It’s normal to feel anxious about moving to a new place, starting a new job, or taking a test. This type of anxiety is unpleasant, but it may motivate you to work harder and to do a better job. Ordinary anxiety is a feeling that comes and goes, but does not interfere with your everyday life.
Anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, unease, or worry that typically occurs in the absence of an imminent threat. It differs from fear, which is the body’s natural response to immediate danger.
Anxiety is part of the body’s natural reaction to stress, so it can be helpful at times, making you more alert and ready for action.
Anxiety disorders and normal feelings of anxiousness are two different things. Many of us get anxious when faced with particular situations we find stressful, but if those feelings don’t subside, the anxiety could be more chronic. When feelings of fear or nervousness become excessive, difficult to control, or interfere with daily life, an anxiety disorder may be present. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental disorders.
Signs and Symptoms
Your heart beats fast, and your breathing speeds up. Your chest may feel tight, and you might start to sweat. If you’ve ever felt it, you know that anxiety is just as much a physical state as a mental state. That’s because there’s a very strong biological chain reaction that occurs when we encounter a stressful event or begin to worry about potential stressors or dangers in the future. Other physical symptoms include headaches and insomnia. Psychological symptoms may include feeling restless or tense, having a feeling of dread, or experiencing ruminative or obsessive thoughts.
Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
- Feelings of apprehension
- Anticipating the worst
- Tremors or twitches
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Nausea or upset stomach
Duration of Anxiety
It is possible to get rid of anxiety with therapy or medication, or through a combination of therapy and medication. It may also take changing your mind a bit about the power your mind has over you.
According to Health Care Experts, “You might start to consider your emotions as changing experiences that are always fluctuating. When we feel distressed, it can seem like the distress is going to go on and on forever until we emotionally combust. But instead, emotions act more like a wave, at times increasing and becoming more intense. But inevitably they’ll reach a plateau, subsiding and finally passing.”
5 Ways to Ease Anxiety and Feel Calmer
Take some deep breaths
When anxious, our breath becomes rapid and shallow. Deep belly breathing helps decrease anxiety by stimulating the body’s relaxation response, lowering our heart rate and blood pressure. It’s a powerful technique that works because you can’t breathe deeply and be anxious at the same time. There are many variations to try, including this simple exercise: Inhale deeply for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4. Repeat several times.
Go for a walk
Exercise is one of the best anxiety remedies, immediately and long term. Going for a walk creates a diversion from your worries and releases muscle tension. Grab your headphones or earbuds on your way out; studies show that listening to music brings its own calming effects.
Long term, regular exercise triggers the release of feel-good neurochemicals in the brain, building up resilience against stormy emotions. It boosts your confidence and your mood, and you don’t need to run a marathon to feel the benefits. Washing your car, hiking, gardening, a pick-up game — anything that gets you moving counts. Thirty minutes, 3 to 5 days a week can help to significantly improve anxiety symptoms, but even 10 minutes can make a difference.
Try a mini-meditation from Headspace
No matter what’s causing your anxiety, take a pause and try this 3-minute meditation to anchor your mind and body in the present.
Sitting down, take a few deep breaths, in through the nose, and out through the mouth, feeling the breath move through the body, the rising sensation as you breathe in, the falling sensation as you breathe out. Do this a few times, then allow the breath to return to its natural rhythm.
Begin to focus your attention on the physical sensations, either of the weight of the body on the seat beneath you, or the feet on the floor. That’s your anchor, something that doesn’t change, no matter how many thoughts come and go. The moment you realize you’re caught up in thought, come back to that sensation, that feeling of being grounded. It’s as though you’re stepping out of all the business of the mind, and just being present in the body.
Sip some herbal, chamomile, or green tea
If you’re feeling jittery, pour a cup of chamomile or green tea. Known as a sleep aid, chamomile contains a compound called Matricaria recutita, which binds to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium. Chamomile’s sedative effects may also come from the flavonoid apigenin. In one study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia, patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) who took chamomile supplements (1.2 % apigenin) for 8 weeks showed a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms compared with patients taking placebo. (Despite improved quality control, herbal supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA the way medications are, so before taking any supplement, check with your doctor.)
Green tea, long used in Chinese medicine to treat depression, contains the amino acid L-theanine, which relieves stress, and reduces blood pressure and muscle tension. Nuts, whole grains, and broccoli are also rich in L-theanine.
If you’re feeling anxious, try a distraction technique — anything that redirects your attention away from distressing thoughts or emotions. Run your fingers around the edge of your phone, put your hands under running cold water, color, or draw on a piece of paper. Distractions work because your brain can’t be in two places at once, and shifting your attention to any activity will interrupt a string of racing thoughts.