Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on
August 28, 2021
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on:

Anxiety is a normal thing. It’s the feeling that can be rational or irrational, where an individual may feel fearful about something that may or not be happening at the time.

How do you calm down anxiety? How can you avoid getting anxious in the first place? How do you handle your stress when it comes to dealing with your emotions? All these questions are answered in this blog post.

You are about to find 8 different ways that will help reduce or even completely eliminate your stress and worry.

8 Anxiety Coping Strategies You Can Do to Calm Down Anxiety

Whenever you are feeling anxious, use the eight tips below to help reduce or eliminate that feeling and return to a calm state. You can even create a daily routine with these tips to prevent you from getting uncomfortable and anxious!

1. Stay in your time zone

Staying in your time zone is the first anxiety coping strategy you can do. It’s important to live by a regular schedule and go to bed on time. Especially if you have an early morning deadline or obligations that require getting up at the crack of dawn.

How does this work? You want to go to bed earlier until you’re getting the desired amount of sleep. For example, if you need to wake up at 7 am and you need 8 hours of sleep, but you go to bed at 1 am, start gradually.  Go to bed half an hour earlier each night until you get to your goal time—in this case by 11 pm.

If possible, try not changing anything else when it comes to your daily routine for a week or two, so you can get a better idea of how this will affect your life. You’ll also be able to focus your energy on just one change.

It takes time to adjust to the new sleep schedule. But as long as it doesn’t cause more anxiety than before (by disrupting an already-existing routine), then it should be worth the effort! 

2. Fact-check your thoughts.

Fact-checking your thoughts is the second anxiety coping strategy you can do. If you find yourself constantly worrying about what might happen, it’s a good idea to give this one a try.

This is something that takes time and practice. For starters, remember these two points: first of all, your thoughts are just thoughts and you are not your thoughts.

Second of all, if you’re constantly second-guessing yourself and analyzing everything that could go wrong (e.g., “What if I have a panic attack? How will I know when it happens? What do people think about me now?”) then this is not the right way to go. 

So, How to fact-check your thoughts? Ask yourself: What is the evidence for this thought, and what’s the probability it will happen? If you start with a negative assumption about one thing, then that can lead to other thoughts. If you change your initial reaction by using facts instead of assumptions, this could help lower anxiety levels.

3. Breathe in and out.

Breathing in and out is the third anxiety coping strategy. How long should you hold your breath? That’s up to you! Holding your breath for a set amount of time helps give yourself something else to focus on. This may temporarily distract from unpleasant thoughts or emotions—and then once it’s over, there’s a sense of relief. How does it work?

Take in deep breaths and hold them for as long as you can—then release the air slowly. Do this exercise five times to get started, but do more or less if needed! You may need to place the palm of your hands on your chest or abdomen to make sure that it’s rising and falling (you may also want to look at it yourself).

It may seem like a small thing, but when you keep your breathing slow and deep during an anxiety attack, the release of air will give you some relief.

If you feel uncomfortable holding your breath, you can also try just breathing deeply and slowly. Try that while mentally counting “one” during inhalation and “two” during exhalation until you feel calmer.

These exercises will help you by supporting that part of your nervous system that makes your body slow down, rest, and think more clearly.

4. Follow the 3-3-3 rule

The 3-3-3 rule is the fourth anxiety coping strategy you can do. It’s easy, quick, and very effective! How does it work? This is a way of focusing on something else when thoughts are monopolizing your mind. You can do it anywhere at any time.

First, sit in a chair and identify three things you can see. Try to focus your attention on something small that you normally don’t see at the first sight.

Second, move your attention to three sounds you can hear. They may be close or distant from you.

Finally, move three parts of your body. You may be tempted to focus on the warmth of your hands or the pressure in your toes.

After doing this exercise for about 3 to 5 minutes in total, take a few deep breaths and go back to what you were doing before. The more often you practice it, the easier it will become!

5. Just do something

When your anxiety feels out of control, interrupt it by doing something, whether it’s getting up and taking a walk or calling a friend.

Don’t let yourself just sit around worrying, move your body!

Pick up a book, bake some cookies, or go outside and take in the sights and sounds around you—anything to escape the thoughts that are keeping you stuck!

6. Stay away from sugar

When it comes to anxiety, sugar may not be your best friend. Why? Well, sugar can give your brain and body a quick fix. An “everything is ok” feeling. But once the sugar leaves, you may find yourself worse than before, especially if you’re already prone to anxiety!

