When you live with high stress and anxiety, sometimes it feels like any moment can become one that creates a slow-rising panic within you. One minute everything feels normal and the next, suddenly your chest is tight, your breathing is pressured and your mind is racing with what-ifs. If you don’t know some ways to reduce anxiety immediately, your life is going to be much more difficult than it needs to be.
To make matters worse, your mind might start beating you up for letting the panic get the best of you. Then you start to believe all those what-ifs are real! However, there are tools and techniques you can use to manage your anxiety effectively and reduce it immediately in some cases.
5 WAYS TO REDUCE ANXIETY IMMEDIATELY
1. Breathe Deeply
As soon as you start to feel the panic rising, you need to get control of your breath. Controlled breathing via long, slow exhalations is one of the most powerful ways to activate your body’s relaxation response. It takes your mind and body out of “fight or flight” mode into a calm and relaxed state.
2. Accept That You are Anxious
Remember: anxiety is “just a feeling.” And like all feelings, it can go as quickly as it came. Anxiety is the result of your emotional reaction to a string of thoughts. Accept your anxiety because trying to pretend it’s not happening, will only make it worse. But you probably already knew that or you wouldn’t be reading this. ????
Now, let’s be clear – by accepting your anxiety, you’re not resigning yourself to a life of eternal misery. You’re not throwing in the towel and trying “like” your anxiety. What you’re doing is taking a step toward living a more mindful existence, being in the moment, and accepting whatever is in the moment with you.
3. Remember: Emotions Can’t Kill You
The scariest thing about a panic attack is the feeling that you’re having a heart attack. But you aren’t. Your brain can and will play tricks on you, trying to get you to believe that you are in physical danger. But the truth is, you’re not. This is called emotional reasoning. “I feel like you’re angry with me so you must be.” or “I feel like flying is dangerous therefore it is.” Just because you feel like it’s going to rain doesn’t mean it’s going to rain!
It’s important to remember that you’re having an emotional reaction to your thoughts that feels like anxiety and it will pass. Remind yourself of that as many times as you need to.
4. Question Your Thoughts
When the anxiety starts to creep in, your mind begins to throw all sorts of nonsense at you you, hoping some of it sticks. These thoughts are intended to keep the anxiety going.
Before you take these thoughts as gospel, stop for a second and question them. For instance, if your mind gives you, “I’m going to die alone. I’m gonna blow this exam. I think I left the stove on. Traffic is going to suck on the way home and I’m going to miss dinner.”
Questions this stuff. Are you really going die alone? How do you know this? You’re only 31 years old. Are you really going to fail the exam? You’ve never failed one before. You get the idea.
Always question your thoughts. If your minds is anything like mine and most people’s, you’ll find most of the thoughts it gives you when you’re anxious are nonsense. ????
Be like Happy Gilmore and go to your Happy Place. Maybe it’s the house your grew up in. Maybe it’s that tiny island you escaped to when you went backpacking after college. Just picture it in our mind’s eye and use all your senses to immerse yourself in the moment. See it. smell it, feel it. Feel how calm it feels to be in this space that is perfectly comforting and safe
Life is short but dealing with anxiety can feel like forever. Use these techniques the next time you experience an anxiety attack. They should help you feel much calmer much sooner. But if you’re still struggling, find an awesome therapist you like and trust to help you learn how to manage your stress and anxiety.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in Greater New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.