Thinking about how to reduce anxiety immediately? You have come to the right place. Dealing with the effects of being raised in a dysfunctional family can be challenging, and anxiety may be a familiar companion. These simple tips will help you deal with anxiety, overcome complex challenges, and bring a sense of calmness into your life.
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People raised in dysfunctional families often experience anxiety, and not knowing how to manage it can be a scary experience. In a dysfunctional family, from lacking emotional support to developing unhealthy coping mechanisms, it can be challenging to cope with anxiety healthily.
If you are anything like me, you have to relearn new ways to handle things in a healthy manner and create a new path of regulating for yourself. Whether you talk to someone you trust when you are upset or work on learning about what makes you feel better, reducing your anxiety can help you have more balanced/realistic thoughts and problem-solve more effectively.
I am sharing 15 simple therapist-approved tips that you can utilize to manage your anxiety productively. In this post, you will learn about anxiety, types of anxiety, and long term and short-term strategies to learn how to reduce anxiety immediately.
After reading all of these super helpful tips, you will better understand how to choose healthier ways of responding when you are anxious and feel better faster.
How To Reduce Anxiety Immediately? 15 Simple Therapist-Approved Tips
What is Anxiety?
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America: "Anxiety is a biological reaction—the body’s way of telling us something isn’t right. But if anxiety becomes overwhelming and persistent, or if it interferes with regular daily activities, or even makes them impossible, it may be an anxiety disorder."
What Are The Types of Anxiety Disorders?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about various domains, including work, family, friendships, career, etc. that the individual finds difficult to control.
Social Anxiety Disorder
The individual is fearful or anxious about or avoidant of social interactions and situations that involve the possibility of being scrutinized.
Individuals with specific phobias are fearful or anxious about or avoidant of circumscribed objects or situations.
The individual with seperation anxiety is fearful or anxious about separation from attachment figures to a degree that is developmentally inappropriate.
Other Types of Anxiety
- Selective Mutism
- Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder
- Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition
The individual experiences recurrent unexpected panic attacks and is persistently concerned or worried about having more panic attacks or changes in his or her behavior in maladaptive ways because of the panic attacks.
The individual is fearful and anxious about two or more of the following situations: using public transportation, being in open spaces; being in enclosed places; standing in line or being in a crowd; or being outside of the house alone in other situations.
While the advice in this article may be useful for managing anxiety, seek the advice of your doctor or mental health professional with any questions you may have regarding your mental health and/or mental illness. Do not disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website!
How to Reduce Anxiety Immediately
5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety Quickly: Short-Term Strategies
1. Relaxation Techniques for Anxiety
When you are anxious, you may experience some unpleasant physical sensations. Some common physical sensations include shoulder tension, racing heartbeat, clenched jaw, feeling on edge, and/or being fidgety. This is how your body gets into the 'flight' or 'flee' mode.
Relaxation techniques are an excellent way to calm and reduce any tension you may be feeling in your body. Examples of relaxation techniques include but are not limited to 4-7-8, progressive muscle relaxation techniques, and belly breathing.
1. 4-7-8 Breathing: Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7, and breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Slowly creating tension and relaxation in each and every muscle. You can start from your feet and work your way up to your head. For example, tense your right foot without straining for 10-15 seconds. Then slowly release for 15-30 seconds, noticing how relaxation feels different from tension. Continue to breathe slowly and evenly. This will allow your body to recognize the difference between tension and relaxation.
3. Belly Breathing: Placing one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly, start by taking a few deep breaths. Breathe in for 5 seconds, noticing your belly expanding (not your chest), and then exhale through your mouth for 5-8 seconds.
Journaling is a great way to cope with anxiety. The beauty of journaling is that there isn't much you need to get started, and it has tremendous benefits. Most people get overwhelmed by the idea of journaling every day. You can journal WHENEVER you want to. I would recommend sticking to a schedule to remain consistent, but other than that, you decide if you're going to journal once a week, every other day, or every day.
When you are anxious, one benefit of journaling right away is writing out your worries on paper. When we are anxious about something, chances are we are ruminating about what could happen. How to stop anxiety thoughts? CHALLENGE THEM! You want to challenge the thoughts you are having, and by writing them down, you can dissect each thought as it comes, which will help you get to the root of the problem.
