Five Activities to Reduce Anxiety Symptoms
Here are simple steps you can take to reduce anxiety symptoms immediately.
Posted August 23, 2021 | Reviewed by Hara Estroff Marano
- Breathing deeply and practicing specific yoga poses can reduce anxiety symptoms.
- Sharing with a friend who has proven to be a good listener can give you the support necessary to work through difficult problems.
- Taking regular walks outdoors can significantly reduce anxiety symptoms and improve overall mental health.
- Listening to music, singing, and playing music can release emotions and give voice to issues that are difficult to discuss.
Most of us are feeling at least some anxiety now. Standard causes of anxiety are compounded by the pandemic, the concern created by the mishmash of reopening rules and strife some feel around vaccinations and emerging Covid-19 variants. There’s a lot to be anxious about!
Here are five activities you can do now to mitigate anxiety symptoms and feel better.
Pausing to take five to ten deep, cleansing breaths will immediately reduce anxiety symptoms. Stop. Close your eyes. Straighten your spine if you are slouched. Sit or stand gently. Breathe in slowly and fully through your nose. Hold the breath for a slow count of three. Exhale slowly through the mouth. Repeat. This will center you and help you still racing thoughts.
Practicing a few quick yoga poses will help you find equilibrium.
Tree pose: Stand on one foot with the other foot placed gently as close to your crotch as is comfortable. This will help you find balance.
Mountain pose: Stand with your feet together, spine straight, with hands on either side of the body facing out. Mountain pose will help you find grounding and strength. Like a mountain, focus on connection to the ground and center of the earth as you breathe deeply.
Corpse pose: Lie on the floor with palms up. Though this seems like the easiest pose, corpse pose is perhaps the most difficult of all yoga poses and one of the most beneficial. It allows a person to relax each part of the body. The challenge of corpse pose is unwinding instead of following intrusive thoughts.
Talk to a Good Listener
Not everyone deserves your trust and confidence, but we all need people to share our deepest thoughts and feelings with. If you have one of those friends who has supported you and has proven their trustworthiness, reach out. Good friends want to listen and support one another. Sharing what’s bothering you will lessen your worries. If what you’re facing is something you need to find professional support for, friends or family members can help you find those resources. Especially if you’re in a situation that’s simply hard but cannot be changed—such as grieving the loss of a loved one—talking about your feelings can help you cope better with anxiety or grief.
Exercise improves mood. Exercise also improves mental health outcomes more among people who regularly exercise than those who don’t. Make a regular walk part of your daily routine. Take a short, brisk walk in the morning and a stroll after dinner. Get a dog to help you make walking part of your routine. You don’t have to walk fast or far, but regular exercise, in particular walking, can dramatically reduce anxiety. It’s also a great way to get outdoors. Being outside is another excellent way to improve mental health.
Listening to or playing music can also relieve anxiety and stress, as well as improve mental health. If you’re feeling anxious, listen to music that you find calming. Or, if you want to scream or yell, listen to music that will help you do just that. Music can match our mood, and lyrics can give voice to pent up emotions. Writing your own song can help you to “say” things you might not be able to discuss in a therapy session or with a friend.
Singing releases dopamine, which helps us feel better. There are plenty of music streaming choices, some of which are free. Just be sure that if you’re using earbuds that you keep the volume at a level that doesn’t damage your hearing.