Living with anxiety is easy—said no one, EVER! Okay, it might not be easy. However, you’ll be pleased to hear that while you can’t exactly get rid of anxiety, you can learn how to manage it. So when your anxiety is triggered and the uncomfortable physical symptoms like racing thoughts, nervousness, and pounding heart begin to start, know that there are helpful anxiety-reducing techniques that can bring you immediate anxiety relief.
Now because everyone is different, you’ll have to experiment to figure out which techniques work best for you. But the payout will be that you can stay calm and focused when you know how to relieve stress quickly.
5 Techniques That Provide You With Immediate Anxiety Relief
1. Deep breathing
Breathing is something you don’t really think about because it’s so automatic. However, paying more attention to how you’re breathing can significantly influence your stress levels.
So the next time you get stressed or anxious, notice your breathing pattern. You’ll probably discover it’s irregular and shallow.
By employing purposeful deep breathing, you can physically calm your body down when you feel stressed and anxious. Even though there are various breathing techniques, I’ve listed two of them below for you to try.
- Get in a comfortable position.
- Breathe in through your nose and let your belly fill with air. As you breathe in, in your mind, say, “I breathe in peace and calm.”
- Breathe out steadily through pursed lips and say, “I breathe out stress and tension.”
- Continue this for 10-15 minutes.
- Empty your lungs of air.
- Breathe in gently through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds.
- Breathe out forcefully through your mouth with pursed lips making a ‘whoosh” sound for 8 seconds.
- Repeat this cycle up to 4 times.
Additionally, keep in mind that deep breathing takes practice. However, if you practice before you a feel anxious, it will be second nature when you need it the most. The longer and more frequently you use these techniques, the more effective they will become.
2. Call your anxiety out
Anxiety and stress produce many physical symptoms. And you can be so focused on the physical effects of being anxious that you don’t even take into consideration that you were nervous, to begin with.
Unfortunately, your reaction to those symptoms can make them worse by creating a vicious cycle of focusing on the symptoms, being alarmed by the symptoms, causing an increase in the intensity of the symptoms which causes even more alarm.
To disrupt this cycle and help you calm down quickly, call out your anxiety for what it is.
- Name what you’re feeling.
- Acknowledge your anxiety is separate from you.
- Recognize that it is anxiety making you feel this way and not reality.
- Reassure yourself it will pass and talk yourself through it.
3. Use distraction
Anyone who has raised children knows the art of distraction.
If you think it is likely that anxiety is at the root of your physical symptoms, try using the simple act of distraction to break the cycle of focusing on symptoms and increased anxiety.
Undoutedly, the list is endless of things that can distract you and will be different for each person but here are just a few:
- Run an errand
- Do a load of laundry
- Read a magazine
- Have an adult coloring book nearby
- Organize a messy drawer
- Water your plants
Whatever distraction you choose to use, the idea is to find something relaxing, pleasurable, or mindless to shift your focus from your anxious thoughts and taking your mind to a calmer place.
4. Get grounded
One of the fastest ways to immediate anxiety relief is to engage one or more of your five senses to turn your attention away from your thoughts and worries and refocus on the present moment. Here are some physical and mental techniques to get you started.
Put your hands in water
Using warm water first
- Focus on the water’s temperature.
- Notice how it feels on the backs of your hands, palms, and fingertips.
- Determine if it feels the same in each part of your hand.
Now repeat these steps using cold water and reverse the order. Start with cold water and end with warm water.
Does it feel different when you switch from warm to cold water versus cold to warm?
Move your body
- Take a quick walk and pay attention to the rhythm of your steps or even count them if it helps.
- Perform some light stretches and notice the physical sensations that arise from the activity. Or tense and relax different muscle groups while imagining as you work your way through each muscle that the tension is leaving.
Play a game with yourself
- Name as many dog breeds as you can.
- Go through the multiplication table.
- Name as many cities in your state as you can.
- Try to count backward from 100 by seven’s.
Try the 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 coping technique
- Five. Look at five different things around you. Notice the detail. Describe them.
- Four. Touch four different things. It could be your shirt, ring, or something in your pocket. Really notice details about them. What sensations do you feel when you touch them.
- Three. Listen for three things you can hear. It could be a bird, an airplane going over your house, or your neighbor’s lawnmower.
- Two. Smell two different things. Maybe it’s the grass being cut or your cup of coffee.
- One. Taste one thing. Perhaps you can taste the garlic you had in your lunch.
5. Picture your happy place
This is one of my favorite immediate anxiety relief strategies I like to use when I want to calm down quickly. Why don’t you give it a try?
Imagine you are at a place where you feel the most relaxed. It could be a place you have visited many times and is connected to many fond memories. Maybe it’s a camping trip, a favorite vacation spot, or just a happy childhood memory.
When anxiety wants to overwhelm you, close your eyes and imagine being in this place. For me, it’s a vacation place I have many happy memories of such as, sitting at the shore of a beautiful calm lake with a cup of steaming hot coffee. Listening to the laughter of family members having a good time. Or I imagine the smell of the campfire and watching the flickering flames.
Wherever your happy place happens to be, use this mental vacation spot to help calm you down and restore balance.
“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” – Walter Anderson.
There are so many strategies and techniques available that can help manage anxiety. But the ones listed above should help reduce your anxiety quickly.
But keep in mind, being prepared ahead of time is key to tackling the anxiety when it wants to strike. So, make a plan and practice it so you will confidently know what to do when it really matters.
And finally, if you find that practicing these immediate anxiety relief techniques on your own isn’t working for you, or you would like to explore more ways to manage anxiety, working with an anxiety coach through breakthrough coaching is a great way to do it.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. The easiest way to start taking control of your anxiety is to take the FREE 5-Day Anxiety Detox Challenge. However, if you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or make an appointment online. I’d love to work with you and help you discover new anxiety relief techniques that will bring calm back into your life.