Anxiety Relief Techniques for Quick Relief from Anxiety
Sometimes, we need anxiety relief right now. Of course, working on long-term solutions to overcome anxiety is the ultimate goal, but while we’re progressing toward this, there are times when relief in the moment is essential.
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The following techniques can help you get stress and anxiety relief.
- Distraction. Shifting our thoughts and attention onto something else in the vicinity reduces anxiety in the moment. Carry a small object with you that you can manipulate, focus on unwrapping a piece of gum and then on the experience of chewing it. Count things around you. Give your mind a distraction from anxious thoughts.
- Be mindful. Using mindfulness for anxiety is similar to distraction and involves being fully present right here, right now. Use all of your senses to pay attention to anything other than anxiety.
- Move. Walk up and down stairs, walk around the block, do jumping jacks, or jog in place. Do anything that gets you moving in order to reduce stress hormones like cortisol and increase endorphins, decrease muscle tension, and shake loose stress and worry.
- Plug into music. Carry with you your music player and earbuds to have on hand for a quick relief from anxiety. Create a playlist of music that you like. Music can be either calming or energizing, depending on your needs at the moment. Some research has shown that Mozart, Gregorian chants, New Age, and jazz have a particularly strong impact on reducing anxiety (Clark, 2006). Feel free, however, to use any music that is helpful to you.
- Laugh. Take a humor break from what you’re doing. YouTube is a great source of humorous videos. You can also use audio books of comedians you enjoy. When your anxiety skyrockets, laugh. Humor is a useful, and pleasant, anxiety relief technique.
- Breathe. When anxiety strikes with a vengeance, step away from what you’re doing and engage in deep breathing exercises because slow, deep breathing induces relaxation in the brain and parasympathetic nervous system.
- An effective quick-relief technique is to combine slow, deep breathing with muscle tensing and relaxing. Even balling your fists while inhaling, holding, and then releasing them slowly while exhaling is enough to relieve anxiety.
- Another quick relaxation breathing technique is to inhale slowly while raising your arms overhead and exhale slowly while lowering them back to your sides.
- See Breathing Exercises for Anxiety Work! Try These for more suggestions.
- Run through the LLAMP technique, named by Dr. Chad Lejune (2007). The LLAMP process is meant to be practiced over time for a long-term solution to anxiety; however, it can be very effective for quick-relief too, once you know the process.
- Label your worry thoughts (are you catastrophizing, engaging in all-or-nothing thinking, or other automatic negative thoughts that are part of anxiety?).
- Let go of the impulse to control your situation and your anxiety
- Accept: just notice your thoughts and feelings, and accept them rather than fighting against them.
- Mindfulness: Pay attention to what is around you in the present moment. Notice with your senses.
- Proceed in the right direction. Move toward what you need to do.
- Just be with your anxiety, an anxiety relief technique that is similar to the LLAMP technique. When we fight with and struggle against anxiety, it actually grows stronger and more powerful because we’re giving it our energy and attention. So when your anxiety escalates in a certain situation and you need quick relief, relax and let your anxiety hover while you ignore it, giving you space to shift your attention. If you’d like, you can visualize your anxious thoughts drifting through and away on fluffy clouds.
These techniques for stress and anxiety relief can be immediately helpful in an anxious moment. Rather than complete eradicating your anxiety, they allow you to let off some steam, calm and relax your mind, or both, so you can keep going right now, despite anxiety. Anxiety relief techniques provide the quick relief needed so you can say, “I’ve got this,” as you keep moving forward.
Last Updated: 17 May 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD