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From Anxiety to Peace: Taming the Beast of Anxiety.

Updated: Apr 9, 2019

Anxiety is at the core of most primary care visits and often the result of false alarms for ER trips.

Anxiety plays a significant role in cardiac, digestive, and nervous system issues. It has a way to alter our very physiology and alarm our physical body into "fight or flight" symptoms such as rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, trembling, hyperventilating and sweating (just to name a few.) These symptoms masks themselves as physical problems but often the root is anxiety untamed.

Having some tools to reach for during episodes of anxiety can free you from it's snare. Read on for my top 5 tools!

1. BREATH DEEP (diaphragmatic breathing).

Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and breath in through your nose deeply & slowly to a count of 10 then exhale through your mouth to a count of 10. When interrupting the fast, shallow breathing that comes along with anxiety/panic "fight or flight" we change the message to our brain and this triggers the body's normal relaxation response. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth....SLOWLY. The chest does not rise but the belly expands with the inhalation.

2. RELAXATION TECHNIQUES: PMR (Progressive Muscle Relaxation)

There are numerous relaxation techniques that can calm the nervous system and decrease the fight or flight response but one such technique is progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). This exercise is used to manage anxiety by systematically tensing and releasing one muscle group at a time from your feet to your head.

You can lie down or sit in a chair for this exercise.

Start by:

1. Tensing your feet by scrunching up your toes tightly for a slow count of 5 and releasing the tension and allowing yourself to feel the relaxation for several seconds (about 20.) Repeat 2X's

2. Move up your body by squeezing your knees together for a count of 5, then release. Repeat 2X's

3. Squeeze/tense your gluteal muscles in your bottom for a count of 5, then release. Repeat 2X's

4. Make a fist with your hands and bring your arms close to your body and tighten them against your chest for a count of 5, then release and let your arms falls to your side.

Repeat 2X's

5. Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears for a slow count of 5 then let your shoulders drop.. Repeat 2X's

6. Scrunch up your facial muscles for a count of 5 then release and feel your face relax. Repeat 2X's.

By systematically tensing and releasing these muscle groups your body will compare the difference in sensations (from tension to relaxation) and this will tell the body that it is safe to release anxiety and move to homeostasis.


When you have anxiety, exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do but exercise has a very beneficial effect on reducing anxiety. Further, exercising outside is doubly effective as it changes the environment and allows for greater oxygen to flood the system thus interrupting or breaking through anxiety. Some experts say that a 20 min brisk walk can reduce anxiety significantly, especially for those with mild anxiety.


Anxiety often pushes people towards over eating or not eating at all. Be careful what you are (or are not) putting into your body for it can greatly increase or decrease your anxiety.

Drinking water is probably the best way to ensure your body is working properly and not moving toward dehydration (which also alters body functions that mimic anxiety.) Further, be careful of your caffeine and sugar intake as too much will be sure to physiologically bring on symptoms of anxiety or increase it.

According to, the following foods help with reducing anxiety on a metabolic level: Berries, Spinach, Oatmeal, Dark Chocolate, Oysters, Oranges, Sardines, Green Tea, Sauerkraut and Liver.


Anxiety often leads to social isolation and you can lose the focus of your support system. When anxious, reaching out to your trusted friend, mentor, sponsor or therapist can greatly decrease the swell of anxiety as speaking about the issue releases it from ballooning within you. This immediately calms the brain as there is connection made and not the reflex to instinctually flee. Connection grounds us and calms the parasympathetic nervous system inviting our body to "rest and digest" which is the opposite of the anxiety that comes along with "fight or flight."

Next time you feel that familiar twinge of anxiety, try using these tools and observe how they can significantly reduce your "fight or flight" response. The better you get at them (with practice) the more quickly you can tame this unwelcome beast!

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1 Comment

Thank you for these tips. My anxiety comes from getting on an elevator or airplane. Now I have the tools to help with this. God Bless You.

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