Whether it’s your significant other, parent or co-worker who tells you to relax when you are feeling anxious, it causes you to do what?
Feel more anxious.
It actually can do more harm than good to try forcing yourself to relax without doing something to take your mind off of some upcoming event or situation.
Feeling anxious about something may make you want to run away, quit your job or just change your name and start anew.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, those are not the options that will help you overcome what is causing your anxiety.
How to Calm Yourself Down
How to relax? You may think about taking a weekend getaway, spa day or shopping trip.
Those are short-term fixes and can be really expensive, too.
After the event ends, you still are left with the same anxiety.
What may worsen the situation is that you may have used the money you needed to save just to forget about your anxiety for a moment.
That is not the right way to relax.
Instead of going on that weekend getaway, changing your identity or spending needed money, give yourself five minutes.
In five minutes, or maybe 10 minutes, you can relieve your anxiety, possibly solve your problems and be more positive.
Yes, you can calm yourself down in five minutes.
You may not believe that five minutes can take away all the negatives feelings, but it can.
It all depends on what you do to calm anxiety.
For example, you can sit at your desk at work and worry, or you can chew gum.
You probably had to reread that last sentence a couple of times, but you read it correctly. It is how to relax your mind.
Chewing gum is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
The fruity, minty or bubble-gum flavor quickly reduces cortisol levels. These levels are what causes you to feel anxious.
Choose a mango.
Some may say that eating a mango is like taking a tropical vacation without the expensive plane ride, but it is a heck of an anxiety reliever.
The fruit is packed with a compound called linalool. Linalool helps reduce stress levels quickly.
Take a five-minute break. Break open the mango, peel it, slice it, eat it and feel your anxiety disappear.
You may not want to eat your way to stress relief, which is perfectly understandable when you have other options.
For instance, take five minutes and go to an area where it is completely silent and you can be completely alone.
Let the quietness ease your mind and clear your thoughts.
The silence alone can help you forget about what is making you anxious.
It also can replace those negative emotions with positive thoughts and emotions. It is definitely a good way to relax your mind.
You may want to get organized or clean a cluttered area.
A lot of times anxiety is amped up by our environment. The messier an area where you work or live, the more stressed out you feel.
You cannot think because everything is crowding you in and making you feel trapped.
Getting organized may involve stacking papers, organizing files, or throwing away things you do not need.
You may not be able to take an immediate vacation, ignore people trying to help you relax or make some drastic, unwanted change to your environment.
What you can do is take a few minutes for yourself and do something positive to relieve your anxiety.
You may or may not like the few examples listed above, but that does not mean you are out of options.
You have plenty of anxiety-reducing options.
Below are more techniques you can use to put your mind at ease and take your life in a positive direction.
First, let’s start by demystifying anxiety.
Even the thought of the word “anxiety” can cause your stress levels to increase for no reason.
So, let’s take a lot of power out of the negative word.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the feeling of nervousness, fear, or uneasiness about an upcoming event or any situation with an uncertain outcome.
A pending job promotion is one example of an upcoming event.
You think about getting the promotion, more money, and more responsibilities.
You feel a surge of fear and uncertainty.
You begin asking yourself questions about your readiness or worthiness.
The more you think about the possible promotion, the more you begin to fear the positive.
You begin thinking about what could go wrong, or if you deserve the job.
The more you think about the job, the more anxious you become about the upcoming event.
The term “anxiety” also includes a group of nervous disorders characterized by apprehension or uneasiness.
These negative feelings can lead to panic attacks or compulsive behavior.
Most people may have general anxiety, not one brought on by a nervous disorder.
The symptoms and signs connected to anxiety include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Tightness in your chest
- Muscle tension
- Heart palpitations
- High blood pressure
- Panic attacks
- Digestive problems
- Inability to socialize
- Difficulty concentrating
Common Causes of Anxiety
It is hard to know why you may have constant anxiety about something and another individual does not.
In fact, the exact cause of anxiety is not known.
However, there are some common factors that may lead to your anxiety.
These factors include:
- Your diet: What you eat and/or drink can affect your mood each day. In fact, some foods and drinks may mimic and trigger anxiety, such as coffee, soft drinks and energy drinks, sugary foods and over-processed foods.
- Your past and/or childhood experiences: If something in your past caused you particular pain or suffering, you may subconsciously fear you will experience the same feelings again. Every time you face a situation or upcoming event similar to your past experience, you may feel anxious.