How to Reduce Anxiety: Journal Prompts
3. Listen to Music
Listening to music is a powerful coping tool when you are anxious. Think of a song that makes you happy. I mean, like makes you want to get up and dance happily.
I recommend having a playlist created ahead of time so that when you are anxious, you have it handy immediately. Studies suggest that music has been found to help with numerous mental health disorders.
My two favorite ways of listening to music are my MP3 player and Alexa. When I am anxious, I find that having my phone on me does not help. I spiral down to unhealthy coping strategies and have a more challenging time taking that 'pause.' The MP3 player allows me to listen to music without any distractions, which I need. If you are someone who does not mind using their phone, go for it. I find it easier to avoid my phone.
I also found that Alexa can be a great tool for you. From having our playlist remembered to telling you a joke, Alexa has you covered. Sometimes when you are anxious, you may find it easier to say, 'Alexa, play my calm playlist on Spotify.' Either way, you have to find what works best for YOU!
This has to be, BY FAR, my favorite relaxation strategy. I learned this tip during my internship year from my supervisor, which was a game-changer. Aromatherapy can be a great way to use your senses and reduce anxiety. It is the practice of using essential oils. As you inhale the oil, it helps stimulate your Central Nervous System, reducing your anxiety.
Working with clients, I realized that most of us do not stop during our day to take a breather or a small intentional break. This build-up personally left me feeling overwhelmed and tired. We had a small room where we had the lavender diffuser. I would spend 5-10 minutes in that room (with intention) and would start to feel much better.
At home, I like to use Bath and Body Works Aromatherapy Pillow Mist which helps me sleep. You may choose to use diffusers, sticks, or oils directly. Depending on the type of skin you have, you should consult with an integrative medicine expert.
5. Grounding Exercise
There are SO many grounding exercises, and you can find what works best for you when learning how to deal with anxiety. What is the 5 Rule for anxiety? It is a 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise. When you are anxious, it helps to bring your awareness to the present moment and divert your focus to what is around you.
I practice with my clients pretty frequently and I am sure it can help you too. It is a pretty simple exercise.
What's the 333 rule for anxiety? Name three things around you, name three things you can hear, and move three parts of your body.
6. Bonus Tip: Watch a Funny Video
This short-term strategy is usually my to-go. Watching a short episode of Friends, The Office, or Hera Pheri (a Bollywood movie) is something I have on my playlist when I am anxious.
Select 3-5 things you enjoy watching and create your playlist. Remember to keep it light and funny. We want these videos to help reduce your anxiety.
10 Ways to Deal With Anxiety-Long Term Strategies
Movement is medicine. I am a true believer in this. 30 minutes of daily exercise can help with overall wellness. When we are mentally not feeling so great, it is easy not to take care of our physical health. However, small and consistent changes can lead to BIG shifts in your day.
Studies show that exercise can have the same benefits as medication. As with any strategy, this might be true for one person and not work the same for another. However, that does not reduce the effectiveness of this strategy.
The traditional practice of mindful meditation involves sitting in comfortable positions, focusing on breathing, and bringing your attention to the present moment. However, there are SO many ways you can do this now.
Just a few minutes a day of meditation can help reduce your anxiety and stress. You can practice when you are walking, in class, at home, or anywhere you find you need a meditation break. You can follow a guided meditation on YouTube, repeat an affirmation while meditating, observe the flow of breath, or even practice yoga as a way to get started.
If you are a beginner like I once was, it is entirely okay to practice just for a few minutes. When people think of meditation, they believe they have to sit for hours in one position, leading to them not even trying. Start with 1 minute and see how it feels. As you continue to practice, you will learn to increase your practice time.
Mayo Clinic has a great article on this to get you started.
3. Focus On What You Can Control
When anxious, you may ruminate on what could go wrong or engage in 'what if' thinking. This tip is a good way to get some perspective. Whenever my client is overly anxious about something, we go over what they control and do not control. Then, when they see it on paper, they can see everything they want to control but can't.
Focusing on what you can control allows you to understand the difference between rumination and problem-solving, helping you create a relatively realistic plan. So the next time you are anxious, ask yourself, What am I worried about? What do I control (problem solve best to your ability), and what do I need to radically accept about my situation and engage in a coping skill?
4. Identify Your Triggers
To reduce your anxiety, it can be helpful to understand what your triggers are.
