Many, many of us live with anxiety every day.
Feeling anxious or on edge can help you escape danger or meet a strict deadline, but chronic or generalized daily anxiety can disrupt your life and cause a lot of suffering.
The answer for how to get rid of anxiety looks a little different for everyone—and depends on each unique situation—but here are some tips that anyone may find helpful in seeking relief.
1. Come into the Present Moment
Anxiety often involves worry about the future and keeps you stuck in your head. You might play scary potential scenarios in your head or ruminate about something bad happening. Maybe you aren’t even sure why you’re feeling anxiety but everything feels like it’s closing in.
Practice staying in the present moment. Notice where you are, your breath, and how your physical body feels. Look around you and engage your senses.
Notice three things you can see, hear, touch, and smell. Notice if you taste anything on your tongue, or if you’re eating, take time to notice all the flavors of it.
When anxiety has your brain moving a thousand miles a minute, this simple practice can help bring you out of your mind and back into your body—in the present moment.
2. Breathe Deeply and Practice Meditating
Here’s a great mindfulness technique for how to get rid of anxiety:
- Pause and take at least five deep inhales and exhales, focusing only on your breath.
- When you inhale, feel the air coming into your nose and your belly expand.
- As you exhale gently through your mouth, feel your belly contract and push the air out.
Deep belly breathing activates your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is the “rest and digest” response.
This counteracts the sympathetic nervous system, or “fight or flight” mode, that your body is in when you feel anxious.
You can also do 4-7-8 breathing: inhaling for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of three, and exhaling for a count of eight.
Meditating daily—breathing deeply and focusing on your breath with your eyes closed—can work wonders for anxiety. Start with just 3-5 minutes of meditation a day, then work up from there.
3. Challenge Your Thinking
Anxiety can cause us to fixate on the worst possible situations—which are often unrealistic or at least very unlikely. When you’re gripped by anxiety, it can be hard to come back down to earth and realize whether your thinking is irrational.
Challenge your anxious thoughts. Speak out loud what you’re worried about, then counter that worry with some realism. Is what you’re worried about actually as bad as it feels? What could go right instead? What are some positives of the situation?
We are wired to think negatively more often than positively. So, we must regularly work to present the positive and be skeptical of illogical, negative feelings.
4. Eat a Balanced Meal or Snack
Being hungry or underfed can trigger anxiety in some people. So can a diet lacking in nutritious foods. Be sure to eat regularly with a mix of healthy fats, proteins, and whole carbohydrates.
Specifically, focus on plenty of green leafy vegetables, high-fiber fruits like berries, healthy fats like nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, etc., and proteins like beans and legumes, eggs, yogurt, and organic meats, and choose whole grains like brown rice and sprouted bread over refined carbs.
Also, stay hydrated by drinking water throughout your day.
5. Avoid Stimulants
Caffeine can trigger anxiety, even increasing the chance of panic attacks or heart palpitations. If your anxiety is bad, it’s probably a good idea to skip the coffee and opt for herbal tea or water instead.
If you absolutely need some caffeine to get through your day, consider something with a little caffeine plus health benefits like green tea instead.
Inflammatory foods like refined sugars and flours can also exacerbate anxiety symptoms for many people. If you’re sensitive to wheat, soy, or other common food irritants, avoid these as they could contribute to your symptoms.
6. Do Something Physically Distracting
Sometimes you just need to get out of your own head. Physical actions can interrupt your train of thought and regain control.
Stand up, go for a quick walk, watch something funny that makes you laugh, or do something else that distracts you from spiraling anxious thoughts.
7. Consider Essential Oils and Anxiety Supplements
One of the best essential oils for emotional support is lavender oil. It has calming effects that may support a more balanced mood to lessen stress and anxiety. You might try diffusing some lavender oil in your home or workspace when you’re feeling anxious.
Other ways to use lavender oil include applying a few drops to:
- Your pillow when you sleep
- The water during a bath
- Your head if you have headaches from anxiety tension
- Tense muscles during a massage or after a tough workout
See more in Stress, Sleep, and Cognitive Function here.
8. Do Things Just for Yourself
“Self-care” is thrown around a lot these days, but there’s a reason for it: you need it.
Every day, take at least a few minutes to do something you enjoy—just because you enjoy it.
Spend some time in nature, read a book or watch a show you like, get a massage, breath deeply—just do something relaxing. And give yourself full permission to make the time for it.
9. Practice Gratitude
Each day, list at least three things you’re grateful for—even if they are small things. This will remind you of some positives in your life and help keep your brain from only zeroing in on the negatives.
10. Declutter Your Finances (and Your Life)
Financial worries like debt can greatly contribute to anxiety symptoms. Find ways to cut back on your monthly expenses here and there, and make a plan for slowly decreasing any debts. Even if it feels like there’s no end in sight, there is. Little changes at a time can make all the difference.
This goes for your living space, as well. A cluttered home can just further clutter your mind and increase overwhelm. Pick one area of your home at a time to sift through, and throw out or donate anything that no longer serves you.
11. Take Regular Breaks and Rest
When you have anxiety, it can feel like you’re never doing enough. But it’s a sign you actually need a mental break—and that can start with a physical break.
Do your best to get better sleep each night, and take regular breaks during your day to breathe deeply, make your gratitude list, and smile. Getting more rest will help you feel more emotionally balanced, and overall you’ll be more productive.
12. Get Daily Exercise (and Yoga)
Exercise can be amazing for calming anxiety. Try to get some form of movement every day, even if it’s a simple walk. Work on building an exercise routine that includes a blend of cardio, strength training, and yoga throughout each week.
13. Reach Out
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Anxiety disorders can feel extremely isolating, but chances are you know many people who are also silently struggling.
Call, text, or email and family member or friend you can share your worries with. Join a Facebook group with others who share your struggles. Or, start going to therapy to work through your anxious thoughts. They can help you build healthier coping mechanisms and question your thoughts.
Anxiety is not the end. Try these tips for how to get rid of anxiety, and see how they work for you in your daily life. Experiment with different methods to find what helps you the most, and always reach out for additional help when you need it.