- Your everyday work and life habits: How you spend your time throughout your day can affect the way you feel and react to a certain situation. You may work long hours, be exhausted, or constantly work under pressure.
- Your physical or mental health: Some physical health issues, such as a permanent injury or chronic pain can cause anxiety. Mental issues such as depression also can lead to anxiety.
- Any medications you may be taking: All medications have side effects. One side effect is you can become anxious or nervous for no reason. Other drugs, such as alcohol or illegal controlled substances also can cause anxiety.
How can you calm anxiety when you do not know what is causing your anxiety?
Well, the key is looking at the cause of the problem. You never focus on the problem.
Instead, focus on the solution.
The solution is finding how to calm down when you are really anxious.
The Ways You Can Eliminate Anxiety from Your Life
Now for the moment, you have been waiting for, here are the techniques that will help you get rid of the anxiety plaguing you.
The list is not by order of importance.
Get a Clear Understanding of What You Need to Do
Part of being anxious is feeling as though you have to do everything yesterday.
You may feel like nothing ever will get done, so you try to do everything at once.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed, turn that anxiety into empowerment. Sit down for five minutes.
Make a list of what you clearly can get done today. The list should be in order by the tasks you will accomplish today.
Do not try making a long list. You only want the tasks you can complete today.
Leave the other tasks for another time. This will reduce anxiety because you are getting things done.
Understand What You Can and Cannot Control
The next sentence could be the most difficult sentence you ever have read.
You cannot control everything.
Some things will happen to you regardless of what you do for or against the outcome.
Trying to control every part of your life can leave you stressed out and anxious.
Even trying to control one thing, such as an upcoming wedding or relocation can cause anxiety.
To reduce this anxiety, figure out what you can control, and what you cannot control.
If a wedding is running over budget, look for ways to reduce costs.
If your dream venue is not available, do not keep trying to book it. It is out of your control.
Instead, look for another dream venue. You can reduce a lot of anxiety by focusing on the things you can control.
Go Back to Childhood
You never can relive your childhood, but you can revisit your favorite childhood activity as an anxiety buster.
Do you remember how you loved to dig in dirt, skate or shoot hoops?
They were your favorite activities because they helped you relax.
Take five or 10 minutes and do those things. It does not have to be done immediately.
You can plan to do the activity after work or on the weekend.
If you do not have any childhood activities you loved to do, you can take a cue from your children.
Take time to play one of their games with them.
Take five minutes and focus on nothing but deep breathing. Sit up straight. Close your eyes.
Place your hand over your stomach. As slow as you can, inhale through your nose.
The breath should begin in your abdomen and slowly work its way to the top of your head.
Hold your breath for a couple of moments, then exhale through your mouth.
Be sure to focus on your breathing and not what is making you anxious.
Deep breathing is like a superhero saving you from the evil anxiety.
Each time you inhale deeply, you decrease your anxiety by slowing your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure.
You are anxious and stressed out and you have about 10 minutes of free time.
Here is what you do. Place a warm heat wrap or hot wet towel around your neck and shoulders.
Keep it in that area for about five to 10 minutes.
During that time, close your eyes. Focus on relaxing the muscles in your neck, back, face and upper chest.
Remove the wrap or towel. If you have a tennis ball handy, place it between your back and the wall.
Lean into the ball and hold in place. You should lean back enough to apply gentle pressure.
After 15 seconds, move the ball to a different area. You also can try this with a foam roller.
If you do not have either one handy, you can try applying pressure to your neck and shoulder areas with your hand.
Get Lost in Your Favorite Songs
If you are at work and have the option to listen to music, do it.
Whether at your desk or on your lunch break, take five minutes to listen to your favorite songs.
The goal here is making you forget all about the things causing your anxiety.
Listening to music lowers your blood pressure, anxiety, and heart rate.
If you are at home and cannot stop worrying, then it is time to dance. Play your favorite song list.
Turn up the music and dance. Focus on expelling that nervous energy.
Do not think about dance moves or moving to the beat of the music.
Your goal is to dance and forget about your worries. If you take more than five minutes dancing to your favorite songs, that is OK.
Run in Place
Since you cannot run away from your problems or the anxiety you are feeling, you might as well run in place.
Running in place for five minutes is a great way to reduce anxiety because it is physical activity.
Besides, you get your endorphins flowing and get pumped to do something other than worry.
