16 Little Ways To Be Less Anxious

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Get a better understanding of what makes you anxious
and how to deal with it.

Raise your hand if you’ve felt personally
victimized by anxiety.

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Paramount Pictures

Yeah, it’s the worst. Whether you experience
occasional symptoms or you have a diagnosed
disorder, living with anxiety can be
distracting, exhausting, and frustrating.

So BuzzFeed Health reached out to therapists
who specialize in anxiety disorders to get
their advice on managing it on a day-to-day
basis. Keep in mind that this is not meant to
be a substitute for professional help, but
hopefully these strategies can help you get a
better handle on your anxiety.

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1. First,
understand what anxiety is — and what it isn’t.

First, understand what anxiety is — and what it isn't.

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“Anxiety is our mind’s ability to imagine a
catastrophic outcome,” clinical psychologist

Ryan Howes, PhD, tells BuzzFeed Health.
“When you’re facing an actual threat right in
front of you, fear is a natural reaction to
that. When you’re just in your car or lying in
your bed in a panic and nothing is threatening
you, in that moment that’s anxiety.”

“Anxiety is not bad,”
Regine Galanti, PhD, director of The
Center for Anxiety in Brooklyn, tells
BuzzFeed Health. “It’s normal and natural and
adaptive. It’s there for a reason. It keeps you
out of dangerous situations. The problem is
it’s a false alarm for most people.”

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Recognize the difference between anxiety and

Recognize the difference between anxiety and stress.

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A lot of us say “I’m so anxious!” when what we
mean is that we’re stressed and overwhelmed
with all the shit we have to do and all the
time we don’t have to do it. “That
causes us to feel anxious a lot of times,” says
Howes, but it’s not anxiety per se. You really
do have to get all this work done and
you are incredibly busy. The anxiety
comes in when you start telling yourself that
you won’t get it done, that your boss will fire
you, and that everyone will view you as a
complete failure.

So if you notice that a lot of your anxiety
stems from being overbooked or overworked,
first look for ways you can lessen that stress.
Are you constantly overcommitting at work or in
your social life? Are there ways you can cut
back in one area to give yourself more time to
just chill? Obviously, there might not be, but
it’s worth a shot to see if there’s something
you can say “no” to, even just temporarily.

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3. Keep
an anxiety journal to find out what’s making
you anxious.

Keep an anxiety journal to find out what's making you anxious.

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Even if it seems like your anxiety is all over
the place, there’s almost always a tangible
trigger (or several) that you can trace it back
to, says Galanti. She suggests keeping a
journal, not to ruminate on your anxiety but to
look for patterns. Maybe you feel most anxious
on Sundays, or the day before/after a big
social event, or pretty much any time you watch
the news.

“Most people are so avoidant of what makes them
anxious,” says Galanti. But that just
reinforces your anxiety and keeps you from
dealing with it. Instead, use this intel to
better prepare yourself for when anxiety might
crop up and have strategies ready to help you
deal with it.

(You can buy the journal above

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4. Name
your anxiety so you can view it as an outside
thing, rather than an annoying part of you.

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Universal Pictures

Like Carol. Or Anne (as in Anne Ziety).
Whatever works, as long as you’re able to call
it out on it’s bullshit.

“If you can identify something as anxiety, like
Oh, theres my anxiety again, that makes
it something that’s other than you,” says
Howes. “It’s not me being worried about stuff —
it’s my anxiety again. And that has a way of
taming it.”

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Practice grounding so you can use it when you
start to panic.

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is using all of your senses to be aware of
where you are right now,” says Howes. You can
do this pretty much anywhere; just take a
minute to focus on what you’re seeing, hearing,
touching, smelling, and even tasting right now.
This has a way of refocusing you on your
current reality rather than the
worst-case-scenarios that are escalating in
your mind.

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6. Take
big, deep belly breaths.

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When you’re really anxious, your body can go
into a fight-or-flight response, which explains
those annoying physiological symptoms like
racing heartbeat or shortness of breath.

