How to Calm Anxiety in the Moment


We all get a little bit anxious sometimes. For some of us, it could be much more extreme than it is for others. Whether you’re nervous for a big event coming up, or you’re suffering from a panic attack, we all know anxiety isn’t a pleasant feeling. Unfortunately it isn’t something that goes away overnight either. When you’re in the present moment and you start feeling anxious, there are steps to take that can calm you down. While some anxiety attacks are more intense than others, there are ways to reduce nerves.

If anxiety is a long-term battle for you, you may want to consult a doctor or find your own, healthy practice that will work for you. I personally have found daily exercise, meditation, and less sugar intake to have helped reduce my panic attacks. However, sometimes when we’re in the moment and we’re feeling anxious about a particular event or situation, or even for no particular reason, it could be hard to deal with this feeling. Getting nervous is something that comes with being human, and while we may not be able to get rid of nerves entirely, I have four tactics I like to use to calm down my anxiety when I’m feeling it in the moment.

1. Focus on Breathing

Like I said, meditation has been very helpful to calm my panic attacks and ease my anxiety. When I am feeling nervous about something like public speaking, or an interview, I take a few moments before whatever it is I’m doing to take a few deep breaths. It doesn’t need to be an intense meditation session, but just a few deep breaths that help me center myself. If you’re feeling anxious and don’t have time to meditate, cross your legs and close your eyes and take 10, slow deep breaths.

Be sure to breathe from the belly and not the chest. Breathing from the belly can activate relaxation throughout your body. When you inhale, fill up your belly first and your chest second. Breathe slowly inflating your whole body. Then exhale just as slowly. Make sure to count each breath, as turning your focus to your breath will distract you from whatever is making you anxious. Count each breath and focus on breathing in through your belly.

2. Move Around

When you’re feeling anxious and jittery, it could really help to shake it out. Personally, exercising daily has really helped with my anxiety. Whether it be a calming yoga session, or fast-paced cardio, it has helped me cope with stress and wash away nerves. This is because when you’re anxious, you’re likely experiencing lot of adrenaline. Moving around is a great way to use up all of this adrenaline and extra energy to help calm down. Not to mention, exercise can have many other benefits on your mood in general.

Exercise can make you happier and more optimistic. Exercising more often can have long-term affects on your physical and mental health which is all the more reason to do it. However, if you’re in the moment and you feel the adrenaline rushing through you and you don’t have time for a pumped up gym session, try going for a quick jog or doing some super fast jumping jacks. It might not solve everything, but it can at least burn up some of that extra energy and calm your nerves a bit.

3. Understand What’s Happening

Be aware when you are anxious or when you are having a panic attack. Know that it is just panic and nerves that are getting to you and that you will be alright. Sometimes when we are panicking, we make things out to be worse than they really are. We might feel our stomach cramp or our throat close up and we start to think something even more serious is going on. When we’re anxious, our mind often likes to play tricks on us to make us think it’s the end of the world. Know that anxiety is just a feeling and it will pass.

Anxiety and panic attacks are an awful thing to go through, but if we can understand that that is what is happening with our body and we can accept we are anxious, we can then take the next steps to try and reduce it. Try not to panic over the fact you are panicking. Accept the emotions and allow them to pass without trying to force anything. In the meantime, try one of these other tactics to try to shift your focus elsewhere.

4. Watch Something Funny

A great way to distract yourself from whatever is making you nervous, or if you are feeling especially anxious, is to watch something that will make you laugh. Put on a funny TV show or YouTube video and fully engage yourself in it. If you are fully into whatever you are watching, your mind can’t focus on your anxiety. You will begin to laugh and positive emotions will arise. This will leave you in a better mood and less focused on your anxiety. If you feel your nerves start to creep up again, think back to whatever it is that made you laugh. You might catch yourself smiling.

Anxiety and nerves happen to everyone at some point. While these tactics might not cure your anxiety forever, they could at least help you make it through the present moment. The best advice I could give is to accept the way you’re feeling as what it is, and do what you can to distract yourself from the negative emotions and implement positive ones.

Watching something funny, meditation, or exercising are all activities that will fill your mind with positive thoughts. Some activities practiced daily can produce greater, long-term affects, but these can also be great if you need a quick de-stress. Of course, some days we may be feeling more anxious than others, but these tactics could at least help provide some sort of temporary relief. Regardless, do your best to stay positive through the anxiety. I promise you the way you are feeling will pass and you will feel better!