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13 Phrases You Can Say to Yourself to Calm Anxiety, According to Mental Health Experts
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Liv McConnell
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Change often inspires anxiety and discomfort. If you’re a human being, chances are that’s likely been true for you, too. 

As we work to embrace change — and especially to help create more of it in the areas of society where transformation is so deeply needed and overdue — it’s important to also create space for acts of self care. One important method of self care that’s frequently encouraged by mental health professionals is to develop a phrase or mantra that you can repeat to yourself at the beginning of the day or during moments of stress or anxiety. By using a mantra, you can do something small but powerful for yourself and for your mental health, ensuring that you’re prepared to remain a positive agent of change for days to come. 

Here are 13 phrases that mental health professionals and experts recommend using to calm your anxiety during periods of significant change.

1. “I am breathing in, I am breathing out.”

“Just remembering to breathe can be so incredibly impactful, and I find that this mantra can be very grounding.” — Lauren Manaker, clinical nutritionist at Naked Nutrition

2. “I am looking forward to…”

“The idea is to shift your focus from your anxious feelings to something in the future that is more pleasurable.” — Vinay Saranga M.D., psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry

3. “There are many possible explanations, not just the one I’m fixating on.”

“When anxiety starts creeping in because of something someone said or did, ask yourself: ‘What is another plausible explanation for what just happened?’ You may have perceived it in a certain way, but consider the alternative explanations. Maybe they are having a bad day and took it out on you. Maybe they didn’t call or text you back right away because their phone died. Sometimes our gut reaction can veer into a negative place. Try giving someone the benefit of the doubt and recognize the role that past experiences may have played in your perception. This is a different situation with a different reason behind the action.” — Bridget Gottlieb, LMSW, LLC

4. "I am enough. I am loved."

“Sometimes, anxiety causes people to beat themselves up or doubt themselves, but this subtle reassurance of self-worth can go a long way. You don't have to use the words ‘enough’ or ‘loved’ — you can substitute whatever words work best for you, such as kind, patient, beautiful, worthy, strong, etc.” — Dr. Brian Wind, Ph.D., Chief Clinical Executive at JourneyPure

5. “I am safe.”

“I usually go with 3-word phases/mantras because they have a good rhythm and are easy to remember. ‘I am safe.’ ‘I am loved.’ ‘I am whole.’ I also do the all-encompassing one-word mantra: ‘Breathe.’ If folks can remember to breathe, and focus on their breathing, and take increasingly slower and deeper breaths, it can be a mini-mindfulness experience that calms their anxiety.” — Meg Currie, Clinician at Mountainside treatment center

6. “Today, I do not have to struggle.”

“Many of us have been taught that we have to work hard to deserve good things in life, or we have been taught that life is hard. This affirmation gives us a break from worry and anxiety, and allows us to calm down and just be.” — Lynell Ross, Founder and Managing Editor at Zivadream

7. "I'm thankful for (fill in the blank)."

“You may be in disarray during that moment, but look back on the things you're actually fortunate to have. It could be could health, a loving family, or a fulfilling job. Whatever it is, try to bring that in mind once when anxiety hits and see how it makes a difference.” — David Foley, Founder @ Unify Cosmos

8. “I have survived. I will survive again.”

“Getting ahead and over the bad times and preparing for what’s to come is paramount. Look at the brighter side of the things and what needs to happen today.” — Dr Dr. Chris Norris, Physiotherapist and neurologist at SleepStandards.

9. "It's safe for me to relax."

“I recommend that people first feel their feet on the floor before starting to repeat a mantra. Feeling your feet on the floor brings you into the present moment very quickly (this is also called ‘grounding’) so that you're not thinking about the past or projecting into the future. Once you're grounded, a great mantra to repeat is ‘It's safe for me to relax.’ When someone is spiraling in anxiety, they fundamentally don't feel safe. Their base instincts have sent them into fight or flight mode, so using the word ‘safe’ is key here, because it lets them know they are safe.” — Heather Rider, anxiety specialist

10. “This will pass.”

“Often when we're in the grip of negative emotions, we feel like it will last forever. But we've all experienced that feelings ebb and flow. When you're feeling anxious, remember that the anxiety will pass eventually. This will help you get through it a little quicker.” — Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, Baltimore Therapy Center

11. “I'm not feeling great. What do I need to feel better? What can I do right now?”

“Alternatively, I also recommend: ‘I am hurting and that's OK. I don't need to fix it. I don't need to overcome it. I can just sit with it and let it be.’” — Fos, certified NLP Master Practitioner and co-owner of Moxmilk

12. “My feelings are not my facts.”

“Are your negative feelings bringing you down?  Remember, your feelings are not your facts!  Your emotions guide your thoughts, your thoughts guide your decisions, your decisions become your actions. Negative feelings result in negative actions; positive feelings result in positive actions!  Take one minute, right now, and think of the positives in your life — the things that bring you joy, hope, gratitude, and peace; let those feelings become your thoughts and guide your actions!” — Tasha Holland-Kornegay, Licensed Professional Counselor and Founder of WellnessIRL.com

13. “This is difficult, AND I can do this.”

“Often times, anxiety dials up the volume on the first half of this statement — the difficulty of a task… On one hand, we want to honor the kernel of truth in anxiety: things can be difficult to do, situations can lead to fear, and anxiety does lead to us feeling less competent. At the same time, anxiety is a biologically programmed response to a real threat which oftentimes fires without something actually being dangerous or posing a threat to our lives; that is, the fire alarm is ringing in an absence of a fire. Therefore, we want to both acknowledge the real impact of anxiety AND remind ourselves that we can actually do this task, we are in control, and we will feel better after approaching the thing making us feel anxious.” — Nora Gerardi, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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13 Comments

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