9 Tips to Calm Down Quickly

Anxiety is a feeling of tension, unease, or worry. It is a normal and healthy emotion that is a natural stress response that is usually a reaction to uncertainty about what may happen in your future. It is the most commonly experienced psychological symptom.1 A certain level of anxiety can actually give you a competitive edge and help your performance, but too much can increase your risk for chronic illnesses, cause relationship problems, and make it difficult to complete everyday tasks.

When anxiety becomes crippling, pervasive, or disproportionate to the perceived threat, it affects your quality of life and mental health.2 Depression frequently co-occurs with anxiety.3 Prolonged anxiety increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature mortality.4 Over 40 million U.S. adults live with an anxiety disorder.5 If you cannot cope with your anxiety or it becomes severe or persistent, see your healthcare provider. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, with many potential treatment options.6

Most people find anxiety unpleasant and want to eliminate or reduce the symptoms. Sometimes, trying to become less anxious can have the opposite effect, as you become anxious about getting rid of anxiety. Here are some tips for calming down. Try one or all of them to see which works best for you.

Signs of Anxiety

The signs and symptoms of anxiety vary by person but could include the following:

  • Shaking hands
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Sleep problems
  • Stomach bloating
  • Sweating or hot flushes
  • Persistent worry about everyday situations
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

What triggers or causes anxiety?

Anxiety can be triggered by a variety of factors, including:7,8

  • Stressful life events: These can include things like financial problems, starting a new job, relationship difficulties, getting married, moving, or work-related stress.
  • Health concerns: Chronic illness, pain, or other physical problems can cause anxiety.
  • Genetics: Anxiety can sometimes run in families, suggesting that there may be a genetic component to the disorder.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to certain substances (such as caffeine or alcohol) or living in a highly stressful environment (loud or no privacy) can increase the risk of developing anxiety.
  • Personality: Certain personality traits, such as perfectionism or a tendency to worry, may increase the risk of anxiety.
  • Other mental health conditions: Anxiety can often occur along with other mental health conditions, such as depression or substance abuse.
  • Medications: Anxiety may be a side effect of some medications, such as stimulants, corticosteroids, and decongestants.

It is important to note that everyone’s experience with anxiety is unique, and the specific triggers for anxiety may vary from person to person. Sometimes it is hard to identify a trigger for your anxiety.

A stressed and anxious women

Tips for calming anxiety

There are many strategies that can be effective for calming anxiety and reducing stress. Talk to your healthcare provider about potential treatment options if these do not improve your symptoms. Here are a few tips that may be helpful:

Practice deep breathing exercises

Taking slow, deep breaths can help relax the body and calm the mind. When you are anxious, your body pumps out cortisol and epinephrine as part of the “fight or flight” response. This response increases your heart rate and breathing, which can increase feelings of anxiety. You can counteract this effect by focusing on your breathing. Deep breathing increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which counteracts the effects of the “fight or flight” response.9

Focus on your breathing as you inhale deeply. Feel your diaphragm descend, and your abdomen expand. Next, breathe out slowly in a controlled manner.10

Use the 3-3-3 strategy

The 3-3-3 rule is a simple technique that can be used to help manage anxiety in the moment. It involves:

Find three things you can see: Look around and identify three things you can see. These can be objects in your environment or things you see outside a window.

Find three things you can touch: Identify three things you can touch, such as a pen, a piece of clothing, or a chair.

Find three things you can hear: Identify three sounds you can hear, such as music, traffic, or the sound of someone talking.

This technique can help you focus on the present moment and shift your attention away from anxious thoughts. It can also help you ground yourself and feel more connected to your surroundings.

Engage in physical activity

Several clinical studies have shown an inverse relationship between exercise and anxiety.11 Increased exercise leads to decreased anxiety. In one study, completing just a single exercise session caused immediate reductions in anxiety.12,13 Exercise may improve feelings of self-efficacy, which can reduce anxiety.14

Exercise can help reduce anxiety by releasing endorphins, chemicals that promote well-being and happiness. Physical activity may also increase the release of serotonergic and noradrenergic brain chemicals and boost the release of natural opioids.11

Practice mindfulness

Focusing on the present moment can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and can help you let go of worries about the future or regrets about the past. One of the most effective ways to calm anxiety is to accept that you are anxious without fighting it. Calmly consider your anxiety and try to identify its source. Recognize the feeling for what it is and try to understand it.

Seek social support

Talking to a friend or loved one about your worries can help you feel more connected and supported. Humans have a biological need to form emotional connections with others. Poor-quality relationships or social isolation can increase stress and anxiety.

Oxytocin is a brain peptide that is released in response to touch and social connection. Research suggests that intranasal oxytocin, paired with social support, can reduce cortisol release. Increased oxytocin release may explain why quality relationships and social support can reduce stress and anxiety.

Try relaxation techniques

Techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or yoga can help you relax and reduce anxiety. These techniques can help your mind connect with your body. Yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can reduce anxiety and promote psychological well-being.15-18

A beautiful beach scene

Spend time in nature

Spending time outside by visiting green spaces can reduce stress, possibly due to exposure to water and open spaces. The sights, sounds, and smells of nature can be soothing. Combine mindfulness and spending time in nature to allow yourself to be fully immersed in the natural setting and let go of worries.19

Natural settings provide an ideal environment to be active. Walking, running, hiking, and swimming can reduce anxiety by changing your brain chemistry.

Spending time in nature can also increase your feelings of connection and belonging, which can be especially helpful for people who feel isolated or disconnected. Lacking strong relationships and social connections are risk factors for increased anxiety.

