Anxiety often sneaks up for seemingly no reason at all and hijacks the situation. Whether you’re in a social environment or at home, anxiety can appear and overwhelm you in a way that’s debilitating. Fortunately, there are a few anxiety relief techniques you can try to help curb your anxiety.
Let’s take a closer look …
Anxiety Relief Techniques You Can Try
There’s a big difference between feeling stressed or nervous and feeling the effects of anxiety disorders.
For starters, anxiety comes in many forms. You may experience anxiety in social environments while others experience anxiety due to obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. Regardless of the cause, there are a few anxiety relief techniques you can try next time you feel anxiety creeping in.
1. Take Some Deep Breaths
Let’s start with one of the most fundamental anxiety relief techniques known. When you feel anxious, you might begin taking quick, shallow breaths. This can actually lead to over-breathing or hyperventilation. You might feel like it’s hard to get a deep breath and start gasping for air. One way you can combat this problem and calm down is to take some deep breaths. Start by breathing in deeply and slowly through your nose. Hold for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Pause before taking another breath. By focusing on slowing down your breathing, you’ll also slow down your heart rate and that will be a signal to your brain that you can safely calm down.
2. Work On Grounding Yourself
Focusing on your own body and what’s going on with yourself, or grounding, can help you disengage from whatever is making you feel stressed. This is particularly true if your thoughts are running off on anxious tangents. One easy grounding technique is to go through the five senses. Identify three things you see, three things you hear, three things you smell, and so on. This type of exercise will often get your mind focused on what is actually happening rather than on what might happen.
3. Talk Yourself Down
If you know what’s making you feel anxious, you can try to talk yourself down. Ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen if what you are worried about comes true. Most of the time, the worst that could happen is that someone else might get angry, you might get a bad grade on a project, or you might end up in an uncomfortable situation. Then ask yourself what might happen if those things do occur: If a coach or a friend gets angry, what could happen? If you get a bad grade on a project, how will it impact your life? When you look at things logically, you’ll usually find that what you’re worried about, if it happens, won’t cause any long-lasting implications.
4. Go for A Run
Exercise gets your endorphins, or feel-good hormones, moving. It can also relieve anxiety and stress. If you feel your adrenaline surging, try going for a jog, playing with the dog in the backyard, or doing some other type of physical activity. You’ll likely burn off some of your excess anxiety-producing energy and find that you’re better able to cope with your stress. As a bonus, the extra exercise will help you sleep better, which will further reduce your anxiety levels. For this reason, we recommend you integrate this technique as one of your main anxiety relief techniques you try.
Further reading: Finding the Right Amount of Exercise for Teens
5. Write Down Your Worries
Keeping a journal of your anxieties can help you keep them in check. Find a notebook or journal that you like, and spend a few minutes each day writing down your worries. If you do it at the same time each day, you will find that you’ll naturally start to put off worrying until it’s time to write your concerns down in your journal. If you start feeling anxious at a different time of day, jot it down and tell yourself that you’ll worry about it later during your journaling time. You can also go back and read the things you worried about weeks or months ago to see if any of the things you were afraid of ended up happening. In many cases, you’ll find that your worry was for nothing. If the event did occur, you’ll see that you got through it just fine.
6. Call a Friend
Distracting yourself by calling a friend can be helpful when you are feeling anxious. You can talk about unrelated topics or you can focus your discussion on whatever is bothering you. One caveat: It might be best to choose a friend who does not struggle with the same type of anxiety you do. It won’t be helpful if your friend agrees that it’s worth it to worry at length about a report you have to give next week and gives you additional things to dwell on, for example. Instead, choose a friend who is practical and who tends not to get too concerned about whatever it is you are anxious about.
7. Do Some Yoga
Similar to going for a run, yoga has proven to be one of the most effective anxiety relief techniques. So much, in fact, we offer a therapy program built around yoga. Practices like yoga and meditation can help you reign in your worries. They help in the short-term by distracting you and helping you to ground yourself. In the long term, they help by teaching you how to calm down quickly and effectively. You can join a yoga class or find videos on how to do some of the movements online. Meditation techniques can also be researched online; it’s largely a matter of finding what works for you and practicing it regularly.
Discover the benefits of our Teen Integrative Yoga Therapy Program
8. Look Back From the Future
If you are anxious about a particular event that’s coming up, picture yourself after the event has passed. Imagine how you will look back on the event. How will you feel? Will you be proud of yourself for having participated? Even if things don’t go well, will you remember it in a year or in five years? Many times, people worry about things that they won’t even remember several weeks or months into the future. Try to determine whether what you are anxious about will matter in the long run.
9. Seek Professional Help
If you’ve tried the anxiety relief techniques mentioned about and still suffer from the effects of anxiety, it may be time to seek professional help. Talk to your primary care doctor about being referred to a mental health specialist or counselor who can teach you strategies for overcoming your anxiety. Some people also benefit from medication to help them manage their condition. There’s no need to suffer from anxiety; between medication, counseling, and lifestyle changes, you can go on to live a life that is not plagued by worries.
Dr. Nalin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and Founder and Executive Director of Paradigm Treatment Centers, who has been a respected leader in the field of adolescent mental health for more than 20 years. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California, his Master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University, his Doctoral degree from Pacific University’s APA approved Clinical Psychology program, and completed his training at the University of California, San Diego’s APA approved psychology internship program.
Dr. Nalin has provided training and mentoring to students entering the field of psychology at institutions of learning including Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, UCSD, Pacific University, and Santa Monica College. He was also instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.
Dr. Nalin has appeared as an expert on shows ranging from CBS News and Larry King, to CNN, The Today Show and MTV. He was also featured in an Anti-Drug Campaign for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
Dr. Nalin is a Diplomate of the National Institute of Sports Professionals and a Certified Sports Psychologist as well as a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist. He lectures and conducts workshops nationally on the issues of teen mental health, substance abuse prevention, and innovative adolescence treatment.
In 2017 Dr. Nalin was awarded The Sigmund Freud Foundation and Sigmund Freud University’s Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of his work with youth in the field of mental health over the course of his career.