There’s no doubting that anxiety can quickly and easily spiral out of control. It can make life and daily living tasks feel absolutely unbearable.
Living with debilitating anxiety can cause a lot of commotion as it interferes with your life. It can be hard to maintain employment, pursue hobbies, connect with others, and so much more.
If you are someone living in a constant state of anxiety, you might feel hopeless at ever regaining control over it. But, I’m here to tell you that it is possible, and I’m sharing 31 tips that you can try to ease and manage your crippling anxiety and stop it from taking over your life.
1. Seek professional help and make a plan.
When you’re struggling with crippling anxiety, getting professional help should be one of the first things you do. Whether that’s seeing your regular medical provider and sharing your symptoms or going to therapy, it depends on what is accessible and feasible for you.
There are various ways a professional can help a person with severe anxiety. Medications, breathing exercises, and therapy are just a few tools that a medical professional can help with.
In addition, a professional can connect you to various services that could be helpful for you. For example, if you’re living in poverty, a medical professional might be aware of programs to ease your burdens, such as a food bank and government benefits. There’s no shame in seeking help, and you don’t need to struggle alone.
The two main treatments for anxiety and anxiety disorders are psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medications. Some people thrive with one, the other, or a combination of both. It takes some time and patience to test out the correct mix for each patient.
Seeking professional help as soon as possible will generate a mental health plan quicker and keep you on track.
A mental health plan gives you insight into various tools, tips, resources, and other valuable connections that can assist your mental health. Your mental health plan should include attending all scheduled medical appointments, taking prescribed medications, practicing self-care, attending therapy, and other resources/exercises that help you feel in control.
A mental health plan should also include what to do in a crisis. There you can have a list of tools, ideas, songs, and so on, that provide immediate relief from intense anxiety.
Continue reading until the end of the article so you can take note of all the tips I have to manage intense anxiety. Keep in mind that each person’s mental health is different and what each person needs also varies, so take what might work, pass it on to others, and continue working toward good mental health.
2. Try cognitive behavioral therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a highly effective psychological treatment. It involves changing a person’s thinking patterns and is used to treat a wide variety of issues and conditions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to manage life’s emotional obstacles and stressful situations, improve communication skills, and resolve conflict. In addition, this therapy technique helps people to learn new techniques to restructure thought patterns and create new ones.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a beneficial and effective treatment that can assist in managing extreme anxiety. To try cognitive behavioral therapy, look for a qualified therapist.
If you’re more into personal development, consider reading some cognitive behavioral therapy books or purchasing exercise books and actively completing them. There are also several apps and websites with plenty of information about this form of therapy.
3. Consider medication.
Sometimes, cognitive behavioral therapy on its own is enough, but if your anxiety is really bad, your doctor might suggest trying a medication. Several medications are helpful in the treatment of anxiety.
First, your doctor might suggest a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI); the most common treatment plan for it. A few of these medications include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft.
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) are another popular option. This includes the drug Tofranil. SSRIs and SNRIs are the two common treatment paths, but many other medications exist.
When trying a new medication, you must be patient with yourself. Sometimes it takes a few weeks for the side effects to subside and to see if the drug is actually doing what it’s intended for. When a doctor prescribes a medication, make sure you take it as prescribed, and don’t stop taking it without consulting with your doctor first.
4. Engage in daily movement.
By now, you might have grown tired of hearing that exercise is good for you, but I insist that daily movement really is terrific for you and a crucial part of maintaining and sustaining good mental health.
The benefits of daily movement are enormous, ranging from weight management, lower blood pressure, improved mood, a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, and prevention of other health problems like arthritis.
Specifically for mental health and anxiety, daily movement is critical. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) extols the virtues of exercise to help ease anxiety. Exercise signals your body to release endorphins which are the feel-good hormones. It changes the chemistry and hormones in your brain and improves mood substantially. So make it a part of your daily routine to engage in some form of movement.
It might be difficult to build this habit in the beginning, but it’s worth it for the sake of your overall health. Try different things until you find an activity you love, because it will make all the difference. A few hobbies to consider are HIIT training, yoga, Pilates, weight lifting, kickboxing, or walking.
5. Improve the quality of your sleep.
If you’re struggling with crippling anxiety, it would be beneficial to look at your sleep routine. If you’re exhausted and not getting good quality sleep, it could trigger a more intense anxious reaction than would happen had you been well rested.
I encourage you to see sleep as a significant component of your mental health plan. Consider leaving your phone in another room during the night, turning off the TV, and incorporating some night meditation for a few enhancements.
