There it is again.
That feeling of dread and panic. The racing thoughts. The pounding in your chest. The way your stomach feels like a soda can that’s been shaken up.
It’s frustrating, it’s inconvenient, but more than anything it’s just such an awful way to feel. But you can beat this. There are methods of snatching back your peace and focus.
Here are 4 ways to hack your anxiety and calm down, fast:
This is by far my favorite way to calm my own anxiety quickly. Grounding is about bringing your attention back on the present, so you stop worrying about everything else, and your body calms down. As soon as I feel that panic start rising, I like to do the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” method. I think of 5 things I see, 4 things I feel, 3 things I hear, 2 things I smell, and 1 thing I taste. It works best to say what you notice in full sentences, to really bring your attention to your surroundings (for example, “I smell the candle next to me. I also smell the food from the restaurant next door. I see a cat outside.)
Most of us don’t think much about the way we breathe, but it can make a huge difference in how we feel physically and emotionally. When you’re anxious, focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Your stomach should push out with each inhale, and back in with each exhale. Try to make your inhales last longer than your exhales. This is especially helpful to prevent or stop hyperventilating during a panic attack.
3. Calming Imagery
You may not think this would be that helpful, but this can actually be amazing at bringing down those high anxiety levels. Close your eyes and think of the calmest place you can imagine. It could be a real place, or a place you create in your mind. Similar to grounding, you want to focus on the sensations you feel as you “visit” this place in your mind. What do you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste in this place?
When your mind starts to wander, try not to get frustrated; your brain is going to get distracted. It’s what brains do. That’s okay! Just notice what happened and keep bringing your focus back to your calming place, each time.
4. Muscle tension and release
We tend to hold a lot of tension in places like our shoulders, necks, jaws and other places without realizing it, especially in times of stress. Hack your anxiety and “force” your body to relax by focusing on one area of the body and tensing all the muscles as hard as you can for several seconds, and then letting them go. Do this with each group of major muscles in your body until your whole body is relaxed.
Do you have another anxiety hack you use to calm down fast? Share it in the comments!