Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
8 Anxiety Tips For When You’re Feeling Anxious
Published Apr 20th, 2021 & updated on Jul 27th, 2021
Anxiety can hit out of nowhere and it’s. the. worst! Your heart starts to race. Your palms get all sweaty. (Maybe you feel like you’re gonna throw up mom’s spaghetti.) Yaaa whenever it happens, you’re straight up not having a good time. And it can be even MORE anxiety-inducing when you don’t know how tf to manage it. Well, we have good news! We’ve got some anxiety tips to help you get through it!
On one of our very own DiveThru Original podcasts, Anxious Like You, we go super in-depth about anxiety (because you’re defs not alone there) and we have some ahhh-mazing tips for you. So — without further ado — let’s dive thru some coping strategies and see how they can help with your anxiety!
1. Practice Deep Breathing
When we feel anxious af, breathing normally can be a bit of a struggle. But just like Ariana Grande said, you gotta “just keep breathin’ and breathin’ and breathiiin’.” Practicing controlled, deep breathing increases the amount of oxygen going to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. This makes you feel more calm and at ease (the total opposite of when we’re anxious, and short of breath or breathing super fast). So take a deeeeep breath in through your nose. Hold it as long as you can. Then, exhale slowwwwly through your mouth. There are lots of different types of breathing exercises out there, so use whichever one works best for you. Repeat as needed!
2. Eat Something Sour
If you ever feel a panic attack start to come on, or want a quick distraction from lingering anxiety, pop something sour in your mouth. Eat a sour candy or take a chomp of a lemon wedge. Your brain will switch gears and focus on the shocking, tingly sensation going on in your mouth, instead of your anxiety. Ahh, the ol’ sour switcheroo! We love how simple, yet effective, this method is. (This is your permission to keep a bag of sour candy in your car/desk/bag so it’s there for you whenever you need it!)
3. Ground Yourself With The 5-4-3-2-1 Exercise
Anxiety can make it feel like your mind is an escape room…and you’ve run out of clues. AHHHH, GET US OUTTA HERE PLEASE. But this grounding exercise does just the trick! It allows us to take a moment and notice:
- 5 things you see (chair, water bottle, book, etc.)
- 4 things you can touch (your clothing, your feet on the ground, your hair, etc.)
- 3 things you hear (fan, birds, cars, etc.)
- 2 things you smell (coffee, candle, toothpaste, etc.)
- 1 thing you taste (drink, gum, candy, etc.)
Absorbing your surroundings and engaging all of your senses helps you regain a sense of control over your mind. You can feel present in the moment again — not trapped in that anxious feeling!
4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
If you’ve never heard of this technique before, you’ve def gotta give it a go! Progressive muscle relaxation is a practice where you tense a group of muscles in your body (like your shoulders). And then you release them, noticing how relaxed your muscles feel when you do. It helps lower your stress and anxiety levels, making you feel wayyy more at ease in your body. You can start by tensing the muscles at the top of your body, then work all the way down. This method is also great for helping you relax in bed so that you can fall asleep better!
5. Hold An Ice Cube or Splash Yourself With Cold Water
Ice and cold water are great ways to activate that parasympathetic nervous system we talked about earlier. Hold an ice pack to your neck. Or, hold an ice cube in your hands. Alternatively, you can try splashing cold water on your face. These methods shock your nervous system to help pull you out of your anxiety. If you’re going to be out and about in public then bring along a water bottle, or a thermos with some ice in it. That way, you can have something on hand if you start to panic, no matter where you are. It’ll be more discrete but you’ll get the same effect!
6. Sparkling Water Technique
Sparkling water is all the rage these days. So refreshing! So many flavours! But another bonus to having a bubbly bevvy on hand is this super neat technique from our Anxious Like You hosts. This is one of our favourite anxiety tips, and it’s called the sparkling water technique!
First, take a can of sparkling water and pour it into a glass. Watch the teensy lil’ bubbles in the glass as they rise to the top. Listen to the fizzy sounds it makes. Turn the cup to watch from different angles, or swish the cup a bit to hear the sound of the bubbles get stronger. Feel the condensation on the glass. And then, take a sip and notice how the bubbles feel in your mouth.
This is a grounding exercise that engages all 5 senses to help when you’re anxious, having a panic attack or dissociating. Just make sure not to chug it — those bubbles are no joke!
7. Visualize Your Happy Place
Do you have a happy place that you like daydreaming about sometimes? It’s probs safe to say that we all do! Visualize the beach you visited on your last vacay. Remember the sound of the waves and the birds, and how the warm sand felt between your toes. Or maybe your happy place is a mountain, with powdered snow crunching beneath your feet and crisp, cool air. Wherever paradise is for you, go there in your mind! Try to be as detailed as possible to help calm your mind. And, listen to songs or soundscapes that help to remind you of this place. We like to imagine that the roar of traffic through our window is actually the roar of the ocean, crashing up on rocks. It takes a little practice, but it’s suuuper effective!
8. Move Your Body
Moving your body releases endorphins, which can help combat all of that stress and anxiety you’re dealing with right now. So stand up. Stretch. Shake your body out. Take a break and go for a walk. If you’re alone, have a mini dance party to some of your fave bops. Just do something that gets you movin’ and groovin’ and takes your mind off your anxious thoughts!
We hope these anxiety tips help you work through your feelings of anxiety, whenever they come at you! Subscribe to our podcast Anxious Like You for more chats and tips on managing your anxiety.