12 Powerful Ways to Reduce and Calm Your Anxiety

12 Powerful Ways to Reduce and Calm Your Anxiety

Today I want to share 12 tips that have been really useful for me to calm my anxiety in everyday life.

Because if you’re anything like me you have been there many times.

You’re sitting in a waiting room. Or just waiting somewhere.

Soon it will begin.

Your leg is starting to shake nervously. Your hands are starting to sweat and maybe your mouth feels a bit dry.

Your thoughts are becoming jumbled, it is hard to focus and to think as clearly as you usually do.

Maybe you have an important test in school. A job interview. An appointment with your doctor or dentist.

A date that you are looking forward to but at the same time you are scared to make a fool of yourself on.

Whatever it may be it is making you anxious.

Now, these self-help tips are for relieving low or medium levels of anxiety. They are not intended for anxiety attacks or anything that serious.

I know nothing about such things and would recommend that you seek professional help in such situations.

1. Breathe.

Sit down, in a quiet place if possible.

Breathe a little deeper than usual and do it with your belly and not with your chest.

For just a minute or two focus on only the air going in and out of your nostrils. Nothing else.

This will calm your mind and body down.

And it will bring your attention back to the present moment instead of it being lost in overthinking scary, future scenarios or bad memories from the past.

2. Get good knowledge.

Dispel the clouds of uncertainty and vague fears by researching what you have anxiety about.

By talking to people who have done what you are about to do or want to do – or by reading what they have written – you can build a more realistic roadmap with both positives and negatives of how things are likely to go.

And learn how to improve in the area that gives you anxiety.

Do research on the best ways to become better at and less nervous when – for instance – doing public speaking, job interviews or presentations at work or in school.

3. Do a quick workout.

I like to lift heavy weights for about 30 minutes when I feel worried, stressed or anxious.

It makes me feel stronger both in mind and body. It releases inner tensions and relaxes me.

Others go out for a quick run, walk or bike ride when they feel anxious.

Find a way to exercise that fits you and lets you reap these benefits and counteract anxiety.

4. Focus on something else.

Sometimes it is more helpful to simply redirect your mind instead of thinking about what creates your current anxiety.

Especially if you have no control over the situation that causes the anxiety like for example an upcoming appointment with your doctor or the dentist.

So focus your attention somewhere else for a while and recharge it with something positive.

Watch a couple of episodes of your favorite sit-com or TV-series. Browse your favorite social media feeds. Have relaxing or upbeat evening with friends.

Do something that takes your mind off the situation that causes anxiety, even if it is just for a few hours.

After that recharge you will not only likely feel better but you will also be in a better headspace and at a higher energy level to handle and think about the anxious situation.

5. Don’t forget to eat.

When I forget to eat because I am stressed and anxious then that only tends to worsen my state of mind.

It becomes harder to think clearly and negative scenarios more easily pop up in my mind.

So even if you don't feel that hungry keep an eye on the clock and if you may be running low on fuel.

6. Change your focus to what you can do right now.

When you ask yourself questions that make you feel powerless or like things will only get worse and worse then you take away your personal power.

Empower yourself by instead asking yourself:

What is one small thing I can do to improve upon this situation today?

Write that question down and brainstorm answers for a few minutes. Then take action on one of the answers you find.

It doesn’t have to be a big action, just one small step forward. And when you are done with it then take another one.

This movement forward will make you feel like you are starting to regain control over your life again, it will make you feel at least a bit more confident and it, in my experience, tends to reduce the anxiety.

7. Question your worries and anxiety.

Look to your own past and ask yourself:

How many situations that I have been anxious about in the past have turned out to be exaggerations or me making a mountain out of a molehill in my mind?

Question your anxiety and worries instead of letting them roam freely.

8. Remember: You have handled tough situations in the past.

When you are standing in the middle of anxiety and fear bubbling up within then it is easy to get dragged down with it.

To lose faith in yourself and your abilities.

When that happens focus on your breathing first to calm and clear your mind. Then look to the past for a bit of strength and confidence in what you can do.

Doing this helps me to go from feeling powerless to feeling like I am standing on firmer ground again.

9. Let the feeling in to let it go.

Sometimes an anxious feeling can feel sticky and vague.

You don’t know exactly where it is coming from or what is causing it. It can be hard to get rid of.

A bit of an odd solution that has worked well for me in such situations is this:

When you feel a negative feeling then allow and accept that feeling. Don’t try to keep it out. Don’t try to fight it.

Even though many of us have learned to do those two things to negative feelings throughout life.

Instead, this time, just let it in and observe the feeling in your mind and body without judging it.

If you let it in and just observe it for a couple of minutes something wonderful happens.

