12 Ways to Calm Down When Anxiety is High

Bella's Advice
Bella’s Advice

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with anxiety? Now that’s a silly question! Of course you have! If you’ve been reading my blog then you know my response is: “Good! You want that anxiety!” (It’s hard to be anxious when you want to be anxious.)

But, let’s be honest, white knuckling through a terrifying moment can be easier said than done. Sometimes the anxiety takes over and wins. What can be done when that happens? When the anxiety is so overwhelmingly unbearable and you can’t take the next right step. You’re paralyzed.

What can be done? Follow these steps in sequential order:

  1. Always be proactive by eating well with lots of protein and low carbs. Stay off sugar, caffeine and possibly even gluten. Drink lots of water, go to yoga and exercise 10-30 minutes a day. This regime of FITNESS gives you a fighting chance against anxiety. Balancing the interaction between oxygen and glucose is critical!
  2. Remember what you’re fighting for. Don’t go down the rabbit hole. Don’t use any compulsion to try and get relief. Stop yourself and ask, “Will it be worth it? Once I unravel, it’s going to be hard to get my act together. Do I really want this?” There’s a good wolf and a bad wolf. Which one wins? The one you feed.
  3. Remember to thank the anxiety. Sounds weird, I know. But gratitude can wash away a lot of problems. Make a list of 5 reasons you are grateful for anxiety. Do something nice for someone else.
  4. Manage your energy from negative to positive by asking, “What does this make possible?” Nothing has meaning except the meaning you give it!
  5. Consider an exposure exercise. Try to get as close to the fear as you can. Facing a fear can be scary at first but after you do it, it’s so empowering and it feels like a load has been lifted.
  6. Visualize an image of what you’d look like if you weren’t resisting. I like to picture being in the pool pushing down on a beach ball. I’m pushing hard, trying to keep it under the water. It takes a lot of energy. It’s not fun. And then, finally I let go of the ball and it floats to the surface. It’s still near me but I don’t care. My arms are free and I’m not wasting my energy. It feels good.
  7. Take deep breaths and exhale by whistling. Pace yourself and slowly breathe in and out. On the inhale reach for the air in your belly, past your lungs. On the exhale try to whistle your ABC’s otherwise known as twinkle, twinkle little star….If you can’t whistle it’s okay. Just deeply exhale.
  8. Picture in your mind and in this order: an old house, a river with trees along the bank, a blue circle and a red triangle. Close your eyes and literally picture these items. This exercise wakes up other parts of your mind.
  9. Put your thoughts where they belong. If there’s no action to take on something you’re worrying about then it doesn’t belong in today’s door. Put it in tomorrow’s door. If you’re rewinding and replaying something from the past it goes in yesterday’s door. Stay in today’s door. Better yet, stay in the moment. Repeat this mantra, “In this moment, right here, right now I am safe and I am pretty okay.”
  10. Position your body in a relaxed manner. Hold your hands palm up in your lap. Let all the nervous energy leave your body. Don’t rock your body back-n-forth or rub your hands or feet together, or rub your legs or head. That’s just igniting your alarm system (the amygdala.)
  11. Go outside for earth time. Sit or lie on the grass. Walk. The earth gives off a vibration that is indisputably invigorating.. Everything we need can be found in nature.
  12. Listen to relaxing music or find a calming YouTube meditation. Not to get rid of anxiety but to just let it be.

This is day 21 of a 30 day challenge. To defy OCD your brain needs to be a lean mean fighting machine. Softening into the anxiety is your challenge. Do you have a step 13 to share?




2 thoughts on “12 Ways to Calm Down When Anxiety is High”

  1. My step 13 is laughing! Maybe find a short funny video online or do laughing yoga. Not to distract yourself but just to step back from the anxiety and not take everything so seriously like OCD wants you to!

  2. I don’t believe I can add a step thirteen, but only because the twelve listed are excellent if they’re used, with number six in particular. A few years ago, during the Saratoga Race Track meeting, I decided I wanted to go to the races. There was only one problem: I hadn’t been there in years due to my paralyzing fears. On the way there I was nervous, and increasingly anxious. By the time I got up to and through the gate, I was obsessing, dizzy, nauseated and shaking; I didn’t think I could handle much more. However, once I did one thing and said three simple words, I found a solution. What did I do? I let go of that beach ball and let it float to the surface. I recall walking amongst the crowd (with some difficulty), and I finally said in my head “Okay, let’s go,” and I meant it. When I said those words, I was talking to my OCD/anxiety and just gave up. I wasn’t going to fight. I wasn’t going to try to not be dizzy, or nauseated – I was going to the races, period! I knew what I was fighting for at that moment, and that and those three little words meant the difference. Within a minute or so, I remember feeling fine! Normal, even! (Well, as normal as I get…) It wasn’t only that I said the three words, but I MEANT them. I was going to be out and stay out that day, no matter what. I think sometimes you’ve just got to let go of the beach ball!

    Quick edit: Laughter as a thirteenth step is excellent! Didn’t consider it, and I think everyone should try to do it more!

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