Schedule time for anxiety

It seems counterintuitive to make time in your day to be anxious, but anxiety is a natural and normal feeling that happens to everyone occasionally. It is when it becomes pervasive throughout your day that it becomes a problem. Schedule 15 or 20 minutes per day (not right before bedtime) to think about and note anything and everything that is making you feel anxious. Seeing it on paper gives you some level of control over it.

Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can increase anxiety, so it is important to ensure you get enough rest. If anxiety is keeping you awake, it may be that just before you go to sleep is the only time your brain has enough downtime to process your thoughts. As your brain reviews the day, anxieties may build, keeping you awake. If this is the case, set aside some quiet time well before you go to bed, relax, and let your mind wander. Write down any thoughts or topics that make you anxious. Plan to review your list in the morning. Sometimes it helps to have a trusted friend or relative review your list with you.

If you lie in bed and cannot get to sleep because of anxiety. Get up and move to another room. Try mindfulness and deep breathing exercises to calm your anxieties. This may take some practice, but you want to associate your bed with sleeping, not anxiety.

Looking for treatment plans for cognitive health? See how Invigor Medical can help today!

Disclaimer

While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

References

1. Association AP. Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders: DSM 5. 5 ed. American Psychiatric Association; 2013:3-24.

2.  Stein MB, Roy-Byrne PP, Craske MG, et al. Functional impact and health utility of anxiety disorders in primary care outpatients. Med Care. Dec 2005;43(12):1164-70. doi:10.1097/01.mlr.0000185750.18119.fd

3. Stavrakaki C, Vargo B. The relationship of anxiety and depression: a review of the literature. Br J Psychiatry. Jul 1986;149:7-16. doi:10.1192/bjp.149.1.7

4.  Kandola A, Vancampfort D, Herring M, et al. Moving to Beat Anxiety: Epidemiology and Therapeutic Issues with Physical Activity for Anxiety. Curr Psychiatry Rep. Jul 24 2018;20(8):63. doi:10.1007/s11920-018-0923-x

5. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Anxiety Disorders. Accessed January 1, 2023. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders

6. American Psychiatric Association. What are anxiety disorders? Accessed Jnauary 1, 2023. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders

7. Jurczak A, Szkup M, Safranow K, et al. The influence of genetic factors on personality and coping with stress among healthy late reproductive age women. Clin Interv Aging. 2019;14:1353-1360. doi:10.2147/cia.S211549

8.  Soliemanifar O, Soleymanifar A, Afrisham R. Relationship between Personality and Biological Reactivity to Stress: A Review. Psychiatry Investig. Dec 2018;15(12):1100-1114. doi:10.30773/pi.2018.10.14.2

9. Magnon V, Dutheil F, Vallet GT. Benefits from one session of deep and slow breathing on vagal tone and anxiety in young and older adults. Sci Rep. Sep 29 2021;11(1):19267. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-98736-9

10. Chen YF, Huang XY, Chien CH, Cheng JF. The Effectiveness of Diaphragmatic Breathing Relaxation Training for Reducing Anxiety. Perspect Psychiatr Care. Oct 2017;53(4):329-336. doi:10.1111/ppc.12184

11. Stonerock GL, Hoffman BM, Smith PJ, Blumenthal JA. Exercise as Treatment for Anxiety: Systematic Review and Analysis. Ann Behav Med. Aug 2015;49(4):542-56. doi:10.1007/s12160-014-9685-9

12. Strickland JC, Smith MA. The anxiolytic effects of resistance exercise. Front Psychol. 2014;5:753. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00753

13.  Berger BG, Owen DR. Relation of low and moderate intensity exercise with acute mood change in college joggers. Percept Mot Skills. Oct 1998;87(2):611-21. doi:10.2466/pms.1998.87.2.611

14. Anderson E, Shivakumar G. Effects of exercise and physical activity on anxiety. Front Psychiatry. 2013;4:27. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00027

15. Shohani M, Badfar G, Nasirkandy MP, et al. The Effect of Yoga on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Women. Int J Prev Med. 2018;9:21. doi:10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_242_16

16. Maddux RE, Daukantaité D, Tellhed U. The effects of yoga on stress and psychological health among employees: an 8- and 16-week intervention study. Anxiety Stress Coping. Mar 2018;31(2):121-134. doi:10.1080/10615806.2017.1405261

17.Del Valle HB, Yaktine AL, Taylor CL, Ross AC. Dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D. 2011;

18. Basso JC, McHale A, Ende V, Oberlin DJ, Suzuki WA. Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators. Behav Brain Res. Jan 1 2019;356:208-220. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2018.08.023

19. Ewert A, Chang Y. Levels of Nature and Stress Response. Behav Sci (Basel). May 17 2018;8(5)doi:10.3390/bs8050049

This Article


Published: Jan 2, 2023

Tags:


Article Categories

More Questions?

Fill out the form below, and one of our treatment specialists will contact you.

Featured Articles

What Not to Eat When You’re Over 50

Medically reviewed by Leann Poston, M.D. on 9/24/20 Remember those college days when you lived on pizza and beer?  There’s a reason most aging adults no longer eat like when they were in their…

Lipo Injections: Reviews and Thoughts

Have you struggled with your weight your whole life? Or maybe recently you’ve put on a few extra pounds and can’t seem to lose that extra weight? Lipotropic injections may be just the weight loss s…

Conclusions of Sermorelin Studies

One of the most-talked-about anti-aging peptides of the modern age is sermorelin.  Anti-aging peptides work in a manner similar to, but distinctly different from, traditional hormone therapies…
As Featured In
  • 1030 N Center Pkwy.
    Kennewick, WA 99336