How to calm down when you’re stressed and anxious

How to calm down when you're stressed and anxious

Effective techniques that will help you to calm yourself down

Working under pressure, paying bills and mortgage, no time for yourself are few things that make us stressed and anxious.

But to keep our health and well being we need to learn how to calm down our nerves and stay positive in every situation.

Staying calm in a crisis or every stressful situation is crucial because the actions we take in those moments can affect our future life. We must have a clear mind and positive emotion.

Depression, exhaustion, and stress are bad company in moments when you have to make effective and intelligent action.

When you are positive and relaxed the possibility that you will find a good solution to a problem increases significantly.

In dangerous situations, your body activates a defense system that helps you to escape. Thanks to this mechanism humans can avoid the dangers of the natural world, but this mechanism also activates and respond to other threats too.

This alarm system is activated in every situation when you feel that you are in danger, whether it is real or not.

Your body immediately turns on stress mechanisms and they are preparing you for fight or flight. If you feel threatened in any way, no matter it is real or not you will feel symptoms like sweating, irritability, heart palpitations, and anxiety.

Don’t worry this is a natural mechanism that will help you to deal with every danger, but it is important to manage your stress properly so that it doesn’t become chronic. We know that chronic stress leads to many health issues.

To be able to think clearly, to not overreact, make the right decisions we will share with you 10 strategies and habits that will help you to calm down and keep moving forward.

How to calm down when you are stressed and anxious

1. Control your breath

According to Scot Dehorty LCSW-C of Delphi Behavioral Health, breathing is the number one and also the most effective technique for reducing anxiety and anger quickly.

Whenever you are anxious or angry you tend to take quick, shallow breaths. This can make you feel dizzy, light-headed.

It can interfere with our judgment. If you notice that you are hyperventilating (quick and shallow breaths) try inhaling a deep breath through your nose, holding it a second and release it from your mouth. Repeat this exercise until you feel calmer.

There are many other breathing techniques that you can use to calm down and release stress. It is good to know that only with breathing you can release stress and it takes only a few minutes to be relaxed and calm again.

2. Drop your shoulders

If you are tensed your posture will suffer too. Sit up tall, take a deep breath and drop your shoulders.

To do this, you can focus on bringing your shoulder blades together and then down. This pulls your shoulders down. Take a few deep breaths. You can do this several times a day.

3. Get some fresh air

If you are in a hot and stuffy room and feeling tense, this could trigger a panic attack.

The first thing you should do is to leave the environment and go outside – it is enough just a few minutes. The fresh air will help you to calm down and also interrupt your anxious or angry thoughts.

4. Music

This is simple, the next time when you feel angry or stressed just put your headphones and turn on your favorite music. Listening to music have a very calming effect on your body and mind.

5. Count to 10

When your problems are coming from everywhere one by another, take a break and look at the situation with a fresh pair of eyes.

It only takes two seconds to count to 10, which will give you the needed distance for a new perspective.

6. Focus on one thing at a time

Multi-tasking for some people is good but for many of us, it leads to chaos. It is better to choose one task, see it through, and then head on to the next task.

7. Challenge your thoughts

If you have irrational thoughts that don’t make any sense can be a good reason for you to be angry or anxious. You can name these thoughts the “ worst-case scenario “. This so-called “ what if ” cycle can sabotage many things of your life.

When these thoughts start in your mind, stop and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this likely to happen?
  • Is this a rational thought?
  • Has this ever happened to me before?
  • What’s the worst that can happen? Can I handle that?

After you go through the questions, it’s time to reframe your thinking. Instead of “I can’t walk across that bridge. What if there’s an earthquake, and it falls into the water?” tell yourself: “There are people that walk across that bridge every day, and it has never fallen into the water.”

8. Visualize yourself calm

Create a mental picture of what it looks like to stay calm. To do this use one of the breathing techniques mentioned above, or take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and picture yourself calm.

See your body relaxed, and imagine yourself working through a stressful or anxiety-causing situation by staying calm and focused.

9. Take some time for yourself in nature

Spend some time in nature to recharge yourself.

You can do this by walking in the nearest park or whatever green place with trees and grass near you. It will help you to recharge and calm down.

10. Fuel your body

If you are not properly hydrated or you are hungry, these techniques mentioned above won’t help you. That’s why it is important to slow down and get something to eat-even a small snack will help.

The importance of a clear mind and why you need to calm down

In high-pressured or stressed situations many people respond poorly. They become anxious, nervous which harms their well-being. A clear mind can make a difference between the right choice and mistake.

Even the normal stress that you feel in a new or unpleasant situation can become chronic if you don’t know how to deal with it.

