9 Things to Do If You Feel Anxious Right Now (2023)

Everyone goes through periods of feeling anxious and worried. After all, it’s a normal human experience. Having tools to help you calm your mind and body can reduce the intensity and duration of these feelings.

Here are nine strategies that can relax your mind, ease your anxiety, and help you regain control of your thoughts so that you can feel better.

1 - Understand the Connection Between Anxiety and Depression

While not a specific strategy, understanding the connection between anxiety and depression can help you determine if what you’re dealing with is temporary or a sign of something more serious.

According to Leela R. Magavi, MD, a psychiatrist and regional medical director for Community Psychiatry, anxiety and depression are intertwined and frequently exacerbate each other. Part of the reason, she said, is because the same neurochemicals are implicated in both conditions.

More specifically, Julian Lagoy, MD, a psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry, explained that since decreased serotonin causes both depression and anxiety, it’s common for someone with depression to also feel anxious at the same time. That’s why it’s critical to acknowledge feelings of anxiety and share them with an expert, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with depression or are showing signs of depression.

2 - Acknowledge Your Anxiety

Acknowledging when you feel anxious allows you to take steps to ease the symptoms. The first step is to accept that you cannot control everything.

To do this, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) recommends putting feelings of stress or anxiety in perspective.

How to Acknowledge Your Anxiety

When you have an anxious thought that won’t go away, ask yourself: “Is it really as bad as I think?” Take yourself through the process of breaking down the thought before jumping to the worst-case scenario. If you still answer yes, ask yourself the following:

  • How do I know the thought is true (what is the evidence)?
  • Can I reframe the thought into a more positive or realistic scenario?
  • What are the chances the thing I’m worried about will actually happen?
  • What is the worst possible outcome? How bad is this, and can I handle it?

This exercise is helpful for people who deal with chronic anxiety and worry.

3 - Schedule a Worry Break

It may sound counterintuitive when looking at strategies to help you find relief from anxiety, but allowing yourself a short worry break each day can free up your energy to focus on the task at hand. How you set this up depends on your routine.

How to Take a Worry Break

One way to take a worry break is to schedule a chunk of time later in the day, maybe 15 minutes after dinner, to go through your worries for the day.

Earlier in the day, you can write down any worries or anxieties that creep into your mind. Then, give yourself permission to deal with them later. This allows you to go about your day while still acknowledging that something is bothering you.

Later, when you go over the worry list, make sure to set a timer. Review what you wrote, identify any thoughts that are still causing anxiety, and cross off those that don’t seem important anymore. Allow yourself a few minutes to sit with each concern.

Worry Time: The Benefits of Scheduling Time to Stress

4 - Interrupt Your Thoughts

When negative thoughts or excessive worries run through your head, it can feel like there is no way to turn them off. One strategy to try is interrupting your anxious thoughts by doing something else.

While it might not work every time, you may find that taking a break from overthinking can lead to fewer intrusive thoughts throughout the day.

Here are some techniques to try:

  • Engage in an activity
  • Get outdoors and take a walk
  • Write random thoughts down in a journal
  • Keep your hands busy by drawing, knitting, doing a puzzle, or building something

Negative Thinking Patterns and Your Beliefs

5 - Practice Mindfulness Meditation and Relaxation

Mindfulness meditation, relaxation and breathing exercises can help calm your mind and body, which may allow you to feel less worried.

Plus, it only takes a few minutes each day to feel a difference. Use this time to be aware of what’s going on in your mind and body.

Start with five minutes a day and work your way up to mindful moments several times a day.

To help you get started, listen to a guided meditation, or recorded breathing exercises. Once you feel comfortable with the practice, you will find more focus and awareness throughout the day.

Best Guided Meditations

6 - Engage in Diaphragmatic Breathing

Engaging in diaphragmatic breathing and registering bodily cues could help you better understand your emotional response to stress, according to Magavi. Many people who experience anxiety find it helpful to partake in guided body scan meditations while breathing slowly and deeply to identify how each emotion triggers disparate sensations in their body, Magavi said.

You can use this information to think about how to respond verbally or behaviorally. She recommends using diaphragmatic breathing and pranayama, which is alternative breathing or the practice of breath control.

The Benefits of Deep Breathing

7 - Do Something That Makes You Happy

When you’re feeling anxious and want to take your mind off the stressor, Lagoy says to carve out time to do the things you love like:

  • Riding a bike
  • Reading a book
  • Painting
  • Catching up with friends
  • Taking a bubble bath
  • Treating yourself to your favorite food

5 Self-Care Practices for Every Area of Your Life

8 - Consider What Your Anxiety Is Telling You

Feeling anxious isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, anxious thoughts could be your body’s way of giving you valuable information. The next time you feel worried, fearful, stressed, or have overwhelming thoughts of dread, stop and take a deep breath.

