Anxiety is awful. The nervous feeling, sweaty hands, heart palpitations, and churning stomach – it’s just the worst. And whether you have an actual disorder, like me, or just get get anxious sometimes because of your job or family stress, you need to learn how to cope with it so that it doesn’t take over your life.
These tips are just generalised ways of calming yourself down, if you want to change it to suit your needs or already have ways to calm your anxiety, then tell us about it.
Read more: This is what a panic attack looks like
Here are a few helpful tips to soothe yourself:
Accept that anxious feeling
Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel the way you do, and that you’re in control of your body. Accept it, feel it, lean into it, but don’t let it overtake you. Learning to work through the anxiety is hard, but it can be helpful. Realise that your brain is playing tricks on you – this too shall pass. Then do the following step:
Practice breathing exercises
Breathing is very important and it can change the way your body feels quite quickly. You can try these two breathing exercises from Man Repeller, or try putting one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Then inhale deeply through your nose for five counts and exhale through your mouth for five counts.
The hand on your stomach should rise and fall with the inhaling and exhaling, but the hand on your chest should stay still. This really helps me when I feel anxious.
Question your thoughts
Is this real? Am I being realistic? Will my worst fears be realised? Or is my brain working overtime for no reason? Try to rationalise your thoughts and challenge the bad things you’re currently occupying your mind.
Also, remember to use positive language when talking to yourself. Don’t say “I can’t deal with this”, but rather, “this anxiety feels bad, but I can manage it if I try these coping strategies”.
Read more: How my anxiety helped me get into shape
Talk to someone
The worst thing about anxiety is feeling alone. When you feel overwrought and or even slightly more nervous than usual, tell someone how you feel and, if you can think of an actual cause, tell them why.
Or, if you prefer, distract yourself by talking about something else you both enjoy. If you don’t mind being touched when you’re anxious, ask for a hug – it releases dopamine which will coat your brain in happy juice.
Listen to some good music
Whether it’s the latest pop song, some dark, heavy music, a soothing classical piece or your favourite Missy Elliott track (I don’t know about you, but I love her), play something that makes you feel positive and happy, perhaps even something that gets you to dance in your chair a bit.
Remember, if your anxiety cannot be calmed by these methods - if you’re having panic attacks or depressive episodes - you might need to see a doctor to find the right course of action for you. There’s no shame in seeking medical help for your problem.