If you are currently experiencing symptoms of anxiety, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to calm yourself down and prevent a panic attack. Whether you are having physical anxiety symptoms such as sweaty palms or a rapid heart rate, or you feel paralyzed by your anxious thoughts before a big test or presentation, there are several things you can do to immediately reduce your anxiety.
In this article, we outline how to reduce anxiety immediately so you can prevent an anxiety attack.
If you suspect that you have an anxiety disorder, you may need more support than this article can provide. If you feel anxious frequently enough that your symptoms are impacting your daily life, Klarity can help. Klarity connects patients across the country with licensed healthcare providers for online anxiety treatment. In as little as 48 hours, you could receive a personalized plan for your anxiety. Find a provider today.
13 Ways to Stop Anxiety Now
1. Slow Your Breathing
One of the symptoms of anxiety is hyperventilation, which is characterized by short, rapid breathing. By consciously slowing your breath, you can reduce your stress and anxiety. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to the brain, which activates your parasympathetic nervous system to promote a state of calmness and relaxation.
Sit up straight and take deep breaths through your nose. Hold your breath for 3 seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. By focusing on your breathing, you also become more aware of and connected to your body, which can make you feel more present and reduce negative thoughts.
2. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 Technique
When you’re feeling anxious, many mental health experts recommend the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. This method focuses on your senses as a way to distract yourself from your anxiety.
The trick is to do the following:
- Take note of 5 things you can see from where you are.
- Find 4 things that you can touch. This can be your clothing, jewelry, or the furniture you’re sitting on. Try to find four unique textures.
- Focus on 3 things you can hear. Are people talking in another room? Can you hear traffic or birds from your window? Is your air conditioner running?
- Focus on 2 things you can smell. This could be your own perfume, the scent of old books in your library, or food from the kitchen.
- Find 1 thing you can taste. You can keep mints, candies, or gum on-hand to distract your senses.
Meditation is another popular technique that healthcare professionals recommend to reduce anxiety immediately. During meditation, you are able to quiet your mind and enter a deep state of relaxation. If you find it difficult to meditate on your own, there are plenty of guided meditations available online that you can listen to in a quiet and calming environment.
4. Go On a Walk or Run
Whether you decide to go on a casual walk or you’re a runner who has the stamina for long-distance jogs, any kind of physical activity will reduce your anxiety. Exercise provides you with an outlet for excess energy and releases endorphins, which reduce stress hormones.
5. Listen to Relaxing Music
Music can help distract you from outside stressors and help you feel more grounded in the present moment. Finding the right playlist of slow, calming songs can also have an effect on your nervous system by slowing down your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.
6. Talk to a Loved One
When you are feeling anxious, talking to a trusted friend or family member about your fears can help stop a panic attack and prevent you from bottling up your anxious thoughts.
People with an anxiety disorder will often focus on small problems until they feel like overwhelming obstacles. The support of a close friend or loved one can help you see the bigger picture of the situation and stop feeling dragged down by the details. Talk to them about your fears and uncertainties and ask if they can support you as you try to manage your symptoms.
7. Try Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has been known to have a unique effect on anxiety and panic attacks. Essential oils such as lavender and bergamot tend to have a calming effect on the senses. Plus, a familiar scent can help ground you (and be one of the two things you smell in the 5-4-3-2-1 method).
Try to keep a small bottle of your favorite essential oil or perfume on hand to reduce anxiety immediately.
8. Challenge Your Thoughts
Anxiety is a sense of fear or dread caused by perceived threats or stressors. However, people with anxiety disorders will often find that they become fixated on imagined threats or uncertainties that in reality, don’t hold that much weight.
When you find yourself on the brink of an anxiety attack, step back and ask yourself why. Is there a real, actual threat? Or has your brain just imagined a threat based on your uncertainty around a situation? If you are imagining countless scenarios in which you are embarrassed, injured, or harmed in some way, breaking those thought patterns can help you understand the bigger picture and realize that your anxious thoughts are just thoughts.
9. Stop Drinking Coffee and Alcohol
If you are drinking coffee while reading this, stop! Regular coffee or alcohol consumption could be making your anxiety symptoms worse. The caffeine found in coffee and energy drinks triggers the release of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine. It also increases your blood pressure and heart rate, which can lead to increased feelings of stress or anxiety.
While caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, they may have similar effects on your anxiety symptoms. Alcohol can affect serotonin and GABA, two neurotransmitters that have an impact on your stress levels. Heavy drinking can deplete these neurotransmitters, leading to feelings of anxiety, panic, and tension.
10. Journal About Your Feelings
If you don’t have a friend or loved one that you can confide in right away, grab a notebook or piece of paper and write down your anxious thoughts as they occur. This can help you notice patterns to understand what kind of anxiety disorder you may have. For example, if you only feel anxious when you are around your peers or large groups of people, you could have a social anxiety disorder.
Journaling can also help you see the bigger picture and realize that many times, your anxiety is lying to you. After writing down everything you are anxious about, look back in your journal after a few months have passed. More than likely, everything worked out for you, and none of the things that you worried about came to fruition.
11. Take a Bath
Baths have been shown to have an effect on your parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and improves mood. Any form of self-care can have a positive effect on your mental health, including baths, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep. To increase the relaxing effects of your bath, try adding Epsom salts or a few drops of essential oils to the tub.
12. Repeat a Mantra
When meditating, it can be tough to completely empty your mind of anxious thoughts. Find an uplifting mantra, such as “I am at peace,” “This too shall pass,” or “I will be okay,” and repeat it to yourself during meditation or any other time you feel anxious
13. Meet With a Telehealth Provider
If you find that you are frequently struggling with anxiety, you could benefit from the support of a licensed mental health professional. Fortunately, it is easier than ever to find a psychiatrist online. Platforms like Klarity connect you with a licensed healthcare provider for same-day telehealth appointments so that you can receive a personalized plan of care for your anxiety.
Whether you are a new patient or already have a healthcare provider, scheduling an emergency appointment to talk through your anxiety symptoms can allow you to get feedback from a professional, as well as strategies on how to stop anxiety in the future.
See a Licensed Provider Today Through Klarity
If you want to reduce anxiety immediately, Klarity can help. We make accessing anxiety treatment simple through fast and affordable telehealth appointments, so you can get the help you need right from home. If you believe that you would benefit from the support of a licensed mental health specialist, find a provider on Klarity today.