Chronic stress will be the biggest obstacle in your life, that’s why it is important to know how to calm down in any situation and move on.

If you want to save your health and well-being, and we are sure that you do, remember these techniques mentioned above and practice them in any stressful situation.

And the most important thing, live in the moment instead of worrying about future threats or problems.

3 min

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How can you calm your anxiety right now when everything seems so frightening? It may seem too daunting a task. Are you feeling too scared to go out? That’s a really common worry with the Pandemic still with us. Are you worried about work or relationships? What are the top ten things that keep you on edge? Can you identify your problems and triggers, or are they all vague weights and burdens? You may wonder what is an anxiety disorder. Sleeping on problems and ignoring them, however, or staying awake worrying doesn’t fix what’s plaguing you. If you want to get rid of anxiety as your constant companion, we’ve got some tips for you.

Counseling is always a good first step to calm your anxiety

You don’t need a formal diagnosis to know you’re struggling with anxiety. We all cope with overwhelming worries at one point or another in our lives. Often anxiety can lead to real panic attacks that are crippling. So what do you do about it? We always turn to professionals to give us advice and treatment. Anxiety counseling will give you the tools you need to identify your triggers, recover from severe anxiety, panic attacks, and all the accompanying symptoms you are experiencing.

Cut down on the caffeine

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant to help you stay active and alert. While it can be helpful if you’re trying to focus on a specific task, it might not help if you’re prone to having anxiety attacks.

How to calm down when you're stressed and anxious

If you know you frequently get anxiety attacks, you should avoid consuming caffeine during the day to lessen your episodes. If you’d like to start your morning by having a cup of coffee, you may want to go for a decaffeinated one instead.

Push the pause button

Did you know that you can calm your anxiety by hitting your mental pause button? When you’re feeling that something is out of control, you can learn to stop and take a mental break. How can you calm your racing thoughts? Here are some ways to pause. If you can go outside, take a short walk. If you can’t go outside, go into another room. Change what you’re looking at. If you can’t do those thing, take a moment of meditation. Close your eyes and imagine your favorite place of peace. You can learn to stop and take a mental break.

Collect distractions to calm your anxiety

There are so many distraction you can use. Distractions to cope with anxiety exist in every culture. Worry beads, rosaries to pray, worry stones to hold in your hand, prayer beads have been calming anxiety and worry since the beginning of time. Sometimes it’s hard to read a book or knit or paint a picture or do the things that bring joy. Maybe you’re stuck some place where pleasure is not possible. Use the old techniques. If you can’t watch a movie, or your favorite TV show, and you can’t get to the beach or the mountains, or even listen to music, you can always squeeze a stress ball, or play with a fidget spinner. This could help you bring your thoughts back to the present. We love puzzles, too.

Practice Breathing

Breathing always works to calm anxiety. This can be part of the pause button tip. Breathing is another age old practice developed in yoga for slowing the heart and focusing on calm. Inhale through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, and slowly release the air through your mouth.

There are specific breathing techniques you could try such as the 4-7-8 technique. This kind of breathing technique works to help you fall asleep, too. Military personnel uses this technique to help them fall asleep.

Focus on the present to calm your anxiety

This practice is also called mindfulness. What’s happening now? What can you enjoy or notice, or feel, that’s positive? When you focus on what you can do right now, you ease the stress of worrying about the future and all the things you can’t change. Sometimes, the only thing you can do is to find peace while you’re waiting. What you can do to cope is to focus on the present and enjoy every passing minute possible. Think about the things you are thankful for. Fill your thoughts with positivity and try to redirect your attention. Keep them away from things you can’t control.

Journal to find out what your triggers are

If you’re having trouble identifying the source of your anxiety, writing can help. Journaling is another age old practice people have been using for centuries to explore their feelings in a safe way. Try journaling when you’re feeling stressed or having an anxiety attack. Many people start the day with a few lines in their journal, or at the end of the day to track what happened and how they felt about. You can also track the number of hours of sleep you had, what kind of food you consumed within the day, and what thoughts are running in your head.

As days go by and you continuously write journal entries, you can further identify and investigate what might be causing your anxiety and look for ways to avoid them.

Talk To Someone in your support group

Tell someone, share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. That person may not be a family member, and it may not be a professional. In recovery, we know that having a support system and support group of people is crucial to maintaining balance and peace. That means having other people you can call when you need to talk. And even if you think you don’t need someone, or are afraid of speaking up about your worries, talking can save your life. Literally. You can talk to people in a group or in therapy. Look for someone to whom you can genuinely open up, who can really listen without judgments. Practice all these tips and you have a toolbox to calm yourself whenever things get out of hand.