Instead of defaulting to “this is my anxiety talking,” reframe how you view the situation and ask yourself if your body is trying to tell you something.

Do you need to slow down? Maybe you’re getting sick, and your body is responding to stress. Or maybe, there is a real threat, and you need to take action.

The Benefits of Anxiety and Nervousness

9 - Talk to a Loved One

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to call or text a friend, partner, or family member. Maybe you just want to vent or maybe you want to be distracted for a bit—a loved one can help you feel like you're not alone and shift your attention to something other than the source of your anxiety.

Keep in mind that, even though loved ones mean well, they could make your anxiety worse especially if they start freaking out too. So, if you go this route, make sure to choose someone who's known to be calm and won't add to your anxiety.

Press Play for Advice On Mental Strength

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares 10 lessons about mental strength. Click below to listen now.

9 Things to Do If You Feel Anxious Right Now (1)

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Occasional bouts of anxiety and worry may just be a sign that you need to take a break and implement some of the strategies listed above. Adding exercise, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, or a worry break into your day may help ease your mind. But if anxiety, nervousness, or worrying becomes excessive or begins to impact your life, it might be time to seek professional help.

What You Can Do to Cope With Anxiety

2 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. n.d.

  2. Chen KW, Berger CC, Manheimer E, et al. Meditative therapies for reducing anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depress Anxiety. 2012;29(7):545-62. doi:10.1002/da.21964

9 Things to Do If You Feel Anxious Right Now (2)

By Sara Lindberg, M.Ed
Sara Lindberg, M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on mental health, fitness, nutrition, and parenting.

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9 Things to Do If You Feel Anxious Right Now? ›

Breathing to relax

Taking slow, regular breaths can help you to control anxious thoughts and feelings, and make you feel calmer. To control your breathing: Place one hand on your chest and the other over your stomach. You want your stomach to move more than your chest as you breathe.

What to do immediately when you feel anxious? ›

Things you can try to help with anxiety, fear and panic
  1. try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. ...
  2. use calming breathing exercises.
  3. exercise – activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax.

What are 5 ways to cope with anxiety? ›

5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety
  • Challenge Anxious Thoughts. Those who experience anxiety have to deal with a lot of irrational and negative thoughts. ...
  • Recognize Your Negative Thinking Patterns. ...
  • Cultivate An Optimistic Outlook. ...
  • Take Time for Yourself. ...
  • Create An Anti-Anxiety Toolbox.

What is one way you can relax when you are feeling anxious? ›

Breathing to relax

Taking slow, regular breaths can help you to control anxious thoughts and feelings, and make you feel calmer. To control your breathing: Place one hand on your chest and the other over your stomach. You want your stomach to move more than your chest as you breathe.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety? ›

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm. Whenever you feel your brain going 100 miles per hour, this mental trick can help center your mind, bringing you back to the present moment, Chansky says.

What is the 333 rule for anxiety? ›

It involves looking around your environment to identify three objects and three sounds, then moving three body parts. Many people find this strategy helps focus and ground them when anxiety overwhelms them.

What are the 4 Rs to overcome anxiety? ›

In a series of graphics, Earnshaw breaks down the 4 Rs: relabeling, reattributing, refocusing, and revaluing—a therapy technique developed by psychology Jeffrey Schwartz that's often used in treatment for OCD.

What are 3 tips to stop anxiety? ›

How can I help myself?
  1. Talk to someone you trust add. Talking to someone you trust about what's making you anxious could be a relief. ...
  2. Try to manage your worries add. ...
  3. Look after your physical health add. ...
  4. Try breathing exercises add. ...
  5. Keep a diary add. ...
  6. Complementary and alternative therapies add.

What triggers anxiety? ›

Difficult experiences in childhood, adolescence or adulthood are a common trigger for anxiety problems. Going through stress and trauma when you're very young is likely to have a particularly big impact. Experiences which can trigger anxiety problems include things like: physical or emotional abuse.

