Anyone who has ever felt it wants to know how to calm anxiety. The shakiness, jittery feelings, and sometimes dread that come with anxiety can be very uncomfortable. Some go so far as to try medicate themselves with drugs and/or alcohol, just to get some relief from the symptoms. Unfortunately, this self-medication with these kinds of substances only makes things worse in the long run.

There are some things that can be done to relieve anxiety, both short-term and long-term.

How To Calm Anxiety In the Long Term

The best way to deal with anxiety for long-term relief is to get to the root problem that started you feeling anxious. This will likely be an effort that requires the help of a trained professional. There are several effective therapy techniques that can bring long-term relief.

They are labor intensive in terms of you facing and talking about sensitive topics in your life. It won’t be easy to do this. That’s why a good professional whom you can learn to trust will be so helpful.

Therapy is also expensive at times, although many insurance companies will pay for at least some of the treatment expense. And they take time. How much time will depend on your ability to do the emotional work of therapy and the type of therapy used.

Along with the “talk” therapy will likely be medication to provide some ongoing, temporary relief from the anxiety. These medications can be very effective, but they also have some side effects that can be bothersome. For one, they can be addictive. This will likely limit the amount of these medications you’ll be given. Another side effect is the short-acting nature of some of the medications. That is, they work for a short time, then are gone from your system.

This is how to calm anxiety for the long-term. But many people want other ways to treat their anxiety symptoms without medications. There are some things you can do to handle your anxiety.

How To Calm Anxiety More Naturally

Anxiety is a long-term condition. You have to keep that in mind as the basis of your learning how to handle it more naturally and on a short-term basis. The ideas that will be presented here won’t necessarily cure your anxiety. They have given a lot people some fairly quick relief from anxiety symptoms for a period of time.

When you are in the midst of feeling anxious, you want something to either stop or at least calm the anxiety quickly. There is no magic pill, no magic supplement, no magic words that will stop your anxiety immediately. But there are things you can do.

Herbal Supplements

One tactic in how to calm anxiety is to take herbal supplements. It’s important for you to consult with your healthcare professional before taking any supplements, because they can interact with other medications. Also, keep in mind these supplements have always gone through rigorous scientific evaluation of their effectiveness. For this reason, not everything is known about how they work or possible side effects. If you are pregnant or breast feeding, it’s best to avoid supplements because they may have different effects on babies in the womb and infants than on adults.

Kava. This herbal supplement has been used for many years in Europe to alleviate anxiety symptoms. It has been considered safe enough for children to use instead of some prescribed medications. Kava appears to be effective against anxiety symptoms. It has been known to aid in sleep if taken in high enough doses.

A major concern about kava is that there isn’t enough known about it. Some reports of liver injury have been made. Because kava interacts with dopamine, there is some concern about the potential for addiction. For this reason, if you have or have had addiction issues, you should avoid using kava.

The interaction with dopamine increases the level of dopamine in your body, bringing on a feeling of relaxation. Driving or operating heavy machinery should be avoided after using kava due to the increased risk of accidents. You also may experience a hangover feeling the morning after using kava.

Valerian Root. An answer to the question about how to calm anxiety may be to take valerian root. It has been used in Europe and Asia for centuries to help deal with anxiety symptoms. It also seems to help with sleep.

Regarding side effects, there appear to be very few. Sedation is a main concern. Some users have a hangover following the use of valerian. Upset stomach, headache, irregular heartbeat, and feelings of uneasiness have been reported with valerian, also.

There may also be interactions with some medications, so consult with your healthcare provider before taking valerian. Due to the sedating effects of this supplement, avoid operating heavy machinery or driving for some time after using valerian. You may have some withdrawal effects after taking valerian for a long time. It also interacts very strongly with alcohol, so avoid drinking alcohol while taking this supplement.

Passionflower. This supplement can also help when you’re considering how to calm anxiety. Possibly, passionflower boosts the level of GABA in your brain, lowering brain activity and helping you sleep. Some early research has shown promise for passionflower in helping people relax and be more calm.

Generally, passionflower has few side effects. Sleepiness, dizziness, and confusion have been reported. Do not take passionflower if you are already taking sedative medications. Pregnant women should avoid passionflower because it may bring on contractions.

Physical Exercise

Physical exercise can help calm anxiety also. A good moderate exercise program will release calming natural chemicals in your body to soothe your anxiety. It also makes your muscles tired so there won’t be as much trembling and nervousness. Plus, exercise burns away cortisol, the stress hormone, that can be prevalent in anxiety.

Jogging and walking are both good aerobic exercises that you can try. Focusing on your exercise will also distract you from thinking about being nervous and anxious.

