How To Ease Anxiety: 5 Ways To Feel Calmer Right Now
When we’re anxious, our breath becomes rapid and shallow. Deep belly breathing helps decrease anxiety by stimulating the bodyâs relaxation response, lowering our heart rate and blood pressure. Itâs a powerful technique that works because we canât breathe deeply and be anxious at the same time. There are many variations to try, including this simple exercise:
Inhale deeply for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Exhale for a count of 4. Repeat several times.
Exercise is one of the best anxiety remedies, immediately and long term. Going for a walk creates a diversion from worries and releases muscle tension. Grab your headphones or earbuds on the way out:studies show that listening to music brings its own calming effects.
Long term, regular exercise triggers the release of feel-good neurochemicals in the brain, building up resilience against stormy emotions. It boosts confidence and mood, and we donât need to run a marathon to feel the benefits. Washing the car, hiking, gardening, a pick-up game â anything that gets us moving counts. Research shows that 30 minutes, 3 to 5 days a week can help to significantly improve anxiety symptoms, but even 10 minutes can make a difference.
Stay In Your Time Zone
Anxiety is a future-oriented state of mind. So instead of worrying about whatÃ¢s going to happen, Ã¢reel yourself back to the present,Ã¢ says Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety. Ask yourself: WhatÃ¢s happening right now? Am I safe? Is there something I need to do right now? If not, make an Ã¢appointmentÃ¢ to check in with yourself later in the day to revisit your worries so those distant scenarios donÃ¢t throw you off track, she says.
The Effects Of Stress On Your Body
Stress can be normal, especially that it is already part of our daily lives. When you experience stress, a part of your brain, specifically the hypothalamus reacts, allowing the release of stress hormones. Stress hormones are the same hormones that make you sense the fight or flight response of your body.
When you are threatened, stressed, or having an intense emotion, you will feel that your heart is beating fast, as your heart rate increases. Your breath also becomes faster, your muscles start to shake, and for some, it leads to uncontrollable shedding of tears.
Chronic stress can affect your body, both in terms of your physical health and mental health. If left untreated or unmanaged, it may result in consistent irritability, anxiety disorder, depression or major depressive disorder, insomnia, headache, back pain, shoulder pain, diarrhea, constipation, stomachache, and nausea and vomiting.
For some, stress is diverted to overeating, substance abuse , as well as social withdrawal. It can even lead to certain illnesses and serious health conditions like high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, type 2 diabetes, heartburn or acid reflux, erectile dysfunction for males, and irregular, heavier, or more painful menstruation for females.
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Use An App To Help You Learn How To Meditate
There are many free meditation apps out there that can help you tune out for the five minutes you need to relax.
Popular apps like Headspace or Insight Timer have hundreds of guided meditation options that can help you deal with any emotion you may be feeling. Research suggests meditation can help ease anxiety and depression.
Nick Allen, a psychology professor and director of the Center for Digital Mental Health at the University of Oregon, suggests you try to build a meditation practice when you’re not feeling stressed. The more you work beforehand, he said, either by yourself or with a professional, the better results youll see when youre in a pinch.
Take A Mental Health Day
Tracking your moods can also allow you to plan ahead for low days. For example, your mental state may fluctuate with hormonal changes throughout your cycle, so if you know you typically see signs of anxiety just before your period, you can begin to anticipate certain waves of emotions and inform those around you, says Colangelo. She suggests planning something with friends, or taking a mental health day if you can, just to relax.
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Cool As A Cucumberyour Action Plan
1. Get enough sleep. Inconsistent sleep can have some serious consequences. Not only does it affect our physical health, but lack of sleep can also contribute to overall anxiety and stress. And sometimes it turns into a vicious cycle, since anxiety often leads to disruptions in sleepSleep and anxiety disorders. Mellman, T.A. Department of Psychiatry, Howard University Mental Health Clinic. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America 2006 Dec 29:1047-58. . Especially when feeling anxious, try to schedule a full seven to nine hours of snooze time and see what a few nights of sweet slumber do for those anxiety levels throughout the day.
2. Smile. When work has got us down, its a good idea to take a quick break to get some giggles on. Research suggests that laughter can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, so consider checking out a funny YouTube clip to calm those jittery nerves.
3. De-clutter the brain. Physical clutter = mental clutter. A messy workspace can make it more difficult to relax and make it seem like our work is never-ending. So take 15 minutes or so to tidy up the living space or work area, and then make a habit of keeping things clean and anxiety-free. Itll help us think rationally, and there wont be as much room for anxiety.
14. Smell something relaxing. Try sniffing some calming oils. Basil, anise, and chamomile are great choices they reduce tension in the body and help increase mental clarity.