What are 2 ways to calm down when feeling anxious? ›

When stress, anxiety or fear flare up, these 9 techniques help keep you calmer.
  • Just breathe. ...
  • Close your eyes and count to 10 slowly. ...
  • Chew a piece of gum. ...
  • Phone a friend – preferably a funny one. ...
  • Smell lavender. ...
  • Curl up with your cat or dog. ...
  • Listen to calming music. ...
  • Exercise your body.
Jan 7, 2021

How do I calm my mind from overthinking? ›

How to stop overthinking
  1. Take some deep breaths. Close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly. ...
  2. Find a distraction. Distractions help us forget what is troubling us. ...
  3. Look at the big picture. ...
  4. Acknowledge your successes. ...
  5. Embrace your fears. ...
  6. Start journaling. ...
  7. Live in the present moment. ...
  8. Ask for help.
Apr 21, 2022

What is the 5 4 3 2 1 rule anxiety? ›

This technique asks you to find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Using this with someone who feels anxious will help to calm them down and reduce their feelings of anxiety.

What are the three A's of anxiety? ›

Take a moment to see it, absorb it, identify it.

What is the 3 2 1 anxiety trick? ›

She said: 'Essentially, you tick your way through your five senses and name 5 things you can see at this very moment, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel (like your feet in your shoes, your bum on a chair), 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste, even if it's just the inside of your mouth or a sip ...

What is the 80 20 rule anxiety? ›

20% of your daily tasks, activities & interactions are creating 80% of your stress. So if you want to remove stress from your Life, simply identify what those 20% of tasks are, that generate the most stress. Once you know what they are, minimise or remove them, and you'll remove 80% of your stress!!

What not to say to anxiety? ›

10 Things Not To Say to Someone Who Has Anxiety
  • “Calm Down!” ...
  • “It's All in Your Head” ...
  • “It's Really not a Big Deal” ...
  • “Everything Will be Fine” ...
  • “I Know How You Feel” ...
  • “Have a Drink; You'll Feel Better” ...
  • “Other People are Suffering from Much Worse Conditions” ...
  • “You Should Try Meditation/Yoga/Veganism/etc”
Oct 16, 2018

How do I train my brain to stop anxiety? ›

Get up and get moving — exercise is a natural way to break the cycle because it releases endorphins which relieve tension and stress, boost energy, and enhance your sense of well-being. You can also distract yourself by doing something completely unrelated and different that forces you to focus on something else.

What are the 5 C's of anxiety? ›

The 5Cs are competence, confidence, character, caring, and connection. The anxiety dimensions are Social anxiety, Physical symptoms, Separation anxiety, and Harm avoidance.

What are the 4 R's of stress? ›

So the 4 Rs are Reject, Reframe, Relieve and Refresh. Reject: The first thing we can do when trying to reduce and manage stress is to try to eliminate stressors.

What are 10 ways to get rid of anxiety? ›

10 natural remedies for anxiety
  • Stay active. ...
  • Steer clear of alcohol. ...
  • Consider quitting smoking cigarettes. ...
  • Limit caffeine intake. ...
  • Prioritize getting a good night's rest. ...
  • Meditate and practice mindfulness. ...
  • Eat a balanced diet. ...
  • Practice deep breathing.

Why does water help with anxiety? ›

Water has been shown to have natural calming properties, likely as a result of addressing dehydration's effects on the body and brain. Drinking enough water is an important step in managing your anxiety. Even if you're not experiencing anxiety, drinking sufficient water can create feelings of relaxation.

What personality types are prone to anxiety? ›

Research has indicated that individuals with high emotional reactivity (high neuroticism) and introverted tendencies (low extroversion) are more likely to experience anxiety than other personality types [101].

Why is my anxiety so high right now? ›

Anxiety can be caused by: Certain health issues, such as asthma, chronic pain, diabetes, drug withdrawal, heart disease, hyperthyroidism or irritable bowel syndrome. Chronic stress. Drug or alcohol abuse.

How do I stop living in my head? ›

7 Science-Backed Methods To Get You Out Of Your Head
  1. Get ready to “go there” ...
  2. Be a storyteller, not an ruminator. ...
  3. Talk to a stranger. ...
  4. Deactivate the “Me Centers” of your brain by meditating. ...
  5. Focus on someone else. ...
  6. Learn what mindfulness really is.
Aug 19, 2014

What is the 54321 technique? ›

The 5 senses grounding technique, often referred to as the 54321 method or 54321 anxiety trick is a tool that helps relieve anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. The 54321 method can be used as a practical way to calm anxiety by isolating each of your senses through observation.

What is the 4 7 8 technique for anxiety? ›

The 4-7-8 breathing technique involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. People may find it helps manage anxiety. This breathing pattern aims to reduce anxiety or help people get to sleep.

What is the feather trick for anxiety? ›

It's purpose is to visualize the floating feather meditation technique, a technique designed to relax and reduce anxiety. The idea of this technique is really simple: you close your eyes and imagine a feather in front of you. When you inhale, the feather rises a few inches, when you exhale, it descends.


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