How to Control Your Anxiety in Stressful Situations

It’s a fact that there are people out there who wake up in the morning happy, go about their day happy, go home at night happy, and then go to sleep like a baby.

It’s also a fact that it can be very agitating when people who do not understand your anxiety tell you to “calm down” or that you’re being “dramatic.” Or worse, give unsolicited advice on the matter.

Anxiety hits everyone differently and there is no cookie-cutter way to overcome it, but thankfully there are many ways to help manage it when times get stressful.

Mental Exercises

Start by challenging your own thoughts! Are negative thoughts taking over your brain? Ask yourself, is what you’re interpreting to be true actually true? Or is your mind exacerbating a situation?

Pay attention to what triggers you. In a stressful situation, make note of what specifically set you off. File that away for the next time you’re in this or a similar position.

Grounding Techniques

Start with the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Think of five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. The order truly doesn’t matter, but the exercise should help calm the anxious mind by focusing on the present.

Another way to rein yourself in to the present is to complete a meditation exercise. You can do your own, or if you’re more of a novice, use an app like Headspace or a guided exercise online. When stress ramps up, take a time out and refocus your brain.

Some people find aromatherapy helpful in these instances as well. Use of peppermint or eucalyptus can be instantly calming if used in one of those time-out moments.

man in a business suit walking down a city streetLet It Out

Some people find journaling helpful. Keep an anxiety diary, or a plain old notebook, with your belongings. When you start to feel stressed or are entering a stressful situation, jot down what’s going on. Getting those thoughts out of your brain can clear the way for refocusing your thoughts.

Maybe it’s a little movement that you need as an outlet. Carry a fidget tool with you. When you feel anxious, exert some of that energy on your fidget tool. The tool itself doesn’t matter, just that you have something. It could be loose change, cards, a hair tie, etc.


When stressed, our bodies can enter a fight-or-flight mode. As this happens, our breathing becomes more shallow and often respirations become quicker. Neither of these is good for managing stress or anxiety. Next time, try taking slow, deep breaths. Focus only on your breathing pattern and the inhale and exhale.

If you search online for breathing techniques, you will find that there are many to choose from. There are also many apps that can help guide proper breathing techniques. Test some out and find one that works for you. When you notice you are feeling stressed, take a quick breathing break and see how you feel afterward.

Know Your Body

When you start to feel stressed, check in with yourself further. Are you feeling hungry? Could it be dehydration? Both of these can fuel your anxiety. Take a quick drink/snack break if needed. If neither of those is true, think back to the beginning and recognize that it is anxiety. You are safe, and you can handle this!

If you find that you have tried these methods and none of them seemed to work for you, don’t worry. Additional support is available and other options are out there. Schedule a consultation with us or anxiety therapy to assess your situation further!