4 Tips To Stop Shaking From Anxiety Right Now

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Medically reviewed by Kimberly Langdon, MD

How To Stop Shaking From Anxiety

The human body has all kinds of crazy ways of expressing fear. Many people get damp palms, dry mouth, or sweaty armpits. Other expressions of anxiety are equally as unpleasant. Unfortunately, some anxiety in our lives is unavoidable. We can all think of times when our chests have gotten tight and we tried to hide some nervousness.

That probably happens more often than most people realize. We can hide damp palms and dry mouth, fooling people into believing we’re more confident than we really are. It’s harder to conceal shaking hands, unfortunately, which can sometimes add even more anxiety. While we might wish for a simple solution, the healthiest way to stop that shaking is to address the anxiety that is causing it.   

There are a few tricks that can help you control shaking on the spot. On a broader level, managing anxiety is a skill that has to be practiced, like hitting a ball or playing a first-person-shooter. The more you learn and practice, the better you’ll end up being.

How To Stop Shaking From Anxiety

The medical term for the shaking that comes from anxiety is physiologic tremors. Tremors of this sort are always present, it’s just that they aren’t large enough for us to detect. Sometimes when we’re stressed or anxious, those tremors become large enough to be visible. 

When you become anxious and begin to experience tremors, there are a few things you can do in the moment to help, such as: 

  • Concentrate on your breathing
  • Focus on your environment
  • Relax as much as possible
  • Cut back on alcohol, caffeine, and stimulants 
  • Give yourself a break

Focusing on your breathing may be the number one strategy for dealing with anxiety. It’s the first strategy most therapists will cover and it forms the basis for a lot of other techniques. For the moment, however, all you need to do is slow and even out your breathing. Doing so gives you something to focus on other than panic and helps with the physical feelings of panic. 

Focusing on your environment is a similar strategy. Look around and see what catches your eye. Try to notice the smell of the air or listen to the sounds around you. Try to relax and, as part of that, cut back on stimulants like caffeine if you know you’re going to be facing anxiety. 

Most importantly, recognize that everyone gets anxious. You don’t need to beat yourself up for a physiological reaction that is difficult to control. Understanding that is part of managing the anxiety in your life as a whole, as well as on specific occasions. 

Strategies for Managing Anxiety

Managing anxiety is a huge subject, with a number of approaches and concepts. It even dips into philosophy at points. For most people, however, understanding the highlights and knowing a few basic strategies is enough.  

Breath Focus, Meditation, and Mindfulness

These get lumped together, as they tend to work best as a package deal. We’ve talked a bit about focusing on the breath as a way of calming yourself. That’s essentially the most basic form of meditation. There are also lots of other varieties that may help with specific problems, grow in complexity, and appeal to different philosophies.

When you meditate, you’re practicing putting your mental focus where you want. It’s part of human nature to be easily distracted on occasion. We also have a tendency to put our focus on the things that are most concerning, even if that focus is unhealthy.

Anxiety is a prime example of that. We get caught up in the aspects of a situation that make us nervous, focusing on those, and spinning them into dire scenarios. That focus on the negative fuels further anxiety, which means we focus more on the stuff that makes us anxious, and so forth, down and down. That’s called an anxiety spiral, when we get caught up in negative thought patterns, upsetting ourselves more and more.

The solution is to sort of snap out of that mindset. A few of the quick tips mentioned distracting yourself from your anxiety. This is why that works, through derailing the spiraling anxiety.

Applying the skills that we learn in meditation, placing our focus where we want and not getting sucked into negative thought patterns, is basically the idea behind mindfulness. Mindfulness is all about identifying the spirals and anxiety triggers. That way, you’ll notice before the anxiety becomes a problem and can use some strategies to defuse it. 

Do that until it becomes a habit and eventually you won’t even notice the negative thoughts, let alone get sucked into an anxiety spiral.

Exercise And Eat Healthily

You don’t have to be a gym rat, but modern life might just require some sort of organized exercise routine. It’s hard to overstate the positive effects regular exercise can have on your health. Obviously, exercise will improve your physical health a great deal. However, it can also improve your mental health.

We don’t fully understand how exercise helps reduce anxiety, though the evidence seems to show that it is. Exercise seems to strengthen a person’s resistance to stress across the board.

Likewise, studies show a link between eating a healthy diet and reduced stress. In particular, a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits is best, particularly if you can avoid processed foods.

Learn Your Triggers

Most anxieties are pretty standard. Public speaking is always terrifying. Taking tests can be nerve-wracking. Even the most confident people are wary of new social situations. You may have some specific anxieties that you react to in particular, like freaking out over spiders or refusing to get into water over your head. Other anxieties may be more serious.

It can be helpful to examine some of those situations more closely. Is it speaking publicly as a whole or some specific aspect of giving a presentation that causes problems? Are there some social situations that cause more anxiety than others?

With that knowledge, you can start to make some more informed choices. You can choose to avoid the situations that cause you anxiety. 

Alternatively, you can face those situations in controlled circumstances. For example, give your presentation to a group of friends first. Experience with a trigger can sometimes make it less likely to cause anxiety.

Anxiety Disorders

It’s true that everyone faces anxiety in their lives. There’s no getting around it. However, some people experience anxiety to such a degree that it interferes with their ability to live a satisfying life. As an extreme example, people suffering from agoraphobia experience such strong anxiety reactions that they can’t even leave their homes. 

When anxiety begins to make basic aspects of life difficult, then it may rise to the level of an anxiety disorder. Not all of them are as dire as agoraphobia, but they all can make life difficult. Some types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder

The good news is that there are lots of ways that a therapist can help you manage and reduce your anxiety. You may want to seek out a professional if your anxiety:

  • Is intense enough to cause discomfort
  • Lingers for a long time beyond the triggering incident, even days
  • Interferes with tasks of basic living
  • Have a serious effect on your overall life.

The standard line is that stress breeds anxiety. We find ourselves in stressful situations, which quite naturally creates some anxiety. That is true a lot of the time, without question. Stressful situations arise and we end up with damp sweaty armpits and shaky hands.

However, many intelligent people have also observed that anxiety breeds stress. That is, if we perceive something as creating anxiety, it can add stress to our lives. Our negative patterns of thinking create stress where there doesn’t need to be any. With a little practice and persistence, it’s possible to bring anxiety under control.


+ 9 sources

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Medically reviewed by:

Sean Newton has nearly ten years of experience as a health and fitness writer, focusing on diet and its effects on your health. He also is an avid athlete and martial artist, specializing in bodyweight exercises and movement training. Together with an evidence-based approach to good health, his goal is to lay out the facts for readers, so they can make informed choices.

PubMed Central

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
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