One of the most common questions I get asked is, “How do I stop a panic attack quickly?” And the answer is far more complex than what any of us want to hear. The short answer? We can’t our fingers and have the anxiety disappear. Wouldn’t that be nice? Instead, overcoming anxiety is a process and it takes time, consistency and practice. However, there are many relaxation techniques that can work quickly to ease anxiety or to prevent a full blown panic attack. The effects are not immediate but they can certainly decrease the power of the anxiety attacks and the fear you feel.
12 Powerful Relaxation Techniques for Quick Anxiety Relief
Relaxation techniques are something everyone should have in their anxiety toolkit. By doing something as simple as deep breathing techniques, you can almost instantly slow down your heart rate, calm your mind, soothe your intrusive thoughts and lessen the severity of your anxiety and even prevent it from turning into an anxiety attack.
The best part? Once you know that you can use relaxation techniques to manage the attacks, you don’t fear them as much, and the less you fear anxiety, the less you experience it.
Let’s take a look at the most powerful coping methods that use breathing to reduce anxiety.
1. Focused Deep Breathing Technique
Learning how to deep breathe is one of the best things you can learn. Although the technique is simple, it’s exceptionally effective. So, when your mind tries to dismiss this relaxation technique for anxiety as not enough, don’t listen to it. When done properly, deep breathing techniques work!
- Take long, slow deep breaths into your belly
- As you breathe in, focus on your breath instead of the anxious thoughts and sensations
- As you breathe out, imagine the anxiety leaving your body
The steps to proper deep breathing are quite simple; the hard part is focusing which is why we always recommend practicing these steps every day, even when you aren’t anxious. Then, when you have an anxiety attack, you’ll be able to execute this relaxation technique effortlessly and flawlessly.
Once you have the basics own, you can head into even better breathing techniques and breathwork. Inward Breathwork has incredible online breathwork classes for reducing anxiety, improving sleep, enhancing overall wellness and so much more. Get your first month free here.
Mindfulness meditation is a relaxation method that uses breathing and focus to calm the mind by bringing your attention to the present moment. By perfecting this technique, you’re able to take your focus elsewhere when having a panic attack.
So, instead of being sucked into the black hole of negative thoughts you can stop yourself and direct your attention somewhere else, which lessens the intensity of the anxiety attack.
How to do mindfulness meditation?
- Find a comfortable place to sit
- Focus on your deep breathing
- Bring your attention to the present moment (how your body is feeling, what are you hearing, what are you smelling, etc.)
- When your mind drifts away from the present moment, gently bring it back
Research has shown that practicing regularly mindfulness meditation can decrease anxiety by up to 50%.
Although mindfulness meditation seems easy, it will be surprisingly difficult when you first start. After all, your mind has been able to run wild and now, you’re trying to tame the beast. It will fight back a little but with regular practice, you’ll be able to control your mind fairly effortlessly.
Online programs for mindfulness meditation
We recommend using mindfulness meditation programs, as they guide you through the process. They can be incredibly helpful as you embark on this new journey, teaching you the proper steps to using this relaxation technique for anxiety. Here are some of our favourite online programs for mindfulness meditation:
This powerful mindfulness meditation program helps you practice and perfect this coping method in as little as 7 minutes a day. By doing so, you’re able to naturally activate your body’s relaxation response, making 7 Minute Mindfulness a great program to have whenever you’re feeling anxious. The good news is that because it’s online, you can download it right onto your smartphone and use it whenever you need.
Our newest obsession is 15 Minute Mindfulness, an online program that uses mindfulness meditation to manifest everything you want in life. It’s similar to the prior, only each session is 15 minutes long to effectively reprogram your brain to improve your mental health.
We actually just wrote a huge article on the benefits of Manifestation Miracle, an online program that uses mindfulness meditation to get achieve what you want. It does focus a lot on using manifestation to come into money, but it also teaches you the methods to using the law of attraction for anything you wish to receive, including anxiety relief.
3. Body Scan Technique
The body scan relaxation technique for anxiety is like the hybrid method of breath focus and mindfulness meditation. It uses these methods to relax your muscles and to release tension, while also bringing your attention away from the anxious cycle of panicking thoughts.
How to do the body scan technique?
To use the body scan technique, all you need is your body and your mind. Easy enough, right? This relaxation technique for anxiety is powerful, as it can increase your mind-body connection which is a great way to decrease body disorientation or feeling “out-of-body”.
- Take a couple of moments to breathe deeply to relax your mind and body
- Continue to breathe deeply and focus on one part of your body for a couple of seconds or minutes
- Notice the physical tension or any sensations you feel
- Relax that part of the body
- Move onto the next part of the body and repeat
We absolutely love this relaxation technique for anxiety because you notice tensions that you’ve been ignoring. This method brings awareness to them, so you can unscrunch your shoulders, unfrown your brow, unclench your jaw, etc. to feel less stress altogether.
4. Guided Imagery
Guided imagery is one of the more popular relaxation techniques for anxiety that combines mindfulness meditation, deep breathing and something pretty to distract your mind. It uses your imagination to conjure up soothing places, experiences and scenes in your mind which helps you relax and focus.
How to do guided imagery?
If you’re looking for an easy coping method for anxiety, guided imagery is it. Here are the steps to doing this relaxation technique:
- Choose imagery that you find soothing (nature sounds, forest bathing, colourful mandalas, etc.)
- Find a comfortable place
- Turn on guided meditation and listen to the words
- Breathe, relax, and listen
Types of guided imagery
There are many different forms of guided imagery. Here are some of our favourites:
There’s a common misconception that aromatherapy is just the process of smelling nice things. However, the science behind it is powerful. By smelling different scents, you’re able to activate different parts of the brain to achieve what you want. For example, smelling lavender naturally calms your nervous system.
There are many relaxation techniques that incorporate aromatherapy. Here are some of our favourites.
- Diffuse essential oils
- Use a personal aromatherapy inhaler
- Get out into nature and engage your senses.
- Smell plant extracts with aromatherapy sprays, lotions and sachets
- Add essential oils, extracts, dried flower leaves into your bath
6. Grounding Techniques
There are many grounding relaxation techniques to choose from, with the most common one being the 5-4-3-2-1 method. This method uses your senses to ground yourself in the present. You simply bring your attention to five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
- Close your eyes and imagine a peaceful, calming place such as a beach, forest, or a quiet room.
- Engage all your senses in this mental image, focusing on the details and sensations.
8. Humming or Chanting
9. Self Massage
- Gently massage your temples, neck, shoulders, or any other tense areas to release physical tension.
10. Autogenic Training
- Repeat a series of phrases to yourself, such as “My arms are heavy and warm,” to encourage relaxation in different parts of your body.
11. Tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques or EFT):
12. Repeat Positive Affirmations
Overcoming anxiety and eliminating it from your life takes acceptance of the feelings, proper self-care, stress manage and the use of coping methods on a regular basis. The good news is that learning the relaxation techniques for anxiety is a great step in the right direction and one that can loosen the grip that anxiety has on your life.
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