3 min

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

How can you calm your anxiety right now when everything seems so frightening? It may seem too daunting a task. Are you feeling too scared to go out? That’s a really common worry with the Pandemic still with us. Are you worried about work or relationships? What are the top ten things that keep you on edge? Can you identify your problems and triggers, or are they all vague weights and burdens? You may wonder what is an anxiety disorder. Sleeping on problems and ignoring them, however, or staying awake worrying doesn’t fix what’s plaguing you. If you want to get rid of anxiety as your constant companion, we’ve got some tips for you.

Counseling is always a good first step to calm your anxiety

You don’t need a formal diagnosis to know you’re struggling with anxiety. We all cope with overwhelming worries at one point or another in our lives. Often anxiety can lead to real panic attacks that are crippling. So what do you do about it? We always turn to professionals to give us advice and treatment. Anxiety counseling will give you the tools you need to identify your triggers, recover from severe anxiety, panic attacks, and all the accompanying symptoms you are experiencing.

Cut down on the caffeine

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant to help you stay active and alert. While it can be helpful if you’re trying to focus on a specific task, it might not help if you’re prone to having anxiety attacks.

How to calm down when you're stressed and anxious

If you know you frequently get anxiety attacks, you should avoid consuming caffeine during the day to lessen your episodes. If you’d like to start your morning by having a cup of coffee, you may want to go for a decaffeinated one instead.

Push the pause button

Did you know that you can calm your anxiety by hitting your mental pause button? When you’re feeling that something is out of control, you can learn to stop and take a mental break. How can you calm your racing thoughts? Here are some ways to pause. If you can go outside, take a short walk. If you can’t go outside, go into another room. Change what you’re looking at. If you can’t do those thing, take a moment of meditation. Close your eyes and imagine your favorite place of peace. You can learn to stop and take a mental break.

Collect distractions to calm your anxiety

There are so many distraction you can use. Distractions to cope with anxiety exist in every culture. Worry beads, rosaries to pray, worry stones to hold in your hand, prayer beads have been calming anxiety and worry since the beginning of time. Sometimes it’s hard to read a book or knit or paint a picture or do the things that bring joy. Maybe you’re stuck some place where pleasure is not possible. Use the old techniques. If you can’t watch a movie, or your favorite TV show, and you can’t get to the beach or the mountains, or even listen to music, you can always squeeze a stress ball, or play with a fidget spinner. This could help you bring your thoughts back to the present. We love puzzles, too.

Practice Breathing

Breathing always works to calm anxiety. This can be part of the pause button tip. Breathing is another age old practice developed in yoga for slowing the heart and focusing on calm. Inhale through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, and slowly release the air through your mouth.

There are specific breathing techniques you could try such as the 4-7-8 technique. This kind of breathing technique works to help you fall asleep, too. Military personnel uses this technique to help them fall asleep.

Focus on the present to calm your anxiety

This practice is also called mindfulness. What’s happening now? What can you enjoy or notice, or feel, that’s positive? When you focus on what you can do right now, you ease the stress of worrying about the future and all the things you can’t change. Sometimes, the only thing you can do is to find peace while you’re waiting. What you can do to cope is to focus on the present and enjoy every passing minute possible. Think about the things you are thankful for. Fill your thoughts with positivity and try to redirect your attention. Keep them away from things you can’t control.

Journal to find out what your triggers are

If you’re having trouble identifying the source of your anxiety, writing can help. Journaling is another age old practice people have been using for centuries to explore their feelings in a safe way. Try journaling when you’re feeling stressed or having an anxiety attack. Many people start the day with a few lines in their journal, or at the end of the day to track what happened and how they felt about. You can also track the number of hours of sleep you had, what kind of food you consumed within the day, and what thoughts are running in your head.

As days go by and you continuously write journal entries, you can further identify and investigate what might be causing your anxiety and look for ways to avoid them.

Talk To Someone in your support group

Tell someone, share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. That person may not be a family member, and it may not be a professional. In recovery, we know that having a support system and support group of people is crucial to maintaining balance and peace. That means having other people you can call when you need to talk. And even if you think you don’t need someone, or are afraid of speaking up about your worries, talking can save your life. Literally. You can talk to people in a group or in therapy. Look for someone to whom you can genuinely open up, who can really listen without judgments. Practice all these tips and you have a toolbox to calm yourself whenever things get out of hand.

Worrying yourself crazy? These tips will help you live with less anxiety.

