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20 Reminders That May Comfort You When You Feel Anxious

Your heart races. Your body temperature rises. Your hands may shake. Your stomach may churn.

Your thoughts start spiraling to the worst could that happen, and suddenly you feel so unequipped—like everything’s going to fall apart, and you won’t be able to handle it.

It can feel so powerless when anxiety takes over, almost like your brain and body are being hijacked, and there’s little you can do to feel safe or in control.

Except that’s not actually true. Though anxiety can have both physical and mental symptoms, and we can’t just will it away, there are things we can do to calm ourselves.

I know because, like most of us, I’ve been there many times before, and I’ve coped both poorly and well.

I’ve panicked about panicking, believed every anxious thought, judged myself as weak, and tried to numb my feelings with alcohol—these are things I’ve done more often than I care to admit.

I’ve also breathed deeply, observed my thoughts, treated myself with compassion, and chosen to embrace my feelings—more and more often as I’ve gotten older.

Since I know we have a lot more power than we think when it comes to managing anxiety, I recently asked this question on the Tiny Buddha Facebook page:

What’s one thing you try to remember when you feel anxious?

More than 1,000 people responded, which I appreciated both because their thoughts were comforting and also because this reminded me just how common anxiety is. It’s natural. It’s human. But we don’t have to let it control us.

Next time you’re feeling anxious, remember what these Tiny Buddha community members shared:

1. This will pass, and more quickly if you don’t resist it.

It’s a wave I must let hit me and ride until it passes. Fighting it prolongs it and turns it into a riptide. ~Lori Craven

If you just let the current carry you to where it will for a little while, the river will eventually spit you out. Just go with it and it’s going to be okay. ~Renee Breuer

2. You can and will get through this—and this can make you stronger.

I verbally acknowledge and remind my inner child that it’s okay, and “Adult Doug” will take care of it. That’s where the anxiety arises from. I know as an adult that my success rate of surviving any crises I’ve faced is 100%. My little inner “Doug” gets scared and feels anxious, afraid, and insecure, so I just tell him that I have it in control. ~Doug Marcum

I can handle whatever happens. I always have, one way or another. If things don’t work out the way I expect then that’s okay too. The anxiety will pass and I will be stronger afterward. ~Suzy Wedley

3. You are safe.

I breathe and repeat to myself: “I’m safe. I’m okay. I can take care of myself. I am powerful. I am significant.” Repeating it helps me refocus. ~Ida Zakin

The situation isn’t life or death. I’ll live to see another day despite the outcome. ~Claire Denney

My mantra: “It’s just adrenaline. It can’t hurt you. It will pass.” ~Chuck Striler

4. Your body is trying to protect you.

I’m not a dying zebra! I watched something that said stress is a natural part of our fight or flight response, which is helpful if you’re on the savanna running from a hungry lion. ~Jenn Miles

Anxiety is my body’s way of trying to protect me. My body has good intentions. It’s just a little misguided. I’m grateful for my body’s protection. ~Jenny Britt

5. The past and future cannot hurt you in the present.

I try to think about what is causing me anxiety, and it is typically a thought or thoughts about the past or future. I remind myself that I am okay in this moment, and all we ever have is this moment. It helps me. ~Angela Regan-Storvick

6. Thoughts can only hurt you if you give them power.

Since mine stems from thoughts that then spiral, I remind myself that thoughts are just that. They do not have to have meaning attached to them if I do not let them. Let them come in and out and give them no power, no meaning. Do not fuel them but let them come and go. They do not have to be reality, and most times they are not a reflection of reality or my true self, just plain old thoughts, and I do not have to react to every single one. ~April Rutledge

7. Worrying will not change the outcome.

I remind myself that my worrying will not change the outcome—never has and never will. Then I focus on what I’m grateful for, things that are beautiful and wonderful in my life right now. And lastly I repeat this: “I let go and I trust that I am being taken care of.” ~Joie Kreze

8. What’s worrying you is temporary.

I try to remind myself that whatever is causing my anxiety is temporary and if I’m patient, it will be resolved. ~Jess Swanson

I try very hard to remember that for most situations, they will pass whether I get all stressed out or not. ~Karen Jane Lehman

9. You have everything you need.

I try to remind myself that I have what I need: air, water, food, clothing, shelter. Then I remind myself to keep things in perspective and that I can choose how I am. ~Lorna Lewis