Sleep is essential in maintaining good cognitive function. This is what controls problem-solving skills, memory, and other emotional functions. Being sleep-deprived can make it difficult to get through regular daily tasks. Your eyes feel sore, they might even water, and you feel irritated and grumpy.
Sleep deprivation significantly impacts your mental health and makes managing your triggers and responses to them more difficult. A good day begins the night before, so building a healthy night routine and getting a good rest is imperative.
How to get a good night’s sleep.
Although the amount of sleep required varies from person to person, the quality of that sleep matters even more. Six hours of good-quality sleep feels better than eight hours of choppy, restless sleep. To get the best sleep possible, give yourself a bed- and wake-up time. In other words, make it a routine to go to bed and wake at the same times every day.
In addition, always begin your day with a healthy breakfast. Limit your caffeine intake (this is helpful for both anxiety and sleep), create a calm environment to sleep in, and use a sleep mask to make it dark.
Be aware of the kinds of foods you consume a few hours before bedtime, and start your evening routine with a night meditation. What works for one person may not work for another, but a few of these might be helpful to you if you want to improve the quality of your sleep. Use a sleep tracker to identify routines and compare them to how you feel.
6. Limit/reduce caffeine intake.
Too much caffeine can leave you feeling very anxious and overstimulated. You may experience symptoms that are much the same as extreme anxiety. While caffeine doesn’t affect everyone like this, it’s worth considering if you live with crippling anxiety.
Check supplement and vitamin labels to account for how much caffeine they contain, and notice how you feel after each cup of coffee. Soda often contains caffeine as well. Limiting or avoiding caffeine altogether is an excellent idea to help decrease anxiety symptoms.
7. Practice breathing exercises.
Incorporate breathing exercises into your day so that when your crippling anxiety slams you, you are familiar with this helpful strategy. In addition, you’ll be more likely to use a method you’re comfortable with rather than one you’ve never used before.
Remember not to rush through the exercises. Instead, bring awareness to your breathing, notice how your body is feeling, and shift your focus from anxiousness to calmness.
Breathing exercises for anxiety:
- Lengthen your exhale. Rather than taking deep breaths, which can lead to hyperventilating, focus on taking slow exhales. Exhaling is closely linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, affecting the body’s ability to calm down. In addition, this breathing exercise can be in any position, making it helpful for dealing with intense anxiety. For example, try to inhale for a count of four and exhale deeply for a count of six.
- Focus on breathing. In an anxious moment, bring the thought inwards and notice how your breathing feels on your skin as your belly rises and falls.
- Equal breathing. Breath in for a slow and deep count of four and exhale for a count of four. This is a terrific exercise to help with a racing heart.
- Guided meditation. A guided meditation can be beneficial if you’re living with intense anxiety. Meditation can require a lot of concentration, so a guided meditation allows the person to follow the narrator’s cues. In addition, it is a beginner-friendly way of incorporating meditation.
8. Identify your triggers.
When you identify your triggers, you take an active step in your mental health journey. It helps you to understand why you feel the way you do and what in your environment is causing it. In order to identify your triggers, it’s important to pay attention to your mind and body.
For example, when you notice a negative emotional response to something, it might be worth noting that thing as a trigger for your anxiety. When you know your triggers, you can develop coping skills, coping mechanisms, and other tools to get through the anxiety. In addition, it gives you a better idea of what you’re dealing with and why.
9. Change your thought pattern.
When you’re feeling extreme anxiety, challenge your thought pattern for relief. If anxiety is telling you something, then ask for proof so you can understand whether or not it’s real.
As humans, we’re prone to habitual behaviors, so if you’re always anxious about something, it might be worth challenging the thought and teaching yourself that you can feel something different. In addition, practicing mindfulness, meditating, and knowing your triggers helps to change your thought pattern.
Changing negative thought patterns can take some time, so make sure you’re gentle with yourself. A few strategies to change a negative thought pattern are to notice and acknowledge the thought, replace it with a counteractive thought, write the thoughts out, and work to build and establish positive habits.
By changing your thought patterns, you challenge your routine responses (i.e., anxiety) and allow your body the space to learn new reactions. Reactions that can serve you in a positive way rather than negative thought patterns that trigger intense anxiety.
10. Use aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is part of a holistic approach to health that’s been used for thousands of years. It’s beneficial for a person’s entire overall health and wellbeing. Aromatherapy works through both the sense of smell and skin absorption. These can look like inhalers, bathing salts, diffusers, and facial steamers.