First it may feel uncomfortable and more intense.

But then the feeling loses power. It weakens.

Often to the point that it just vanishes. Or so you can let it go without much effort.

Because when you accept the feeling and let it in you stop feeding it with more energy (as you would when you tried your hardest to keep it out or to fight it).

10. Let it out into the light.

When you keep something inside of you then your head can become an echo chamber that magnifies and doubles the anxiety and fear in a situation.

So let it out instead.

Talk to someone close to you about the situation at hand. Just venting to someone who will listen can help you to get a more grounded view on what's happening.

Or the two of you can discuss it and help you to reclaim your power by making a small, initial plan for how you can reduce the anxiety about this situation by taking some kind of action.

11. Stay in the present moment.

Anxiety is often a fear of something you think will happen in future.

One way to reduce that anxiety is to simply stay with your attention in the present moment as much as you can.

Perhaps you make a small plan in advance to help you out but you choose to deal with the anxiety-creating situation when it happens.

Instead of spending hours each day with imagining and fearing the future and creating monsters in your mind.

The breathing technique at the start of this article is one of the best techniques I have found for returning to the present moment when you get lost in the future.

Another one of my favorites you can try is this one:

Take 1-2 minutes and focus only on what’s right in front of you.

Or around you and on you. Look at what’s right in front of you.

Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the fabric of your clothes. Feel the warmth of the winter sun on your skin.

12. Remember: There is a brand new day tomorrow.

This reminder helps me when today or the last week may not have gone so well.

Because there will be a brand new day tomorrow. A day when you can begin again.

A day when you can take a new step to move towards what you want and likely have a bit more luck.

And when it will be easier to see that this difficult time is only temporary and not permanent (even if it might feel that way right now).


About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehack, The Huffington Post and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • My favourite one here is the one about getting out and getting some exercise – I find that is SUCH a great way to move my anxious energy through and out of my mind and body.

    This also reminds me of a really effective Mindfulness exercise to reduce anxiety that I wrote about here.

    If you get a chance, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks Henrik!

    Julia Kristina

    • Rog

      Strong work! Love breathing part! The part of how to do it properly!7

  • Great post Henrik. My two favorites are the breathing and the exercise. I use both a lot and always have a clearer and calmer mind on the other side.

  • Henrik, I should say that these are some excellent rational thoughts. But, I honestly believe that anxiety is much more serious, and at time if it combines with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), it will jolt down a person with a huge blow.

    A typical case of anxiety that I have experienced is during the process of waiting for the report after a routine health check for you or a loved one. I can say that it is one hell of an experience. You will be paralyzed altogether and won’t be in a position to do anything.

    I wrote this article on anxiety some time back. Hope it is useful for someone

  • Morgan Price

    These are wonderful suggestions! I struggle with a little anxiety in some situations and these tips are definitely welcome! Taking time to step back from the situation and breathe is a great way to calm yourself down and I will try some of your other tips.

  • #1: Turn your phone on airplane mode and think of waiting as found time. Never go anywhere without a book, magazine or notebook. (Or knitting, podcasts or music to enjoy, etc.) At last resort, close your eyes and take a nap. Daydream. #BeyondTheBucketList

  • Alice Loos

    Very handy.
    Thanks for learning us a lesson

  • Alaine

    I love these suggestions Henrik…..I have tried many and find them very helpful…..Thanks for capturing them in such a straightforward and uncomplicated way. Another thing that helps me is writing my thoughts as they come to mind….eg when I am waiting at the doctor’s office for test results etc. I use my tablet or a notebook and I pour out, in writing, all the fears and anxious thoughts……it makes the time seem to go by faster and my mind feels clearer and calmer..Love reading the comments that your post generates.

  • Very nice blog

  • NavK.Pal

    It is always inspirational and worth applying steps to any situation in life. I always read and try to apply at the same time. Always wonderful tips Henrik! Thank You!

  • Anonymous

    Simply genius. Simple but incredibly powerful tools. Ty!

  • Thanks for this article!

    I used to have major social anxiety in the past.

    I’d get anxious about what I should say, how I should behave, should I talk more, should I listen more, and instead of being in the moment and enjoying the social interactions going on, I’d just be super stressed out and end up acting weirdly instead of being my authentic self.

    Perhaps the game-changer for me was accepting the fact that the best way to handle social interactions was to simply be myself.

    Sounds easy in theory, but it took me a long time before I became completely comfortable with social situations.

  • Very helpful artical thankyou for this

  • For me the 4th step is very useful.
    Whenever i have anxiety i will start watching my favorite movies.
    Thanks for sharing such a good article it is very useful for us.