9 Things to Do If You Feel Anxious (2022)

Everyone goes through periods of feeling anxious and worried. After all, it’s a normal human experience. And whether you’re dealing with occasional bouts of anxiety or trying to manage excessive worries, doubts, and fears, having tools to help you calm your mind and body can reduce the intensity and duration of these feelings.

Here are nine strategies that can relax your mind, ease your anxiety, and help you regain control of your thoughts so that you can feel better.

Understand the Connection Between Anxiety and Depression

While not a specific strategy, understanding the connection between anxiety and depression can help you determine if what you’re dealing with is temporary or a sign of something more serious.

According to Leela R. Magavi, MD, a psychiatrist and regional medical director for Community Psychiatry, anxiety and depression are intertwined and frequently exacerbate each other. Part of the reason, she said, is because the same neurochemicals are implicated in both conditions.

More specifically, Julian Lagoy, MD, a psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry, explained that since decreased serotonin causes both depression and anxiety, it’s common for someone with depression to also feel anxious at the same time. That’s why it’s critical to acknowledge feelings of anxiety and share them with an expert, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with depression or are showing signs of depression.

Acknowledge Your Anxiety

Acknowledging when you feel anxious allows you to take steps to ease the symptoms. The first step is to accept that you cannot control everything. To do this, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) recommends putting feelings of stress or anxiety in perspective. 

When you have an anxious thought that won’t go away, ask yourself: “Is it really as bad as I think?” Take yourself through the process of breaking down the thought before jumping to the worst-case scenario. If you still answer yes, ask yourself the following:

  • How do I know the thought is true (what is the evidence)?
  • Can I reframe the thought into a more positive or realistic scenario?
  • What are the chances the thing I’m worried about will actually happen?
  • What is the worst possible outcome? How bad is this, and can I handle it?

This exercise is helpful for people who deal with chronic anxiety and worry.

Schedule a Worry Break

It may sound counterintuitive when looking at strategies to help you find relief from anxiety, but allowing yourself a short worry break each day can free up your energy to focus on the task at hand. How you set this up depends on your routine. One way is to schedule a chunk of time later in the day, maybe 15 minutes after dinner, to go through your worries for the day.

Earlier in the day, you can write down any worries or anxieties that creep into your mind. Then, give yourself permission to deal with them later. This allows you to go about your day while still acknowledging that something is bothering you.

Later, when you go over the worry list, make sure to set a timer. Review what you wrote, identify any thoughts that are still causing anxiety, and cross off those that don’t seem important anymore. Allow yourself a few minutes to sit with each concern.

(Video) 9 things to do when you’re feeling Stressed, Overwhelmed or Anxious. Stress Relief Tips❤️

Interrupt Your Thoughts

When negative thoughts or excessive worries run through your head, it can feel like there is no way to turn them off. One strategy to try is interrupting your anxious thoughts by doing something else. While it might not work every time, you may find that taking a break from overthinking can lead to fewer intrusive thoughts throughout the day. Here are some techniques to try:

  • Practice deep breathing
  • Take a mindfulness break
  • Move your body
  • Engage in an activity that brings you joy
  • Call a friend or loved one
  • Get outdoors and take a walk
  • Keep your hands busy by drawing, knitting, doing a puzzle, or building something

Practice Mindfulness Meditation and Relaxation

Mindfulness meditation, relaxation, and breathing exercises can help calm your mind and body, which may allow you to feel less worried. Plus, it only takes a few minutes each day to feel a difference. Use this time to be aware of what’s going on in your mind and body. Start with five minutes a day and work your way up to mindful moments several times a day.

To help you get started, listen to a guided meditation, or recorded breathing exercises. Once you feel comfortable with the practice, you will find more focus and awareness throughout the day.

Engage in Diaphragmatic Breathing

  1. Engaging in diaphragmatic breathing and registering bodily cues could help you better understand your emotional response to stress, according to Magavi. Many people who experience anxiety find it helpful to partake in guided body scan meditations while breathing slowly and deeply to identify how each emotion triggers disparate sensations in their body, Magavi said.

You can use this information to think about how to respond verbally or behaviorally. She recommends using diaphragmatic breathing and pranayama, which is alternative breathing or the practice of breath control.

Do One Thing Each Day That Brings You Joy

When you’re feeling anxious and want to take your mind off the stressor, Lagoy says to carve out time to do the things you love, whether that is riding a bike, reading a book, painting, or catching up with friends.

Regular exercise can help prevent or alleviate anxiety, as well as learning techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or practicing mindfulness,” Lagoy said.