Aromatherapy has been known to help manage pain, improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety and stress, and much more. It’s a simple tool that can make a big difference in dealing with intense anxiety. You can purchase essential oils at health food stores or some grocery markets.
Essential oils for anxiety:
- Lavender is a great essential oil to help with calming anxiety. It’s a natural sedative and a great help for a peaceful sleep. Lavender also has many other uses, so it’s an excellent essential oil to start with.
- Jasmine has a beautiful, soft, floral scent. One of the best parts about this essential oil is its tranquil calming effects without the associated sleepiness. Jasmine is an excellent essential oil to use to help with crippling anxiety.
- Sweet basil is a terrific oil to help calm the mind.
- Chamomile is an essential oil that promotes relaxation and peaceful sleep.
11. Go for a stroll around the neighborhood.
When you feel anxiety crashing down on you, grab your running shoes and head outside. I know I’ve already mentioned the importance of daily movement and its impact on your mental health, but getting outside is also helpful.
Feeling the outside air, seeing different things, hearing the birds chirping, and moving your body combine to elevate your mood. Walking is not only good for your physical health but also terrific for emotional regulation. It’s something that is simple and requires nothing but a pair of shoes. Going for a stroll around the neighborhood can improve your mood and health, decrease anxiety symptoms in the short term, and limit chronic anxiety.
12. Write down your thoughts.
Crippling anxiety is heavy and can make life incredibly difficult. The symptoms can be felt both physically and mentally, and writing out your thoughts can be very helpful. Even if your thoughts don’t make sense or don’t feel right, getting them out on paper provides some relief from your symptoms.
Write down your anxieties, doubts, fantasies, dreams, and everything on your mind. Writing can help identify behavior patterns, assist with triggers, and sort through your true feelings. It’s a helpful tool to put scenarios into perspective and reassess your feelings. Writing can increase self-awareness and help you to take control of anxious thoughts.
If you’re not someone who writes a lot, it might feel a bit odd at the beginning. But, trust me, it’s worth exploring and very helpful in managing anxiety. Writing gives your anxiety a place to exist. Picture it as if you open a door and let all your feelings flow. Over time, regular journaling can help immensely with anxiety. Keep a journal out with a pen nearby so that the minute anxiety sets in, you can open up your notebook and get writing.
13. Meditate daily.
I would suggest even a few times per day, but if you’re new to meditation, just start with one session. Meditating involves training your inner awareness to be fully present and in the moment. It helps you to observe your true feelings and to feel them without judgment.
Meditation can be completed at any time of the day and for varying lengths of time. Meditating is a skill and takes practice, but with consistency and effort, you’ll see the huge benefits. A few benefits of meditating daily are a better handle on stress, a happier and more elevated mood, and an improved ability to handle life’s curveballs.
Meditation is a tool that you can use anywhere at any time to bring yourself back to the present and calm your anxious thoughts.
14. Maintain a healthy diet.
Of course, you already know that healthy food is good for you, but have you ever thought of how your diet impacts your mental health? Have you ever noticed that you’re more anxious after eating a certain food?
A healthy diet is crucial in managing your mental health. It isn’t a tool to use in the immediate anxiety-ridden moment, but it can be helpful in the long term. Try to eat fresh produce and lean proteins while reducing sugars and processed foods.
A healthy diet is good for your skin, teeth, eyes, muscles, heart, and lungs, and it reduces the risk of many high-risk diseases and conditions. Maintaining a healthy diet also ensures that you’re not malnourished or getting “hangry” (hungry and angry).
If you’re often on the go, ensure you plan for it and pack healthy snacks so you can sustain your mood and positive energy levels. No one is very happy when they feel hungry, and you’re more prone to be triggered if your body isn’t feeling good. Eating a healthy diet will help immensely over time.
15. Consume social media carefully.
Notice how you feel after scrolling Instagram or another social media platform. Observe how different content makes you feel and whether or not it triggers your anxiety. If you’re following toxic people, past relationships, or accounts that don’t make you feel good about yourself and where you belong in the world, it might be time to re-examine how you use social media.
Follow accounts that make you feel inspired, alive, motivated, and joyful, and leave behind the things that make you feel inadequate, triggered, or like there isn’t any room for you. Keep in mind that everything you consume affects you, so muting and blocking aren’t mean; it’s maintaining boundaries to protect your personal peace.
A few additional things you might consider to help your anxiety are limiting your time on social media, muting triggering words, stopping the use of filters, and getting off platforms you don’t like. You might even find that the benefits of quitting social media entirely outweigh the benefits of remaining on them.
