Calming Anxiety: an Alternative to Meditation

Calming anxiety can seem impossible, and while mediation for anxiety can be effective, sometimes an alternative to meditation is necessary. After all, when our anxious brains race with worries and fears and what-ifs, it can be incredibly difficult to sit still with our eyes closed and clear the mind. Yet our brains need a break. We need a break. It is exhausting and even painful to sustain anxious, racing thoughts. We can give our brains this break even when we can't meditate. There is an alternative to meditation that works wonders in calming anxiety.

Calming Anxiety is Necessary and There Is an Alternative to Meditation

Living with the causes and the effects of anxiety can be wearing. Anxiety can make us so keyed up physically, mentally, and emotionally that it wears us out. Specific worries can affect the quality of one's life as can the very process of worrying itself. To regain control and a sense of wellbeing, it's crucial to calm anxiety.

Meditation--sitting still, breathing deeply, and shutting out the inner and outer world by concentrating on the breath--has been proven to be effective in calming the nervous system and quieting the mind. However, sometimes anxiety is simply too strong to allow us to sit still and concentrate on breathing. After all, who has time to concentrate on such a basic function like breathing when there is so much to worry about? Truthfully, we all, for our own health and wellness, need to calm and soothe our brain. Thankfully, meditation isn't always necessary to calm anxiety. There are alternatives to meditation.

An Alternative to Meditation for Calming Anxiety

Meditation is effective in calming anxiety because it soothes the brain. It stills racing thoughts. It's quiet. However, sometimes it's too quiet. The nothingness that is meditation allows all sorts of anxious thoughts plenty of space to bounce around.

The good news is that even those of us with anxiety can achieve this state of quiet nothingness because there is an alternative to mediation for calming anxiety. The key is to let go and empty the mind of anxiety. But because the anxious brain won't easily empty its anxiety, the anxious thoughts need to be replaced by an activity.

When we can't relax because of anxiety, we can turn to a simple, repetitive activity that occupies the mind and distracts it from anxious thoughts. It's important to achieve relaxation, not through sitting still, but through doing something mundane yet out of our routine. Doing something that doesn't require much though, for example, coloring a mandala or other coloring page, distracts the anxious brain enough to soothe and calm it while allowing for an activity to occupy thoughts, steering them to the activity rather than to worries and fears.

I discuss this alternative to meditation in the below video, and I invite you to watch and consider this technique for calming anxiety. (Editor's Note: The original video is not available, but the replacement video will help you cope with stress and anxiety.)

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2015, May 28). Calming Anxiety: an Alternative to Meditation, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Allan Stewart
November, 15 2017 at 10:27 am

thanks. Useful. But you basically wrote 3 introductions. I would cut out everything before the heading "An Alternative to Meditation for Calming Anxiety". One intro is enough

July, 22 2016 at 11:10 pm

Those coloring books work great........Ive also tried and like very much, watercolors....

July, 15 2016 at 6:27 am

Taking enough quantity of chamomile tea is also another way to beat anxiety, avoid exciting food and always talk to others about what worries you!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 17 2016 at 5:00 pm

Hello Carterry,
I agree with all of this. Thank you for adding your input!

July, 15 2016 at 6:17 am

"Meditation is considerable to be practice by everyone as it reduces anxiety attacks as it lowers the levels of blood lactate.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 17 2016 at 5:02 pm

Hello Gonzalez,
That's definitely one of the great things about meditation: it can be practiced by everyone. It's amazing how it affects both the body and the mind!

July, 15 2016 at 5:34 am

Health care providers recommend some patients to combine meditation with their medical treatment for a better result.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 17 2016 at 5:08 pm

Hi Chloe,
So true. It speaks to meditation's credibility when so many different types of professionals recommend it. And it does enhance other forms of treatment. Thanks for your thoughts!

July, 15 2016 at 5:07 am

Meditation can act as an alternative pain killer, it has been scientifically proven to be a non risky method.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 17 2016 at 5:15 pm

Hi Lucas,
Medication does so much for people both mentally and physically. It can help with pain, but it's important to consult with a doctor before self-treating with meditation (or anything else for that matter). With medical clearance, it really can be a great alternative for pain killers. Thank you!

Alice Ngigi
May, 27 2016 at 4:47 am

Very educative.

John Methew
June, 17 2015 at 6:05 am

The medication for anxiety and depression is generally prescribed with Xanan and Ativan. But Ativan as compared to xanan have found secure. It prevents from going into a panic attack, makes me extremely calm, and relaxes my body of all physical anxious tension. It provides a great relief and mind in a state of great peace, in for a very high anxious time. Thus, it would change your lifestyle with proper medication.…

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 17 2015 at 5:54 pm

Hello John,
Medication can indeed work very well for people. Everyone is different, though, and not everyone responds well to medication. Also, something that works great for one person might not work at all for another. The best starting point for people is to have a conversation with a doctor about medications. I'm glad you have found something that works for you!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 31 2015 at 6:08 pm

Hi John,
Medication is absolutely an option for treating anxiety and panic disorders, and it can be very effective for some people. That said, every person is different and anxiety disorders are very individualized. Sometimes medication is in order, and sometimes it's not. Like any medication, anxiety medication can also be harmful for some people depending on multiple factors. It's very important to have a conversation about medication with a doctor.

May, 28 2015 at 4:59 am

Whenever I try mediation, I find myself getting distracted and loosing focus. I always give up in the process. I will try this it sounds less demanding and achievable. Thank you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 28 2015 at 1:45 pm

Hello cavs,
I hope you find this helpful. Like you, I get distracted and lose focus with meditation. Using this alternative really does help me. Hang in there and keep trying things. Anxiety can be beaten!

May, 28 2015 at 4:54 am

Whenever I try meditation but always give up in the middle. Or just can concentrate. will try and have shared this with my friends. Thank you for sharing.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 28 2015 at 1:47 pm

I'm glad you want to try and to share with your friends! Hopefully it will be helpful to you all in calming anxiety.

Sheila Bergquist
May, 28 2015 at 3:04 am

I will try this...thanks. Meditation is hard for me and I think coloring would be perfect.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 28 2015 at 1:48 pm

Meditation is hard for me, too. I can't shut off my mind when I try it. Coloring, painting, etc. definitely work for me. I hope they do for you, as well!

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