Tips for identifying triggers:
- Journal: Tracking your patterns to understand what triggered your anxiety is a great way to be prepared to reduce its intensity. Next time ask yourself, what just triggered me?
- To identify triggers, you can start by looking into any vulnerability factors impacting your anxiety. Examples of vulnerability factors include illness, hunger, lack of sleep, drugs and/or alcohol, or lack of movement.
- Next, think about the prompting event, aka what happened or was going on right before you got anxious. Prompting events include internal and external events. Internal prompting events include your thoughts, emotions, behaviors and/or physical sensations. The external prompting includes your environment.
- Working with a therapist: A therapist is a trained mental health professional who can help you identify what your triggers are. You may not have the necessary tools required, but your therapist will.
5. Eat Healthy and Consistently
A healthy diet can lead to long-term well-being. Of course, this is not a substitute for treatment. However, choosing more nutritious alternatives and lifestyle changes to other areas of wellness can help with your overall health.
Eat a healthy breakfast, and choose more vegetables and fruits. Try not to be so restrictive in what you eat. Having a balanced diet and moderation with everything you eat is essential. It is helpful to journal what you eat to see what foods help you feel better and what do not.
When I started journaling, I realized I consumed many more sugary items than an average person needs. So I started monitoring my sugar intake and testing if that made a difference to my mental health. It can help if you work with a nutritionist to get started.
6. Get Enough Sleep
This tip is a highly undervalued strategy when learning how to deal with anxiety. In a world where we have access to information at the tip of our fingers, we sacrifice sleep to accommodate things that make our anxiety worse.
Having a good bedtime routine helps create structure before sleeping. For example, putting your phone away at 9:00 p.m., reading a book, or listening to music before you fall asleep are all excellent ways to help your body realize- okay, it is time to go to sleep.
7. Limit Caffeine Intake
This one is hard for many people (including me). Caffeine intake is a part of most people's daily routine. We don't think about how it may worsen our anxiety or even think of making the connection in the first place.
I used to be someone who consumed 2 cups of coffee daily. I noticed with my second cup that I would usually have my heart racing, making my anxiety worse. The problem was not necessarily the second cup but rather the caffeine amount (over 200 mg per cup. YIKES).
Everything in moderation, remember? A cup of coffee from Starbucks vs. a home-brewed coffee has different doses of caffeine (and sugar). So, firstly, I switched to home-brewed coffee and stopped consuming a second cup after my doctor's recommendation. It made a big difference for me.
Track your caffeine intake and notice how you feel. Do you feel more or less anxious when you drink coffee?
8. Talk to a Mental Health Professional
Sometimes our anxiety is a lot more complicated than we think. It would help if you talked to a mental health professional who can help you work through some of your anxiety. You can also talk to your support system about your anxious thoughts and deal with it a more helpful way.
If you cannot afford therapy, look into sliding scale therapy, subscription therapy services, your local mental health clinic, or non-profits.
TO FIND A THERAPIST:
9. Spend Time in Nature to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
How to reduce anxiety naturally? Disconnect and connect with nature. Something I am learning to incorporate into my weekly routine is getting outside more. Again, in the world of technology, I find that many of us are either doom-scrolling or engaging in other activities that may not be beneficial in reducing anxiety naturally, but spending even a few minutes outdoors can help.
A few ways to spend more time in nature include walking at a local park near you, hiking, sitting in the sun listening to music or journaling, outdoor workout, and/or watching the sunset or sunrise. There are many creative ways to disconnect and spend time in nature to reduce stress and anxiety.
10. Find a Support Group
I saved the best tip for last. When we see that other people are also going through what we go through, it helps reduce our anxiety and not feel so alone. It is okay to rely on other people for support.
If you were raised in a dysfunctional family, please remember that you are not alone in your experience of learning to manage anxiety in a healthy way. I hope these 15 tips can make a difference in helping you feel better.
Remember, practicing coping skills is essential to effectively manage your emotions, especially when you are not feeling anxious. This will allow you to build resilience and make these skills useful when you need them the most. Finally, it's about more than just trying them a few times. Think consistency, small goals, and self-compassion.
While there is no replacement for professional help, these few simple tips can help you learn to manage your anxiety.
What tips have you found useful to help relieve anxiety?