Bright Light Counseling Center
5 Simple Ways To Soothe Your Anxiety When Life Gets Overwhelming
Updated: Oct 25, 2022
It’s no secret: life can get stressful. Chaotic. Overwhelming. Between work, family responsibilities, financial burdens, and making time for yourself you can quickly begin to get caught in anxiety spirals and living your life from an anxiety framework before you even realize it's happening.
If your days feel like an endless cycle of to-do lists, playing catch up, and feeling like you can barely keep your head above water, you may be struggling with anxiety.
So, what can you do about it?
If therapy isn’t in your budget or you don’t wish to try medication then stick around. We’re going to talk about 5 simple (yet not necessarily ‘easy’ ) tips for soothing your anxiety and calming your nervous system on your own.
Instead of telling yourself “There’s no way I’m going to pass my final exam. If I don't, I will have to retake it again next week.” try redirecting your thoughts to, “Students pass this final all the time - I have studied for it to the best of my abilities.”
How Do I Know If I Have Anxiety?
Everyone worries. It’s just a part of the human experience! However, if your worrying is causing you distress or impairing your ability to function day to day, you may be experiencing anxiety.
Anxiety affects every cell in your body and can manifest as both physical and emotional symptoms. Anxiety may follow you around no matter where you go, almost as if a dark cloud is hovering over you at all times.
If you feel as though you can’t let go of your worries or your stress feels out of proportion it may be helpful to take a look at a few of these symptoms:
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety:
Feeling tense or on edge
Irregular or fast heartbeat
Muscle aches and tension
Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety:
Feeling a sense of doom or inevitable danger
Anger or angry outbursts
Intrusive or obsessive thoughts
Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
Anyone can experience anxiety at any age. Even children can experience anxiety - however their symptoms may look quite different than those of an adult (example: easily irritated, difficult to soothe, increased fidgetiness, tantrums, avoidance, sleep difficulties) .
5 Ways To Soothe Your Anxiety On Your Own
So, what happens when these relentless, intrusive thoughts snowball into anxiety and we can’t get ourselves to calm down? Being prepared with a few tricks in your back pocket can help take you from an over the top panic attack to a place of balance and peace.
Here are a few simple tips to add to your de-escalation toolbox.
Right, I know what you’re thinking… You’re always breathing - right? Yes, however when anxiety and panic begin to set in your breaths can go from longer exhales to shorter and more rapid inhales.
When we begin to breathe in quicker, more shallow breaths our brains are getting the green light to keep our fight or flight systems going. In turn hyperventilation can quickly occur which only makes the anxiety much worse.
Try breathing in through your nose, expanding your lungs as far as they can go, holding for a few seconds and then exhaling through your mouth and using your diaphragm.
2. Acknowledge your anxiety, but don't settle in
It can be incredibly therapeutic for some people to name and claim the way they’re feeling. Instead of trying to push these negative, uncomfortable emotions to the side, noticing and acknowledging to yourself that you’re feeling anxious can help you put a name to what you’re experiencing.
Once you are able to notice and acknowledge that you are experiencing anxiety - you have a choice. Do you settle in and get stuck with the anxious thoughts, feels and body sensations? Or do you notice it, name it, and choose to engage in actions that are in line with what is important to you. You are in control of your body. Give yourself permission to let it go.
3. Stop, and Challenge Yourself
Oftentimes anxiety is caused by excessive worrying and anticipation that the absolute worst outcome possible is going to occur (even if there is zero proof to back it up). These irrational thoughts don’t always make sense and they need redirection in order for anxiety to subside.
So, next time you’re feeling anxious, consciously stop and challenge these thoughts. What’s the likelihood that what you’re afraid of is actually going to happen?
If this were to happen, so what? Even if the result is difficult - life always keeps moving on.
For example, instead of telling yourself “There’s no way I’m going to pass my final exam. If I don't, I will have to retake it again next week.” try redirecting your thoughts to, “Students pass this final all the time - I have studied for it to the best of my abilities.”
4. Get The Emotional Energy OUT
Anxiety will stay in the body until it finds a way out. Even if you’re able to subside your anxious feelings, they will just likely come back later. It’s much better to rid your body of them all together - and how is this done? One way is through exercise.
Not only does exercise and getting your body moving increase levels of serotonin, other natural brain chemicals are released that calm your nervous system and give you an overall sense of wellbeing and self love.
Even something as simple as going for a walk can significantly impact your symptoms.
5. Get Laughing
Ever noticed how you feel genuinely happy after having an authentic laugh with friends? This is because laughter truly is the best medicine!
Watch a funny movie, scroll through TikTok or Instagram, or think back on old memory that always make you chuckle. A hearty laugh actually fires up, then cools down your stress response system.
Laughing provides therapeutic benefits as well as relieves high levels of stress and improves our perception of life.
It’s normal to feel worried or nervous from time to time. But, when these feelings have you on edge, angry, or unable to function in your daily life you may be struggling with anxiety.
Anxiety disorders can make your days feel as though they’re dragging by, and nights feel never ending. Thankfully, much research has been done to support self soothing techniques for anxiety.
The next time you find your breathing getting shallow, your heart rate picking up speed or you begin to feel impending doom, stop and try a few of the tricks we went over. While they’re simple, they aren’t always easy to implement. However, with practice and time you’ll soon see just how powerful you are at managing your own anxiety.
Our content is on and related to the topic of mental health. The content is general information that may or may not apply to you. The content is not a substitute for professional services. This website does not contain professional advice, nor is any professional-client relationship established with you through your use of this website.