THE BASICS

  • What Is Anxiety?
  • Find a therapist to overcome anxiety

How to calm down when you're stressed and anxious

I’m a naturally anxious person, I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I didn’t like being separated from my mom, worried if she was late picking me up from somewhere, and stressed out about the monsters under the bed. As an adult, other than my specific fears of heights and tiny cramped spaces, I tend to be more of a run-of-the-mill general worrier.

A few years ago I attended a course at Harvard’s Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine, and was fascinated by the presentations from leading physicians and neuroscientists. They explained that an anxious disposition can be passed on from an anxious mother to her fetus. It’s not just a genetic tendency; if a mother is anxious during pregnancy that can directly impact the brain development of the fetus. Some of us are born anxious as a result. For those who have a better start, life can still be full of all kinds of anxiety-provoking events and circumstances. Thankfully, there’s great hope for all worrywarts.

The faculty at the Harvard Medical School course demonstrated (through brain scans and other compelling data) that deep-rooted tendencies toward anxiety could be physiologically and even anatomically reversed. Relaxation techniques, for example, when practiced regularly, can actually change the architecture of an anxious brain by shrinking the fear-mongering amygdala and strengthening the more rational, calm cortex.

Here are some of my favorite tools for maintaining calm and defusing worries:

1) Learn to induce your body’s “Relaxation Response,” and do it regularly.

One of our greatest defenses against chronic anxiety is the body’s innate “Relaxation Response,” first characterized by legendary Harvard researcher Dr. Herbert Benson. When you induce this physiological response, muscle tension decreases, the heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, and stress hormone levels drop. For at least 10 minutes every morning, I use a relaxation technique to calm any anxieties about the day and decrease physical tension. I put on burbling water sounds in my earphones and breathe deeply, consciously relaxing my body. For an added boost – also proven in research to be beneficial to brain and body – I focus on the words of a calming Scripture (I’m Christian, I love meditating on Isaiah 26:3) and contemplate the great comfort that God is in charge, that I can trust that and be at peace. My faith is personally my number one go-to for any and all difficulties and fears in my life, it helps so much.

2) Breathe throughout the day, and more intentionally when stressed.

Anxious, stressed people are shallow breathers. Worried minds that are full of anxieties and tensions feel worse when they are not well oxygenated. Holding our breath and breathing shallowly also contributes to nasty muscle tension. I love using a “4-6-8” breath technique at various times throughout the day. Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold it deeply in your lungs for 6, and breathe out through your mouth for 8, breathing out tension as you do so and feeling your body relax. Even just one round of this breathing makes a difference, you’ll feel better. I practice it when put on hold on the phone, or waiting at a stoplight, or any time I feel particularly tense, stressed or nervous.

3) If you’re really obsessing about a specific problem, designate a focused time for it.

One of my coaching clients is going through a very difficult season. She is experiencing a physical illness that provokes a lot of anxiety about her future. She told me that she literally worries about it round the clock – what if it gets worse, what if she’ll never be the same again, what will she do if she can never work again, on and on goes the list of fears.

This is totally understandable in her circumstance, while facing such a challenging situation. But as you can imagine, all this worrying (and the related levels of stress hormones and muscle tension) make it much harder for her body to heal. It’s a vicious cycle.

I advised her to designate a set time every day to think about and even write out her concerns, to let herself feel how upset she is and problem solve potential worst case scenarios. The rest of the time, if she catches herself beginning to worry and obsess, she is to stop herself and save her concerns for her designated time the next day. When I suggested it she loved the idea, and already felt the burden start to lift.

4) Write out your worries and fears.

Expressive writing, or writing about difficult emotions that you have about your life or a specific situation, has been found to be beneficial in a wide range of studies. You set a fixed amount of time, each day, to write out how you feel about difficult things that are going on. This has been shown to help with mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and even improves symptoms of chronic pain. (It may not be helpful immediately after a significantly traumatic event though, experts recommend waiting a month or two for things to settle before using this in that circumstance). It can be very helpful to do before bed if you suffer from insomnia (the kind where anxious thoughts keep you up at night), and can even help you perform better at work-related tasks that you find anxiety-provoking.

If you’re feeling keyed up all day and having trouble sleeping, look at your caffeine intake. Gradually stop all sources of caffeine, including chocolate, and see if it helps. I can’t even tolerate decaf coffee (it still has some caffeine).

6) Take better care of yourself.

