Our body’s natural response to stress is to feel anxious. We feel fear or apprehension about what’s going to happen. We can all relate to common situations that prompt this anxious feeling like the first day at a new job or new school, an interview, an important test or exam, first dates, before a performance or public speaking, and so on.
Under normal circumstances, anxious feelings can actually help your body prepare for fight or flight in stressful situations, but if your stress levels and symptoms of anxiousness are extreme, make you uncomfortable, and begin to interfere with your life, it’s important to learn how to calm yourself down when you’re feeling anxious.
If you find that natural techniques are not working or your feelings of extreme anxiousness last for longer than six months, it may be necessary to discuss the situation with your physician. However, since this natural response is part of life, it’s nice to have some natural approaches to help ease the tension and emotions you feel.
What Can You Do To Calm Yourself?
1 - Breathe Mindfully
Chances are, unless you’ve passed out, you’re breathing, but when we feel anxious, we tend to breathe in quick, shallow breaths. While technically we’re breathing, this breathing pattern tells our brains to prepare for fight or flight scenarios.
When you’re aware of your feelings of unease, you can focus on taking longer and deeper breaths to help calm you. Breathing exercises are a game changer. This effective approach for reducing anxious feelings works quickly by calming our nervous system, adjusting our energy levels, and increasing blood flow to our brains.
One of the most effective breathing approaches is to breathe deeply through your belly, exhale fully through pursed lips, and use the exhale to pay attention to your body. Being mindful of your body as you breathe can help you realize areas that are storing tension in order to relax them. Deep breathing techniques can also aid stress reduction by lowering your blood pressure and your heart rate.
One of the most common places to check is your shoulders. When we feel anxious, we often draw our shoulders up towards our ears without even realizing it. As you exhale fully, try lowering your shoulders to their natural position and feel for the release of the tension you were storing there.
Practicing deep breaths when you’re calm can also help you prepare for how to use them when you feel anxious. You can cycle between normal breaths and deep breaths for the best results.
2 - Acknowledge Your Feelings Of Anxiousness
Acceptance is the first step to recovery as they say, and sometimes our bodies need to recover from being in a frequent state of anxiousness. Acknowledging your feelings, allowing yourself to feel them, and expressing that you feel that way can help you to process the feelings more easily and decrease their intensity. Remember, it’s a natural response that we all feel, so try not to feel anxious about feeling anxious.
3 - Reshape Negative Thoughts
Remember that feelings of anxiousness are meant to prepare you for what’s to come. Often, our minds will prepare us for the worst-case scenario, and at times of uncertainty, we will wonder “what if” in order to prepare ourselves. Whether it's fear of an earthquake or if it’s brought on by an upcoming event, our thoughts can begin to spiral. Because of the unknowns, we can over prepare, and that can lead to those feelings of extreme or displaced anxiousness.
To help pass through these times, it is often necessary to reorder your thoughts and approach your thought process with a bit of logic, compassion, and patience. If you are experiencing negative thoughts as part of your anxious response for what’s next, think through a few questions.
- How likely is this scenario to actually happen?
- Is this thought rational?
- Can I remember a time where I experienced this situation before?
- Can I handle the worst thing that could happen?
After you’ve thought through your negative thinking patterns, it’s possible to reshape them. “I can’t go in there and talk to this interviewer. What if I don’t get this job?” can become “I have had interviews before, and people have interviews every day. If I don’t get this job, I can still look for another job.”
4 - Employ The Power of Exercise
Exercise releases soothing brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and norepinephrine that can help relieve stress and feelings of anxiousness. Breaking a sweat and exercising different muscle groups can help promote emotional wellness and assuage feelings of restlessness and tension.
Constructive releases for your feelings like physical activity can take a negative feeling and convert it into sensations that help to calm you down and leave you feeling better. A brisk walk may change your whole mindset in a few minutes.
5 - Music is for the Mind
Bob Marley said, "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." Losing yourself in music can calm your mind and body by reducing the stress hormone cortisol. The next time you feel anxious, you may want to put on your headphones and your favorite playlist and just take five for yourself.
