How do I Reduce Anxiety?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

There are a number of ways to reduce anxiety, but it’s important to get a doctor’s help if anxiety is constant or appears to be diminishing quality of life. Many people have conditions called panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, and some people with bipolar disorder may experience great anxiety during swings to manic or hypomanic states. Understanding if anxiety is in part medically induced can be extremely valuable, because it then may be possible to control the disorder with a combination of medication and therapy.

Doing yoga can help with anxiety.
Doing yoga can help with anxiety.

The major prescription medications that reduce anxiety include some of the best-known antidepressants (particularly Paxil®, Prozac® and Zoloft®) and the class of medications called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines (Valium®, Xanax® and others) are short acting, and many simply refer to them as tranquilizers. They may be prescribed to reduce situational anxiety, like flying or going to the dentist, or they may be a part of long term treatment. These medications are addictive and need to be used under a doctor’s care, and they should never be discontinued without medical guidance.

Prayer can ease anxiety for some people.
Prayer can ease anxiety for some people.

It isn’t always necessary to turn to medications to reduce anxiety. Many people find that work with a therapist helps and others are helped with a number of self-coping methods. A good way of assessing anxiety may have medical cause is to see a doctor and work with a therapist. If methods like cognitive behavioral therapy work alone, medication may not be required or may only be necessary for short-term use.

Deep breathing may help manage anxiety.
Deep breathing may help manage anxiety.

Some people find they don’t require therapy. Taking to a friend, a family member or a trusted pastor could be enough to help relieve fears. When this alone is insufficient and the person has no reason to suspect medical cause, a number of other things may help ease tension.

Simple exercise, such as jumping jacks, can ease anxiety.
Simple exercise, such as jumping jacks, can ease anxiety.

Getting regular exercise may reduce anxiety because it increases serotonin production, which can promote better feelings and a sense of calm. Some people who have anxiety exercise on a regular basis and find that if they are really stressed it helps to exercise immediately to reduce stress. Taking a quick walk around the block, doing some jumping jacks or spending a few minutes on a stationary bicycle may actually create significant calm.

Constructive activities, such as crossword puzzles, can help people ease anxiety.
Constructive activities, such as crossword puzzles, can help people ease anxiety.

Others employ various deep breathing methods to reduce anxiety. It might seem strange that breathing alone could decrease tension, but the act of focusing on breath through guided exercises is thought beneficial. Some people combine breathing with meditative forms of exercise like yoga or tai chi. Exerting the body and focusing on breath can have very positive results. Things like prayer and standard meditation may pose a solution for others with much stress.

Doing a craft project, such as crocheting, may help to reduce anxiety.
Doing a craft project, such as crocheting, may help to reduce anxiety.

It may be possible to reduce some anxiety by distracting from topics creating it. It can help to stay busy when a matter is weighing on the mind, and not focus solely on it. Someone waiting for a loved one to get through a surgery might be better able to pass the time by doing something constructive like knitting, crochet, crossword puzzles or the like. Though this clearly can’t remove the source of stress, it may help it be more bearable.

Some people have used smoking to reduce their anxiety.
Some people have used smoking to reduce their anxiety.

Equally important in reducing anxiety is avoiding certain things. Caffeine tends to create more stress, and should not be used. Drinking alcohol may help temporarily reduce anxiety, but it has a bounce back effect if used in excess. Though stress may be reduced when someone is drinking, recovery from the drinking can make things seem even harder. It's also important not to use alcohol or illegal drugs in combination with anxiety-relieving medications because this may lower effect of these medications or make them dangerous.

A warm bath with aromatherapy bath salts can help reduce anxiety.
A warm bath with aromatherapy bath salts can help reduce anxiety.
Some people find that meditation and contemplation help reduce their level of anxiety.
Some people find that meditation and contemplation help reduce their level of anxiety.
Self-talking techniques may help an individual reduce anxiety.
Self-talking techniques may help an individual reduce anxiety.
Checking the time frequently is one sign of being anxious.
Checking the time frequently is one sign of being anxious.
Reading a book for fun can reduce anxiety.
Reading a book for fun can reduce anxiety.
Avoiding large crowds whenever possible can help reduce anxious feelings.
Avoiding large crowds whenever possible can help reduce anxious feelings.
A warm bubble bath can help someone struggling with anxiety.
A warm bubble bath can help someone struggling with anxiety.
Spending a night at home watching TV can help relieve anxiety.
Spending a night at home watching TV can help relieve anxiety.
Some people are able to talk themselves out of their anxiety attacks using logical reasoning.
Some people are able to talk themselves out of their anxiety attacks using logical reasoning.
Spending time relaxing in a pool is one way to reduce anxiety.
Spending time relaxing in a pool is one way to reduce anxiety.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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