If you’re sleeping less than 6 hours a night, you’re probably looking at a prime cause of your anxiety. True, anxiety can make it hard to sleep, but if there’s any way you can get eight hours of sleep a night you should notice an immediate difference in your mood. Exercise is also fantastic for healing an anxious brain and discharging physical tension from worries; try to get 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day. Finally, eat good food. Stay away from processed foods, alcohol and sugar, and eat a rich variety of healthy whole foods. Our brains our very sensitive to the kind of fuels we give them, and good food goes a long, long way.

If your anxiety is significantly impacting your life and/or relationships, don’t try to white-knuckle it on your own. See your doctor, to assess whether your anxiety might have a medical cause. If it is purely psychological, expert counseling treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be extremely helpful. I’m a proponent of trying non-pharmaceutical treatments first, but medication can be a lifesaver if you’re drowning in fear and can’t function in your daily life. It’s unlikely that you would be on it life-long, but for many people it takes the edge off during a season of crisis, so that you’re no longer just trying to survive and are more able to take the necessary steps to get your life back on track.

We all are living a fast-paced lifestyle of which stress and anxiety is part and parcel. Striving hard to strike a work-life balance often makes us experience undulating stress and anxiety. Add to it other problems that we have to confront on a daily basis, and it would not be wrong to say that stress has become commonplace in our lives. We cannot escape the tensions, troubles, strain, but we can surely do everything in our power to calm them down.

While tossing pills and seeking medical help is the best way, there are effective natural ways to calm down bouts of stress.

1. Exercise and Meditation

Staying active is beneficial for physical and mental health. Dedicate 15 minutes from your morning routine to exercise and meditation. You won’t see immediate effects. However, in the long run, it will surely help you out. Choose any form of exercise that you are comfortable with, yoga, pilates, stretching, running. Then, commit some time to meditation. It is the most effective and natural way to experience serenity from within.

2. Quit Drinking and Smoking

Drinking and smoking could be your biggest enemy. At once, drinking to calm down the panic attack may work, but you will experience anxiety returning back with a vengeance. Moreover, you are more likely to become an addict. Then research has shown that nicotine and other chemicals found in the cigarette alter pathways in the brain linked to anxiety. Therefore, quit drinking and smoking. If not at all, try to limit at least when you are stressed.

3. Get Adequate Sleep

Stress is a harbinger of many diseases, the common one being insomnia and vice-versa. Make sure you get adequate sleep. Good night sleep is essential for you. And for that limit, your screen time during the night, do not consume caffeine, keep your room dark and cool, try to sleep at the same time.

4. Take Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a healing and holistic treatment where fragrant oils from plant and flower extracts are used to tranquilise the body and mind. It is found potent in relaxing the body, enhancing mood, improving mind, body, and spirit health. Essential oils made from the extracts of lavender, sage, grapefruit, exotic roses are used in aromatherapy. Either you can avail the aromatherapy services from a salon, or you can make it at home by buying fresh flowers from renowned florists.

5. Eat a Healthy Diet

To beat the stress, you need to maintain your inner health in good shape. For this, it is vital that you eat a well-balanced and healthy diet. Eat a colourful and sattvic diet that will keep you hydrated, healthy, and will also impact your mood positively. Packaged foods, heavy foods make you feel sluggish and have a negative effect on your body and mind.

6. Spend Time in Nature

Nature is a potent healer. Studies have shown that spending time in nature helps with stress and anxiety. Spend at least 10-15 minutes outdoors. You can also have plants and flowers in your home so that even your home environment is peaceful. Make an online flower delivery and plant delivery from a trusted florist and nursery in India such as FlowerAura . You can use flowers and herbs, like chamomile, to make calming tea as well.

7. Practice Deep Breathing Exercises

Daily, when you exercise your body, also incorporate deep breathing exercises to keep your mind relaxed. If not daily, whenever you feel bogged down by stress, practise deep breathing exercises. Sit up with a straight back, legs crossed, and hands-on belly. Inhale deeply through the nose, feeling the breath through your body, and exhaling through your mouth. Repeat the process a couple of times until you feel at peace. Breathing exercises will reinforce your flight-to-fight response.

8. Laugh Out Loud

It’s hard to feel anxious when you are laughing and vice-versa. But laughing out loud will improve your immune system and mood. Hearty laughter will also relieve tensions from the muscles. Whenever you are sad, watch stand-up comedy shows, read something funny, converse with people and laugh. If you can, join the laughter-therapy club as well.

9. Live in the Moment

Slow down and be present. Our mind is like a pendulum that sways from past to future. When you are living in the past or future, you are more likely to be stressed and tense. Live in the present moment. Take time to feel the surroundings, senses, and you will experience that you are calmer than you were before. Whenever you think your mind is swinging to the past and future, bring it back to the present. Meditation, breathing exercises are some of the ways to stay in the present moment.