Finally, keep in mind that social media is a highlight reel, and things are not always the way they seem.
16. Listen to music.
Music has a calming effect on the nervous system and is a very effective tool for coping with crippling anxiety. Music can bring you to a memory, shift your focus and shove your anxiety aside. In addition, it can be a great mood booster and assist with focus and concentration.
In a moment of debilitating anxiety, reach for your favorite tunes and practice being present. Let the sound of your favorite songs carry you to a place where you’re at peace.
Making music is a terrific way to explore feelings if you’re up for being creative. Playing an instrument can be like an emotional release, shifting the anxiety from existing in your body to existing in chords, notes, and melodies.
17. Embrace humor.
It can be very challenging to see the positive or funny side of things when you’re living with severe anxiety. It makes you constantly worry, wonder, and anticipate. Your heart races, palms get clammy, and you’re not sure what the truth is. You question yourself and wonder if you said the wrong thing. These anxious cycles go around and around and become problematic, heavy, and unbearable.
But there are ways to add humor to your life, and humor can be effective in reducing anxious feelings.
Attend a comedy show, watch a funny movie, make some jokes, or read humorous books. Try to add humor to your day. Over time, laughing more will reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety, and you’ll find your mood more elevated. Laughing has enormous mental health benefits, so I urge you to find space for it in your day.
18. Get involved.
The effects of being actively involved in a community are tremendous. It makes you feel like you belong, you’re connected, and people need you. So, try to get involved in the community however that looks for you.
For example, try volunteering at the local hospital or community center, visiting a senior’s home, organizing a charity event, or getting involved with your place of worship.
When you are part of a community, you feel loved, connected, and important. Getting involved will help your mental health and ease symptoms of anxiety. It’s not as quick as some of my other tips, but still worth trying! Volunteering your time and being involved in a cause you care about can be an inspiring and incredible experience.
Ideas of how to get involved:
- Look out for local events and participate, visit, share and help out.
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
- Donate items you no longer use.
- Join a local group or class.
- Organize a community charity event.
For more, read our article: How To Find Community: 19 Tips That Actually Work!
19. Avoid alcohol.
It might be fun to have drinks and get a bit tipsy, but the effects of that on anxiety can’t be ignored. Alcohol and anxiety don’t mix well, and you might find it easier to avoid or restrict it altogether. For some people, enjoying a glass of wine can be a relaxing experience, while others might become very triggered. It’s important to notice how you feel and make changes based on that.
20. Learn and practice practical stress-management skills.
When I say “practice,” I really mean practice. Practice your skills regularly because when you’re in a crisis, you’re not going to reach for something brand new. You’re going to reach for something that you know and is comfortable for you. Practice your skills so you can reach for them quickly in an anxious moment.
Some stress management tips you might like to try:
- Deep breathing
- Proper nutrition
- Learn to say no
- Set and maintain clear boundaries
- Avoid stressful and toxic people and environments
- Practice mindfulness
- Reflective journaling
21. Work on changing your inner narrative.
Your inner narrative is the voice that brings reason, doubt, and other thoughts to the forefront of your mind. When you’re struggling with intense anxiety, your inner narrative is sabotaging, negative, and feeds right into the doubt.
Make it a practice to stop the negative self-talk and self-doubt. You can challenge the voice and bring another option to the table.
When anxiety sets in, try to shift the focus to positive statements and reaffirming thoughts. Remind yourself that you’ve gotten through each day so far, and you’ll continue on. When you are feeling anxious, turn inwards, try to reinforce positive self-talk, and remember that you’re strong and important.
22. Use a mantra.
A mantra is a word, handful of words, or small phrase that has meaning to you. You repeat it in times of intense anxiety, bringing you strength and calmness. For example, “I am calm and in control.”
Using a mantra brings your focus to the present moment, helps you feel empowered, provides a sense of control.
Examples of mantras to ease anxiety:
- I have the power to make it through this challenging moment.
- I am worthy and capable of managing this.
- I am strong.
23. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice and mindset of being present in the moment, being self-aware, and acknowledging one’s feelings. It brings focus to the present moment and reduces anxiety symptoms.
Mindfulness doesn’t require any special tools or equipment. Rather, it is a state of being—it’s about being aware, present, and in control.
24. Plan your “worry time.”
Schedule time in your day where you let your anxieties run wild for a specific amount of time. This is called your worry time. It’s the time of day that you allow yourself to dip your toes into all the worrying.
