In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is quite common to find ourselves drowning in anxiety. Whether it's work pressure, relationship dynamics, financial concerns, or everyday life challenges, anxiety can manifest itself in various forms, impacting our day-to-day experiences. According to a 2019 WHO report, anxiety disorder is a widespread issue, affecting 301 million people worldwide.
Anxiety is not just a temporary concern; it is a persistent and intense state of anxious thoughts and fear that can be overwhelming and sometimes draining. However, the good news is that you do not have to let anxiety take control of your life. With the right skills, tools, and know-how, you can learn to calm anxiety, preventing it from seizing your mental and physical well-being.
So, if you ever feel overwhelmed by anxious thoughts and wish for an instant solution, read on to discover how to reduce anxiety immediately.
How To Reduce Anxiety Immediately: 11 Ways
When anxiety occurs, it is important to calm yourself and be conscious of what is going on in your mind. For this, try to understand the early signs of anxiety and learn effective strategies on how to reduce anxiety immediately before it becomes overwhelming for you.
1. Practice breathing techniques
When that familiar feeling of panic starts bothering you, one of the most effective things you can do is practice breathing exercises. It might sound basic, but when we focus on our breath, the thoughts triggering our anxiety will begin to lose their intensity, and as a result, our heart rate will slow down and a sense of calm will start to settle in.
The key is to breathe deeply and slowly and let everything else fade into the background to give your mind a break. A popular and effective breathing technique is the 4-7-8 method, which includes:
- Inhale for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds
- Exhale slowly for 8 seconds
Repeat this process of "how to calm down anxiety" until you are able to regain control over your thoughts and find a sense of peace amid anxiety.
2. Try 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique
When anxiety starts to feel overwhelming, try the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique that helps reset your thoughts. For an extra boost, you can pair this technique with deep and slow breathing.
Here's how it works:
- Five: Take a moment to look around the room and name five things you see. It could be anything—objects, spots on the wall, or even a bird flying outside. Just count down those five things.
- Four: Now, focus on touch. Name four things you can touch. It might be the ground beneath your feet, the chair you are sitting on, or simply running your fingers through your hair.
- Three: Listen quietly and acknowledge three things you can hear. It could be anything like external sounds, like a fan in the room or internal sounds, like the rhythm of your breathing.
- Two: Pay attention to two things you can smell. It might be the perfume you are wearing or the scent of the pen ink you are holding.
- One: Finally, notice the taste inside your mouth; for example, that could be the lipgloss you are wearing or the taste of a recent meal.
3. Use 3-3-3 technique
Similar to the above, 3-3-3 is another grounding technique that can help bring your focus back to the present moment and help you understand how to calm down anxiety, thereby diverting your mind from anxious and racing thoughts.
In this technique, what you have to do is:
- Name three things you see: Look around and identify three things in your environment. It could be anything, like a book, a plant, or a chair.
- Name three sounds you hear: Listen carefully and identify three distinct sounds around you. It might be the buzzing noise of a computer, birds chirping, or distant traffic.
- Move three parts of your body: Engage your body by moving three parts, such as tapping your fingers, rotating your ankles, or stretching your arms.
4. Take a cold shower
If you are struggling with intense anxiety and need a quick way to regain control, you can try a cold shower, which is an effective and recommended method. This technique helps slow down your heart rate and gives you an overall sense of calm.
Alternatively, therapists also recommend placing your hand or foot in cold water for a minute or holding an ice cube until it melts in your hand. These methods might sound chilly, but they can provide a surprisingly effective way to soothe anxiety and bring about a sense of relaxation.
5. Give your mind a break
When anxious thoughts are running wild and nothing seems to calm them down, it might be time to find a temporary distraction. If you are in bed at night and overthinking what tomorrow might bring, get up and leave your bedroom. Head to another room and find something that distracts your attention from those anxious thoughts. The goal is to focus on something you genuinely enjoy that is relaxing and pleasurable to shift your mind away from those troublesome thoughts.
For instance, some people find doing household chores like dishes or cleaning to be a good distraction. Others might prefer listening to calming music, watching a favorite TV show or movie, reading, painting, or writing.
6. Laugh out loud
If you are wondering how to stop anxiety, think of moments that made you laugh so hard you almost burst. It could be a real-life funny incident or something from a movie. This visualization technique helps shift your focus from future worries to the present, thereby calming anxiety.
If you struggle to think of something on the spot, select a couple of funny memories in advance. When anxiety hits, revisit these moments instantly. This mindfulness exercise not only distracts but also induces joy, which swiftly helps alleviate anxiety.
7. Move your body
To effectively reduce anxiety, engage in some physical activities that can help increase your heart rate and reduce stress. It can be 5 minutes of running or 30 minutes of jogging, as per your choice. If you don't like running, what you can do is walk for a minute, then run fast for another minute, and repeat this for a total of 5 minutes.
For people with anxiety disorders, the overactive amygdala (a part of the brain) triggers a fight, flight, or freeze in response to sensed threats. Therefore, physical activity like running can trick your brain into believing that practical steps are being taken for safety, which will reduce the increased alertness and provide instant anxiety relief.
