5 ways to beat anxiety

Anxiety is like "borrowing pain from the future," according to expert Olivia Remes. Here are her 5 tips to stop an anxiety attack.

Tips and tricks to help yourself feel calmer

Olivia Remes is an anxiety researcher at Cambridge University, and she tells Brut some of the best ways to work on improving anxiety.

Accept the situation
“Don’t try to fight with the anxiety, if you feel this terrible emotion coming over you. Don’t try to run away from it. Don’t struggle. Just simply accept that this is happening to you and just wait it out. Kind of like a wave that passes, it comes and it goes. It’s the same with anxiety, it comes to us and then it goes.”

“Not immediately doing something right away. Not trying to run away from the situation. Not trying to fight with your feelings. Just don’t do anything. It’s kind of like, you know when you hear people say, “Count to 10 before you get mad at somebody.” Do the same with an anxiety attack… So, in order to give yourself time to regain your abilities and to start thinking clearly again, just wait. If you’re looking at panic attacks for example, they feel like they’re very dangerous but they're not.”

“Just close your eyes and try to let go of all thoughts and focus on your breaths. So, your breath going in and your breath coming out. And every time a thought pops into your head, just gently let it go and bring your mind back to the breaths. Don’t feed your thoughts with energy and always try to bring your mind back to the breaths whenever you see that it’s wandered away. Now this technique is based on mindfulness meditation, which has been shown to lower anxiety in countless studies.”

Be forgiving of yourself
“Imagine if you had a friend who constantly pointed out everything that was wrong with you and your life. Now you would probably want to get rid of this person right away, wouldn’t you? But people with anxiety do this so many times that they don’t realize it anymore. They’re simply not kind to themselves… But what about forgiving ourselves? When we do that, that can really improve our mental health.”

Don’t think the worst
“Our thoughts are just mental events. When people have anxiety, they frequently think about the negative things that might happen. You know, I like to call it borrowing pain from the future because the negative thing is not happening right now, you’re worried about it happening in the future. So, essentially, you’re suffering for something that might happen later on, so you’re borrowing pain from the future. Another thing that you can do is writing down your worries and then seeing “Does it actually happen?” And when you see that most of the time it doesn’t, it gives you confidence that you can change how you are, how you’re thinking.”