It doesn’t mean that you can never eat something that contains sugar again, though. If you are feeling good and you are having a meal with your family or friends, then you can have the piece of cake you love! The exercise here is to see how your body and mind react to it. And avoid it if you realize it affects you negatively afterward.

Try cutting down on processed sugars first. Drink water or tea instead of soda or juice, prefer berries instead of candy, and see what happens!

7. Ask for a second opinion

Talking to someone about your thoughts is a great way to clarify what you want and how to make the next steps.

One coping strategy is to write down your worries as they occur. To do this, keep a paper and pen close to you, or on your bedside to document any mental blips when you wake or when you go to sleep.

This will help with anxiety in the short term because it frees up headspace for more challenging tasks.

It can also be helpful in the long term because it is a way to look back on what was worrying you at that time and learn from it.

8. Watch a funny video

What’s more calming than laughing at something silly with friends or family members? It will take your thoughts away from worrying about what might happen to focus on what is happening right now.

Plus, laughter has been proven to reduce stress and lower levels of anxiety hormones in the body! What better way to fight your worries than by watching a funny video?

Other Grounding Techniques You Can Use to Calm Down Anxiety

If you find yourself anxious, but don’t seem to have any results from the above strategies, it may be helpful to focus on a grounding technique. Grounding techniques are designed to help you feel more connected to your body and surroundings.

1. Get to the Pressure Point With Hand Massage

Acupressure is a pressure point therapy. It is often used to relieve tension in the body. We all know that being tense can lead us to feel anxious, so a good way to help calm down anxiety is by using acupressure on our hands. You can either do it yourself or find someone to help.

Place your fingers in the space between your thumb and index finger. Move them down to just below the crease of your wrist. Apply pressure for one minute using gentle but firm pressure. Repeat 3 times with each hand.

2. Relieve Stress and Ground Yourself With a Palm Push

Palm pushing is a technique where you push your palms against each other. This method helps to focus on the present, reduce stress, and release anxiety. Research also suggests that it may help make bodily symptoms more tolerable. As it lets your body know its location in space, it helps you have a sense of self-awareness.

Do this 3 times for 15 seconds and rest.

3. Combat Stressful Situations by Closing Your Eyes

How does it feel to be in a place where you can’t see anything? What sounds are around you? Take a break from the outside stimuli. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Listen to that song that you love.

This is a great way to get back into the present moment, calm down anxiety, and create space for yourself where you can just be.

4. Sigh to Help Yourself Be Fully Present in the Moment

This may seem rather odd, but it works. Start by taking a deep breath and exhaling it so that you can hear yourself – try as hard as possible to be loud! To maximize the effects, release any negative thoughts that are on your mind while you’re doing so.

5. Give Yourself a 10-Second Hug to Boost Your Mood

This is a simple way to get rid of that stress and anxiety. Think about the feeling after giving or receiving an amazing hug. It really makes your day better, doesn’t it?

As a general rule, try to find someone else to give you a hug when you’re feeling anxious. However, if this is not possible then it’s okay for you to wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze tightly for one minute as an act of self-compassion.

A 2015 study on adults showed that hugging reduces stress and enhances social support.

6. Stabilize Yourself With a Five-Second Wall Push

You can use your own weight to help calm down anxiety. First, stand with your feet planted on the floor and place one or both palms against a nearby wall. Then, stay in that position without moving for 10 seconds before releasing gently. Feeling the gravity pulling you down and the pressure against your hands will help to center yourself. You can use this strategy in various locations by simply looking for walls wherever you go! Doing so three times should be enough.

7. Gain Power and Calm With a Superman Pose

This is a great pose for those who feel powerless or as if they are being overwhelmed by the world around them. It will help you regain your sense of power and feeling in charge!

Lay on your belly on the floor and extend your arms in front of you. Then, extend your legs behind you and hold this pose for 5 to 10 seconds.

8. Shake It Off and You’ll Free Yourself From Fear

When faced with a threat, our body releases stress hormones to help us overcome the danger. This response can cause shaking which helps to regulate the over-activity in the nervous system and release anxiety.

Shake your arms and legs for one minute, or put on some music that you love to shake along with! Do it for as long as you need, and get back to your day feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.

9. Pour a Few Drops of Lavender Essential Oil

Studies have shown the calming effects of lavender when used as aromatherapy, but without the sedation part. This makes lavender oil an easy and safe alternative to managing anxiety.