Learn To Relax

Learning to relax your body can help you in figuring out how to calm anxiety. There are several good ways to physically relax through systematic effort.

One good relaxation technique is progressive muscle relaxation. In this technique, you first learn the difference in how it feels to relax versus to be tense. Beginning with your feet, you tense up the muscles there, hold it for at least ten seconds, then relax those same muscles. Then you pay attention to the difference in the way relaxation feels compared to being tense.

You gradually work your way up your legs, to your stomach and back, to your arms and shoulders, then to your neck. Always tensing and relaxing the individual muscle groups. As you practice this, it becomes easier to tense and relax these muscle groups.

You can combine this muscle relaxation with visualization exercises. Once you’ve tensed and relaxed all the muscle groups of your body, stay relaxed and think of a place where you’ve felt safe, comfortable, and relaxed. Get this place so firmly in your mind that you can actually feel like you’ve put yourself there. With practice, this becomes easier as well.

Write It Down

For some people, writing things down that bother them is a way to stop thinking about them so much. There’s something soothing about getting things out of your mind and onto paper. They don’t seem to have the hold over you they did before.

A variation of this would be to write a letter. If you have someone who makes you anxious, this can be a big help. Write down everything you want to say to or about this person, holding nothing back. No one is going to read it except you. Once you have everything written down, burn the letter. This is a symbolic way of releasing the anxiety you’ve put on paper. It may take several times doing this before you feel relief, but it does work for many people.

Mindfulness

This is a relatively new approach to dealing with how to calm anxiety. In fact, it isn’t really a calming activity, at least not at first. But it has long term results.

Your task here is to embrace your anxiety. Doing this is better than fighting it. You’re becoming aware that anxiety is a way your body has of warning you something seems dangerous. It’s learning that your body is working the right way, working as it should.

Doing this, you become less anxious about feeling anxious. You won’t be anxious about feeling nervous and jittery. So this approach is not a quick fix, but something that can help long term.

Question Yourself

When you feel anxious, you may be saying to yourself “what if?” this or that happens. Questioning yourself and asking for objective proof can be a way of putting distance between you and your anxiety. Just because something could happen, doesn’t mean it will happen. Ask yourself what the chances are that whatever you’re feeling anxious about will really happen. And don’t ease up on yourself. Ask those hard questions. What are some positive things that could happen instead of the negative ones you tend to focus on?

Thoughts and Truth Aren’t Always the Same

Keep in mind that our brains are very sensitive to things that feel like dangers. This has kept you out of things in the past that could have harmed you. This sensitivity can lead your brain to label things as dangerous that really aren’t. Your thoughts are only passing bits of information and not always objective truth. Sometimes thoughts become automatic because of things you’ve been through in the past. These automatic thoughts come without you being aware of them until they’re staring you in the face. Always evaluate your thoughts and see if they can stand up to this evaluation. Is there some evidence they’re true? If not, choose to let them just go right on through your mind.

Distract Yourself From Your Thoughts

Thoughts are some of the most anxiety-producing parts of your experience. The content of your thoughts, that is. By getting away from the content and trying to label the kinds of thoughts you’re having, you can get relief from your anxiety. Pay attention to whether you’re having critical thoughts, worry thoughts, or “what if” thoughts and label them as such. This puts distance between you and the content of those thoughts and brings some anxiety relief.

Live in the Now

Too often, when you’re anxious you spend time thinking about what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future. You don’t live now. Certainly, what happened in the past might have been bad or embarrassing, but that doesn’t have to mean anything about you now. Many people re-live bad things from many years ago and keep themselves anxious because of what happened then. Others worry about what might happen some time in the future and miss out on what is going on right now. Focus on living in the now.

Do Something

All too often, when you feel anxious, you sit down and wallow in the feeling. Most of us do that at one time or another. This will only make you more anxious. You can find yourself mired in the anxiety and weighed down by it.

Instead of letting your anxiety lay on you like a lead blanket, get up and do something. Almost anything will help. Stand up, walk around, find something to do. And when you do find something, focus on doing that thing. This will distract you from your anxiety and keep you from getting burdened by anxiety thoughts that go around and around in your head, growing larger as they do so.

Final Words

Anxiety is uncomfortable. Physically, emotionally, and mentally it can wear you down. The best long-term solution is professional treatment. But there are things you can do to speed up that treatment and give you some relief in the short term. Don’t give up if you don’t feel immediate relief. Keep at it, and these things will work.

References

Kava and anxiety  http://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/kava-cure#overview1

Valerian  http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/supplement-guide-valerian

The Calming Effects of Passionflower  http://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/calming-effects-of-passionflower#overview1

9 Ways to Calm Your Anxious Mind https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201506/9-ways-calm-your-anxious-mind