How to Calm an Anxious Mind

Hey there! An anxious mind can make you feel like you have no control and send you into panic mode. Besides that, it can make you flat out exhausted some days. There are some ways to help calm it and help you regain some control that I’m going to share with you. I’m going to share how to calm an anxious mind.

I am not a mental health professional and my advice should not be taken as medical advice. I make no claims to heal medical ailments. I’m just providing advice based on my personal experiences. Always consult your mental health professional before making changes to your treatment.

Why does this happen?

The brain is a powerful organ and there’s still a lot we don’t understand about it. For some people, their brain runs rampant with scenarios that will probably never happen. But, this makes the person anxious and nervous. It can prevent them from going out in social settings and make them over-analyze everything they do. And that just isn’t fun. If this sounds like something that happens to you, because it happens to me, then this post is for you!

Some ways to help alleviate an anxious mind are:

  • Grounding yourself
  • Intentional breathing
  • Meditation
  • Journaling

Ways to calm an anxious mind

Grounding

Grounding is a good way to calm your mind. A lot of times an anxious mind can make you feel like the world is spinning around you and you can’t make it stop. Grounding helps you connect back with the present moment and help you stop whatever your brain is doing, whether it’s a PTSD flashback, an anxiety attack, or another form of dissociation. There are many grounding techniques out there but there is a specific grounding exercise that I recommend because it involves using all five senses to ground you. It’s known as the 54321 method. This grounding exercise requires you to identify and name:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can feel
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

This technique requires you to look around and be aware of your surroundings, which pulls you out of your own head and into the present moment. A big key to this technique is to try and look for the more minute details, instead of the obvious ones. Look for the details you normally overlook, this helps pull you back in quicker. Make sure you’re breathing slowly during this, calming your mind and your heart rate.

Intentional Breathing Exercises

Breathing is something we do involuntarily, meaning a lot of times we don’t even think about doing it. Our body just does it. Well, when you get anxious and your mind starts going, your breathing and heart rate both increase as well. Breathing exercises help you calm your mind and your body. They can help you relax, as well as help you fall asleep faster.  One of the best breathing exercises is the 4-7-8 exercise. For this exercise, you want to lay down with one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Then you’ll want to follow this pattern:

  • Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, counting to 4 as you breathe in
  • Hold your breath, mentally counting from 1 to 7
  • Slowly exhale while mentally counting 1 to 8
  • Repeat 3 to 7 times until you feel calm

This is one of the most common deep breathing exercises that I have come across. The reason to keep your hands on your chest and belly is so you can feel the air moving in and out of your body. This allows you to also stay present in the moment, and not let your brain wander.

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Meditation

Meditation is another way to help train your brain to stay in the moment. Mindfulness meditation is the way that this is achieved. Mindfulness meditation is a practice where you focus on the breath as you breathe in and out. The key to remember is, it takes patience. So, it’s not someth9ing you’re going to be great at from the beginning. If you have an anxious mind, your mind already tries to wander and it’s going to do just that when you try to meditate. Don’t let that stop you! Even meditation experts started off getting distracted one breath in. It’s okay.

Never meditated before? Here’s a rundown:

  1. Take a seat: you can sit anywhere. You can sit in a chair or on the floor. Just get comfy.
  2. Stet a time limit: If you’re just starting out, I would start out small. Five minutes is a good start
  3. Notice your body: Make sure you are stable, whether you’re sitting on the floor or a chair.
  4. Feel your breath: Focus on your breathing and it going in an out of your body.
  5. Notice when your mind has wandered: It will wander, and that’s okay. When it does, bring it back to the breath.
  6. Be kind to your mind: Like I said, your mind is going to wander, be kind. Don’t get angry and give up.
  7. Close with kindness: When you’re ready, return to the world. Take note of how your body feels and your emotions.

Meditation takes practice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get started. As you practice, you can meditate for longer periods and start incorporating short mindfulness practices into your day-to-day.

Journaling

Journaling allows you to get what you’re feeling out of your brain and on to paper. Sometimes it’s hard to verbally communicate what is going on in your mind. I know this happens to me. Writing things down helps me clear some of the anxiety out of my mind. Writing it in a journal allows you to get your feelings out, and create space for what you really need the mental space for. Thus, calming your mind and reducing stress.

The first thing to remember is to only journal if you want to. Don’t look at Instagram for inspiration, all you’re going to see is “perfect” journals set up in a such a way to create that “aesthetic”. That’s not why we’re here. There’s no right way, or wrong way, to keep a journal. It’s for you and what you need out of it.

Some key tips to remember are:

  • Start small: You can start out by writing just one sentence a day. You don’t have to fill up a whole page from the beginning. That’s too much pressure.
  • Make it yours: It’s your journal. Make a cute cover for yourself, add quotes, doodle if you’d like.
  • It’s not a calendar: This is not meant to be a planner. You’re not supposed to put your appointments in it. This is a separate journal for your thoughts.
  • Bring it everywhere with you: Don’t rely on yourself to remember to journal in the morning or before bed. You never know when you’ll need to write something down or have time to write your thoughts down.  
  • Relax: Don’t stress about it, this is meant to calm your mind. If you’re not enjoying it, then take a break.

You don’t need a fancy journal to get started. A composition book or regular spiral notebook is just as good. Have fun with it and make it what you want out of it. If you want to use it to write your thoughts, then use it for that. If you want to use it for a creative brain dump, then that’s good too! Just make sure you’re having fun and not stressing about it.

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I hope these tips show you how to calm an anxious mind! I know it can be hard to deal with, but these tips should help you refocus your mind and stay calm.

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Lauren