Businesswoman relaxing outdoors to relieve anxiety
Print icon
share icon

How to reduce anxiety immediately: 5 quick strategies to relax, backed by Evidation

April 17, 2024
5 minutes
Lifestyle Health & Wellness
Mental health

Anxiety is one of the most common and debilitating mental health conditions in the world, with over 300 million people living with anxiety disorders today. Our fast-paced and often chaotic lifestyles are breeding grounds for anxiety and stress, making it critical to educate people on how they can manage these conditions.

Whether you’re living with an anxiety disorder or you experience it on occasion, knowing how to address it quickly and effectively can make a significant difference. Wondering how to reduce anxiety immediately? Keep reading for five quick relaxation techniques that work.

How to quickly and effectively reduce anxiety

Anxiety can be crippling, but there are many ways to effectively manage it so you can refocus and continue with your day. Knowing the tools for dealing with anxiety can make all the difference. Here are five research-based strategies that can help you relax.

1. Deep breathing exercises

There’s a reason we always remind ourselves to “take a deep breath” whenever we’re feeling stressed, nervous, or panicked. The power of breath helps calm the nervous system, particularly the body’s fight or flight response, which is often triggered when we are in stressful situations. Our adrenaline kicks into high gear and can leave us feeling anxious and irritable, even after the anxiety has subsided.

When you focus your energy on breathing deeply, the central nervous system can relax as you breathe in more oxygen, bringing the body back to a rested state. As you slow your mind and your body down, you become more aware, centered, and present.

Tips to practice deep breathing

We recommend practicing deep breathing exercises before you’re in a stressful situation so you have some understanding of what to do. Take a seat in a comfortable chair and practice breathing slowly through your nose. Feel the oxygen fill your lungs as your chest rises. Slowly exhale the breath and repeat a few times.

This practice helps combat nervousness, stress, and anxiety that you may experience at work, at school, with your children, or in any other situation throughout the day.

2. Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is an effective approach to relaxing the muscles that carry the physical weight of anxiety, including the neck, shoulders, jaw, back, and core.

PMR teaches us how to relax our bodies by alternating between tension and relaxation through the major muscle groups. Here’s how to practice progressive muscle relaxation:

  • Sit in a chair or lie down in a comfortable position
  • Take a deep breath, and contract one muscle group, like your thighs or calves, for 5 to 10 seconds
  • Exhale and quickly release the tension
  • Relax for ten to 20 seconds, then move on to the next muscle
  • Repeat until you’ve contracted and released each muscle group throughout your body

Through PMR, individuals learn how their muscles feel when they’re relaxed compared to how they feel when they’re tense. Over time, this practice will help to identify the stress signals in your body and how focused muscle relaxation can reduce stress.

3. Mindfulness and meditation techniques

Mindfulness teaches us to be fully present and aware of what’s going on, without feeling panic or stress in the moment. It encourages an inner stillness that many of us don’t know we have because we’re so caught up in our busy, chaotic lives. Mastering mindfulness takes practice, but those who make the effort learn to control their response to anxiety-inducing situations.

Meditation has long been touted as one of the most effective holistic approaches to combating anxiety, stress, and burnout. Anyone who searches “how to reduce anxiety naturally” will likely come across meditation techniques as a recommendation. It’s a powerful tool because it allows you to step away from the chaos and stress of your life to a safe, calm space where your body and mind can relax.

Guided meditation, PMR, breath awareness meditation, and body scan meditation are common and effective meditation techniques that people find most helpful when they’re dealing with stress or anxiety.

4. Visualization and guided imagery

Visualization and guided imagery are used to reduce anxiety and the negative emotions associated with it. By using visualization techniques (like picturing yourself on a tropical island), you allow your mind and body to fully relax in a place you feel safe and comfortable.

To practice guided imagery, find a quiet place and close your eyes. Picture a relaxing place, like a beach, lake, the mountains, or anywhere that feels peaceful to you. Imagine yourself feeling calm and relaxed.

Focus on the scene, whether it’s the sun on your skin, the breeze on the water, or birds chirping nearby. Remain here until you feel fully relaxed, acknowledging that you can come here anytime you feel anxious.

Visualization allows individuals to create positive outcomes for scenarios they are facing. Whether you’re stressed about a big presentation, nervous about a job interview, or any other situation that’s causing you anxiety, guided imagery allows you to see the positive outcomes rather than the worst possible scenario.

5. Sensory-based relaxation methods

Tapping into the senses is a great way to relax and re-center when experiencing anxiety. The sensory and nervous systems are intertwined, and many calming activities work to reduce stress and promote calm. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are some sensory-based relaxation methods to try:

  • Use a weighted blanket to apply deep pressure to the body
  • Listen to nature sounds or classical music
  • Diffuse calming essential oils for aromatherapy practice
  • Practice yoga or stretching to release tension

Bonus tips: Quick stress-busting physical activities

Exercise increases endorphins, improves mood, and reduces the negative effects of stress. Here are a few stress-busting activities to try when you’re stressed:

  • Pilates, yoga, or Tai Chi
  • Rowing or cycling
  • Swimming
  • Boxing
  • Walking

Final thoughts

In a world plagued by anxiety, it’s more important than ever to have the resources and knowledge to incorporate these relaxation strategies into our daily lives. This way, if you find yourself in a stressful situation that’s causing you anxiety, you’ll be well-equipped to handle any challenge with confidence.

Anxiety management is a journey, not a sprint. Try out these various relaxation techniques and methods as you see fit; don’t expect your anxiety to subside immediately. Good work takes practice and commitment, but we’re confident these strategies will help improve your anxiety and overall mental health.

Manage your physical and mental wellness with Evidation

Caring for our mental and physical health has never been more vital than it is today. With Evidation as a resource, Members can track healthy habits, like exercise, meditation, diet, and more, to help reduce anxiety and promote overall wellness. We’re committed to providing the tools, science-backed insights, and personalized content to support you on your health journey. Download the Evidation app to get started today.

Mental health
Evidation on Apple App StoreEvidation on Google Play Store
Download app