You do not have to run at a super fast pace. Just run in place and do not focus on the things making you anxious.
You probably talked about your problems to friends and family, but nothing is better than seeing them on paper.
Writing about your anxiety or problems helps relieve stress and clears your mind.
You are able to get all the cluttered messed in your mind out of the way.
You can think about the positive things instead. In addition, writing makes the situation less intimidating.
You can write in a journal for five minutes a day, or anytime you are feeling anxious.
Never try to outline your journal like you are trying to write an exam. The key to successful writing in a journal is just to start writing.
Concentrate on a Crossword Puzzle
Crossword puzzles are another anxiety buster. They require concentration and total focus.
If you are super anxious, spend about five minutes working on a crossword puzzle.
Trying to figure out a five-letter word here and a seven-letter word there will help you become less anxious.
Get a View of Nature
You want to get away from it all, but you cannot fly off to a tropical island on your lunch break.
No worries. Look out the window for five minutes. You can people watch without spying.
Look at the scenery. Take a moment to embrace nature. It can help you decrease your anxiety.
Also, it is better than staring at a screen to relieve stress. Besides, a change in your environment may work wonders.
Spend Time in the Sun
One of the biggest anxiety relievers is found in nature.
The sun is nature’s way of helping you take a vacation without leaving home.
For five minutes, go outside and stand in a sunny area. The sun’s rays will lift your spirits and relax your body and mind.
Just standing in the sun for a short time can feel like a massage to your body.
Bright light is an effective treatment for anyone who is depressed, too.
Visualizing for five minutes is a great way to help you get rid of your anxiety. Pick a favorite spot.
Close your eyes. Imagine you are in that favorite spot, lounging around by the pool or skiing.
Pick a place you love to help you relax.
Another option is visualizing yourself overcoming the situation that makes you anxious.
Are you worried about taking the GRE? Visualize yourself reading the toughest question and realizing you know the answer.
You also can visualize what could go wrong and how you will fix it.
For example, you are anxious about not getting a house you want to buy. Visualize not getting the house.
Now what? Envision all the ways you will go about getting another house or how you will remedy the situation.
It takes the fear out of the situation and helps you feel in control.
Focus on the Present
Thinking too far into the future can cause a lot of anxiety and mistakes.
If you are 23 years old and trying to make the right decision for yourself 10 years into the future, you will fear a lot.
Thinking and planning the future is a great opportunity to determine your goals and interests.
It is not a good thing when you begin to obsess, fear the worst, or become uneasy.
Instead, focus for five minutes on the present moment. Let your senses engage in every aspect of the environment.
For instance, let your hearing absorb the sounds of birds chirping, cars passing by, or people chatting.
Let your sense of taste enjoy the tea or cold water you are drinking. Remember, the future is not guaranteed.
So, enjoy the moment.
List Your Day’s Successes
Sometimes we get too bogged down in our problems or situations to realize we actually accomplished some tasks.
If you get stressed about everything going wrong, it can be hard to unwind and think positively.
So, write down what you have accomplished that day. It does not have to be a long list. It can be one thing.
The point is to remind yourself that things are going right.
If you cannot think of any accomplishments, write down the good things that happened to you today.
You will find that by thinking of the good things that happened to you, you will stop thinking about the bad things.
Seek a Bathroom Break
When you are feeling anxious, stressed out, or overwhelmed at work, school or anywhere else, you can escape to the bathroom.
You can stand either by the sink or go into a stall. Whichever option you choose, you need to do the following.
Close your eyes. Breathe in, hold it, and count to three. Exhale. Repeat this method about three or four times.
After several minutes, breathe normally and without taking deep breathes.
Tell yourself that you are relaxed, energized and ready to go accomplish your goals.
You may not think counting backward is a way to relax, but it is. When you are anxious, super worried or nervous, slowly count backward.
Counting backward helps you calm down. It is harder to continue to freak out or worry when you have to concentrate on counting backward.
It is not that you cannot count, but that you get to focus on something else besides your problems.
Take a Quick Walk
Walking is a great way to keep fit and/or lose weight.
However, the focus right now is on walking the anxiety out of your body. When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, you cannot think or concentrate.
Walking helps you gather your thoughts and can help you calm down.
You do not have to take a long stroll in the park. You can take a quick walk around your workplace or around the block.
You just need enough time to be alone, gather your thoughts, and walk out those negative emotions.
A five-minute walk should work perfectly.