Consider What Your Anxiety Is Telling You

Feeling anxious isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, anxious thoughts could be your body’s way of giving you valuable information. The next time you feel worry, fear, stress, or overwhelming thoughts of dread, stop, and take a deep breath. Instead of defaulting to “this is my anxiety talking,” reframe how you view the situation and ask yourself if your body is trying to tell you something. Do you need to slow down? Maybe you’re getting sick, and your body is responding with stress. Or maybe, there is a real threat, and you need to take action.

The Benefits of Anxiety and Nervousness

Talk to a Mental Health Professional

Feeling anxious all the time can be a sign of a mental health issue like depression. If your anxiety becomes excessive and difficult to manage, ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health professional, or contact a mental health professional directly. Talking with a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist who can treat the underlying issue may help you feel better.

(Video) 9 Things Social Anxiety Makes Us Do

Press Play for Advice On Mental Strength

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares 10 lessons about mental strength. Click below to listen now.

9 Things to Do If You Feel Anxious (1)

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A Word From Verywell

Occasional bouts of anxiety and worry may just be a sign that you need to take a break and implement some of the strategies listed above. Adding exercise, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, or a worry break into your day may help ease your mind. But if anxiety, nervousness, or worrying becomes excessive or begins to impact your life, it might be time to seek professional help.

'I Hate Life': What to Do If Nothing Makes You Happy

2 Sources

(Video) 9 Ways To Feel Less Anxious At Work

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. n.d.

  2. Chen KW, Berger CC, Manheimer E, et al. Meditative therapies for reducing anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depress Anxiety. 2012;29(7):545-62. doi:10.1002/da.21964

See Our Editorial Process

(Video) 9 Tips for Rewiring the Anxious Brain | Cognitive Behavioral Tools

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FAQs

How can I calm my 10 anxiety? ›

Coping Strategies
  1. Take a time-out. ...
  2. Eat well-balanced meals. ...
  3. Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  4. Get enough sleep. ...
  5. Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. ...
  6. Take deep breaths. ...
  7. Count to 10 slowly. ...
  8. Do your best.
8 Sept 2010

How can I stop feeling anxious? ›

Things you can try to help with anxiety, fear and panic
  1. try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. ...
  2. use calming breathing exercises.
  3. exercise – activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax.

What are 5 stress Busters? ›

10 stress busters
  • Be active. ...
  • Take control. ...
  • Connect with people. ...
  • Have some "me time" ...
  • Challenge yourself. ...
  • Avoid unhealthy habits. ...
  • Help other people. ...
  • Work smarter, not harder.

What was the 3 3 3 rule? ›

The 3-3-3 rule represents the phases of a rescue dog or common milestones your new dog or puppy will go through 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months after being adopted from a shelter. Your new dog will have unfamiliar surroundings and go through an adjustment period while settling into his new home.

How do I calm my overthinking thoughts? ›

How to stop overthinking
  1. Take some deep breaths. Close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly. ...
  2. Find a distraction. Distractions help us forget what is troubling us. ...
  3. Look at the big picture. ...
  4. Acknowledge your successes. ...
  5. Embrace your fears. ...
  6. Start journaling. ...
  7. Live in the present moment. ...
  8. Ask for help.
21 Apr 2022

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety? ›

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.

How can I be happy and stress free? ›

Here are 15 evidence-based ways to relieve stress.
  1. Get more physical activity. ...
  2. Follow a healthy diet. ...
  3. Minimize phone use and screen time. ...
  4. Consider supplements. ...
  5. Practice self-care. ...
  6. Reduce your caffeine intake. ...
  7. Spend time with friends and family. ...
  8. Create boundaries and learn to say no.

What are 6 ways to reduce stress? ›

6 ways to help manage daily stress more effectively:
  • Talk, Talk, Talk! Turn to family and friends, or even a trained therapist, to discuss things in your life that are causing stress. ...
  • Exercise Regularly. ...
  • Engage in Meditation. ...
  • Healthy Diet. ...
  • Stay Organized. ...
  • Practice Positive Self-talk.

Can you rename a dog? ›

It's never too late to change a dog's name, but the time it takes for your dog's new name to “stick” varies from a couple of training sessions to a few weeks, depending on the dog; the process will go faster if you avoid using the name aimlessly or associating it with anything negative.

What triggers anxiety? ›

A big event or a buildup of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety — for example, a death in the family, work stress or ongoing worry about finances. Personality. People with certain personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders than others are.

Is anxiety a mental illness? ›

Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.