10. You’re stronger than you think.

I get anxiety over little things and I have to remind myself of how much I have overcome. If I can get through two brain surgeries, four different types of radiation treatment, Thyroidectomy for Thyroid Cancer, and a left neck dissection, I can get through the little stuff. Sometimes you just have to push through the discomfort of the situation and see it will be fine. ~Sara Ruggiero

11. There’s a lot going right.

I concentrate on what positive is going on right now this minute. I am safe, I am not hungry, I have a good job, a husband that loves me, my family is safe and healthy. I keep going until I feel the tension fading. Then slowly but surely I can clear my head enough to take on what lies ahead of me. ~Birgit Gerwig

Things could be worse. I have my health. I try to count my blessings. ~Colleen Tayler

12. You are loved and supported.

I think of all the people who love me. I picture their faces and I imagine myself surrounded by a bubble of love, and as I’m breathing deeply I’m breathing that love in and out. ~Conni Wrightsman

13. Things often aren’t as bad as they seem.

Four by four, how will I feel about this? Will it still seem huge and overwhelming looking back in four days, four weeks, four months, four years? It helps me to put things in perspective . ~Jacqui Learmonth

I ask myself, “Am I, or is someone I love in danger right now, in this moment?” 99.9% of the time, the answer is no, so I do some breathing and relaxation exercises to calm my mind and deal with the situation from a healthier perspective. ~Celeste Rothstein

I ask myself: What are the most important things in my life, and then focus on that. What I am stressing about usually isn’t one of the important things. ~Nicole Neubauer

14. You can calm yourself by focusing on your breath.

Give your brain a simple task. Sit and breathe. Stare at a wall. Put yourself in time out and inhale slowly. You are not wasting your time. Thoughts will float into your mind. Let them keep floating. Re-align your spine as you sit. And breathe. Take ten minutes if you can. If you can’t, even a minute is better than nothing. ~Dabe Charon

Inhale for four counts, hold for seven counts, exhale for eight counts. ~Lisa Martinez 

Breathe. If that doesn’t work I run. It forces me to regulate my breathing. This will calm my body down forcing my mind to calm down as well. ~Carolyn Stennard

15. Trust can sometimes be the antidote to anxiety.

Trust and anxiety are mutually exclusive so focus on trust, whatever you can trust at the moment, and anxiety moves out. ~Alexia Bogdis

16. It helps to focus on what you can control.

“One step at a time.” I tend to become anxious because I worry and overthink things that I can’t control and may or may not happen in the future. So I started to think this in my head whenever I notice the feeling creeping up. To take action one step at a time on something that I can control and let the rest run its course. ~Adelia Benalius

17. You don’t need to have everything figured out right now.

Sometimes it’s not enough to take it day by day. Sometimes, it’s hour by hour, or even minute by minute. And if I breathe and stay calm, I can make better decisions to effect positive change with the situation with which I’m dealing. ~Susan Stephenitch

18. Getting it out can help you let it go.

Write it down, get it off your chest, relax, make a plan of attack. Do something instead of worrying. Don’t let it take away today’s peace. Nothing stays the same! ~Lisa Marie Wilson

19. You deserve your own love and compassion.

Anxiety can often come from a place of judgment of the self. Stop, breathe, and surrender to self-compassion. ~‪Christine Strauss‪

20. You are not alone.

Know you’re not alone. Others are struggling with something as well. We’re all in this together! ~‪Melanie Rn‪

What helps you when you feel anxious?

**Most responses were edited for spelling and grammar, and some are part of larger comments not included in full.

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Lisa Lyons

    But what do you do when a deep part if you doesn’t want to get better? I get some kind of perverse comfort out of falling into despair, just wanting to give up and have someone else save me. Any tips on how to defeat that evil twin?

  • sian e lewis

    ‘your body trying to protect you’ Thanks for giving the positive version. I never thought of it like that before

  • Charlie Stringer

    Hi Lisa. I’ve found that not wanting to get better is really just your body/mind trying to stay firmly in the ‘known’, where it is more comfortable. Progress is change, and change can be uncomfortable (think about those growth spurts as a kid!) Reminding myself of this helps me defeat my evil inner twin (almost) every time. Hope it helps! 🙂

  • I find that quite comforting as well. Formerly, I thought of anxiety as something wrong with me – but it’s actually something right. It’s just that our flight-or-flight response gets triggered by all kinds of things that aren’t actually life-or-death situations.