Squash The Uncomfortable Consequences Of Stress And Anxiety
Like monsters under the bed, stress and anxiety are stealing the peaceful nighttime rest of nearly 70 million Americans. Anxiety may also be sabotaging your confidence, turning your stomach into knots, and impacting your general well-being. You can begin to squash the uncomfortable consequences of stress and anxiety by trying out these tips:
1. Remember: This Too Shall Pass.
Laundry is piling up, the baby has a fever, and your boss wanted that report yesterday. Sound familiar? No one managing his or her own life is devoid of stress, and too much can lead to excessive worry, nervousness, dread, upset stomach, or difficulty breathing. The first step to overcoming such negative feelings is to recognize that you are experiencing a very common emotional state most commonly identified as anxiety. Although its uncomfortable, those negative feelings will pass. Fighting the anxiety can just make it stronger paradoxically, accepting that you are feeling anxious helps activate the bodys natural relaxation response.
2. Learn How to Self-Soothe.
Self soothing techniques that reduce the stress response:
3. Check Your Diet.
An imbalance of bacteria in the gut can also cause many symptoms associated with anxiety and other mood disorders. Researchers at McMaster University found evidence that the balance of bacteria in your gut may have more to do with your mood than any other contributing factor.
4. Get Moving.
5. Get More Sleep.
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Move More Eat Well Sleeeeep
Its pretty well-known that exercise lowers stress, reduces anxiety and improves mood. And the good news is: you dont need to run a marathon to get the benefits. It takes just 30 minutes of exercise a day to make a difference. Weve got some tips on how to exercise when youâre not motivated.
Diet and sleep are also really important for your wellbeing. A healthy diet will make you feel healthier and stronger and better able to handle stress, while enough sleep positively affects your mood and stress levels.
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What Causes Anxiety Twitching
Anxiety causes your nervous system to release neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that your body uses to send messages between neurons, or between neurons and muscles.
Some types of neurotransmitters will tell your muscles to move. When you have anxiety, neurotransmitters may be released even when theres no clear reason for them to be released. This is what can cause anxiety twitching.
Another reason anxiety can cause muscle twitching is because it can cause you to hyperventilate. Muscle twitching is one symptom of hyperventilation.
If your twitching happens long-term or interferes with your daily life, your doctor may be able to help. To diagnose your condition, theyll first take a medical history, which will include:
- questions about your symptoms
- when symptoms started
- details about the twitching
If youre also experiencing anxiety with the twitching, be sure to tell your doctor. That might be enough for them to diagnose you with twitching related to anxiety. However, they might still do tests to rule out other conditions.
These tests may include:
- blood tests to look for electrolyte problems or thyroid issues
- an electromyogram , which looks at how well your muscles work
- a CT scan or MRI of your brain or spine
- a nerve conduction test, to see if your nerves are working correctly
If you have anxiety and other potential causes of twitching can be ruled out, your doctor will likely be able to diagnose you with anxiety twitching.
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Keep Outside In Mind For Less Stress
Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Whatever you call it forest bathing, ecotherapy, mindfulness in nature, green time or the wilderness cure — humans evolved in the great outdoors, and your brain benefits from a journey back to nature.
Six Relaxation Techniques To Reduce Stress
Practicing even a few minutes per day can provide a reserve of inner calm
We all face stressful situations throughout our lives, ranging from minor annoyances like traffic jams to more serious worries, such as a loved one’s grave illness. No matter what the cause, stress floods your body with hormones. Your heart pounds, your breathing speeds up, and your muscles tense.
This so-called “stress response” is a normal reaction to threatening situations honed in our prehistory to help us survive threats like an animal attack or a flood. Today, we rarely face these physical dangers, but challenging situations in daily life can set off the stress response. We can’t avoid all sources of stress in our lives, nor would we want to. But we can develop healthier ways of responding to them.
One way is to invoke the “relaxation response,” through a technique first developed in the 1970s at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson, editor of the Harvard Medical School Special Health Report Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress. The relaxation response is the opposite of the stress response. It’s a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways. With regular practice, you create a well of calm to dip into as the need arises.
Following are six relaxation techniques that can help you evoke the relaxation response and reduce stress.
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Talk To Someone Friendly
Another very effective technique is to talk to someone you like and trust, especially on the phone. Don’t be shy about your anxiety – tell them you feel anxious and explain what you’re feeling.
Talking to nice, empathetic people keeps your mind off of your symptoms, and the supportive nature of friends and family gives you an added boost of confidence. If you’re suffering from a panic attack, it also helps you feel more confident that if something were wrong, you’d have someone that can watch over you.
Focus On Your Breathing
According to Dr. Marlynn Wei, a psychiatrist based in New York City, rhythmic breathing is a good stress-reducing exercise that doesnt take too much practice to start using.
Heres how to do it:
- Set a timer for three minutes.