10. Listen To Music

When nothing works, let the music be your healing. When you feel overwhelmed by tensions, try taking a break and listening to music. Listen to relaxing and soothing music to lower the production of stress hormone–cortisol, to lower blood pressure, and to soothe the body. Consider lighting up some scented candles like Rose, Sandalwood, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, etc. for conducive environs.

11. Play with Animals

Having furry animals around is the best stress buster. If you have a pet at home, you need no one else. Play with your dogs and cats and instantly see a happy smile on your face. Spending time with pets releases oxytocin in the brain, a brain chemical associated with positive mood backed by scientific research. Having a pet also means having a companionship– this also helps in anxiety reduction. If you do not have a pet at home, visit pet-friendly cafes and spots or someone who has one.

12. Physical Contact

Physical touch and contact like hugs, cuddles, kisses, intimacy can help relieve stress. Research has shown positive physical contact lowers cortisol and augments oxytocin in the brain. Physical contact will also help lower heart rate and blood-pressure levels, both which are the after-effects of stress.

Beat the blues naturally! Try these ways to stay calm and happy, always.

Shaking, sweating, blood pressure through the roof: It’s no surprise the anxious patient may avoid going to the doctor. When they do go, they may forget the questions they wanted to ask as well as the details of the appointment, leaving them more confused, humiliated and frustrated than before. Even a routine physical can induce panic, since there’s potential to hear bad news. Anxious “what ifs” flood in, and any Google search of symptoms will quickly confirm the likelihood of disastrous health outcomes.

As a physician, this may mean extra appointments, phone calls and time spent reviewing information and addressing concerns. But knowing how to calm a patient down who’s experiencing this anxiety can make the appointment more productive and pleasant for everyone involved. Fortunately, you have a wealth of helpful strategies available to you.

Ease patients’ anxiety with a calming office environment

Often overlooked, the office environment and processes that happen before the patient sees the doctor may be the opposite of healing comfort. Waiting room chairs that are too close together, loud spaces where conversations between staff and other patients are easily overheard and extended periods waiting alone in a gown without any distractions are only a few of the many recipes for patient anxiety. By the time you actually get in the room, the stress can be overwhelming, and carrying out the exam may be a challenge. Consider your office environment and whether you could make any of the following improvements.

1. Offer a warm reception

When patients come in, greet them warmly with a smile. Cold, grumpy and overworked front office staff with a desk full of chaotic papers do nothing to calm an anxious patient.

2. Make the waiting room welcoming and comfortable

Consider displaying calming, attractive and cheerful artwork. Dark, old and stained furniture doesn’t instill confidence in the quality of the medical practice. Invest in comfortable seating, and instead of stuffing patients side by side, arrange your chairs in small groups separated by tables.

3. Offer productive distractions

News programs and talk shows, although distracting, don’t contribute to a healing atmosphere and often have inappropriate content. Instead, play short educational wellness videos. Alternatively, you might play quiet, soothing music in the background or install a fish tank. Eliminate or minimize the chaos of the area that contains flyers and coupons so it doesn’t look like a giant, messy pharmaceutical advertisement.

4. Manage timeline expectations

Wait times can’t always be controlled, but keeping patients updated can reduce their frustration.

5. Consider a concierge

For large practices, a waiting room concierge can be a great way to engage patients, helping them use the time spent waiting to set an agenda for their appointments and write down the questions they’re hoping to discuss with their physicians.

How to calm a patient down during the visit

Even within a healing, comfortable environment, some patients will still be worried. When that happens, you can reduce their anxiety by taking steps to make them more comfortable.

1. Engage earnestly

Start the appointment by asking about and sincerely listening to their concerns. If an anxious patient feels heard, they’ll be more confident in your medical recommendations.

2. Preview the appointment

Offer an overview of what will happen during the visit, including what you’ll do and why. Knowing what to expect can help reduce the patient’s anxiety.

3. Keep it simple

Use understandable language free of intimidating jargon. Explain procedures, tests and even why you’re asking particular questions. For example, say, “I’m going to ask you some questions about your family’s medical history. I’m not asking because I necessarily think you have these conditions, but the information can help me keep you healthy.”

4. Address concerns head on

If you notice someone is anxious, it’s OK to ask about it. Anxious people often worry about catastrophic outcomes. If you’re aware of what they fear, you can address it. Don’t attempt to reassure them by falsely denying that adverse outcomes exist, but instead emphasize the rare nature of certain events and reassure them that you’ll work together to manage their health.