When this happens, it’s helpful to regain
control by taking big belly breaths (also known
diaphragmatic breathing). “What we’re doing
is sending a message to the autonomic nervous
system that the coast is clear,” says Howes.

The best way to do this is lying down or
sitting, with one hand on your chest and the
other on your stomach. Inhale slowly through
your nose as your stomach expands, then exhale
through pursed lips as your stomach falls. The
hand on your stomach should be moving (up when
you inhale, down as you exhale) while the hand
on your chest stays completely still.

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7. Just
go ahead and accept that your anxiety might be
a little worse if you didn’t enough sleep or
had way too much caffeine or spent the whole
weekend partying.

Just go ahead and accept that your anxiety might be a little worse if you didn't enough sleep or had way too much caffeine or spent the whole weekend partying.

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We know this, and yet we also tend to stay up
all night watching Game of Thrones, have
way more than the recommended amount of
caffeine, and make day-drinking an activity.

It happens; but it’s helpful to admit when you
effed up so you can prepare for some impending
anxiety.” “Accept that limitation when you do
that,” says Galanti. “Accept that you haven’t
set yourself up for success.”

Plus, being able to place the blame on
something specific and realizing that it isn’t
permanent can help alleviate some of the
anxiety-spiraling. Maybe that means recognizing
that you’re shaky and nervous from three cups
of coffee, not impending doom; or that you’re
feeling vulnerable because you’re hungover, not
because you made some horrible, embarrassing
mistake last night.

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Vocalize your worries with someone you trust.

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Usually when we’re anxious about something we
want to isolate ourselves with these thoughts,
because we don’t want to sound like we’re
overreacting or being ridiculous. Just the
thought of opening up or being vulnerable can
be terrifying. But keeping it to yourself can
create a vacuum where you’re sitting alone
surrounded by your anxieties, unable to really
pull yourself out of that frame of mind.

If you have someone you trust and whose opinion
you value, try talking to them about it. “When
you do express it and vocalize it, you often
realize you’re not crazy; other people are
worried about the same thing,” says Howes. Or
sometimes just saying it out loud helps you
hear that a certain line of thinking was
irrational. Or, if nothing else, at least you
won’t feel so alone when it comes time to deal
with whatever it is you’re worrying about.

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9. Talk
yourself down with simple reassuring phrases.

Talk yourself down with simple reassuring phrases.

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It seems like a silly thing, but “it can go a
long way in stopping the slide into panic or
anxiety,” says Howes. When you feel your
anxiety building, try saying or thinking things
like: I’m safe right now. I’m prepared. I am
in control. I’m OK.

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10. Dump
out all your negative thoughts and worries on a
notepad before bed.

Dump out all your negative thoughts and worries on a notepad before bed.

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If you’re a late-night worrier who spends the
better part of an evening mentally running
through every looming task, stressful
responsibility, and worst-case-scenario that
can happen in the next month or so, this might

Howes suggest having a notepad near your bed
(or on your phone) where you jot down these
thoughts as soon as they come to you. Try to
just write a few words or phrases so you’re not
actually ruminating on these thoughts for
several pages. Promise yourself that you’ll
look at it in the morning if it’s important,
but for now, you just need to get it out of
your head and somewhere else.

This way, if it’s truly something you need to
devote your attention to, then it’ll be there
when you wake up. And if you wake up in a much
less anxious space, you can just toss it.

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11. Try
thinking about something in a problem solving
way, rather than an anxious way.

Try thinking about something in a problem solving way, rather than an anxious way.

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This is a key strategy that Galanti works on
with her patients. When your anxiety is tied to
a specific trigger — say, a cross-country
flight, a big event, or your health — try to
view it as a problem that needs to be solved.
What can you actually do about this thing
you’re anxious about? Could look up strategies
to help with flight anxiety? Could you start
planning what you’ll wear/do/say at the event?
Could you make an appointment with your doctor
to run some tests on your health?

