It is totally normal to feel anxious from time-to-time. But if it is taking over your life, you may want to know how to reduce anxiety immediately.
The definition of anxiety is worrying over something that may happen any time in the future. It is excessive, continuous worry you cannot control. This can be about getting sick, the consequences of a decision you need to make or having that conversation you dread. Negative thoughts run through your head presenting all types of negative consequences before it happens. Chances are that none of what you worry about materialises.
So you may want to know how to reduce anxiety immediately. But anxious thoughts can become a vicious cycle. When you start worrying about how to reduce anxiety, you send signals to your nervous system that you really have something to worry about. This makes your anxiety worse and affects your life in many ways.
How anxiety manifests
High levels of anxiety can negatively affect your health and happiness in the following ways:
- Physically it can manifest as:
- An upset stomach
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Aches and pains
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Emotionally it can manifest as:
- Lack of focus
- Changes to sleeping patterns
- Unexplained irritability
- Panic attacks
- Worrying too much
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling restless.
When this becomes a problem, you need to know how to reduce anxiety.
Anxiety’s negative effects
If you ignore anxiety, it can have a negative effect on your life such as:
- High levels of anxiety can make you not want to interact with others or take up new opportunities. So you end up isolating yourself.
- Psychologically anxiety can make life more difficult financially because you have trouble working, and cause poor communication and decision-making,
- How you feel. Emotionally anxiety increases your risk of suicide and depression, and holds you back in life.
- Disrupting daily life. When you have high levels of anxiety, you may not want to do anything you normally do such as go to work or school, or socialise.
If anxious thoughts are taking over your life, then you need to do something about it before it develops into an anxiety disorder.
Do you want to know to know how to reduce anxiety immediately?
How to reduce anxiety
Something can happen to set off your anxiety. Soon you find yourself in a continual cycle of invasive thoughts that play out every negative outcome. You start breathing faster, your heart starts pounding and your thoughts race in negative circles.
When anxiety levels skyrocket, you need to know how to reduce anxiety immediately. Try the following strategies for fast relief.
Mentally take a break
Mentally take a break. Take a few minutes to let your mind wander. Close your eyes and imagine your are somewhere that makes you happy or feel peaceful. If your mind keeps returning to thoughts that make you anxious, acknowledge them and tell them you will be back soon. If you need help turning them off, use the Blissiree app to access an audio in the Boost Library.
Learn to just breathe
One of the quickest ways to reduce anxiety is to just breathe. Focus on taking long slow deliberate breaths. This takes your mind off the thoughts racing through your head.
A good breathing exercise that may help is the 4-7-8 breathing technique:
- Breathe in to a count of four.
- Hold it for a count of seven.
- Breathe out slowing to a count of eight.
- Continue breathing this way until your anxiety subsides.
Anxiety is not reality
When anxiety rears its ugly head, you may not realise what is happening until it takes hold. Recognising it can help reduce anxiety quicker. Tell yourself that this is not reality. “It’s only anxiety. Stop. It may never happen.” By doing this you disrupt the cycle of thoughts that makes your feel worse.
Embrace the truth instead of the what ifs. Ask yourself:
- How likely is what I feel anxious about going to happen? Use a scale of 1 to 100.
- Is there a good reason to think there will be a problem?
- Am I overthinking or worrying for no good reason?
You know you can get through an anxiety attack so recognise this. Remind yourself that your anxious thoughts do not represent your reality. It is only temporary.
Run for your life
Run for your life to reduce anxiety. No? Seriously, a quick burst of energy use elevates your heart rate which helps reduce anxiety. If a fast 5-minute run around the block is out, go for a jog or walk quickly for five minutes. As you exercise remember to focus on your breathing.
When you have an anxiety disorder, your amygdala works in overdrive. Every time anxious thoughts trigger you can go into freeze, fight or flight mode because your amygdala perceives a threat. This is a normal reaction as it helps you to react to perceived threats.
Running around the block for five minutes can trick your mind into thinking you are keeping yourself safe. This can reduce anxiety quickly.
File anxious thoughts away
When you cannot sleep at night worrying about everything, try the file your anxiety away technique to help you sleep.