Allow yourself 10–15 minutes, and once the time is up, use your anxiety strategies to calm down. This can be an effective tool for debilitating anxiety as your body will learn when to worry. If you use this consistently, your anxiety symptoms will likely become less intense.
25. Make time for fun every day.
As adults, we can become buried in the hustle and bustle of life. Before you know it, your life may consist of waking at sunrise, heading to work, and then doing the nighttime routine—day after day. Anxiety can quickly set in if you’re unhappy with your life. It can be hard to resist the “what if scenarios” or heavy catastrophic thinking.
When you’re living with unbearable anxiety, days can become grey and monotone. Everything feels hard. If this is where you’re at, I challenge you to add fun to your day.
Making time for fun, enjoyable hobbies, and pleasure is so important. Adult life is busy, chaotic, and packed with mountains of stress and obstacles. Finding yourself lost in a whirlwind of obligations and responsibilities can happen easily. But, no matter your age, it’s important to make time for things you enjoy doing.
26. Distract yourself.
When anxiety crashes down, pull your focus to something entirely different. Distraction is an effective tool in managing anxiety. Throw your head into the freezer, wash your hands in cold water, step outside in the sunshine, pull out a coloring book, or try something new. The list of possible distractions is endless! When you feel anxiety setting in, shift your focus and distract yourself.
27. Cold plunge.
You might have heard of cold plunging already, but are you aware of its benefits to mood, mental health, and anxieties?
Cold water is an immediate mood booster. You can run a cold shower, take a cold bath, or use ice. If you want cold plunges to be a part of your long-term health, then you might consider putting one in your home, but cold showers do the trick too!
Benefits of a cold plunge:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Promotes lymphatic drainage
- Boosts metabolism
- Increases beta-endorphins, dopamine, and other mood-lifting hormones
28. Analyze your environment.
Are you finding yourself primarily anxious at home? Or, perhaps in a certain room? Consider analyzing your environment. Examine it for clutter, busyness, and chaos. These types of things in an environment can affect your mental health greatly.
Try to stick to calm, neutral colors with minimal clutter. Clutter triggers anxiety for many people, so it’s worth cleaning up and keeping things simple.
Consider the color of your walls, how many photos are hung, the different textures that are out, and everything else in the environment so you can make positive changes. Downsize, clean up, organize, and enjoy a relaxing, tranquil environment and its calming and lasting effects on your mental health.
29. Practice gratitude.
Beginning a gratitude practice can be transformational and is definitely worth trying. Begin your day with a list of three things you’re grateful for. Gratitude is a terrific way to deal with life’s obstacles and can quickly counteract the adverse effects that anxiety tosses at you.
Practicing gratitude helps a person to become more resilient, lessen stress, lower levels of anxiety, and increase happiness. It can significantly impact one’s life.
30. Learn about anxiety.
Take some time to learn more about anxiety. First, learn what some symptoms are so you can better understand yours. Learning about anxiety can be helpful in tuning into your feelings, emotions, and mental health as a whole. Learn the ins and outs, symptoms, and treatments, as well as what you can do to help.
Then, commit to learning about it because you’re living with anxiety and deserve the best life possible. If you want to live your best life, learn to understand the hand you were dealt.
Regular yoga improves mental clarity, function, and focus. Doing yoga regularly improves your physical health, but it’s also beneficial for your mental health and, specifically, anxiety. Yoga is relaxing and fosters an attitude of being present, aware, and in the moment.
One of the best things about starting a yoga practice is that it’s entirely beginner friendly. You can always start. You can always try. It doesn’t require equipment and uses your body as weight and resistance. It’s a terrific low-impact exercise with substantial physical and mental benefits.
I know I’ve thrown a lot of tips at you for easing your crippling anxiety, which might be overwhelming. So let me offer you a few key points you can find peace in.
- You’re not alone in your struggle.
- Some things can help you.
- You’re worth putting in the effort.
- Practice your anxiety tools when you’re feeling good so that it becomes second nature when you’re in crisis.
- Move daily, eat well, and live happily.
- Do things that genuinely bring you joy.
- Prioritize your mental health.
Your intense anxiety can get better with some effort. First, notice your triggers and do what you can to eliminate or reduce them. Notice how you feel, regularly check in with yourself, and evaluate your emotions and mental health. Remind yourself in moments of despair that you are important, loved, and needed. Anxiety doesn’t need to interfere with your life continuously. You can take control of it with the above tips.
You may also like:
- How Long Do Anxiety Disorders Last?
- How To Stop Mild Anticipatory Anxiety Before It Overwhelms You
- Decision Anxiety: 8 No Nonsense Tips To Overcoming It!