5. Lighten the mood

You can do this by being personable and approachable and using humor if appropriate. Ask them questions about their life. Spend a moment getting to know them, so they feel you care. If you see a patient’s anxiety increasing during an exam, ask them questions to distract them from their fear. Do they have kids? Pets? Hobbies?

6. Stay calm

If you’re already hurried and stressed, take a moment to ground yourself with a few deep breaths before entering the room, so your emotions don’t exacerbate the anxiety.

7. Express empathy

Empathizing with a patient’s fear and normalizing the experience can help them feel calmer. Even if you deal with this medical condition frequently, it may be new and scary for them.

8. Write out the treatment plan

This way, they can refer back to it later. An anxious patient may also benefit from bringing a close friend or family member to the appointment to help take notes.

Using these strategies to establish rapport with an anxious patient can diminish some of their dread about coming to the doctor. They may never love coming in for an appointment, but if the overall stress can be reduced, the quality of care and outcomes of the appointment will improve.

How to calm down when you're stressed and anxious

You’d think we’d be used to dealing with the pandemic by now — we’ve had more than a year of wearing masks, social distancing and on-and-off business closures. But even as the vaccine rollout gives us some tangible hope, a lot of us are more stressed and anxious than we were last spring.

“People are feeling like things haven’t changed. They’re supposed to be excited about the vaccine, but the isolation has gotten the worst of them,” Susan Bernstein, a licensed social worker in Connecticut and Massachusetts and an adjunct faculty member at Boston University, told TODAY.

Not to mention that the thought of returning to normal is causing many people anxiety, too. If you are feeling the effects, here are some ways you can cope.

How to calm down when you're stressed and anxious

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Start with the self-care basics

By now, you’ve probably heard these self-care tips, but here’s a quick refresher:

  • Schedule your day. The structure of a daily routine can soothe anxiety and create a sense of control.
  • Plan your meals. Answer “what’s for dinner?” ahead of time to eliminate that little bit of stress.
  • Move your body.Stretch, take some deep breaths, try a few yoga poses and give your brain a chance to think of other things.
  • Make time for the things you like to do. That could be reading, playing with a pet, cooking or anything that brings pleasure.
  • Connect with your friends and family. “Know who to rely on, who to lean on, who’s going to listen, and who you can listen to as well,” Bernstein said.

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Take your self-care to the next level

Those tips are all worth trying. But with the stress and anxiety of the pandemic, they might not always be enough. Here are some other strategies for how to help anxiety.

Try a technique called behavioral activation. Amanda Medley Raines, Ph.D., a clinical investigator with the Louisiana State University School of Medicine department of psychiatry and the New Orleans Veterans Affairs office, explained how it works to TODAY.

  • First, identify areas in your life that you value. That could be relationships, spirituality, education or work.
  • Then, identify achievable activities that correspond to those areas.
  • Finally, schedule time to do them.

For example, if you value being a present parent, your activity could be to read to your children before bed twice a week, or to spend one afternoon a week getting ice cream and talking about their day.

“You start with activities that are easier to accomplish when you’re stressed. If you set lofty goals and don’t accomplish them, that can perpetuate anxiety. Start with things that are easier, so you get a sense of mastery and increase your mood,” Medley Raines said. “It sounds so simple at its core, but when you’re anxious, overwhelmed or depressed, even small behavioral changes can do a lot,” she said.

Look for soothing strategies that include all five senses. Bernstein said she had an aunt who would decompress after work with an hour of needlepoint (touch) and a cup of tea (smell and taste) while watching Law & Order (sight and sound) with her dogs at her feet (more touch). “That was all the therapy she needed,” she said.

Write down what’s on your mind. “Any type of dumping your head of your concerns helps — from previous hurts to your grocery list to whose birthday is coming up,” Bernstein said.

It’s fine to have two journals — a private one you keep tucked away, and a portable one that you fill with coping strategies and reminders of things that soothe you — even pictures of kittens — that you can refer to when you’re feeling anxious.

How to calm down when you're stressed and anxious

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We are in the midst of a global anxiety crisis—one that didn’t disappear once we hit 2021—so naturally, we’re all wondering how to calm down. “You can’t keep a fight-or-flight response up for a year,” says Miranda Beltzer, a Ph.D. candidate researching emotion regulation and anxiety disorders. “It’s a perfect storm of things that can make people emotionally disregulated.”

According to the Household Pulse survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Census Bureau, well over 50% of adults in their 20s and 30s exhibited symptoms of anxiety- or depression-related disorders in November. The stats have been (understandably) high since the weekly survey began in April 2020. As anxiety rises, so does our need for self-care.