6 - Refuel
When we’re hungry or slightly dehydrated, unpleasant feelings can be worse than they normally would be. In fact, if hunger or dehydration are the culprits, little else will work to help soothe you. Take stock of yourself. Are you hungry? When was the last time you had a glass of water?
Sometimes addressing our basic needs can help us to recenter ourselves and realize there was nothing to be so upset about. Have a small snack or a glass of water, and reassess yourself after a short break.
7 - Establish a Centerpoint
Keeping a small object with you that you can touch to center yourself can help you to manage your feelings. It could be a smooth stone in your pocket, a necklace, or even a small, scented stuffed animal.
Establish a rule with yourself to touch the object when you feel feelings of anxiousness. It can be done inconspicuously to bring you back to a place of calm.
8 - Check Your Sleep Schedule
Sleep deprivation can have lots of negative side effects. If you notice that your feelings of anxiousness are suddenly more frequent without explanation, examine your sleep schedule. Are you getting adequate amounts of sleep? Adults should average between seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
If you notice that your sleep debt is a little high, it may be time to schedule a day off and catch up on some rest. Make time for a nap, or simply improve your nightly routine. If your feelings of anxiousness are keeping you from falling asleep, consider taking a natural supplement to increase your melatonin and promote calming sensations.
9 - Write It Out
Sometimes talking about your feelings of anxiousness just doesn’t work, but getting your thoughts out can still be important. Using a journal to write out your thoughts can break the thought loop your mind is in, and in a journal, you don’t have to worry about saying it just right, spelling it correctly, punctuating properly, or how the paper is going to take what you have to say.
Establishing a habit of journaling your thoughts can also help avoid the feelings of anxiousness from creeping up on you again.
10 - Destress Through Supplementation
Sometimes you can take all the steps you know to feel less anxious, and it just doesn’t always work. Feeling anxious has become so common that most of us can relate most of the time, but there are natural, key ingredients that can promote feelings of calm and help to stabilize mood.
Complete Calm De-Stress Gummies have several natural key ingredients that can help. Their patented Safr-Inside is an award winning extract of Persian saffron that helps promote emotional health and aids in the reduction of anxious feelings.
In addition, Complete Calm De-Stress Gummies have rhodiola extract, lemon balm extract, and terpene blend that all work at helping to relieve stress, improve mood, reduce mental fatigue, and enhance your general sense of well-being. Because they’re gummies, they also feel like a treat from your childhood.
They provide a calming sensation almost immediately, and with consistent use, you may have feelings of zen and optimism in the place of your anxiousness after a few weeks. Supplements can’t fix everything, but they can step into help.
Other Techniques To Consider
Everyone’s natural responses are specific to them, and what works for one person may not work for the next person. You may find that some of these things are just what you need, or you may have a combination of approaches that help you.
It’s important to keep an open mind as you approach techniques to alleviate feelings of anxiousness. Some honorable mentions to calm down and combat stress are:
- Chew gum.
- Cut down on alcohol and caffeine.
- Give yourself a hug (which can also support your immune system).
- Shut your eyes to reduce stimulation.
- Get some fresh air to find clarity and avoid triggers.
- A change in temperature.
- A change of scenery to see things from a different perspective.
- Pressure points.
- Progressive muscle relaxation.
- Establishing a mantra for anxious situations.
- Visualizing yourself calmer and less anxious.
- Aromatherapy with lavender essential oils.
Remember that feeling anxious is a natural response, so you shouldn’t attempt to eliminate this feeling. It’s important to learn to manage it when it feels too extreme, interferes with your daily life, or appears to be without cause. Talking to a physician is never a bad idea if you’ve made multiple attempts and still find yourself struggling to manage your feelings.
Our bodies know how to respond to protect us from years of evolution. Unfortunately, sometimes our feelings go a little overboard in their response to perceived threats or bad situations, even causing panic attacks or depression. Learning how to calm yourself when you feel anxious can help you feel more in control.
Meet our Experts
This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.
Dr. Jay Cowin, Nutrition Expert
Founder of Functional U, a Nutrition, Performance & Optimal Health practice.