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4 handy hacks for easing an anxious mind

Quick Notes:

  • Anxiety can overcome anyone. It’s easy to fall victim to racing thoughts and spiraling worry.
  • Breathe – milden your physical reactions to anxiety and focus on your senses. This will help to place you back in the real world and dial down the noise of your thoughts.
  • Allow your feelings to run their course instead of holding them inside. Let your emotions out and allow your mind to process

There’s a nauseous feeling in your stomach and a knot in your throat. You can’t reason without that constant, nagging thought pattern. Getting to sleep is difficult, and feeling relaxed seems nearly impossible. We’ve all been there, and it’s no pleasant affair. Anxiety can overcome each and every one of us, and when we suffer from its influences regularly, it can become a constant burden. 

Luckily, there are ways to calm yourself when you feel anxious. So next time your thoughts start to run away into dark corners, you could try referring to one of these savvy tips to calm yourself down again and see the reason through your minds attempt to sort through your worries.

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1. Train yourself to be aware

Sometimes you might just be thinking over a small issue. Or you need to make a decision Or perhaps a conversation didn’t quite go the way you expected. It’s perfectly normal to churn over these experiences and come to a resolution. When those thoughts start running away from you and start turning in anxious circles, they can quickly spiral out of control. Before you know it, you’ve had one stressful thought after the next, and you can’t help but jump onto more and more conclusions questioning and repeating themselves.

At this stage, be aware that your mind is doing two things: It is thinking fast-paced, anxious thoughts. It is also passively observing itself thinking these thoughts. At any point in time, you can tap into your observant mind to help you take a step back from your anxious ruminations. This brings you closer to understanding your anxiety for what it actually is — bubbling thoughts that occur without your active control. If you can steps way and treat these thoughts as a separate entity to be dealt with and kept in check, you have won half the battle.

2. Breathe

Now that you’re aware that your thoughts have started to get out of hand, you can take active steps to calm yourself down. Your anxiety might have taken on physical symptoms that in turn amplify your nervousness – sweaty palms, a racing heart or hitched breath.

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Taking deep, conscious breaths can help your system recover from these symptoms and in turn, return some control over your anxiety. Focus on the sensation of each breath, and take account of your other senses. What can you hear, smell, see? Take yourself outside of your own mind, and return to your simple physical reality – be present in that place, take hold of something tangible. You are not merely your thoughts – don’t get trapped in your head.

3. Take action

This is especially helpful if you’re worried about a deadline or task, or you are thinking endlessly about a misstep with a friend. Don’t passively endure the uncertainty of your stress. Take action!

Make a to-do list to organize your tasks if you’re stressed and start taking off some of the easier ones. Often you’ll find you’re much more on top of your duties than you thought, just by getting a start on them. You also don’t need to worry about a relationship passively. Permit yourself to be honest and vulnerable, and ask for clarification. Apologize, explain your feelings, allow another person to assure you that everything is alright.

4. Let your pent up emotions out

Sometimes anxiety can be a direct result of suppressing feelings we have not yet dealt with. Don’t keep those feelings trapped in your head where they can turn into racing thoughts. Cry them out of if you need to, speak to a friend, or write them down. Giving some form to your anxiety can help your thoughts flow again and free you from some of their weight.

It’s not easy to let emotions overtake, but perhaps you still need to process something that has happened and allow the grief to take its course.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:

An article explaining the symptoms and effects of regular anxiety.

An article explaining how sufferers of anxiety can channel their negative thoughts into more positive ones.