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How To Calm Anxiety - Simple Steps

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Updated June 01, 2011

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How To Calm Anxiety - Simple Steps

Changing your perspective can instantly help you to calm anxiety when you're stressed.

Photo from iStockPhoto.com
Many of us feel anxiety from the stress in our lives from time to time. While full-blown anxiety disorders generally require treatment with a professional, these simple steps can show you how to calm anxiety you may encounter from your day-to-day stressors. The following tips have been shown to work well with most people, and provide a variety of simple steps on how to calm anxiety. If you have your own tips, share them here.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: A few minutes

Here's How:

  1. Try Journaling
    Journaling can be quite helpful for those dealing with stress and intense emotions, as well as those who would like to increase their feelings of gratitude. And if you're wondering how to calm anxiety, journaling can help with that, too! One study showed that people who were prone to worry tended to experience less overall worry when they participated in a journaling exercise where they wrote about their fears, examined their "bright side" and worst-case scenarios, and brainstormed solutions for 20 minutes, three days in a row. If you're experiencing anxiety, why not try journaling and see how you feel?

  2. Practice Meditation
    Meditation and mindfulness have been shown to help with a variety of stressors, and are proven techniques for reducing anxiety. (Read about the benefits of mindfulness here.) Meditation and mindfulness can disrupt thought patterns that perpetuate anxiety, and can calm your physiology so you feel less stressed and anxious overall. Enrolling in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course can really get you going with this practice, but you can learn effective meditation techniques here. If you're wondering how to calm anxiety, meditation is a great technique to adopt as part of your daily life.

  3. Change Your Outlook
    The way we look at things can cause or relieve anxiety in a big way. Viewing something as a "challenge" rather than a "threat" can not only lessen your stress and anxiety, but can help you more easily access solutions. Identifying and eliminating cognitive distortions (like "catastrophizing" and "awfulizing") can also help. Adopting the mindset of an optimist can help you to notice resources more often and focus less on stress, which can help reduce anxiety as well, because you feel more able to handle what comes, and more "in control". Learn how to change your outlook to relieve anxiety.

  4. Talk To Someone
    Oftentimes sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone else can be just what you need to calm anxiety. This can work for a variety of reasons. Sometimes you just need a little support and reassurance that you can handle what comes. Other times, it helps to have a brainstorming session to unearth new solutions. And sometimes, just hearing yourself repeat aloud what's causing you anxiety can help you see that you may be overly concerned about a relatively benign situation. Either way, talking to a good friend (or a therapist, if necessary) can likely help you to calm your anxiety and stress less.

  5. Find Stress Relief Resources
    Relieving overall stress can help you to feel more in control and better able to handle whatever comes. Getting plugged into resources that help you relieve stress in small and steady increments can lead to a lifestyle and outlook that's more resilient to stress and anxiety. Some of the free resources we have available through this site include a weekly newsletter, free e courses, and a stress management blog. You can also take free self-assessments that can point you to targeted article specifically for issues you'd like to tackle. Enjoy!

  6. Sources:
    Iseri, M. A. The effect of positive written disclosure on excessive worry. Alliant International University, Fresno.

    Shapiro,S.; Brown, K. W., & Biegel, G. M. (2007). Teaching self-care to caregivers: Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(2), 105-115.

    White JB. Fail or flourish? Cognitive appraisal moderates the effect of solo status on performance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. September, 2008.

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