5 helpful ways to calm anxiety

By Hayley Thompson
June 9, 2019


Anxiety was a big mystery to me until after high school. I always thought that I had never experienced anxiety before but in reality, I didn’t really know what anxiety was.

According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure or sweating. Just about everyone has had moments of anxiety in their life before.

Infographic by Hayley Thompson

I was not aware of my anxiety as a teen because I thought that it was normal to worry so much about something like my performance in a competitive sport. I thought I was just focused but now I see it a bit differently.

I wish my younger self knew these helpful ways to calm anxiety. I probably would have been able to handle things better and have a clearer focus.

1. Start deep-breathing and meditating

Photo by Healthy Place

Okay, this is an obvious one. Both deep-breathing and meditation are great ways to quickly calm anxiety. According to Psychology Today, this helpful practice will be most beneficial when one concentrates on their breath, breathing in with their nose and out with their mouth.

I started doing deep-breathing exercises when I was very young with my aunt (she is a yoga teacher). I did not quite understand the benefits of deep-breathing and meditating back then. I just knew that I felt amazing after and that I wanted to keep doing it.

Each time that I spot symptoms of anxiety today, I try deep-breathing exercises to prevent my breaths from getting shorter. This truly helps to calm me down and bring me back to reality.

2. Practice self-care

relaxing bath, bath bomb, bubble bath, stress reliever
A relaxing bath can help reduce anxiety. Photo by Hayley Thompson

Pysch Central explains that self-care is defined as anything one does to take care of their mental, emotional or physical health. Examples of self-care may be taking time to relax or spending time doing something that you love.

Everyone’s idea of self-care is different. I personally like to spend some time alone to recharge.

When I’m really in need of some therapeutic self-care, I like to take relaxing baths, focus on my skin/hair care and make sure that my room is comfy and clean. I find that my mind is able to be more at peace when those things are taken care of.

Another good idea for self-care is eating good food. Good food can be categorized as healthy food or something that just makes you happy because you love it so much. Just be careful that the food isn’t too bad for your health. According to Psycom, too much caffeine can increase anxiety. Try to stay away from too much soda or coffee.

3. Get more sleep

According to anxiety.org, sleep gives both your brain and body the time to heal. Sleep directly affects your mental health. Getting healthy sleep for a full week can act as a reset button, minimizing any symptoms of anxiety.

Personally, I have noticed my mental health decline whenever I am lacking sleep. I have only experienced overwhelming anxiety a few times. However, each time occurred after not getting much sleep for multiple days.

Sleep is incredibly important when it comes to having good cognitive health. Make sure you always take the time to rest and recharge!

4. Organize/Get rid of any clutter

This one may not apply to everyone but it is still very helpful. When one has too much clutter laying around and they don’t have room or can’t find certain things, that can absolutely cause some anxious thoughts. Try to organize your personal area. A clean space can help you think clearer and prevent unnecessary worries.

5. Exercise

I saved the most important one for last. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise can work just as well as medication does to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Exercise has the power to reduce fatigue and improve concentration, which both help with calming anxiety. MentalHelp.net, an American addiction centers resource, explains that endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemical, are released when one exercises. This helps explain why exercise can make your mind and body feel so good.

i won’t stress today
Photo by Healthy Place

I know that anxiety can make you feel like there is no way out and that you need to complete everything all at once. It is important to take a step back to realize that those feelings are not at all in touch with reality.

I promise that if you can take the time to slow down and focus on your all-around health, anxiety will not be in control. These five simple steps are very helpful when it comes to minimizing anxiety. However, if your anxiety continues or worsens, I would strongly advise that you seek additional help from your therapist.

Hayley Thompson

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