Around 40 million people in the U.S. have an anxiety disorder, which can range from a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), defined as “intense worrying you can’t control” to panic attacks, complete with heart palpitations, trembling, shaking, and/or sweating.
Whether you experience is of mild or extreme anxiety, there are ways you can take immediately to calm down your anxiety. Here are some of the best ways
1. Become Present
Anxiety is a future-oriented state of mind. So instead of worrying about what’s going to happen, “reel yourself back to the present,” says Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety.
2. Accept your anxiety
This may sound counterintuitive, but Chansky says accepting your anxiety (instead of feeling ashamed or frustrated by it) will actually help you feel less anxious.
Accepting it doesn’t mean giving up, either. It means you stop spending energy berating yourself for being anxious and instead learn what works for you when it comes to self-soothing.
3. Relabel whats happening
Panic attacks can often make you feel like you’re dying or having a heart attack. Remind yourself: “I’m having a panic attack, but it’s harmless, it’s temporary, and there’s nothing I need to do,” Chansky says.
In actuality, panic attacks are an activation of the body’s fight-or-flight response, which doesn’t kill you–it keeps you alive.
4. Listen to music
Music can activate reward systems in the brain that increase feelings of pleasure and reduce anxiety & stress.
5. Avoid procrastination
People with anxiety may want to put off important projects or task to avoid stress.
However, procrastination often results in a last-minute rush to complete the tasks before a deadline which causes even greater stress and anxiety.
6. Avoid caffeine
Caffeine is well-known as an anxiety inducer. Caffeine causes a spike in adrenaline levels, and this can make some people feel anxious or on edge. People suffering from anxiety should definitely reduce caffine intake.
7. Breathing in and out.
Deep breathing helps you calm down. While you may have heard about specific breathing exercises, you don’t need to worry about counting out a certain number of breaths, Chansky says. Instead just focus on evenly inhaling and exhaling. This will help slow down and re-center your mind, she says.