right now
Meditate on a positive thought
Try guided meditation
Lie your body under a heavy blanket
Place a weighted eye mask over your eyes
Take a hot bath
Use your hands to knit or crochet
Flex each muscle in your body, one by one
Let someone hug you
Go for a hike
Imagine the anxiety floating away from you
Imagine a leopard protecting you from negative thoughts
Get a massage
Press on pressure points
Watch a favorite movie
Breathe into a paper bag
Make a list of the most beautiful and inspiring things you've ever seen
Light a candle
Get some sunshine
Rock in a rocking chair
Position your body in child's pose
Look at pictures of nature
Sit in a quiet room
Take a nap
Visualize yourself as strong and happy
When to get a professional involved
Sometimes anxiety becomes frequent or intense. It can interfere with your life.
If you are unable to calm your anxiety on your own and you are suffering, it's time to contact a professional. You can start with your doctor and tell them about your anxiety. They may refer you to a psychologist or a therapist.
Talking about your feelings with a professional can be a helpful way to control your anxiety. They can teach you guided techniques.
You may also be prescribed medication to help you calm your anxiety or to sleep. These should be taken exactly as prescribed, and you should do your homework on possible side effects. Popular medications, such as SSRIs, can actually increase anxiety and depression at first. You will need to monitor your behavior carefully if you start on a medication like that.
Medications will help calm your physical symptoms (eventually), but they won't get to the root of your mental triggers. You will still need to work on avoiding triggers and calming anxiety when it starts to bubble up by using the methods listed above.