How to control Anxiety

A lot of people already know that yoga, exercise, meditation, and talk therapy can help them feel less anxious. But what do you do when the waiting room is empty, you’re driving alone to a meeting during rush hour, or you’re trying to stay still on an MRI table? 

Here are seven things she does to deal with her worries in real-time, along with explanations of why they work. 


This is what it is: controlling an automatic process consciously  

Close your eyes and take in as much air as you can. Try to eat enough so that your stomach sticks out. First, hold your breath for a few beats, and then slowly let it out. Tense up your abs and try to breathe out as much air as you can. 

This method works because Wygant says that the slower you exhale, the more you’ll activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This system calms the body down after it has been scared or shocked. To get the most out of it, focus on making your breath longer. You can’t be scared and calm at the same time. Your body knows everything is fine when you let out a big breath. 


These are exercises that you can do almost anywhere to relieve stress. 

To do them, press the tip of your tongue gently against the roof of your mouth. Your jaw will often open and relax on its own. Tilt your head forward and slowly move it clockwise and then counterclockwise around your neck. To open up your face, move your eyebrows up and down a few times. If you want to say “I don’t know,” shrug your shoulders and hold them up for a moment before letting them fall. 

“People carry so much tension in their jaw, neck, and shoulders and don’t even realize it,” says Wygant. “Dr. Therese Rando, a psychologist, once said, ‘If you can relax your body, you can relax your mind.'” 

Use your own words

What it is: Talking about strong emotions 

What to do: You should ask yourself things that make you use the analytical parts of your brain. “What feeling am I having at the moment?” Is it madness? Fear? Rage? What is making me feel this way? Is it because of something that has already happened or something I’m scared could happen?” 

How it works: Wygant says, “Studies on post-traumatic stress disorder show that some people take longer than usual to realize that a threat has passed.” “But when you ask them to name or describe their feelings, it uses the prefrontal cortex of their brain and makes them feel better.” Then they’ll know, “Oh, that’s just a stick, not a snake.” 

 Using guided images 

It means using your thoughts to make yourself feel safe and well. 

What to do: Picture in your thoughts as clearly as you can a person, place, or thing that makes you happy or at ease. For example, if it’s the ocean, smell the cold water, watch the seagulls fly by, feel the warm sand between your toes, and hear the waves hit the shore. If it’s the symphony, look at the violin’s beautiful grain of varnished wood, feel the cushion’s smooth leather, and hear the trumpet’s happy blasts. Then, take five slow, cleansing breaths. As you do so, picture yourself breathing in love, peace, and comfort and breathing out fear, worry, and stress. 

How it works: “Studies have shown that people’s bodies can react the same way when they see or think about doing something as when they actually do it,” Wygant says. “Triathletes, for example, had faster heart rates and more brain activity when they watched videos of other triathletes competing.” 

Use a different language

It’s learning a second language to change the way your brain works. 

You can do this by getting in touch with someone you know who speaks one of your second languages and making small talk with them. This includes American Sign Language. Reading a book or news website in a language that isn’t your first one is another option. 

“When you switch languages, a different part of the brain has to take over,” Wygant says as to why it works. “That takes your attention off of your feelings.” 

Let music take you away

What it is: Taking your mind off things with music 

To do it, “changing the language” also works for music because it makes you use a different part of your brain. Take a few minutes to practice a song or two if you have an instrument and know how to use it. You could also picture yourself playing one of your favorite pieces if you can’t do that right now. Really enjoy the experience. 

Why it works: Wygant says, “Playing music just gives your brain a break.” “When school had finals, I remember that people lined up to play the piano in one of the lobby areas.” Since you’re not thinking about physics or biology when you’re making songs. You can think more clearly and solve problems much better afterward. 

Make a fresh playlist

Putting together a new music library on a computer, tablet, or smartphone 

Start with three of your favorite songs right now. Then add three more songs that you liked last year, in high school, in college, or when you were a kid. As long as you want, or until you feel like you have enough, keep going. 

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