Are you feeling worried, nervous, or on edge and don’t know what to do? If so, these anxiety coping strategies may help.
For you, anxiety might seem to happen suddenly. You may feel calm one minute, and then seemingly out of nowhere have a strange unexplained wave of nervousness come over you.
Maybe you can pinpoint exactly when your feelings of anxiousness and nervousness will start, like when you have a big presentation coming up or an interview for a new job.
Or perhaps your symptoms are so generalized and vague that it’s difficult to tell if what you’re experiencing is anxiety or something else.
No matter how you experience it, anxiety can be uncomfortable and present challenges in many areas of your life.
But learning how to manage your anxiety can help ease your symptoms and bring your body back to a relaxed and calm state.
If you’re having anxiety and need help calming down right in the moment, here are some strategies that may help.
The use of deep breathing techniques during an episode of anxiety can help redirect body processes triggered by fear and instill a sense of calm.
Some breathing techniques to consider are:
Try the 54321 technique
Experiencing intense anxiety often results from internalizing your worries. The 54321 technique can help bring you back into the moment.
Here’s how to do it:
- Look around and identify five items in your environment. Then, name and count each one as you see them.
- Find four things to touch. These items could be a pencil, the shirt you’re wearing, or even the ground you’re standing on.
- Listen for three sounds around you and focus on what you hear. Maybe it’s the wind blowing, the sound of traffic, or a clock ticking.
- Locate two things you can smell, like a cup of coffee or your own cologne or perfume.
- Search for one thing you can taste, like a piece of gum or a food item.
If it’s safe for you to do so, sometimes the best antidote for anxiety is a brisk walk or other short, intense exercise.
By exerting yourself in this way, your body now has a healthy outlet for stress responses activated by the sympathetic nervous system.
This can help reduce unpleasant physical symptoms and promote relaxation.
Take control of what you can
While you’re experiencing anxiety, you may feel like everything is out of control.
Sometimes, gaining control over one small thing can help redirect your focus and instill an overall sense of calm.
You could try cleaning something, organizing a drawer, or tidying up your desk — anything that makes you feel more empowered at the moment.
If anxiety is causing sleep difficulties, consider switching locations
We’ve probably all been there — lying in bed, tossing and turning, with anxiety standing in the way of a good night’s sleep.
If this is happening to you, consider leaving anxiety where it found you by getting up and switching your sleep location to another bed or the couch.
The simple act of changing sleep locations may be all you need to disrupt the worry loop going on in your head.
Quick fixes for anxiety are helpful during anxious moments. However, for long-term management of symptoms, you may want to consider these strategies.
Understanding why you’re experiencing anxiety and what causes it can help you manage your symptoms better.
Your triggers may be easy to identify. For instance, if you fear public speaking and are scheduled to deliver a speech at a board meeting. Or, perhaps your anxiety is rooted in past trauma and not as easy to pinpoint.
If you have difficulty identifying the root of your anxiety, talking with a mental health professional or a trusted and empathetic friend or family member may help.
There are strategies to improve sleep even when facing anxiety. These include:
- regulating your sleep-wake cycle with exposure to natural light
- limiting device use right before bed
- keeping a regular sleep schedule
According to a meta-analysis published in
However, practicing yoga for anxiety may also be helpful as it’s known to help reduce stress and instill a feeling of calm and serenity.
If you’re looking for alternative therapies to cope with anxiety, there are several options to consider.
Still, it’s a good idea to talk with your healthcare or mental health professional before taking any supplements to ensure there’s no potential for interactions with any of your medications.
Alternative therapies for anxiety include:
Supplements that may help include:
Essential oils that might help include:
Cannabis or CBD
If you live where cannabis is legal, taking it in edible form or by inhalation through smoking may help lessen anxiety.
Consider therapy or medications
If you’re concerned about your anxiety and want help creating coping strategies, consider talking with a mental health professional.
By working together, you and your doctor can determine treatment options that work for you — whether that be psychotherapy, medications, or both.
Anxiety and the symptoms that accompany it can appear suddenly, occasionally, or daily. Although the origins are not well understood, you may be able to identify what causes anxiety and take steps to manage it effectively.
If you have anxiety, you’re not alone.
It can be comforting to know that when your worries are at their worst, there are actions you can take to calm down quickly.
For persistent anxiousness, or if you have an anxiety disorder, there are treatment options you can try to help manage it better long term.