“Of course, we’re all feeling down, but that doesn’t mean we get to skip taking care of ourselves,” says Julia Colangelo, DSW, LCSW, a therapist and adjunct lecturer at Columbia University. “It’s important to honor any and all emotions, and continue to seek out support as you may have before the pandemic.”

We asked experts in anxiety and emotion regulation for their favorite stress reduction strategies so you can figure out how to calm down.

1. Grab a weighted blanket.

ICYMI, weighted blankets feel like a 15-pound hug—and we already found the best ones to buy. Studies have shown that using a weighted blanket can significantly reduce anxiety.

How to calm down when you're stressed and anxious

Casper Weighted Blanket

2. Create tension to release tension.

Progressive muscle relaxation helps with de-stressing by tapping into your mind-body connection. The idea is simple: Tense up your muscle groups one by one—really squeezing until they’re pretty tense for 30 seconds each—and then release them all at once. Try this five-minute tutorial via InsightTimer after your next Zoom meeting.

3. Binge something comforting.

Whether it’s a playlist on repeat, that same episode of Friends, or a nostalgic holiday film, you can calm down your headspace through repetition. This is especially true for music. “When a melody is familiar, that can be comforting because you know what to expect, you know what’s coming next,” says Rachel Schwartz, M.A., LCAT, MT-BC, CASAC, a psychiatric music therapist.

4. Track your moods.

Keeping track of your changing moods can help you manage them. “Use a visual reminder to track waves of stress, calm, or anxiety,” says Colangelo, who uses an oversized wall calendar to track her own. “When you do experience a more significant bout of stress, you can go back to review your patterns and plan for support.”

5. Take a mental health day.

Tracking your moods can also allow you to plan ahead for low days. For example, your mental state may fluctuate with hormonal changes throughout your cycle, so if you know you typically feel extra anxious just before your period, “you can begin to anticipate certain waves of emotions and inform those around you,” says Colangelo. She suggests planning a Zoom with friends, or taking a mental health day if you can, just to relax.

6. Give yourself a massage.

Self-massage can help relieve pain and stress while stimulating physical touch while socially distant. Try a reflexology technique or outsource your rubdown to one of the best heated mechanical foot massagers.

Stressed? Nervous? Anxious? Here are some top tips for how to calm anxiety.

How to Calm Anxiety Tip # 1 – Accept It

The first step in calming anxiety is accepting that you’re anxious.

It’s okay to be anxious anytime, and it’s especially understandable right now, in the midst of a global pandemic.

Often when people have anxiety, we judge ourselves by thinking things like, “I shouldn’t be anxious right now,” “I’m overreacting,” or even, “Why can’t I just calm down?”

Remember that your anxiety is not a reflection of weakness.

It doesn’t mean that you’ve done something to deserve it.

Anxiety is what it is, and it’s here right now.

How to Calm Anxiety Tip #2 – Locate It

Get curious about how your anxiety is showing up in the body.

Do you have chest tightness? Nausea? A lump in your throat?

Practice observing anxiety in your body without judging or blaming yourself for it.

Follow the sensations in your body as they happen. Are they increasing, decreasing or staying the same? Are they moving?

How to Calm Anxiety Tip #3 – Get it Out

When you’re really anxious and try to do something calming, it doesn’t always work.

Why’s that? One theory is because it’s incongruent with your experience.

If you’re trying to do something that’s supposed to make you feel calm and you just don’t feel that way, it can actually be more stressful or invalidating.

So before you start that guided meditation, try getting the stress out in a more active way.
Here are some ideas for how:

  • Take a walk, jog, or run around the block
  • Do a short workout video
  • Use a skipping rope
  • Dance
  • Clean

How to calm down when you're stressed and anxious

Feeling Stressed, Low or Anxious?

Download our free Understanding Your Mental Wellbeing Workbook today.

  • Identifying your personal signs of poor mental wellbeing – and why that’s super important
  • Exploring your poor mental wellbeing triggers
  • Learning what you can do to improve your mental health

How to Calm Anxiety Tip #4 – Soothe It

Now that you’ve gotten the stress out, it’s time to do something soothing.

Try not to put pressure on yourself to feel calm while doing these activities – allow yourself to feel however you feel while doing them.

  • Take a warm bath or shower
  • Light a scented candle
  • Take some slow breaths in through your nose, and out through your mouth
  • Do an at home yoga video
  • Do some mindful coloring (there’s a free printable book in our Free Tools library)
  • Listen to calming music or a guided meditation
  • Make yourself a cup of hot tea or milk and drink it mindfully

By using these tips, you’ll learn how to calm anxiety in no time! It gets easier with practice.