Conscious Techniques for Subconscious Anxiety

Right now, are you anxious? If you said no, are you 100% certain of it? Subconscious anxiety can happen without you realizing it!

Are your muscles relaxed or tight? Is your jaw clenched? Are your shoulders raised?

If you’re anxious on a subconscious level, you might tense your muscles, often those in your legs, shoulders, neck, or jaw. The more you do it, the deeper below consciousness it goes, just like with any repeated behavior.

People with significant anxiety are generally aware of it due to prevalent symptoms. Far more people, however, have a lingering and more subtle anxiety just under their conscious thinking that quietly eats away at their enjoyment of life.

Here are some things you can do consciously to target that subconscious anxiety.

Let Go of Your To-Do List for a Few Moments

In this very moment, I know I need to respond to several emails that I should have already responded to. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of everything on my mind.

While meditation is the go-to recommended technique for relaxation, I find this is often the best place to start. Just give yourself a few minutes. A few minutes without any obligation. A few minutes of true peace.

In this few minutes, you can think about something good in your life. You can marvel at the existence of life itself, and how cool technology is. You can think of anything except that stuff you need to do.

We will always, 100% of the time, have things that we can and should do. No person every conquers the to-do list of life, because we can create new items far faster than we can complete them. That means, for the many people who like that sense of completion, we constantly feel like we haven’t done quite enough.

Let go of it for a moment. Allow yourself to be 100% unproductive right now. The truth is that many of our coping and distraction activities are actually our brains crying out for a break. When you live with constant pressure to do things, your brain will find ways to rebel. You might procrastinate as kind of a forced break, but it won’t be all that satisfying.

So yeah, you have to do XYZ. Maybe even today. But not this moment. While that sounds like procrastination, it’s actually going to decrease your procrastination. Take a few minutes to collect yourself and relax, and you’ll be primed to perform.

Focus on What Is, Not What Should or Could Be

We all have dreams for the future. That’s good! But it can be stressful because it highlights the gap between who you are and who you want to be. It can easily escalate into discontentment and the hedonic treadmill that I talked about last week.

When you focus on what is, you can let go of “I need this to be happy” thinking and want what you have right now. You can appreciate the sounds, smells, sights, and marvel of existence. There are times to “live in our heads” when it comes to planning, but most of our time is best spent in the present moment where we can experience and enjoy the things life has to offer.

There are a lot of people who “have it all” and seemingly enjoy none of it. An improved perspective is priceless, and it can ease your tension significantly.


I’m not going to go too deep here, simply because I feel like meditation has been covered extensively by everyone as the greatest thing ever. And really, it’s very good. It’s super relaxing and has some impressive benefits.

Focus on your breathing. Combine it with the above idea.


Like meditation, exercise has been covered extensively. I talk about it a lot. It’s really important. 

My cat was going crazy just a few moments ago. And then I got his favorite toy out. He chased me around the house, leaping and lunging for his green slug toy. This is what he looks like right now.

See? Physical activity releases pent up energy and tension. It works for cats and humans!


I’ve added this to “conscious techniques” because sleep quality and quantity is a choice for most people. You have to prioritize it to get it, and here’s why you should.

The most anxious I’ve ever been coincided with the most sleep deprived I’ve ever been. That’s no coincidence. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says,

“Anxiety causes sleeping problems, and new research suggests sleep deprivation can cause an anxiety disorder. Research also shows that some form of sleep disruption is present in nearly all psychiatric disorders. Studies also show that people with chronic insomnia are at high risk of developing an anxiety disorder.” (source)

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your anxiety will be higher than normal and could become chronic. It’s that simple. Adequate sleep is essential!

Conclusion and Recap

While resting, check the muscles in your jaw, shoulders, and legs for tension. If you have tension in any one of them, you have some amount of subconscious anxiety present. It’s fine if you do… most of us probably have some anxiety.

If you have persistent subsconsious anxiety, it’s not going to fix itself. Aside from luxurious options like spa getaways, massages, or sensory deprivation tanks (which I highly recommend if you have general anxiety disorder), there are several free and easy conscious techniques to target that underlying tension.

  • Let go of all obligations for a few moments
  • Enter the present moment and enjoy it
  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Sleep

Simple list. Simple techniques. Very effective. The biggest challenge is knowing if you have tension, which hopefully this article helped you to discover (or not). We can live many years with tension believing it’s normal! It’s only when you reduce that subconscious anxiety and tension that you see the truth and potential for a more relaxed life.

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