Learn to Control Anxiety - Nsight Mental Health & Wellness (2023)

9 Ways to Help Control Anxiety

Leaning to control anxiety is a skill. It takes practice if we are to regain control of our emotions. Here are 9 ways you can learn to control anxiety.

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Imagine this….The car won’t start and you have to get the kids to school, then make it to work on time. It’s raining and traffic is piling up. You just learned from the doctor that there was a spot on your X-ray. Your company is downsizing; tornado warnings are blaring; your teenager is insolent and distant.

All of these are reasons to be anxious, or to bring on worry. They are also everyday events that seem to rob you of the tranquility you long for. If only there was some way to control events, but it seems like they pile up so quickly that there is no escape. What is a relatively sane person to do?

The solutions to problems may be long term, but learning to control anxietythat accompany these events can be learned. In this article are ten solutions – broken into immediate, intermediate and long-term relief – to coping with the anxiety that seeks to overwhelm you. One note: if the worries become too much to handle, it may be necessary to seek professional help. A trusted counselor, an impartial guide to healing, may be the solution you need. If so call one of our professional staff members at (888) 557-8091.

Immediate Help

  1. Just Relax.

Anxiety can creep up on you, arrive with all the bluster of a spring storm or be a constant state. Whatever your level or reason for anxiety though, it is possible to feel immediate release. This may be temporary, but if you will learn to employ one of a few simple relaxation exercises, then you can have immediate peace and control anxiety instead of it controlling you.

  • Breathe deeply – someone may have told you at one time or another to, “take a deep breath” when you were angry or frustrated. It may seem like something from an oldwives tale, but there is scientific evidence that it is one of the best ways to immediately relax and relieve anxiety.
  • Count to ten – again this is a technique used to supposedly reduce anger, but it is useful for anxiety also. Anxious thoughts (worry) often occur when an individual is too involved in a situation. Figuratively counting to ten (in reality getting away from the situation for a while), allows you to think. Thinking clearly about a situation will reduce anxiety.
  • Relaxation techniques – there are many different relaxation techniques people use to help them dissolve anxious feelings. Focus on a calm place, recite a favored calming poem, relax by focusing on removing tension from every part of your body. All of these techniques work to immediately relieve stress.
  1. Create Something Positive from the Negative.

One problem many people have is that they focus too much on the negative aspects of situations which can lead to anxiety. To counter this tendency remember that there is a silver lining in every cloud. Look at how this situation can be reframed in a positive light. Research proves that one of the best ways to relieve anxiety immediately is to think positively rather than negatively. It is a skill that may take some time to acquire, but it is worth the effort. When you develop a habit of reframing negative situations, you can use it to help you overcome anxiety.

  1. The Power of the Here and Now.

The past is done away with and the future is unknown. These two statements cause some people extreme anxiety. In the past, are events we would like to change. Everyone suffers from a little past longing. Regrets are difficult to overcome. The future is cloudy, necessarily so. Who truly wants to know their whole future? But because it is unknowable, it is also a source of anxiety.

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The ‘here and now’, as you may have inferred, is the present. An individual who focuses on the irretrievable past or the unknown future will never be free from anxiety and may not see the solutions that the present offers. Stay in the present so that you can think clearly about what is happening right now. The solution to worry could be directly in front of you.

  1. Trick Yourself.

Distraction is an art at which some have become expert. Anxiety seems to cling to us and not let go. But it is possible to find activities or have thoughts that will soon distract you from your worries. When you start to be anxious, think of something else. This is also a skill you will have to develop and it takes practice. But with all the worries people have, you will likely get plenty.

Distract yourself with:

  • Physical exercise
  • A favorite book
  • Uplifting music
  • Playing with your children
  • Going out with friends
  • Working at a hobby
  • Calling you mother on the phone

The list is endless, but the immediate help is the same. Learn to quickly think about something else until you can calmly meet the worry and work toward a solution.

Intermediate Physical Help

  1. Make sleep a priority.

You may have heard that sleep is important from sources such as this and this and this. But each of the listed resources also says something else: sleep is an important component in learning to controlanxiety. And not just any sleep…restful sleep. It is easy to go to bed and toss for eight hours, then get up with no positive effects. You need sleep and staying awake worrying is not a solution to anything. But, you also need to calm yourself so that you can have effective sleep. This means that you may need to use some relaxation techniques to calm your mind first.