Stretch out the Anxiety
You may not be able to take a quick walk because you are at work or in some area you cannot leave.
Do not worry. Take five minutes and stretch. A quick stretch relieves tension and helps you to relax.
You even can stretch without leaving your desk. For example, roll out your shoulders or complete a chest-opening stretch from your chair.
Cuddle with a Pet
Being a pet parent has its advantages. When you are anxious and humans just want to lecture you, your pet is always there.
You can snuggle with them and instantly relax.
They can be a boost to your self-esteem and ease the negativity you feel.
If you do not have a pet, you can ask someone you know if you could cuddle with their pet for a little while.
If you see an owner walking their dog, you always can ask if you can pet their dog. Fido may not mind the attention.
Add Some Cold Water to Your Life
Ignore the perfume when you are anxious. Add water to your wrists.
It does sound perplexing, but it may help you relax.
Dab some cold water on your wrists and behind your earlobes. These areas of your body have blood vessels right underneath your skin.
Cooling off these areas can help you calm down.
Purposely Throw off Your Plans
You may be the type of person who plans your day. You may be the type who gets stuck in a daily routine.
It does not matter your personality type. What matters is deviating from the typical demands of your daily routine.
Look for opportunities to turn five minutes into a memorable moment.
You can spend five minutes talking with your friend on the telephone, taking your dog for an extra walk, or going to an event.
By changing your routine, you can get rid of a lot of anxiety and fear about the future or your current situation.
You may surprise yourself and keep throwing yourself off schedule.
Be Nice to Yourself
Anxiety can produce a lot of negative talks.
You think about a situation and all of a sudden you are thinking negative thoughts, or you can hear the voice of someone bullying you and all the bad things they used to say.
Take five minutes and talk positively to yourself. Turn those negative thoughts or statements into positive ones.
Instead of thinking words like “never,” “can’t,” or “stupid,” replace them with positive words such as “will” and “can.”
This allows you to manage your anxiety and eliminate those negative thoughts, opinions or beliefs.
Take a Moment to Accept Your Anxiety
Anxiety may seem like a huge monster you cannot outrun, but it is just like any other feeling.
Take a few minutes and remind yourself that what you feel is not the end of your world. It is an emotion.
Accepting that you are anxious doesn’t mean you like it or will be trapped in the feeling forever.
You are taking the power away from the feeling by accepting it and moving on with your day.
Take about five minutes and draw something. You do not need an expensive art set to do it.
You simply can use a pen and scrap paper. You want to just draw. Do not have a plan. It takes your mind off the anxiety you feel.
Drawing is like writing. By using your creativity, you effectively can relieve stress. Why?
You are thinking about something else. Also, you are using your imagination and trying to create a masterpiece. OK.
It is not intended to be a masterpiece. That does not mean you cannot enjoy the moment while you are drawing.
Reading is an activity that can reduce anxiety and get your mind off a stressful situation.
Take a book, e-book, or audiobook with you for the times you become too anxious. Read for about five minutes and try enjoying yourself.
Pick a book you are interested in and cannot wait to finish. It does not matter if you love nonfiction, fiction, or even a comic book.
The point is to read something that will take your mind away from what is making you anxious.
This is a great alternative to trying to complete a crossword if you are not into them, but need to engage in an activity to relieve anxiety.
If you need divine intervention, you can pray. Take five minutes to pray for guidance or enlightenment.
Praying is a great way to reduce the anxiety you feel about a situation.
You can pray the rosary or just pray about a specific situation. If you are not the praying type, or you do not believe in a higher power, that is perfectly fine.
Instead of praying, you may want to take time to reflect on your situation.
The point of praying and/or reflecting is getting your mind off the stressful situation.
It may clear your mind and give you a chance give your anxiety over to a higher power.
Clean One Room in Your Home
If you are at home and anxiety hits you, do not stress out. Pick a room in your home or apartment and clean it.
You may start off doing something for five minutes, such as starting in one section of the room.
You just can do this for about five minutes to get your anxiety to a manageable level.
However, this activity does come with a warning. You may start out with the intention of cleaning for five minutes.
You may continue until the entire room or house is clean. Do not feel bad if this happens.
It is perfectly fine to enjoy cleaning and not sitting at home anxious.
You may be familiar with the term “affirmations.”
They are not only thinking about good but telling yourself good things. The point of affirmations is making yourself feel better.
You may tell yourself something such as, “I will not let my anxiety control me.” Another affirmation is “I am OK. I just am feeling anxious.”
