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5 Quick Ways to Quell Anxiety

Do you worry a lot or become easily nervous or overwhelmed? Feeling anxious in certain situations is normal and even

healthy, but when the anxiety seems bigger than the issue at hand or is interfering in your ability to work, socialize, or enjoy your life, you may have an anxiety disorder. Counseling is a great way to explore the root of your anxiety and learn ways to reduce and cope with the symptoms, but sometimes you need immediate help.

While there’s no quick cure for anxiety, here are some ways to cope in the moment:


If you’ve done much internet searching on anxiety, this tip is often listed first. As anxiety rises, our breathing becomes shallower. Stop what you’re doing and pay attention to your breathing. See if you can slow your breathing by inhaling through your nose to a count of five. Focus on filling your lungs from the very bottom all the way to the top. Then exhale slowly to a count of five. Repeat. If your attention wanders away from your breathing, that’s okay. Just gently redirect yourself back to breathing.


Get up and walk around the house, up and down the hall, or hit the road. Walking is a great way to re-ground yourself and get some anxious energy out. If you’re inclined to run, then run! Exercise has repeatedly been proven to reduce anxiety in the scientific literature, so use it to your advantage.


Talk to someone you trust about your feelings and worries. Often, just talking it out can help to quell anxious feelings and help you think more rationally about what’s bothering you. If you want to talk it out but don’t have anyone to call, try a 24-hour crisis hotline.


When your mind is racing or flooded with worries, it’s hard to not feel anxious. Try distracting yourself from your anxious thoughts. There are innumerable ways to do this, but some ideas include petting your dog or cat, folding your laundry, listening to music or a podcast, and reading a magazine or book.


A popular and effective method for grounding is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Take your time with this. Look around where you are right now. Name 5 things you can see around you. Then, name 4 things you can touch or feel, like the chair you’re in or a button on your shirt. Touch them as you name them. Name 3 things you can hear, like your own breathing, distant traffic sounds, or the air conditioner running. Then, see if you can identify two things that you can smell, like an air freshener in the room or the soap you used on your skin. Finally, identify something you can taste, such as the toothpaste you brushed with this morning or the spice from your lunch.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, please also know that it is treatable. Counseling, medication, and self-care have helped many people. If you don’t know where to get help, you can start by talking to your regular primary care physician. Other ways to get help include searching for mental health providers in your area or calling your health insurance company to ask about providers in your insurance network.


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