Why Does Anxiety Cause Your Heart To Pound?

If you experience anxiety, you could be familiar with some of the symptoms: restlessness, worry, irritability, fatigue, and some of the time, a racing heart. People often feel concerned that this fast heart rate will lead to health issues, wonder what is causing it, and want to know how to calm anxiety.

When you feel this pervasive concern, your body experiences it as a threat, the same way it would react if a wild animal about to attack confronted you. This triggers your sympathetic nervous system to activate a stress response in your body. The result is a release of hormones that gets the body ready for “fight or flight” – to either run from the danger or attack.

Some of the accompanying symptoms include dilated pupils, raised blood pressure, and racing heart. If they become severe, they could lead to a panic attack, an episode of intense anxiety. An article in Cellular and Molecular Biology[1] examined the adrenal response to stress. In the absence of any physical threat, you’re simply left there wondering how to slow down heart rate anxiety.

How Anxiety Affects The Heart

Unfortunately, persistent anxiety can hurt heart health over time. It can permanently affect your body’s stress response, causing inflammation in the artery walls that leads to a build-up of plaque.

This may potentially decrease blood flow to the heart, increase blood pressure, cause rapid heart rate (tachycardia), and elevate your chances of having a heart attack. Research has found a connection between anxiety disorders and poor heart health. An article in Current Psychiatry Reports[2] discussed the link between anxiety disorders and cardiovascular disease.

Reducing Anxiety

Calm anxiety

Psychiatric approaches for how to calm anxiety center around medications, as well as techniques that help change negative thought patterns. The leading treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, which attempts to modify the cyclical thinking that underlies the anxiety response. A review in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience[3] discussed the evidence in support of using cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders.

Anxiety is also treated with psychological talk therapy that tries to explore the underlying reasons for the anxiety as well as build up coping strategies. If you want to know how to calm anxiety through lifestyle changes, there are some things you can try.

Exercise, for example, distracts you from your concerns and releases brain chemicals that may boost mood. You can also try eating foods that stimulate those same chemicals, like leafy greens, berries, turkey, salmon, oysters, liver, and egg yolks. Finally, make sure you get a good solid rest every night to help you recharge. Poor sleep may contribute to anxiety and depression.

The Best Tips For Decreasing A Pounding Heart From Anxiety

Although it’s not easy to calm your anxious heart, there are several techniques and approaches you can try that have had some success.

1. Meditation and Mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness involves living only in the present moment, focused on what you are experiencing now like smells, sounds, and sensations.

It includes some exercises which take you outside of the thought patterns, leading the anxiety to greater relaxation, and it has a good chance of helping to calm your anxious heart. A meta-review in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychiatry[4] concluded that mindfulness therapy was effective in treating anxiety.

2. Deep Breathing

If you want to help someone with anxiety, guide them in taking deep, slow breaths. Shallow breathing makes anxiety worse. Inhale counting to five, then exhale counting to five. This activates the body’s relaxation response that automatically calms the mind as well.

The method is how to slow heart rate anxiety and decrease your blood pressure, so it also improves physical symptoms. If you feel a panic attack coming on, implement this immediately to help curtail the episode.

3. Medication

The pharmaceuticals involved in treating anxiety include benzodiazepines, which are sedatives that can calm your mind and body within a short period. In addition, antidepressant medications raise levels of neurotransmitters in the brain to enhance mood. It takes about 4-6 weeks for them to show results, but this medication can help someone with anxiety.

Anxiety sufferers are often given medication to slow down heart rate and improve bodily circulation like beta-blockers. They can also help ease other physical symptoms, like sweating and trembling. An article in Frontiers in Psychiatry[5] examined the current state of pharmacotherapy for anxiety disorders.

4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Often used in mindfulness, this technique involves tensing a part of your body as you inhale and letting it go as you exhale. The idea is to go through each muscle group in your body one by one until your entire body is relaxed. In addition, it can calm your anxious heart.

