Anxiety is something that everyone from time to time experiences because it’s a natural stress response. But when you have too much anxiety, it can get in the way of living a healthy and happy life. And believe me, as someone with anxiety, I know how overwhelming it can be at times. But that’s why I’m so grateful that I have learned how to manage my anxiety over the years — not eliminate it, but manage it. But, of course, everyone’s situation is different. Still, I would like to share some simple calming exercises for anxiety that can help manage your stress. And help you regain control over your thoughts instead of letting anxiety have the upper hand in your life.
10 BEST CALMING EXERCISES FOR ANXIETY
1. PRACTICE A BREATHING EXERCISE
When you are anxious, you tend to take short, shallow breaths that can lead to hyperventilating. Numerous breathing exercises work well to help you calm down but try this deep breathing technique below:
- Find somewhere comfortable to sit
- Relax your shoulders
- Inhale slowly, filling your lungs to the count of four
- Exhale slowly, emptying your lungs to the count of four
- Rest four counts and repeat 5 to 6 times.
2. HIT THE MENTAL BRAKES ON YOUR ANXIETY
When your mind turns to anxious thoughts, hit the brakes immediately on those thoughts as if you’ve come upon a stop sign. You might even find it helpful to tell yourself to “STOP” out loud. By doing this, you are giving your mind a pause on those anxious thoughts before they can spiral out of control.
3. CHALLENGE YOUR THOUGHTS
Many times anxiety just doesn’t make sense and is often irrational. So at times like these, do a little fact-checking on your fears by asking yourself some simple questions such as:
- Is this a reasonable thought?
- How likely could this happen?
- Has it ever happened to me before?
- What’s the worst possible outcome?
- Can I handle it?
As you run through the questions, reconsider your thoughts. For example, let’s say you’re feeling anxious and you think you feel heart palpitations. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that you might have a heart attack, tell yourself your heart is beating fast because you feel nervous. And that you have felt this way before, and it will pass.
4. SHIFT YOUR FOCUS
Getting caught up in your problem can literally stress you out and hinder clear thinking. So instead of dwelling on your problem, redirect your focus to something that can take your mind off of it for a while.
Some ways to do this are to do something mindless that gives your brain a rest, like playing a game on your phone or taking a walk. Or another option is to do something that occupies your brain—but in a different direction, such as doing a crossword puzzle or reading a thought-provoking book.
5. LISTEN TO MUSIC
From the earliest days of civilization, music has been used to soothe the mind, body, and soul. So, go ahead and try it. Turn on some calming music to relax your mind to bring instant relief from anxiety.
6. USE MEDITATION
Practice meditation for 10-15 minutes per day to deal with disturbing thoughts that have too much power. Meditation can help reduce stress hormone levels, increase serotonin (mood stabilizer), and strengthen your ability to let go of thoughts that aren’t beneficial to you.
7. SPEND TIME IN NATURE
Research shows that environments can increase or reduce your stress, which in turn can have an impact on our bodies. Getting out in nature can be healing, soothing, and restoring.
And for times when you’re not able to physically get outside, you can take a mental escape and visualize yourself somewhere peaceful outdoors.
8. SIP HERBAL TEA
When you feel stressed out, sometimes the simple act of sipping a warm cup of tea can be so comforting. Chamomile tea is well known for its calming effect. However, many others can help take the edge off stress also. So give some herbal teas a try and see which ones work best for you.
9. CHEW GUM
Chewing gum sounds too simple, I know, but it’s true. In fact, the U.S. Army has included chewing gum in combat rations since World War I because they recognized that it reduced stress.
10. CHAT WITH SOMEONE
Sometimes just being able to verbalize your feelings can make you feel better. First, however, you want to make sure you are talking with someone you trust and who will listen to you without enabling you. Talking with someone you repeatedly discuss and rehash your problem with without coming up with a solution or resolution to your problem is not very beneficial to you.
“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges.” — Bryant McGill.
So, there you have it—ten best calming exercises for anxiety. Of course, there are many more, but these are all pretty good. Some of these you can do separately, while others work well in conjunction with others. Ultimately though, the best exercise for anxiety is the one that works for you. So when you find the best techniques that work for you, keep practicing so it will be second nature when you start to feel anxious.
And if you want to learn additional ways to develop more coping skills to manage general anxiety or job stress so you can be more successful in the workplace, working with a coach is a great way to go. I’d love to hear from you.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. If you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call . I’d love to help you learn new anxiety relief techniques that will help you stay calm and approach life from a more balanced and less anxious perspective.
This article was originally published on My Anxiety Link