Top 6 psychological exercises to help you cope with anxiety

Yulia LoseynkoLife
When dealing with anxiety, it is important to learn to take control of your thoughts

We are all living under a lot of stress nowadays, and this is already affecting our health. Some people can't concentrate at work, others get stuck with strong emotions, while others can't eat a bite.

Although psychologists do not advise suppressing your true feelings, you still need to do something about paralysing emotions, because life goes on and we need to be present in it. Healthline has compiled six psychological exercises to help you cope with anxiety and pull yourself together.


Stress and anxiety are often manifested through heart rate and breathing disorders. If you can take control of the process of inhaling and exhaling air, your body will quickly normalise other functions that are affected by stress.

To calm your breathing:

  • Sit in a safe place and place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Make sure that your stomach moves with a greater amplitude as you take a deep breath.
  • Take a slow breath of normal depth through your nose. Observe how your hands move as you do so. The one on your chest should remain still, and the hand on your stomach should rise slightly.
  • Slowly exhale through your mouth.
  • Repeat this two-step cycle at least 10 times or until you feel that the anxiety and fear have receded.

Visualisation and imagination

Imagining a place where you felt relaxed and happy is another good way to calm your thoughts. To do this, find a safe and comfortable corner where you can freely immerse yourself in your thoughts for a few minutes and imagine a place - real or imaginary - where you felt good. The main thing is to make it easy to visualise.

Think about all the smallest details that are in that place. Smells, sounds, and tactile sensations. Imagine yourself inside this place and feel its comfort and calmness.

As soon as you feel that you have immersed yourself in this visualisation, close your eyes and start breathing in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth. Stay in your happy place in your mind. Return to it as needed.

Relax your muscles

The body often responds to emotional stress with muscle tension. Therefore, anxiety management is closely related to muscle management. To release tension from the body:

  • find a safe, quiet place and focus on your breathing - breathe in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth;
  • make a fist with one hand;
  • hold your hand in this position for a few seconds and carefully observe which muscles are tensed;
  • slowly relax your fingers with full awareness of your physical sensations - watch how the tension leaves your hand and your fingers and muscles feel lighter;
  • repeat this practice with different parts of your body - feet, shoulders, neck, etc.; move up or down your body;
  • avoid parts of the body that were once injured or are painful from time to time, as this can aggravate the injury.


Consistent counting is an easy way to focus your attention and put your thoughts in order. It's no wonder that psychologists recommend counting to ten before saying something in the middle of an argument. If you feel anxious or afraid, do the same. Make sure you are safe and count all the numbers from 1 to 10. If it doesn't work, do it again. You can count to 20 or more - as many as you need to calm your brain. The good thing about this exercise is that it can be easily done in any crowded place.

Awareness of yourself in the here and now

Sometimes anxiety can occur for no apparent reason. The most extreme manifestation is called a panic attack, but there are also milder forms. A purposeful, conscious return to reality can help you escape from this mental trap. How to do it:

  • again, if possible, start by making sure you are safe;
  • sit down and close your eyes;
  • concentrate on your breathing and body sensations, you can consistently "scan" it from the bottom up;
  • begin to concentrate on what you feel from what is happening around you - sounds, smells, colours, etc., name them to yourself;
  • switch your attention several times from internal sensations to external stimuli and back again until the anxiety begins to recede.

Interrupting disturbing thoughts

Often, anxious thoughts take hold of us to the point where we become deeply fixated on them, making ourselves feel worse. However, this cycle can be broken. Here's how to do it:

  • ask yourself if constant worry is a problem for you, if the answer is yes, good - this is awareness and the first step to overcoming the problem, you can move on to specific actions;
  • make up and sing a silly song about the subject of your anxiety, or talk about it in a funny voice;
  • choose a pleasant thought and concentrate on it, it can be a thought about a loved one, your happy place or even a delicious dinner you have planned for yourself - try to keep your attention;
  • listen to music or read a book - switch to an external stimulus;
  • switch your attention consciously, pay attention to your physical sensations.

As OBOZREVATEL wrote, sleep problems caused, in particular, by stress and anxiety can be overcome with the help of exercise - here are six simple yoga poses that will help you fall asleep easier.

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