How To Calm Down Fast
When stress, anxiety or fear flare up, these 9 techniques help keep you calmer.
We all get stressed and agitated sometimes. Its a product of our busy, over-scheduled lives and living with circumstances we cant control.
When youre stressed or anxious, it causes your body to release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can increase how stressed you feel. You may also feel other symptoms, like headaches, dizziness and depression. Long term stress can negatively affect your weight, heart and chronic health conditions. In addition to your physical health, untreated stress can have a negative effect on other areas of your life, including your mental health, professional life and social relationships.
When youre feeling stressed, anxious, scared or nervous or you have the urge to lash out the last thing you want to hear someone say is, Just calm down. That never works. But here are 9 calming techniques that do work and they work quickly at that.
- Just breathe. Breathing seems like the most natural thing in the world. But there are ways to breathe mindfully that help calm our bodies and minds almost instantly. The 4-7-8 breathing technique, known as a relaxing breath, is especially effective:
- Breathe in quietly through your nose for 4 seconds
- Hold the breath for 7 seconds
- Exhale forcefully through your mouth with a whooshing sound for 8 seconds
- Repeat as needed
Controlling Anxiety Takes Time
Theres no quick fix for anxiety, and it may often feel like an uphill struggle. But by gaining awareness of what causes your symptoms, and getting help from your doctor, you can manage your symptoms.
You may find some of these hacks work for you straight away and others may have no effect at all, but the important thing is to keep trying.
Giving in to feelings of anxiety by retreating from the world only served to make my life more difficult in the long run. Continuing to search for solutions that work for me has been key to my recovery. Practice makes perfect, so dont stop trying to find ways that work for you.
Fiona Thomas is a lifestyle and mental health writer who lives with depression and anxiety. Visit her website or connect with her on .
Get Professional Medical Advice For Mental Health
If you are unable to escape the chaos of negative thoughts and negative emotions swirling through your mind, it may be best to seek professional medical advice or an expert. There are more mental health resources available today than ever before and plenty of support and treatment facilities that can assist you.
When all the ways to calm your mind just arent working, there may be a bigger or serious issue there. Mental health stigma is changing, so theres no need to feel worried or shame. Theres also nothing necessarily wrong with seeking treatment. Just like youd go and get a prescription for glasses if your eyes began failing you, you should seek treatment if your mind is failing you. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 6.8 million adults in the US suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder yet less than half are receiving treatment.
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Anxiety And Poor Sleep
Anxiety can cause you to lose sleep, either because you have trouble falling asleep when you first lie down, or because worries wake you up when youd otherwise be sleeping. If thats the case, you may be feeling extra tired during the day.
The relationship between sleep and anxiety is complex. Anxiety can disrupt your sleep and the lack of sleep can eventually make you more anxious. In a , people with insomnia were 9.8 times more likely to have anxiety than the people in the study who didnt have insomnia.
The night shift and anxiety
- Talk to a therapist. A psychologist or counselor may be able to help you identify your anxiety triggers and develop coping skills that lead to less anxiety and greater relaxation.
- Consider medication. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether your symptoms warrant treatment with anti-anxiety medication.
When to seek medical help
If anxiety is interfering with your sleep, your relationships, or your ability to function throughout the day, its probably time to talk with a healthcare provider about it. Anxiety can cause serious health problems if left untreated too long, so its a good idea to reach out to a health professional to help you identify any underlying causes and come up with a workable treatment plan.
When To See A Doctor About Anxiety
There is a distinct difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder. Even the brightest minds and most successful people experience some form of anxiety each day. This is normal.
What isnt normal is when anxiety becomes constant, uncontrollable and disruptive to your everyday life. This can look different in people, but usually it involves finances, work or relationships.
Typically, people have a generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder , as these are the two most common types of anxiety.
As the name suggests, generalized anxiety disorder is a constant state of worry. This includes the inability to make basic decisions, such as buying a new TV out of fear that youre making the wrong choice, or persistent thoughts of failure. Depending on how the anxiety manifests, you may notice youre more irritable, have become more restless and have trouble sleeping. GAD is also sometimes misdiagnosed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder because the anxiety can make it difficult to focus and concentrate.
Social anxiety disorder, on the other hand, is a specific type of anxiety that presents itself in social settings. For example, you may be unable to hang out in larger groups in public out of fear of judgment. Social anxiety disorder is more than just being shy in public. Symptoms include excessive sweating, increased heart rate, stomach pain or an inability to make eye contact. In more severe cases, people will avoid public places altogether.
