When anxiety hits you, it can be terrifying and overwhelming. The panic and frightening thoughts coupled with physical symptoms may lead you to believe that you’re having a heart attack or suffering from a terrible disease when in reality, you’re perfectly healthy!

Anxiety can often cause you to have an exaggerated nervous system reaction to common stressors that others can ignore. It can make your nerves and emotions feel equally raw!

If you’re one of the millions who struggle with anxiety, the good news is that you can feel better, even without medication. You can take positive action on your own to get a handle on your anxiety and feel more in control. Of course, especially if your symptoms are debilitating, please consult your doctor or another health professional for their advice. If you have been through trauma and this feeling is becoming more and more normal, you may require medication — which is NOT a failure! It’s a strength when you recognize that you need help!

Both your mind and body are involved in anxiety. It’s a vicious circle: the constant worrying and negative thoughts can produce physical symptoms, which can cause more anxious thoughts. It becomes a pattern that can be challenging to break free of.

But when you’re able to overcome this challenge, it’s well worth the effort! Tackle your anxiety on both the physical and mental levels today by practicing these 10 strategies.

Physical Ways to Lower Anxiety

Try these tips to physically lower your anxiety levels: 

1. Breathe. If you’re breathing from the top of your chest and not from your abdomen, you might be making yourself more nervous. Breathe from your diaphragm and take full, deep, slow breaths. If you have ever gone through birth and used the Lamaze method, that can be helpful too! Havening is an EXCELLENT technique to check out on YouTube, and the good news is IT WORKS WONDERS!

2. Get moving. Use up that extra energy and adrenaline that your body produces. If you don’t, it can build up and make you more nervous. By getting frequent exercise, you’ll prevent your body from storing excess adrenaline.

3. Sit still. It’s important to exercise, but sometimes it’s more effective to be still. If you usually run from a panic attack or anxiety episode, force yourself to stay where you are and focus on your relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, to help prevent your impending anxiety.

· The anxiety might get worse for a moment, but you’ll be calmer after a few minutes and you’ll be more prepared the next time you face anxiety. 

4. Distract yourself. It’s hard to think about feeling nervous when you’re actively engaged in other activities. Help others, play a game, or do something else that requires your total concentration as soon as you start to feel anxious. 

5. Get in shape. Being physically fit can help you feel better about your health and reduce anxiety. It’s not a quick fix, but more of a long-term goal that you can actively pursue. Staying in good physical condition goes a long way in preventing anxiety.

Mental Ways to Lower Anxiety

A positive mental attitude is just as important as using physical techniques to help overcome your anxiety. There are many ways you can use your mental resources to find peace and calm amidst the chaos of anxiety.

Follow these techniques to tackle your anxiety on a mental level:

1. Educate yourself. It’s hard to battle something you don’t understand. Learn about your condition so you have a better understanding of what you’re facing.

2. Use the stop sign. Imagine a big stop sign in your head when you start to have anxious thoughts. The stop sign technique is a great place to start. I sometimes imagine the “Slow” sign, to slow down my racing heart.

3. Network. Talking to others with anxiety can help you feel more “normal” and bring you additional strategies that have worked for others in your same situation. Reach out to others!

4. Set aside a specific “worrying” time. If you allot a few minutes each day at a set time and permit yourself to worry only at that time, you’ll soon find that it becomes a chore – making you worry less. By only allowing yourself to worry for a short period, you can program your mind to worry less. I often do this with a piece of paper and a pen, making a Pros and Cons list…this HELPS!

5. Offer yourself affirmations. Say positive statements to yourself each day to help you stay strong and brave. For example: “I am a valuable and worthy person, and I have much to offer to the world.” Keeping a “Gratitude” journal, where you journal one to a few things, per day, helps you to look back on what you have, which can assist anxiety too!

While the tips mentioned above can help you manage your anxiety symptoms without medication, they may not be enough if you’re dealing with conditions like Post-traumatic stress disorder. If you have experienced a dangerous, shocking, or scary event, it’s best to get professional assistance to help you overcome this. Perhaps you’re a first responder, active military member, or veteran who has witnessed several traumatic events and battling depression. In this case, PTSD treatment for veterans can be useful for you. 

No matter how long you’ve had anxiety, you can do something about it. When you apply both mental and physical techniques to getting better, you’ll soon find that you – not your anxiety – are the one in control!