- Focus on your breath.
- Repeat for the remaining time, and notice how your breath becomes deeper.
I think that its easy to use and great for beginners, Wei said.
If youre not only stressed, but tired as well, Wei recommended doing this breathing exercise while you walk. Try to time your breath with your walking pace.
When youre able to calm your fight-or-flight response, you reduce your cortisol levels over time, she said. Almost immediately, however, you will notice that your heart rate will go down and your blood pressure will go down.
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Help Them To Handle Changes Before They Happen
Cats are creatures of habit. Routine is important to them, so anything that disrupts this can leave them feeling stressed. Whether youre planning to move house, have building work completed or welcome a new baby into your home, preparing your cat for the changes reduces the risk of stress. During house moves and improvements, cats are often much better temporarily staying in a cattery to keep them calm. With new babies, you can get your cat prepared for their new arrival with our advice guide, which includes getting them familiar with baby sounds and how to make the nursery off-limits. Visit for a month-by-month guide.
Why Is Stress Bad For Us
We need the bodys stress response to get us through tough times. When you sense a threat or danger, your body rises to the challenge by releasing stress hormones, tightening your muscles, making your blood pressure rise and your heart and lungs work harder, and releasing a surge of fat and sugar to give you energy. When danger subsides, your body goes back to normal operations.
If you get stressed out frequently, however, the stress response can become constant and cause ongoing harm, including chronic inflammation the persistent activation of the immune system, which sharply raises the risks for many diseases such as dementia, heart disease, and stroke.
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Tips To Relieve Stress And Anxiety
Being always anxious can be unhealthy, while until now, the stigma about mental health is still present. Yet, did you know that stress and anxiety are one of the mental disorders having the highest prevalence in the US?
As sighted by NIMH, around 19.1% of U.S. adults are suffering from an anxiety disorder, and most of them are females, which is 23.4% more than their opposite gender. Meanwhile, around 31.1% of US adults were reported to experience some symptoms of anxiety in their lives. As for the latest edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-V, anxiety disorders come with different types, but they share the same hallmark, which is the excessive fear and anxiety and related behavioral disturbances.
Anxiety and fear are different concepts. For instance, DSM-V differentiates fear as emotional response to a real or perceived imminent threat from anxiety, as the anticipation of future threat. Such disturbances can impact different areas of your functioning such as your school, work, and even your overall personal and social life. Thus, you may need some anxiety relief.
Listen To Relaxing Music Or Create Your Own Playlist
Listening to relaxing music is a great way to let go of all the stress and anxiety that you might be feeling or coping with. Find songs that make you feel good and create a playlist of your favorites. It will also make it easier to remember the lyrics so you dont have to worry about writing them down.
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Techniques To Manage Stress And Anxiety
Its common to experience stress and anxiety from time to time, and there are strategies you can use to make them more manageable.
Pay attention to how your body and mind respond to stressful and anxiety-producing situations. Next time this type of experience occurs, youll be able to anticipate your reaction, and it may be less disruptive.
Certain lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety. These techniques can be used alongside medical treatments for anxiety.
Techniques to reduce stress and anxiety include:
- limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption
Get To Know Your Triggers
Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to conquering anxiety, says clinical psychologist Dr. Monica Vermani. Understanding your triggers better equips you for future anxious moments. Think about what situations and events have spiked your anxiety in the past, Vermani suggests. Make a comprehensive list of your triggering settings and scenarios. The next time you know you will be facing a feared, anxiety-inducing situation, you will arrive prepared with your arsenal of strategies to calm you down.”
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Quick Ways To Reduce Stress
Taking care of your long-term mental and physical health is an important part of stress management. However, there isnt always time to take a nap, hike a fourteener, or read a novel. Thus, here are 25 ways to reduce stress in five minutes or less. From eating chocolate to meditating, there is a quick stress-relieving tactic for everyone.
1. BreatheSlow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Try pranayama breathing, a yogic method that involves breathing through one nostril at a time to relieve anxiety. The technique is supposed to work the same way as acupuncture, balancing the mind and body.
2. Listen to Music No matter what the song, sometimes belting out the lyrics to a favorite tune makes everything seem all right. If youre in a public place, just listening to music can be a quick fix for a bad mood. Classical music can be especially relaxing right before bedtime.
3. Take a Quick Walk When youre feeling overwhelmed or having trouble concentrating, go for a quick stroll around the block. Youll get the benefits of alone time, physical activity, and a few minutes to gather your thoughts.
4. Find the Sun If its a sunny day, head outside for an easy way to lift your spirits. Bright light can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from depression, and can even cheer up otherwise healthy people.
8. Rub Your Feet Over a Golf Ball You can get an impromptu, relaxing foot massage by rubbing your feet back and forth over a golf ball.
12. Be Alone