How do I stop living in my head? ›

  1. Get ready to “go there” This sounds like a way to do exactly the opposite of getting out of your head, but it's not. ...
  2. Be a storyteller, not an ruminator. ...
  3. Talk to a stranger. ...
  4. Deactivate the “Me Centers” of your brain by meditating. ...
  5. Focus on someone else. ...
  6. Learn what mindfulness really is.
19 Aug 2014

Why do I overthink so easily? ›

One study found a two-way relationship between overthinking and other mental health issues. Hafeez calls it a “chicken-and-egg” situation: High levels of stress, anxiety, and depression can contribute to overthinking. Meanwhile, overthinking may be associated with increased stress, anxiety, and depression.

Why do I overthink every little thing? ›

People who overthink things regularly, psychologists believe, are often those who may have larger self-esteem or acceptance issues, Dr. Winsberg explains. If you're constantly overthinking (more on that later), however, it may be a symptom of clinical anxiety and depression or even obsessive-compulsive disorder.

What is the 54321 technique? ›

The 5 senses grounding technique, often referred to as the 54321 method or 54321 anxiety trick is a tool that helps relieve anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. The 54321 method can be used as a practical way to calm anxiety by isolating each of your senses through observation.

How can I be happy? ›

How to be happier
  1. Manage your stress levels. If you have a lot of stress in your life, find ways to reduce it, such as learning a few time-management techniques. ...
  2. Enjoy yourself. ...
  3. Boost your self-esteem. ...
  4. Have a healthy lifestyle. ...
  5. Talk and share. ...
  6. Build your resilience.

What should you not do when stressed? ›

The following are 10 bad habits that are commonly done by people under stress that make things worse.
  1. Stop Ruminating. Frank Lee/Moment/Getty Images. ...
  2. Stop Losing Sleep. ...
  3. Stop Eating Junk. ...
  4. Stop Leaning on Frenemies. ...
  5. Stop Overloading Your Schedule. ...
  6. Stop Your Cognitive Distortions. ...
  7. Stop Putting Off Exercise. ...
  8. Stop Negativity.
24 Sept 2020

What is the 5 Rule for anxiety? ›

Once you find your breath, go through the following steps to help ground yourself: 5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. It could be a pen, a spot on the ceiling, anything in your surroundings. 4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you.

What triggers anxiety? ›

A big event or a buildup of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety — for example, a death in the family, work stress or ongoing worry about finances. Personality. People with certain personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders than others are.

What is the 54321 technique for anxiety? ›

The 5 senses grounding technique, often referred to as the 54321 method or 54321 anxiety trick is a tool that helps relieve anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. The 54321 method can be used as a practical way to calm anxiety by isolating each of your senses through observation.

What is the 12345 method? ›

The Anxiety 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique is grounded in mindfulness, which helps calm the nervous system. By shifting your attention from focusing on the causes of anxiety to being curious about your present sensations, the technique encourages you to change your brain's response to stress in two important ways.

What's the 54321 method for panic attacks? ›

One of the most common grounding techniques is the “54321” exercise. It goes like this: Start with deep breathing. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 5 seconds, and breathe out for 5 seconds.

What are signs of high anxiety? ›

Some common symptoms of high-functioning anxiety include:
  • Constantly overthinking and overanalyzing.
  • Fear of failure and striving for perfection.
  • Insomnia and fatigue.
  • The need to please others and difficulty saying no.
  • Tendency to dwell on past mistakes.
  • Nervous habits such as nail-biting, hair twirling, or leg shaking.
1 Nov 2021

When is anxiety too much? ›

A little anxiety is fine, but long-term anxiety may cause more serious health problems, such as high blood pressure (hypertension). You may also be more likely to develop infections. If you're feeling anxious all the time, or it's affecting your day-to-day life, you may have an anxiety disorder or a panic disorder.

What does the Bible say about anxiety? ›

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." "When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles." "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

Videos

1. How to stop feeling anxious about anxiety | Tim Box | TEDxFolkestone
(TEDx Talks)
2. How to cope with anxiety | Olivia Remes | TEDxUHasselt
(TEDx Talks)
3. What's normal anxiety -- and what's an anxiety disorder? | Body Stuff with Dr. Jen Gunter
(TED)
4. 9 Ways to Hack Presentation Anxiety
(Stanford Graduate School of Business)
5. 9 Things Every Parent with an Anxious Child Should Try
(Psych Central)
6. Pre travel anxiety? 9 ways to calm down before you travel
(Generation Calm)

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