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4 Subtle Exercises to Calm Anxiety in Public

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults over the age of 18 suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you are one of them, you already know the impact of anxiety and how difficult it can make day-to-day life.

When anxiety strikes, the world around us can become a sort of funhouse, only it is not that much fun. It’s essential to self-soothe in these instances, but how can you subtly calm an anxiety attack when you’re out in public?

Breath Work

As soon as you feel the anxiety coming on, focus intently on your breathing and nothing else. Begin to take slow, deep breaths. Inhale for a slow count of three. Hold for a count of three and exhale for a count of three. Slow deep breaths send a signal to our body that we are not under attack and everything is okay.

Talk to Yourself

In your mind, remind yourself that you are having an experience but that you are NOT that experience. While you may feel that something is terribly wrong, remind yourself that you are safe and all is well in reality. Feelings are not facts.


Think of a place that calms you. This may be your childhood bedroom, grandparent’s home, favorite beach, or bathtub. Visualize yourself IN that calming space. Use your unlimited imagination to feel yourself there and allow the calm of that space to settle over you.

Practice Listening Meditation

If you’ve never tried listening meditation, I highly recommend it. It can be especially beneficial when you feel anxious, and here’s why: listening requires you to stop thinking. Try it now. Stop reading and instead listen to all of the ambient sounds in the room with you, outside the door and window.

What do you hear? Let your sense of hearing grow and grow, picking up more subtle sounds. The buzz of the lights overhead… the noise of the ice maker… a bee at the window… your dog’s collar down the hall…

It’s actually an enjoyable exercise to do. To give sound your full attention, you can’t think while listening. It’s like trying to juggle while standing on your hands; it simply cannot be done.

Much of our anxiety comes from our anxious thoughts. It’s the primitive part of our brain trying to keep us alive by alerting us to all of the perceived dangers around us. When we meditate, this mind chatter goes away.

When an anxiety attack comes on, life can feel scary and overwhelming. Try one or more of these techniques next time this happens to you. If you’d like to talk about your anxiety, please get in touch; I’d be happy to speak with you about how you can better manage your anxiety.


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