September 9, 2022
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States, affecting millions of people every day. According to NIMH, 31% of Americans will suffer from anxiety in their lives. If you’re one of those people, anxiety can be overwhelming, and often feels like it will never end. If so, there are simple, effective things you can do right now that will help you calm down and breathe easy again.
What is Anxiety?
For most of us, anxiety is a normal, healthy emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. It’s what you feel when you’re worried or nervous about something important in your life. For example, anxiety can be triggered by a job interview, a first date, or public speaking.
However, anxiety can also become a problem if it’s severe, constant, and interferes with your daily life. When this happens, it’s called an anxiety disorder. There are many different types of anxiety disorders, each with its own symptoms. But in general, people with anxiety disorders feel persistently worried or stressed about everyday situations, even when there’s nothing to worry about. This can cause them a lot of distress and make it hard to go about their daily lives.
Some common anxiety disorders include:
– Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
– Social anxiety disorder
If you have an anxiety disorder, you may feel like you’re in danger even when you’re not, and this can lead to panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden, intense episodes of anxiety that come on without warning. They can be very frightening, and often feel like you’re having a heart attack, losing control, or even dying.
What Causes Anxiety?
There is no one cause of anxiety, and it can vary from person to person. For some people, anxiety may be caused by a specific event or situation, such as public speaking or flying on an airplane. For others, anxiety may be caused by genetic factors, such as having a family history of anxiety disorders. And for others still, anxiety may be caused by chronic stress or other life events, such as job loss or relationship problems.
How To Calm Down From Anxiety
If you’re feeling anxious, there are a number of things you can do to calm down right now:
- Give yourself permission. When we’re feeling anxious, sometimes we can get even more anxious about our anxiety. This creates a devastating feedback loop that spirals us into ever more unpleasant levels of worry. The first step in calming down from anxiety is to acknowledge it, accept it, and let it run its course.
- Focus on your surroundings. Anxiety is your body’s fear response, and it can make us feel that there’s something dangerous around when there isn’t. Acknowledge your current surroundings, and take note of the comforting details that will remind you you’re not in danger at all.
- Take regular, even breaths. Some people make the mistake of taking deep breaths when they’re anxious. This can actually make your anxiety worse, as hyperventilating can stimulate the vagus nerve and make your body think it needs to amplify its fight or flight response. Instead, focus on regular, normal breaths at a regular, easy pace. This might seem hard, but it will get easier as you go. This is your body’s natural breathing pattern, after all.
- Burn off some of that energy. Anxiety can make us feel like we’re on edge, and often manifests as physical symptoms like a racing heart, sweating, or trembling. One of the best ways to calm down from anxiety is to get rid of that excess energy by doing some form of exercise. A brisk walk around the block will do, but if you can manage it, a more vigorous workout is even better.
- Think positive thoughts. Negative thinking is a common symptom of anxiety, and can make us feel like things are worse than they really are. consciously focus on thinking more positive, optimistic thoughts. Try to focus on happy memories, or just times you were comfortable, safe, and content. These thoughts will help to counteract the anxiety and give you a more realistic perspective.
- Talk to someone. When we’re feeling anxiety, it can be helpful to talk to someone who understands and can offer support and advice. This could be a friend, family member, therapist, or even a hotline. Just knowing that you’re not alone in your anxiety can be a huge relief.
Long Term Solutions For Anxiety
These techniques are useful for the moment-to-moment bursts of anxious feelings, but they don’t address the underlying causes. If you find yourself suffering from consistent anxiety, it might be time to talk to a professional counselor.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
(CBT) is a type of therapy that has been shown to be especially effective in treating anxiety. CBT works by helping you to identify and change the thoughts and behaviors that are contributing to your anxiety. This can be a difficult process, but with the help of a therapist, it can make a big difference.
For some people, anxiety can be so debilitating that it prevents them from living a normal life. If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe medication to help you manage your anxiety. There are a number of different types of medications that can be effective, and the best one for you will depend on your individual situation.
Process-Based Therapy (PBT) is an innovative, unified framework for mental health care that integrates fundamental elements of evidence-based therapies to address the whole person and their core challenges. Lightfully is one of the first and only behavioral health organizations to use this transformative model.
If you or someone you love is struggling and need help, find out if Lightfully is a good fit for you.