To do this:
- Keep your eyes closed and imagine a filing cabinet with a pile of files sitting on top.
- In your imagination pick up each file and write the name of an intrusive thought on it. For example, worrying about what you said to someone, sitting an exam or a fight you had with a friend.
- Acknowledge the thought and consider the level of importance it has for you. Now file it in the filing cabinet.
- Continue this with all the negative thoughts that pop into your head until you fall asleep or at least feel calmer.
By doing this you file your worries away to work on later. This helps you validate how you feel while planning to deal with them at a better time.
Make yourself laugh
You cannot feel anxious while laughing. Bring your favourite funniest moment to life. Ones that had you laughing so hard tears ran down your face. These can be stories, a scene from a sitcom or a joke. This will focus you back into the present, feel happiness and quickly reduce any anxiety.
If you can make yourself laugh when visualising those moments, it expands and contracts your muscles which reduces the build-up of tension, stress and anxiety in your body.
Schedule a time
To reduce anxiety quickly, schedule 15 minutes a day to let your anxieties run riot. But if anxious thoughts try to enter your head outside of the scheduled time, tell them to go away until tomorrow.
Use the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique
When your worrying overwhelms you, try the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. The point of this exercise is to ground you using all five senses to stop the anxious thoughts crowding your mind. It helps you focus on the moment.
Take deep, slow breaths as you:
- Name five things in your environment. They can be things on the walls, a tree outside the window or even your dog. The purpose is to count out five things you can see.
- Now name four things you can touch. For example, your hair, the chair you are sitting on, the mug that holds your coffee, the keys of your computer keyboard.
- Take a quiet moment to count three things you can hear. The birds chirping outside, the whistling of the kettle, the wind in the trees.
- What are two things you can smell? That fresh brewed coffee and your perfume.
- Now for taste. What can you tase in your mouth? Maybe it is the coffee you are drinking.
Use a mantra to shift your mindset
When anxious thoughts take over and just will not stop, use a mantra to shift your mindset. Something like “I am safe and secure” or “There is nothing to fear so I choose to be calm.” Choose something that works for you to reduce anxiety immediately.
Do the opposite
Do the opposite to what you were doing when anxiety strikes. If sitting at your desk hunched over the computer, stand up and walk around the office. Or if you are sitting on the couch watching tv, get up and do something else—cook a meal, take the dog for a walk, play your favorite song and bop along. By changing what you are doing, you stop anxious thoughts in their tracks.
Get out of bed
Anxious thoughts can keep you awake. If you have trouble sleeping because your are worrying, get up. Go to another room. Turn on the computer or get out pen and paper, and write down what worries you.
Return to bed when you feel tired but get up again and repeat the exercise if you start worrying again. It can a few nights of doing this to train your brain that your bed is not the place to hash out your worries. Your bed is the place to relax and sleep.
Break the cycle
Break the cycle of anxiety. Distract your negative thoughts from flooding your mind.
Obsessing about the what might happen tomorrow while trying to sleep, for example, is not going to help. Get up and do something when other techniques do not work. Find something to do in another room. Focus on something you enjoy. This will give you relief until you are in a better position to deal with those thoughts.
What works as a distraction for you will be different for someone else. The whole idea is to do something to take your mind off those persistent worrying thoughts. Do something mindless, relaxing or enjoyable. Some people find cleaning the house or doing the washing distracts them because they achieve something positive and it takes focus. Watching your favourite tv show or listening to music works may work better for you. Maybe going for a run or gardening will distract you from brooding on what might happen.
Jump into a cold shower
While it might sound extreme, and it is, jumping into a cold shower is a fast way to reduce anxiety. It will snap your attention back to reality in an instant.
Doing this tricks your system into thinking you are swimming which calms your body as it slows down your heart rate. Jumping into a swimming pool also works.
If taking a cold shower is too much for you, putting your foot or hand into ice cold water for a minute can give you the same effect.
- You can learn how to reduce anxiety immediately.
- Anxiety can wreak havoc on your life if you let it.
- Stop anxiety in its tracks using a quick fix.
- Listen to the Anxiety Program in the Boost Library on the Blissiree app.
Look after your health and wellbeing
Now there is a way to get immediate relief from anxiety.
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