Anxiety attacks, even when they’ve been a part of your life for years, are a beast to beat down. When the minds of people who live with anxiety get the best of them and convince them that very thing they fear the most is thisclose to becoming a reality, the thing that could benefit them most in the heat of the moment are quick ways to soothe anxiety.
Chronic sufferers understand that learning to manage anxiety isn’t an easy thing to do, especially because there’s a huge difference between being nervous and having an anxiety disorder. One mostly involves rational responses to scary or stressful situations, whereas the other tends to involve much more serious physical reactions that could potentially take over everything from breathing to mobility. In that moment of terrifying, paralyzing fear, the only thing that comes into focus is the worst possible outcome which, in the mind of people who suffer from anxiety, is the only possible outcome.
When you have anxiety, you’d love nothing more than to calm your worries fast.
Because we understand that it can feel practically impossible when thoughts of doom and gloom are multiplying by the second, we’ve got seven ways to soothe your anxiety when you only have five minutes.
1Remember to breathe.
So you’re probably thinking, “Duh, that’s sort of a voluntary action that doesn’t require any assistance on my part.” True, but that’s under normal circumstances when you’re not stricken with an unrelenting sense of panic.
When you get super stressed or nervous about something, your breathing tends to become increasingly shallow, which only makes you panic even more (anxiety is a huge jerk like that). But focusing on taking deep breaths actually helps to calm you down and get a grip on yourself more easily.
2Remind yourself what’s reality and what’s an anxiety-skewed perception.
Sometimes your panicked brain randomly flings out thoughts that are far removed from reality, but can send you into a tizzy nonetheless, successfully fueling your anxiety. Before you know it, you’re in the midst of a full-fledged meltdown over a situation that began in reality but immediately took a sharp left into Irrationalville where everything is terrifying.
After controlling your breathing, ask yourself if you’re reacting to reality or something triggered by a past experience that’s caused you take a mental lap into irrational thinking. This will prompt you to look around and take stock of the actual situation.
As Anxiety Guru writes, “Assumption is the ultimate anxiety trigger.”
While affirmations aren’t considered as a formal treatment for anxiety, they can certainly help to quell your panic when you don’t have time or space to book an appointment with your therapist or go into your favorite calming yoga pose. And if you’re dealing with a less-severe moment of anxiety, affirmations can go even further.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, try quietly repeating affirming statements to yourself such as, “I am calm,” or “I am safe,” which helps you view your situation with a more positive mindset.
Consider checking out YouTube or downloading an app to help ease your anxiety.
4Eat some chocolate.
This is one time that stress eating is actually yields more positive results than negative. As it turns out, eating dark chocolate can ease anxiety because it “causes the brain to produce natural opiates,” which results in a calming effect. Basically, it’s a win-win situation: You work through your anxiety and indulge your sweet tooth at the same time. Might as well try this one.
Start by closing your eyes and concentrating on taking controlled breaths. Then visualize a calm scene that whisks you away from the mental chaos and remain focused on it until you feel a bit of relief. Performing this mini-meditation exercise will allow you to re-center yourself and take the focus away from any external distractions that may cause your anxiety to intensify.
Psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD tells WebMd, “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress.”
There are also a ton of apps that will help you meditate. Train hopelessly delayed on the way to work? Bust out one of these apps and neutralize any budding anxious feelings.
6Use lavender oil.
While it’s certainly no substitute for long-term anxiety disorder treatment, studies have shown that essential oils such as lavender can help alleviate anxiety or depression in the moment.
Try applying a few dabs of oil on the skin (careful to keep it away from your eyes), and be sure to test on a small patch of skin beforehand just in case you have a sensitivity issue. If you’d rather not apply the oil directly to your skin, you could get creative and make your own anti-stress lavender putty.
7Listen to a song or two.
It may not offer a permanent solution to the source of your anxiety, but five minutes is just enough time to plug into a song that calm your nerves and feel the effects. Prepare to fight off the onset of panic by making yourself a playlist of songs that help you relax before an anxiety attack happens, and your entire body and mind will thank you for it.
Above all else, take it easy on yourself. Try to remember that you’re doing the best you can do, despite what anxiety wants you to believe. Try to remain in the present. You already know that this disproportionately scary moment will soon pass, even if your body isn’t reacting that way. The struggle is just getting through it, and you can never have enough tools in your bag to pull out when you need them.