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How to Fight Anxiety: 4 Techniques that Work

Do you ever feel suddenly overwhelmed by things you need to do, or get that anxious feeling where you just can’t focus on anything? You’re not alone.

This article will show you how you can fight anxiety by present four scientifically proven, easy-to-do techniques that you can do anywhere that will help your body and mind reverse this fight or flight response, so that you can get back into a state of calm where you can focus on the task at hand.

Anxiety: A Part of Life

Life–whether it is work, school, or family–has a way of overwhelming us. Perhaps you tend to get nervous before a big presentation. Perhaps you are one of the millions of people who are prone to experiencing frequent anxiety, no matter the situation. Regardless of which group you fall into, the biology behind this unpleasant feeling is the same: it is caused by a combination of neurotransmitters and hormones that signals your body to produce the fight or flight response—the racing heart rate, quickened shallow breathing, increase in blood pressure, and the overall feeling of not being in control.

How to Fight Anxiety: 4 Practical Techniques

Breathe in a 5-5-5 pattern 

    • One of the most effective ways to fight anxiety is to use a breathing technique. With your eyes closed, slowly breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds, hold it in for 5 seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth for 5 seconds. Do this for at least 1 minute.

This technique not only allows more oxygen to be delivered to your brain, allowing your head to clear, but it sends a message to your body to start relaxing.

Relax your muscles with a progressive relaxation method

How to Fight Anxiety Techniques that Work Fast

This method, while it takes a few minutes to perform, is one of the most effective ways to fight anxiety.

    • In a sitting or lying position, start at your feet, tensing your muscles by pointing your toes for 3 seconds, then fully relax them. Do this systematically, working your way up, from your legs up to your abdomen, your hands then your arms, and end by clenching and relaxing your jaw and cheek muscles. You should feel instantly relaxed. It can also be done in reverse, starting with the head. This is an extremely effective technique when done properly and is particularly useful for those with anxiety issues.

To read more about this method, check out this article on relaxation techniques

Focus on the present with the 5-4-3-2-1 technique

When you are anxious, your mind automatically focuses on the unpleasant feeling. By taking a moment to force yourself to be aware of your surroundings, you are also forcing the mind to help fight anxiety.

    • Look around you and mentally identify 5 specific things that you see, then find 5 things that you hear. Then go back and name 4 things that you see (can be the same things), and 4 things that you hear, and so on, until you reach 1.

This forces you to be in the moment and will help you gather your thoughts.

Repeat a mantra

Another way you can fight anxiety and calm the mind is to use a mantra.

    • While taking slow deep breaths, slowly repeat (out loud or silently) a positive phrase such as, “I am at peace” or “All is well” in sync with your breaths.

This is a technique often used in meditation that not only is effective in calming your mind but can also help with positive thinking.

Remember, if it doesn’t seem to work the first time you try it, don’t give up. Just as it is with any technique–practice makes perfect.

So now that you are equipped with some powerful relaxation tools, go forth and conquer the day with confidence…for a new, de-stressed life awaits you.

*Information such as that contained in “How to Fight Anxiety: 4 Techniques that Work Fast” can be found in Being Empowered for a Healthy Heart: A personal guide to taking control of your health while living with chronic conditions, by Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH.


Phoebe Chi, MD
Phoebe Chi, MD

As a physician educator and the managing editor of Health + Inspiration, Dr. Chi aims to inspire, inform, and empower the reader community. She is the author of Being Empowered for a Healthy Heart: A personal guide to taking control of your health while living with chronic conditions, a poetry-infused health guide, and founder of Pendants for a Cause, a nonprofit organization with the purpose of raising funds to fight illness, provide care, and bring awareness to medically vulnerable populations around the world.

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69 replies »

  1. Reblogged this on Amanda Ricks and commented:
    I like this article from PuppyDoc on techniques to help anxiety because number 3 is new to me and sounds like it would be beneficial to quite a few people. I hope you enjoy the post and check out her great blog.

  2. Thank you for sharing the information. I have been meditation since 1989. I tried to learn for many years. Took my worst days of life for me to learn to meditate.

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