If you are wondering how to stop anxiety, mindful meditation has been proven to be an effective means to address various mental stresses. While everyone possesses the capability for mindfulness, turning it into a habit significantly enhances its effectiveness. If you are new to the practice, you can start with Now&Me’s meditation guide, where you can learn the techniques to overcome fear and insecurities graciously.
9. Reach out for help
Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or family member is an extremely personal choice, yet people close to you can serve as invaluable partners in calming anxiety. Engaging in conversation with someone, preferably face-to-face or over the phone, can provide a new perspective on your situation. So, when you are reaching out, do not be afraid to express your needs clearly.
10. Listen to music
In a study, it was found that people experiencing mild or severe anxiety can find instant anxiety relief through the simple act of listening to soothing music, as it can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Ensure that music is easily available to you and craft a playlist, whether it's your favorite tunes or calming natural sounds, to have a quick remedy for anxiety symptoms at your fingertips.
11. Be creative
Tapping into your creative side can be a powerful method for calming anxiety. For those with artistic inclinations, take a few moments to draw or paint something that expresses the complexity of your emotions. Alternatively, ensure you have a serene image, such as a beach or your "happy place," easily accessible to take a mental break when necessary.
Moreover, you can also consider the therapeutic advantages of writing your thoughts, which have been proven to assist in coping with both anxiety and depression. Another impactful practice is maintaining a gratitude journal to reduce negative thoughts and prompt reflection on the positive aspects of your life. Consider jotting down your thoughts in a journal before bedtime; it might contribute to a more peaceful night's sleep, help with anxiety, and cultivate a positive mindset.
The Effects of Prolonged Anxiety on Your Health
Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life, but it can significantly harm both your physical and mental health when it becomes a prevalent and lasting presence. Therefore, identifying the potential consequences of chronic anxiety is crucial to taking action on "how to reduce anxiety immediately" and regaining control over your wellbeing.
So, here are the effects of anxiety on your physical and mental health:
- Depression: Persistent anxiety has the potential to evolve into depression over time.
- Anxiety Disorders: Long-term anxiety may contribute to the development of other conditions, such as panic disorder or social anxiety disorder.
- Relationship issues: Living with constant anxiety can strain personal relationships, creating challenges in communication and understanding.
- Work-related problems: Anxiety can disrupt your professional life, causing discord and significantly impacting your job and workplace relationships.
- Gastrointestinal issues: Anxiety can alter gut bacteria, potentially leading to conditions like ulcers, acid reflux, or other stomach problems.
- Weakened immune system: Chronic anxiety and stress can weaken the immune system by releasing cortisol, suppressing the body's ability to fight infections and diseases.
- Sleep disorders: Persistent anxiety is linked to sleep issues such as insomnia, further compromising overall health.
Tips for Long-term Anxiety Management
While the previous techniques provided immediate relief from anxiety, it's crucial to address the underlying causes and develop coping tools for long-term stress. If anxiety is significantly impacting your life and relationships, consider these tips on how to reduce anxiety immediately:
1. Eat healthy
Prioritize a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutritional choices can have a positive impact on both physical and mental well-being.
2. Get enough sleep
Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Establishing consistent bedtime routines and practicing good sleep hygiene contribute to better overall health and help manage anxiety symptoms.
3. Manage your stress
Incorporate practical coping tools into your daily routine, such as mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing exercises. Effectively managing stress is crucial for long-term anxiety prevention.
4. Healthy lifestyle choices
Embrace a holistic approach to well-being by making healthy lifestyle choices. Engage in regular exercise, maintain a balanced diet, and foster positive habits that contribute to your overall physical and mental health.
5. Seek professional help and therapy options
If you want to know “how to get rid of anxiety fast,” consider reaching out to mental health professionals for guidance and support. Therapy options, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can provide effective long-term strategies for managing and overcoming anxiety.
Get Help for Anxiety with Now&Me
If you are struggling with "how to reduce anxiety immediately" and need support, Now&Me is here to help. Our therapists are accessible 24/7, starting at just Rs. 30, providing affordable and immediate assistance.
What sets Now&Me apart is our supportive community, where you can connect with others having similar challenges. Our platform offers not only therapeutic support but also a bundle of self-help resources, including books specifically curated to address anxiety and mental health issues.
To get started, download the Now&Me app, select a therapist aligned with your needs, and schedule a consultation call. You do not have to face it alone; reach out to Now&Me for better support.
Exercise for stress and anxiety. ADAA. https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
Effectiveness of physical activity interventions for improving depression, anxiety and distress: An overview of systematic reviews. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2023. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2023/03/02/bjsports-2022-106195.citation-tools
Tai Chi and Qigong for the treatment and prevention of mental disorders. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3917559/
Stress effects on the body. American Psychological Association. 2023. https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body
Omega-3 fatty acids and depression: Scientific evidence and Biological Mechanisms. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976923/
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: An update on the empirical evidence. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4610618/
Now&Me articles are written by experienced mental health contributors and are purely based on scientific research and evidence-based practices, which are thoroughly reviewed by experts, including therapists and psychologists with various specialties, to ensure accuracy and alignment with current industry standards.
However, it is important to note that the information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individual circumstances vary, and it is advisable to consult with a qualified mental health professional for personalized advice and guidance.