Affirmations are not for everyone.
Some people may think of affirmations and think of the Saturday Night Live skits from the 1990s featuring current U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota as Stuart Smalley.
However, they can be beneficial for reducing anxiety.
If you are not comfortable with saying nice things to yourself, then check out the SNL skits for a laugh.
They definitely will take your mind off your anxiety for five minutes.
Rub Your Hoku
Yes, it does sound dirty, but it is not. Your Hoku is the flap of skin on the palm of your hand that connects your thumb and index, or pointer, finger.
It is a spot used during acupressure to relieve tension in your body.
All you have to do is place slight pressure on the area to feel the stress disappear.
You can determine for yourself how much pressure is needed.
The point is not to hurt yourself by using too much pressure. You want to use enough pressure to relieve stress and tension, though.
Yes, you read that correctly. For five minutes, give into what you were doing subconsciously, worrying.
Allow yourself to freak out and think about whatever is causing your anxiety. Think about the worst possible outcomes and believe the most terrible things are going to happen.
Worry for five minutes with the goal of getting all the anxiety out of your body. After five minutes, stop.
Do something fun, even it is for an additional five minutes. Do not allow yourself to think about it again.
Take a Whiff
Aromatherapy is a great way to relax when you are anxious. For instance, lavender oil is a well-known essential oil used for relaxation.
The oil’s benefits include enhancing blood circulation, reducing nervous tension and relieving stress.
Rose oil is another example of aromatherapy. It has a positive effect on your nervous system.
This helps you mentally relax. It also can relieve insomnia.
Take a bath with the oils or find a container to keep the scents with you. When you are anxious, partake in aromatherapy.
When you are anxious about something, laughter may be the best stress reliever.
In fact, it is a great form of exercise because it fills your lungs with oxygen. It also reduces stress because it lifts your mood and relaxes your body.
If you can, keep a joke book with you. When you are stressed or anxious, read a couple of jokes for five minutes.
Even goofy jokes can make you laugh.
In your five minutes of allotted time, you may want to go online and watch a couple minutes of your favorite comedy.
Knitting or any craft can help you relieve your anxiety because you are focused on creating something.
In addition, the rhythmic movement is soothing and can be a powerful distraction in anxiety-ridden moments.
If you do not know how to knit, learn how. Focus on the craft every time you are anxious.
You will take your mind off the things that worry you and learn something new.
You may not know this, but stress and anxiety can be dehydrating.
Take five minutes, get a big glass or cup of water and slowly sip it. It will be soothing and allow your body to relax from your anxious situation.
Help other People
In times when you are the most anxious, see if your colleague, family member or someone you know needs help.
Activities such as volunteering your time can make you more resilient to what causes your anxiety.
You may not think about it, but there is someone in a worse position than you at the exact moment you are feeling anxious.
This helps you gain some perspective on your own situation. In addition, it gives you a chance to change someone’s life for the better.
Set goals and challenges for yourself every time you feel anxious.
Write down a list of challenges, such as learning a language or completing a task that will take your mind off your anxiety.
This will build your confidence.
Connect with People
It is easy to hide away from people you know when you are anxious. You may avoid phone calls or text messages.
When you are anxious, take five minutes to connect with supportive people. It may be a helpful colleague or family member.
You can discuss what is worrying you or just chitchat.
Plan a Day Trip
You need to get away and have fun.
You can spend five minutes planning where you want to go on a day trip.
It does not have to be a concrete plan, but a way to take your mind off your anxiety.
Interrupt Your Negative Thoughts
You are feeling anxious. Before you know it, you are thinking negative thoughts.
Take five minutes and become consciously aware of what you are thinking.
Each time you begin thinking negatively, silently tell yourself to stop.
Immediately interrupt the negative thought each time. Over time you may stop thinking negatively.
Create a Playlist for Times When You are Anxious
Mood music is a great way to get rid of anxiety.
Take time when you are anxious and create several playlists to use when you are anxious.
Searching for and adding music to a playlist will help you avoid anxiety.
Take a Nap
Take a nap for about five minutes. If you cannot fall asleep, close your eyes.
Try to start your day again. It can help you forget about your anxiety.
You never want to run to drugs and/or alcohol to relieve anxiety.
There are plenty of things you can do to get rid of anxiety.
Whether you choose to eat chocolate or rock out to your favorite music, you have the power to overcome your anxiety.