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When you need to calm those racing thoughts, these go-to tricks can help.

Almost everyone experiences anxiety on and off throughout their lives. Even if you don’t have an anxiety disorder, you may feel anxious, stressed or uptight on any given day due to a variety of circumstances. Finding ways to manage those feelings can help you calm down and feel more relaxed. Having a bag of tricks ready to go when you need them can go a long way in helping you feel more in control of your emotions.

When you feel your anxiety or stress levels rising, here are 31 things that can help you calm down quickly:
      1. Take slow, deep breaths. Some people find the 4-7-8 breathing method particularly effective – breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat.
      2. Belt out the lyrics to your favorite song.
      3. Don’t want to sing out loud? Listen to your favorite tunes on your headphones.
      4. Chew a stick of gum.
      5. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique. Name 5 things you see around you, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.
      6. Cuddle with your pet.
      7. Identify your anxiety. This helps you realize it won’t last forever and you will get through it.
      8. Find a reason to laugh. Watch a funny video, tell a joke or just be silly.
      9. Take a quick walk or do some other type of physical activity.
      10. Put some cold water on your wrists, behind your earlobes or on your face.
      11. Head outside for a bit of sunshine and fresh air.
      12. Give yourself a hand massage.
      13. Count backwards from 10.
      14. Think of something that brings you joy or comfort and picture it in your mind in as much detail as possible (guided imagery).
      15. Do a few stretches.
      16. Rub your feet over a golf or tennis ball.
      17. Name your feelings and address what is making you feel those feelings.
      18. Try the 333 grounding technique. Find 3 things around you, note 3 sounds you hear and move 3 body parts.
      19. Squeeze a stress ball.
      20. Practice progressive relaxation. Tense the muscles in one part of your body at a time and then slowly relax them.
      21. Make a new playlist. Think of a group of songs that make you feel happy or calm.
      22. Use the “file it” technique. Imagine a pile of file folders and a file cabinet. Write down a thought that’s racing through your mind on each file folder. Acknowledge that thought and how important it is to you and then file it away.
      23. Spend 5 minutes by yourself.
      24. If you speak a second language, do something in that language (read, have a conversation). This helps shift your focus away from your emotions.
      25. Take a few minutes to declutter or reorganize something (your desk, purse, car).
      26. Eat a small piece of dark chocolate.
      27. Meditate.
      28. Find a temporary distraction. Do anything that gets your mind off of what is making you feel anxious.
      29. Write down what you’re feeling.
      30. Make a to-do list.
      31. Talk to a friend.

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Date Last Reviewed: March 18, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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