Sometimes breaking it down into actionable
chunks is helpful. But sometimes there’s really
nothing you can do at this moment, and
accepting that is equally important. “Say,
‘I’ll deal with this when it comes,’ and
recognize there’s nothing you can do about it
now,” says Galanti.

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Imagine yourself taking off your anxiety
glasses and giving yourself a break.

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Anxiety doesn’t ask “is now a good time?”
before it slaps you in the face. It just goes
for it. You could try to ignore those anxious
thoughts or distract yourself, but they might
just come right back even stronger, says

In moments like this, Galanti says it can feel
almost like you’re wearing glasses that are
masked in the anxiety, and you can’t see
anything but the anxiety. And that can
really suck if you’re out trying to have a good
time or working against a tight deadline.

“Take those glasses off and put them on the
other side of the room,” she says. Sure, the
anxiety is still there, but you’re making a
conscious decision to not let it completely
ruin your night/your productivity/whatever it
is you were doing. And that’s huge.

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Schedule time for your anxiety.

Schedule time for your anxiety.

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Casey Gueren / BuzzFeed News

This might sound counterintuitive — who
wants to pencil anxiety into their day?
— but the point is to designate a time and
place for anxious thoughts, rather than let
them interrupt you constantly throughout the
day, says Galanti.

So if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed
with anxiety and it’s taking you away from what
you should be focusing on (like getting your
work done or enjoying a party), mentally
schedule a time to deal with this later, when
you know you’ll be free and better equipped to
deal with it.

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Expose yourself to your triggers and let
yourself fail, repeatedly.

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Comedy Central

A lot of anxiety stems from fear of failure,
says Howes. Like that you’re going to drop the
ball at work, or you’re going to make a fool of
yourself in front of a crowd of people. Galanti
suggests leaning in to that anxiety every once
in a while and seeing what happens.

“My goal in general with anxiety is to help
people feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable,”
says Galanti. “The goal is to get them to do it
as many times as they can; to face their fears
even though it might lead to whatever is in
their head happening — over and over and over.
One time is not enough.”

So commit to doing whatever it is that makes
you anxious — like speaking in front of a
crowd, taking cross-country flights, etc. —
several times, and arm yourself with strategies
ahead of time. Afterwards, ask yourself if it
was as bad as you thought it would be. More
often than not, it won’t be as horrific as your
anxiety was telling you it would be. And
hopefully that means you’ll be experiencing a
bit less anxiety each time.

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15. When
your schedule is jam packed, try to feel
gratitude instead of anxiety.

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Feeling like you’re not in control of your
schedule can be really anxiety-inducing,
especially when it means you’re not making time
for whatever self-care you need to function at
your best. So when you look at your calendar
and see that you don’t have a free weekend
until, like, October, it’s easy to let that set
you off.

“Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you have
to be stressed. A lot of it has to do with the
mindset of it all,” says Howes. Try to look at
all the stuff you have to do — whether it’s big
responsibilities at work or a million birthday
parties and baby showers or tons of networking
drinks — and feel grateful for all of this that
you’ve got going on. And if you truly don’t
think something will enrich your life and you
can find a way to get out of it, do it.

“If you feel like you are a servant to your
calendar then I think you’re going to be
stressed out,” he says. Instead, try “to feel
like: I do a lot of things and feel good
about them and I have a really full life

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16. Have
resources ready if your anxiety becomes too
much for you to manage on your own.

Have resources ready if your anxiety becomes too much for you to manage on your own.

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It can be hard to determine when your worrying
has gotten to the point where you should see a
doctor or therapist. Howes says it’s typically
dependent on the level of severity or the
degree to which it’s impacting your day-to-day

If your anxiety is causing you to miss work,
affecting your relationships, or causing
changes in your sleeping or eating habits, it
might be time to talk to a professional about
this, says Howes.

Here are some resources that can help:

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