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5 Ways to Relieve Your Anxiety 

An anxiety attack is awful to experience, as it can feel like you are having a heart attack and can’t calm down. If you struggle with anxiety, you are not alone – millions of people in the United States have it. When symptoms hit, how can you find relief? Better yet, how can you avoid having an attack in the first place and ultimately have better self-care? Check out the below for suggestions, and remember that it helps to have a few go-to tactics in your arsenal in case one doesn’t work. 

Touch something around you, such as a stick, small rock, or even sand

When you are in the middle of an anxiety attack and your thoughts are racing, you can sometimes find relief by picking up objects around you and running your fingers over them. A few years ago, I had an anxiety attack out in the middle of a forest while hiking, and the only way I could calm down was by focusing on tactile sensations. I ran my thumb over a small stone, sifted sand through my hands, and touched flowers. It worked because it redirected my thoughts from what I was thinking to what I was feeling with my hands. Now, I carry a little rock with me everywhere I go. Maybe this trick can help you, too.

Listen to white noise

If you are a chronic overthinker like I am, then you know how impossible it can feel to turn off your thoughts. When you are anxious about something and can’t stop thinking about it, that can cause you to feel anxious.

What can help you is to listen to white noise, such as a fan running or perhaps the sound of a waterfall, which you can hear on YouTube videos. White noise is very distracting and helps you to calm your mind and stop your thoughts, which in turn can calm your anxiety.

While it takes practice and commitment to direct your attention towards the source of white noise, the impact is worth it. The tension can go out of your mind and leave you feeling more relaxed.

Describe out loud what you see around you

This is another way to redirect your thoughts when you are having an anxiety attack. The idea is to look around and name everything you see: a green pillow, an old lamp with a broken bulb, rain coming down out of the sky, etc. It is a grounding technique often used by counselors to help people with anxiety, and it forces you to be present in the moment. 

So, the next time you feel anxious, try saying this: “I am sitting on _______. Its color is _____. On the wall, I see _________.” Just keep talking, and this may be enough to help you to feel calmer.

Take deep breaths, hold them, and let them out slowly

When we feel calm, our breathing is slow and regular. When we are anxious, however, our heart rate speeds up, and we begin to breathe shallowly. To calm down, then, we can deliberately slow our breathing and make it deeper. Doing so can return us to a relaxed state, ending the anxiety attack.

Get your thoughts out of your head

Many of us have a whirlwind of anxious or stressful thoughts in our minds: everything we are worried about or afraid will happen. Journaling is an excellent way to empty them out because once you write them down, you can see them more objectively. You can see which ones are just fears vs. realities, which helps you to focus on what’s productive and let go of what is not.

Remember: anxiety does not have to control your life

If you find anxiety disrupting your life, then seeing a doctor or counselor might be wise. No matter how frustrated you feel, though, there is life after anxiety. You can beat it and live your life at peace.