Spiraling Out Of Control: How To Stay Calm When Dealing With Anxiety

Updated December 28, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Sometimes life starts to feel overwhelming, and it may feel like you’re spiraling out of control. Whether you’ve learned of a new medical diagnosis, things abruptly change in your family, or something just isn’t working out in your favor, you quickly begin to feel like you’ve hit rock bottom. It doesn’t help when emotions run high, and it’s hard to focus on what your next steps should be. Such frustrations bring on anxieties that are hard to let go, but fortunately, there are things you can do to help regain control.  The key is to recognize when you are struggling and anxious thoughts are taking over your day-to-day world, then focus on productive thoughts and actions to help you get through the moment.

Recognize You Have Control

Need Ways To Stay Calm When Anxiety Strikes?

When you feel like life is spiraling, it may feel as if you have no control, especially when things seem to happen with or without your influence. Sometimes you’ll go through things you don’t want to experience because they bring unwanted feelings and remind you of a person or reality you don’t feel comfortable recalling. Other times you feel like you can’t get a break. While there may be times things happen out of your control, it is crucial to recognize that this is okay, and the feeling of not being in control is familiar.

Once you understand ways to manage your anxiety and promote better mental health, it gives situations that occur in your life more meaning.

Take A Deep Breath

The moment you feel things are in a downward spiral, take a step back and breathe. The overwhelming feeling you’re experiencing is part of your body’s fight or flight response. It is what contributes to the physical aspects of anxiety. As you stop to reflect on the moment, take a deep breath, and relax. Learning breathing techniques may help reduce the effects of anxiety quickly. 

Use breathing techniques to help visualize yourself in a state of calmness. Keep the image you create in your mind and refer to it when you feel anxious. Then,  as your mind calms, think the situation through, assessing the circumstances creating an opportunity to establish a favorable outcome.

Face Your Feelings

Feeling some amount of anxiousness is a normal response. It is okay, then, to admit to yourself what you’re feeling and accept what is happening inside you. As you recognize it, the anxious feelings may decrease in intensity.

Challenge Your Feelings

Ask yourself questions to readjust your thinking. You may wonder if your thoughts are rational, or ask yourself if things could be worse. Assess your ideas to see how you can handle the situation. 

Stay Busy

When you feel like your emotions are ready to spiral out of control, use productive mental health methods to release them, such as going for a walk to calm yourself or taking care of simple daily life business like washing the dishes or tidying up your room. Avoid doing anything that may lead to harm of property or others, like punching a wall. Such actions may fuel your emotions instead of helping you resolve the matter. Be careful driving as well. 

Other things you can do when confronting anxiety include listening to music, relaxing your body by laying down and resting, and journaling to write out what is triggering such feelings. Some consider a holistic approach, such as acupuncture, that provides relief through pressure points throughout your body.

Life Assessment: Are You Where You Want To Be In Life?

Understanding your thoughts, feelings, and dynamics with family and friends is an excellent place to start when it seems like life is spiraling in the wrong direction. It may require spending more time learning about yourself and where you want to be. When things are not working well in your world, staying clear of drugs and alcohol is especially important for getting back on track.

Sometimes anxiety is influenced by being in an unwelcome position in your life. Maybe you’re struggling to accept something you wish you could go back and change. Perhaps you’ve been contemplating the next move to make, such as going back to school or changing your career. Maybe you’ve reached a point in your life where you recognize change, but you’re having a problem accepting it, or you have an ongoing problem with an important person in your life.

Anxieties may be keeping you from taking necessary action. Sometimes anxiety symptoms make it challenging to make decisions and resolve problems. Maybe you have problems coping with anxiety, or you don’t realize anxiety has more control over your actions. Whatever issues you’re experiencing, there are ways to resolve them. It may take working with someone such as a qualified therapist or counselor to help understand your abilities and how to apply them in your situation.

You need to be willing to take action to regain control. It may include doing things differently, such as learning healthy habits, releasing an unproductive idea you have about yourself, changing your social circle, or working with your doctor or healthcare professional regularly. Focus on what you can do to remedy the situation. Focus on how to use your power to make positive changes in your mental health that you want to see in your life.

Live Life At Your Own Pace

When you feel like life is spiraling out of your hands, avoid comparing  yourself to others. Focus on living your life the best way you can, one day at a time. Sometimes people don’t spend enough time recognizing what makes them unique. It is okay to be different, and it may take time to accept that. Avoid rushing to get things done too quickly or thinking you need to accomplish something by a certain period in life. If it is meant to happen, it will happen in due time. If you let your emotions spiral out of control, it gets more challenging to view things from a realistic perspective.

Use Therapy To Explore More Options

When you feel like life is spiraling, have you thought about working with a therapist or talking about your problems? It can be hard to move forward when you feel like you’re not in control, but there are ways to tackle these feelings to help gain a clearer picture of your situation. Understanding how your thoughts and feelings influence your anxiety is significant. One of the best ways to understand this is by talking things through with a counselor or therapist. 

Therapists are experienced, trained professionals that work with people seeking solutions to problems in their life. Therapy is a common choice people turn to when they feel like things are spiraling out of control and want guidance on how to handle and make sense out of their circumstances. Skilled mental health professionals work closely with you through therapy sessions designs to break down your thoughts, and feelings to help you understand how to cope better with what is going on for you. As you learn how to control anxieties, you gain an advantage that can improve the quality of your life and help you pull back from despair. Sometimes people hold on to negative stereotypes about working with a therapist, but you could miss out on valuable tools to help you move forward when experiencing a downward spiral.

There are different types of talk therapy that provide comprehensive support for anxiety. Counseling helps create strategies for coping with stress. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on thought patterns contributing to behavior and mood, is one of the most popular approaches to therapy for anxiety. A meta analysis that looked at multiple studies of the effects of CBT for anxiety found that CBT “had a large effect on reducing anxiety symptoms.” Additionally, the analysis found solid evidence that CBT for anxiety improved quality of life both physically and mentally.  

There are times in life you may feel stressed out and overwhelmed, but you don’t have to work through it alone. Working with a therapist has advantages you’ll benefit from in the long term, and now it can be done from the comfort of your home. Many research studies show that online CBT therapy is just as effective for helping with anxiety and feeling out of control as in-person therapy. Connecting with an online therapist can provide convenient support when you need it most or if you’re not ready for in-person meetings. Or, you may benefit from group support sessions by talking with peers who can relate. Whichever way you choose to work through your anxieties with therapy, you’ll gain resources such as coping strategies to remind you of the power you possess to feel good about your life again.


When it seems like life is spiraling beyond your control, take a moment to stop, think, and reflect. Sometimes you need to step away from the situation to breathe so you can think clearly. Recognize what emotions you are feeling and why. Are the goals you want realistic and attainable? Is something happening you need to give yourself time to accept? When you take a moment to think and focus on what is happening, you may realize things are not as bad as you thought. You may see a way out of the situation you didn’t know was possible. An professional online therapist with BetterHelp can help you use the control you have to navigate through trying moments and teach you skills to reduce your daily stressors.  

For additional help & support with your concerns

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started