  • Hi Lisa ~ My apologies for the slow response. I was under the weather these past couple of days. I think Charlie hit the nail on the head; it just feels safer to stick with what’s familiar. What’s helped me is focusing on progress.

    Here’s an example: When I was recovering from bulimia many years ago, the doctors preached abstinence – completely stopping. And I understood why, given how dangerous this was for me physically. But I wasn’t ready to completely give it up. I was actually afraid to lose that part of my identity, and the behavior was deeply ingrained. It was such an instinctive way of responding to uncomfortable feelings – or any feelings, really – that I often didn’t even think before I did it.

    So I decided to track how often I fell into my many destructive behaviors, and to strive to do these things fewer times each day than the day before. If one day I engaged in disordered behavior 20 times, I was happy with 19 the next day. (It’s a lot, I know. I was deep in the clutches of my eating disorder.) Some days I was exactly the same as the day before, but never more. And more often than not, I improved. Within a few months, I’d almost completely stopped. It helped that I’d also had years of therapy and several hospitalizations under my belt. But I believe this was the tipping point for me – when I realized I was clinging to what felt safe and familiar and made the conscious choice to slowly rewire my brain and heal.

    I think this same practice could apply to any type of destructive habit. If you know you find comfort in falling into despair, perhaps you could come up with a list of ways you do this and an alternative for each – i.e.: when I recognize I’m dwelling on the worst, I’ll jot down a few things that are going right. Then you could tell yourself you don’t need to do this perfectly every time; you just need to aim to do this a little more frequently today than you did it yesterday.

    The great thing about focusing on progress is that you slowly introduce change while giving yourself permission to be imperfect, which means you’ll feel good about your successes and not guilty for the times you fell into what’s comforting and familiar. And you’ll give yourself sufficient time to let go of your attachment to despair. It doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes you need to experience the benefits of a new way over a period of time before you feel comfortable letting go of what’s familiar.

    I hope this helps a little!

    Lori

  • van deist

    Fear when felt is real because you’re feeling it, but it might not be valid if there’s no threat in your environment. According to Daniel H. Casriel’s concepts and practices, one way to dispel fear is to experience it by venting and dissipating it. Experiencing fear, pain, and anger by screaming it out into a pillow will give relief and help resolve underlying issues. It’s a helpful tool available to everyone at anytime. Namaste.
    Daniel H. Casriel, MD “A Sream Away From Happiness
    Bonding Psychotherapy

  • Michelle

    Thank you very much for all these amazing ideas and insights. Really doable and helpful ideas. For years I tried to work through this as I found myself feeling trapped in terror (TNT) and that there was nothing I could do about it (NICDAI). I have acronyms for those from my journaling and using those terms a lot. What I found was that the terror was coming from feeling like I couldn’t act, like I was only being acted upon. So, the comforting thing for me to learn and change in the way I thought, was to plan. Every time I felt anxious and trapped in a difficult situation, I would try to shift over to learning to plan. I told myself (wasn’t very convincing at first, but I got better at it) that I wasn’t trapped, that something could be done about it and I started writing down a list of plans. What I found to my great relief was that not only could something be done, there was actually many, many things that I could do to help/fix the situation. Even if I wasn’t the cause of the issue, it was still in my life, so that meant I could act. Retraining my mind to respond in that way helped me the most, especially since it was acting from the truth that I could act, instead of the lie that I was trapped. Thank you again!!

  • You’re most welcome! I totally get feeling terror about being out of control, and I’m planner for that same reason! It’s quite empowering to realize you’re never powerless – there’s always something you can do to help your situation. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Thanks for these reminders Lori. I like number 6, especially. I read somewhere how you can equate your mind to a ‘suggestion engine.’ If you don’t act or react to a thought, then you don’t give it power to rule over you. And the next thought/idea it throws at ya might be a complete 180 degrees flip. Sometimes all you need is patience and not taking your instincts too seriously, especially if they are limiting. Probably, it’s not that you’re incompetent. Rather, you need to calm your nerves and not let the irrational fear do the talking.

  • I’ve never heard that, actually – and I love it! Thoughts seem far less overwhelming when you consider them suggestions to take or leave.

  • Exactly. It takes the pressure off. Glad you heard it from me first, haha!

  • denisebreslin

    Ahem, I also think that when anxiety becomes severe, medication does help. I know!