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Remind Yourself That You Can Take A Break
Sometimes anxiety will leave us feeling trapped or stifled, especially if we are experiencing social anxiety. However, we can choose to take a break or a pause at any moment, excusing ourselves to use the restroom or stepping outside for some fresh air. Taking breaks from anxiety-producing stimuli can give us space to recharge before diving back in.
Dealing With Anxiety Using The Power Of An Anxious Mind
Anxiety is the power of the mind against the mind. That power is your greatest asset and its an exceptional one. Now to claim it back so you can use it in a way that will build and strengthen you.
Be present. Be where you are, not where your anxiety wants to take you.
Anxiety works by using a solid collection of what-ifs and maybes to haul even the strongest, bravest mind from a present that feels manageable and calm, to a future that feels uncertain and threatening. Experiment with staying fully present in the moment. Anchor yourself by opening up your senses. What do you see, feel, hear, taste, know? Stay with what is actually happening, rather than what might happen. If this feels uncomfortable, put a time limit on it, lets say, two minutes to start with. Spend this time fully experiencing the world as it is around you now.
Every time you do this, you will be strengthening your ability to pull back from the anxious thoughts that steal you away from the safety and security of where you are. Try to get into a regular practice each day, for however long you can two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes it doesnt matter. Theres no right amount, but the longer the better. The main thing is to keep doing it. The brain strengthens and rewires with experience, and this is an experience that is so strengthening and healthy, your brain will love for it.
Try: Right now, Im here and Im safe. I see the sky. I feel the breeze against my skin. I hear my footsteps
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When Racing Thoughts Are A Problem
Obviously, racing thoughts pose no danger. Thoughts are simply thoughts. When they have become a problem is when one of the following occurs:
- Racing thoughts are preventing you from sleeping.
- Racing thoughts are causing significant distress.
- Racing thoughts are making it harder to focus.
- Racing thoughts are about topics that cause you shame.
- Racing thoughts occur with other anxiety symptoms.
It’s not the thoughts that are dangerous, but how you react to them. If your thoughts are racing to such a degree that it’s causing you sleeplessness, distress, or any other emotional problems, then it’s very important that you learn how to control them.
These Types Of Thoughts Known As Cognitive Distortions Include:
All-or-nothing thinking, looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground. If everything is not perfect, I’m a total failure.
Overgeneralization from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever. I didn’t get hired for the job. I’ll never get any job.
Focusing on the negatives while filtering out the positives. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right. I got the last question on the test wrong. I’m an idiot.
Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count.I did well on the presentation, but that was just dumb luck.
Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader: I can tell she secretly hates me. Or a fortune teller: I just know something terrible is going to happen.
Expecting the worst-case scenario to happen.The pilot said we’re in for some turbulence. The plane’s going to crash!
Believing that the way you feel reflects reality.I feel like such a fool. Everyone must be laughing at me.
Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do and beating yourself up if you break any of the rules. I should never have tried starting a conversation with her. I’m such a moron.
Labeling yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings.I’m a failure I’m boring I deserve to be alone.
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Learn How To Manage Your Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety doesn’t come out of the blue. When you have anxiety attacks, it’s often because your mind tends to spiral into negative thoughts – often without your control. Sometimes you can control this anxiety by keeping these thoughts at bay and learning to dismiss triggers that cause you anxiety.
For many, this is easier said than done. But there are many different strategies you can try that may be effective. These include:
A Question Checklist
When you feel anxious, have a checklist on hand of questions to ask yourself about that anxiety experience. The longer the checklist, the more you’ll find that your thoughts become more realistic. Questions that you can use include:
- Is there a reason to believe something is wrong?
- What evidence is there that something is wrong?
- Is there a chance I’m blowing this out of proportion?
Affirmations not for everyone, but those that do use them find them to be very beneficial. Affirmations are things that you say to yourself to make yourself feel better. These include:
- I’m okay. This is just anxiety and I will get passed this .
- I have a great life and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
- My anxiety won’t control me.
Getting Used to Physical Symptoms
The latter is known as “exposure therapy” and there are countless ways to create exercises that will habituate you to your panic attack triggers.
Tip : Challenge Anxious Thoughts
If you suffer from chronic anxiety and worry, chances are you look at the world in ways that make it seem more threatening than it really is. For example, you may overestimate the possibility that things will turn out badly, jump immediately to worst-case scenarios, or treat every anxious thought as if it were fact. You may also discredit your own ability to handle lifes problems, assuming youll fall apart at the first sign of trouble.