When your body is rested, by going through the sleep cycle, you will find that anxiety lessens. It is probable that you will think of positive solutions to your cause(s) of anxiety when well rested. A good night’s sleep is one of the most effective ways to manage your health and wellbeing. It is also a great way to fight stress.

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  1. Exercise the Worry Away.

Exercise can be both a distraction and a way to allow the body to heal itself. According to the Mayo Clinic exercise releases endorphins which make you feel better naturally, and it also serves to increase body temperature which has been shown to have calming effects. Other sources, such as Psychology Today, have found research that suggests a reduction in feelings of anxiety are usually found in as little as ten minutes with some brisk exercise.

It is necessary to have an exercise program that is steady and calming. Walking has great benefits as does yoga. Find something that works for you and get to it!

  1. Eat Your Way to Freedom.

Some foods promote anxiety because they increase wakefulness or levels of stress, while other foods have positive effects. If you are having difficulty learning to controlanxiety, the solution could be found in changing some of your eating habits.

If you are stressed, avoiding some foods while focusing on others makes sense. Foods to avoid include:

  • Anything that has caffeine. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should avoid caffeine for the rest of your life, but if you are already anxious it might be a good idea.
  • Simple carbs. Sugars can actually make you feel good in the short-term according to the WebMD. But the effect is very temporary, so avoiding them actually helps.
  • By now, you have probably heard that alcohol is a depressant. This means that it will likely have the opposite effect you desire. Also, when stressed, people tend to drink too much which should always be avoided.

But there are foods that you should include in your diet such as:

  • Complex carbs. According to the Mayo Clinic, complex carbs such as oatmeal and whole grains release serotonin over a longer period. This is the feel-good neurotransmitter which helps to elevate mood and decrease anxiety.
  • Drink water. There are many health benefits to staying hydrated and reduced anxiety is one of them.
  • Always eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and complex carbohydrates.

Long-Term Thought Patterns

  1. Everyone Needs Someone.

We all need people around us that help relieve the stressors of life. Whether that be a caring spouse, a friend who will listen to your problems with a healing ear or children who distract from problems with their joie de vivre, finding someone to mitigate stress is key. Caring, healthy relationships make the world easier to take.

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The reason that this is listed as a long-term solution is because finding these relationships is a lifelong pursuit. They need to be developed and cherished so that when they are needed they are there. You also need to be someone who reciprocates that caring attitude and not someone who is always taking from the relationship. We all need other people, so make sure that you are someone who can listen with an uncritical ear because you may need it somewhere down the road yourself.

It is also worth mentioning that forming caring relationships can reduce anxiety because you start listening to someone else and get away from your own problems. Anxiety is selfish and is defeated when you are willing to listen to others and forget yourself. Your problems may seem big, but someone else can always top you.

  1. Journal (Thoughts – both destructive and helpful)

Writing is a cathartic exercise that can help you control anxiety and learn to put itinto the proper perspective. What seemed important and earth-shaking in the moment may become miniscule once it is written out. But, journaling should be done in a systematic way if it is to reduce anxiety.

Create a thought journal that helps you evaluate what you are thinking at the time. Write in it often and compare how you were feeling about situations in your life. A journal helps you to understand where the negative thoughts are coming from and how often they occur. It can lead you to either get professional help, because they occur too often, or you may realize that they are focused on one aspect of your life that needs changing.

Maybe you have a boss that pushes your buttons; you spend too long in traffic; the kids have become increasingly annoying; your significant other always says the wrong things. Look into getting a new job or moving to another department; ask if you can come to work later or do some telecommuting; realize that you need to see your kids as the blessings they are; have an honest talk with your spouse about what irritates you and how you can work together better. Writing in a journalhelps you see what is bothering you and helps you derive solutions that have a positive outcome.

Put It onto Practice!

Don’t just read a list of helpful tips and then forget about them 30 minutes later. Think about how you operate and use the ones that will be the most helpful. Everyone has anxiety from time to time, but if yours is more sever, think about seeking professional help. Call Nsight (949) 629-3730 and talk to someone about personal solutions to your stress and anxiety.

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