This method serves two purposes: it distracts you from the cause of your concerns, and it physically calms your body. Progressive muscle relaxation is a method that could help someone with anxiety.

Therapeutic effects of yoga

5. Yoga

The practice of yoga can lower stress and anxiety and induce relaxation, and it also has numerous benefits for physical health. It focuses on being in the present moment, breathing properly, as well as visualization.

This technique can help someone with anxiety because it allows them to see the connection between the mind and body. An article in the International Journal of Yoga[6] explored the therapeutic effects of yoga in boosting the quality of life.

6. Distraction

It sounds basic, but if you want to know how to slow down heart rate anxiety, look to a distraction. Do something you love to do, like go for a walk, watch a movie, or go out.

Sometimes just changing your environment or getting involved in doing something unrelated to your anxiety can help lift the cloud. It’s not always easy to do this when you’re steeped in concern, but it’s worth a try.

7. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase symptoms of anxiety and make the heart race. Alcohol can exacerbate feelings of depression. If you mix the two, the results are particularly disastrous for someone who suffers from anxiety or another mental health problem.

They both interfere with your sleep, and poor sleep can worsen all of these issues. In addition, it’s dangerous to drink alcohol with medication to slow heart rate.

8. Journaling

If you’re interested in how to slow down heart rate anxiety with just a pen and paper, we’d advise you to start journaling. In particular, when you’re in that moment where your thoughts are racing and you feel out of control, it can help to focus on writing out your impressions and emotions.

To begin with, it distracts you from ruminating, and secondly, it allows you to get a much better idea of what’s going on with you. Journaling is a well-known stress management tool that can help someone with anxiety get out of their head.

Acupuncture is an effective

9. Acupuncture

This is an ancient technique for treating several health concerns, involving the insertion of needles into different pressure points in the body. For anxiety, it works by decreasing the number of stress hormones.

The research indicates that acupuncture is an effective method for lowering levels of anxiety. A systematic review in the Annals of General Psychiatry found evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating anxiety disorders.

10. Massage

One of the goals of massage is to decrease the tension in your muscles. This is known to lower feelings of stress and anxiety. An experienced massage therapist will know how to slow down heart rate anxiety by activating the key pressure points on the body, where the most anxiety is stored, and releasing it for you.

11. Drink Chamomile or Green Tea

Although they may not be medication to slow heart rate, both of these drinks can have tremendous benefits for relaxing and calming you. Chamomile may decrease the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Green tea can lower stress and improve mental focus, and it contains polyphenols that boost the immune system.

12. Take a B Complex Vitamin

The B vitamins may not be how to slow down heart rate anxiety immediately, but if you take them regularly, they support the health of the nervous system. They will help you cope better with stress, and some, like Vitamin B6, raise levels of important brain chemicals related to mood. This can have an impact on lowering anxiety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Try spending some time in nature, as there’s evidence it can lower cortisol and thus stress levels and calm your anxious heart (1). Try a hot bath, sauna, or jacuzzi as heating your body can ease muscles and relax tension.

Although it’s less common, yes, anxiety can slow down the heart. This is sometimes caused by a very inactive lifestyle or fatigue. However, there’s a chance it could also be related to an underlying medical condition (2).

Persistent anxiety can disrupt the stress response in the body that can lead to swelling in the heart. This can clog the arteries and increase your chances of having high blood pressure or a heart attack. If you have this issue, you must learn how to calm anxiety.


If you suffer from pervasive worry and concern along with a racing heartbeat and other symptoms, you likely want to know how to calm anxiety. You’ll be happy to know that there are some methods, both medical and natural, that can improve your situation.

Both therapy and medication to slow heart rate and other symptoms show a lot of promise in the treatment of anxiety. There are also alternative approaches like meditation and massage that show great promise in improving the condition.

Finally, a few lifestyle changes in the form of diet modifications, exercise, better sleep, and improved self-management can make a big difference in your life and maybe how to slow down heart rate anxiety.