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How To Quickly Calm Down Your Anxiety
Stress, Anxiety, Depression
A few months ago, I underwent a test for a medical condition that could have potentially shortened my life and also made it very painful.
When I got a phone notification from the diagnostic lab that my test results were available for viewing, my heart was pounding, my breath was uneven, and I barely felt in control.
This feeling of terror I experienced is what we call anxiety.
You also would have experienced anxiety in different situations. When anxiety strikes us, we feel totally helpless. In this article, we will get to the root of the matter and learn some ways to quicklycalm anxiety.
Repeat A Positive Affirmation
When you notice yourself feeling anxious, try repeating a mantra or affirmation such as “I am safe” or “I am calm.”
Mantra repetition is a staple of transcendental meditation, which is associated with a reduction in stress and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. While transcendental meditation is centered around a specific mantra assigned to you by an instructor, you can still gain benefits from coming up with your own mantra or positive affirmation.
Here’s what the research says:
- In one small 2015 study, repeating a one-word mantra reduced activity in the brain, which, for people who suffer from racing thoughts or ruminations, could be useful for calming anxiety.
- According to a 2022 review, various forms of mantra meditation were associated with a “small-to-moderate” reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression.
- In a small 2016 study of female heart disease patients, using positive affirmations caused a significant decrease in stress, anxiety, and depression.
Some examples of positive affirmations that you can try include:
- “I trust myself”
- “I am relaxed and at peace”
- “My life is a gift”
- “I have faith in my abilities”
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Seeking Treatment For Anxiety
If your anxiety symptoms seem to be staying the same or even getting worse, regardless of any techniques that you try, and if you are finding that your anxiety is having a damaging impact on your quality of life, you may need a bit of professional support to help you manage your symptoms.
At Priory Group, we are able to provide you with treatment, and for people experiencing anxiety, this will typically include a form of therapy. When you first come to one of our hospitals or wellbeing centres, you will meet with one of our doctors who will assess your symptoms, provide you with a robust diagnosis and work with you to determine the most effective treatment programme, which may include medication and therapy.
Our expert multidisciplinary team will then support you through your treatment programme so that you can begin to better manage your anxiety symptoms and improve your health and wellbeing for the future.
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Relaxation Techniques Can Change The Brain
While the above relaxation techniques can provide some immediate respite from worry and anxiety, practicing them regularly can also change your brain. Research has shown that regular meditation, for example, can boost activity on the left side of the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for feelings of serenity and joy. The more you practice, the greater the anxiety relief youll experience and the more control youll start to feel over your anxious thoughts and worries.
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Soothe Yourself With Music
Music has intense healing powers! Here is how you can soothe yourself with the power of music.
- Listen to calming, soulful music whenever you are stressed.
- Make a playlist of your favorite music tracks to play when you are anxious.
- Listen to hymns or spiritual music if you are a religious/spiritual individual.
Incorporating Serenity Into Your Day
1. Practice deep breathing.
Our breathing and physical state have a huge influence over our mental state. During the day, when you are feeling overwhelmed, get into the habit of stopping and focusing on your breath.
Take five minutes and do nothingbe still, try to quiet your thoughts, and focus only on your breathing in through your nose, out through your mouth. Do this a dozen times and you will feel better and more composed.
2. Tap your way to peace.
Tapping several times on pressure points such as your wrists, the inside of your finger tips, neck, and chest can also help relax you. While tapping, imagine you are sending tranquil energy directly into your body. It only takes a few minutes, and you can do it anywhere and as frequently as you like.
If you believe that you suffer from an abnormal level of anxiety or have experienced symptoms like my friends or mine, is important that you seek help.
We all need to de-stress and focus on becoming more balanced. If we dont get into the habit of fostering inner peace, we could experience severe consequences that take a lot of time to rectify in the long run.
We need to nourish our minds by providing the tranquility it needs to function efficiently and proactively.
Meditation silhouette via Shutterstock
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Pour A Few Drops Of Lavender Essential Oil
There are different theories as how and why lavender oil calms you down. Some scientists believe that lavender stimulates the activity of brain cells in the amygdala similar to the way some sedatives work. Others think molecules from essential oils interact in the blood with enzymes and hormones. Research backs its soothing results. A study published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine measured the responses of 17 cancer hospice patients to humidified essential lavender oil aromatherapy. Results reflected a positive change in blood pressure and pulse, pain, anxiety, depression, and sense of well-being. I sometimes use lavender oil to sleep better.