Simply add a few drops of lavender to your bath water or 2 – 3 on your pillow before you go to bed. Alternatively, you can use a diffuser and inhale the scent as you do whatever you need to.

10. Hydrate With Water and Meditate on Water

Researchers have found that dehydration has a significant effect on anxiety levels. Thus, it’s important to consume enough liquid in order to prevent panic attacks.

The benefits of water don’t end there. Walking alongside a mass of water, listening to it, or even just contemplating it can help reduce anxiety levels.

According to ancient medicines, water is a symbol of the universe, which brings peace and calm to your mind. Put on some calming music and fill up that water bottle!

11. Music Therapy Heals the Body, Mind, and Soul

Studies have shown that listening to music can lower anxiety levels and reduce stress. How? Music stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, or dopamine system, which regulates moods!

You don’t need to be a professional musician either, just listening to music that you like can do the trick.

But, if listening isn’t enough for your needs, try singing! Singing has been shown to lower anxiety levels and help calm people down. When we sing our voices enter a “resonant space” that is much deeper than speaking and helps us feel more grounded.

12. Reduce Anxiety With the Four-Square Breathing Exercise

To practice this exercise, you will need to find a quiet place where no one can disturb you.

Sit in an upright position with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Then close your eyes for five seconds before opening them again.

To reduce anxiety, take a deep breath in through your nose and count to four. Hold for four counts before slowly exhaling the air out through your nose, counting again to four.

Finally, rest for four counts before breathing in again. Repeat this breathing exercise six times in a row.

This exercise will help to slow down your heart rate and allow you to feel more grounded at the moment.

How Anxiety Disorders Develop

Anxiety is a natural response to danger, and it’s an essential survival instinct. How then does anxiety develop into something more serious?

Your body constantly produces stress hormones through the process of arousal. The goal is to give you extra-strength when faced with threats or dangers. This can cause heightened levels of arousal that lead to panic attacks over time if not managed.

The brain and body can start to think that a certain situation is dangerous even if it’s not. This causes us to constantly be in the state of fight-or-flight mode. This makes us feel less grounded as our thoughts become more intense or irrational.

Anxiety disorders are caused by uncontrollable worry about an upcoming event or fear of a situation that might cause danger. This can lead to panic attacks, and the more stress we feel creates an anxiety disorder in our lives.

Anxiety and “Fight-or-Flight” Mode

There is a part of your nervous system that activates anytime you feel threatened, anxious, or scared. In these situations, your body needs to react immediately to survive, and it starts to produce hormones that help with this process.

This is what’s known as “fight-or-flight” mode. It causes people to experience panic attacks or anxiety disorders if they have them frequently.

In this mode you can feel your heart racing, your breathing becomes shallow, and you may start to sweat. Most of your blood will move to your muscles in case you need to run.

The problem is that these movements don’t always help in fight-or-flight mode. If you’re experiencing anxiety, the threat of danger may be perceived as real even though it isn’t, and your body will react accordingly.

You May Be Having a Panic Attack

A panic attack is a symptom of anxiety. How do you know if it’s an actual panic attack? You may experience the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of terror, unreality, or helplessness are common with these attacks
  • A tingling sensation in the hands and feet can occur as well as shaking that spreads up your arms and legs
  • Shortness of breath can also be part of panic attacks as well as chest pain due to the fast heart rate
  • Feeling a sense that something awful is going to happen soon like you’re about to die or go crazy.
  • These feelings are often accompanied by nausea, dizziness, hot flashes, palpitations, and trembling.

Dealing with Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attacks

Anxiety disorders can be difficult to live with and constant panic attacks don’t help. How do you cope?

It’s a good idea to keep healthy habits in your life. Eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and having time for yourself each day. Spending quality time with the people you love is also important and can help you stay grounded.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts and emotions too often, but don’t seem to find any relief, it is time to get the appropriate professional help.

You may want to consult with a doctor or therapist if your panic attacks are severe. They have become chronic in nature, or the symptoms bother you for more than four weeks. Getting professional help might not be easy but it will likely make living with anxiety much easier.

There are many ways you can get the help that you need for anxiety, and it is never too late to do so. If you have not yet found any way of managing your symptoms,  don’t lose hope.

Try finding a mental health specialist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy. Anxiety disorder treatments are available for children and adolescents too, so don’t wait!

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