When I was a kid, I was really chill - almost too chill. I breezed through life without a care in the world, never thinking of the future or the past. I miss being a kid, because the moment I entered adulthood, anxiety hit me like a goddamn freight train. It started at over thinking, then turned into sleepless nights and eventually progressed to self induced panic attacks on the way to math exams. The whole concept of anxiety is fairly new to me and I’m working my hardest to get it under control without all of the medications and therapy. So here are a few of my little anxiety life hacks that get me through even the hardest days.
I don’t care if you go walk up a flight of stairs or run a marathon, get moving. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to not only cope with anxiety, but improve your overall health.
2. Find yourself some green tea.
Green tea has numerous health benefits, ranging from weight loss to boosting brain power - but the amino acid it contains could actually help treat your anxiety. Some ingredients in green tea can help aid in concentration, causing you to feel relaxed for hours.
3. Comfort food.
Your blood sugar drops vastly during a panic attack, therefore it’s essential to stuff your face. Find your favorite snack and enjoy it - I assure you, you’ll feel better.
4. Change up your nighttime routine.
An inadequate amount of sleep can contribute to increased anxiety. Make sure you get a good night's sleep by spending the last hour of your day away from any screens and doing something you enjoy. Do some yoga, read a book, paint your nails, do whatever your little heart desires.
5. Cut down on the caffeine.
Do not underestimate the relationship between anxiety and caffeine. If you suffer from it daily, it might be time take a little break from coffee. I know, the idea is giving you anxiety, but if you reduce your intake gradually over the course of a week or two, you’ll avoid withdrawal symptoms and you may be surprised to see that your anxiety will decrease.
6. The wonders of kinetic sand.
This may sound weird, but hear me out. A few months ago, my friend introduced me to kinetic sand - squeezable sand that stimulates the mind and relaxes the body. Yes, it’s considered a children’s toy but in the middle of a panic attack nothing is more relaxing than squishing something for a while. You can find it at your nearest toy or craft store or pick it up right from amazon.
7. Chill tunes.
A calming atmosphere is imperative when your anxiety has you feeling like you’re about to die. Turn the lights down low, put on your favorite chill tunes and focus on those. My personal favorite? Epoch by Tyco.
8. Lots and lots of cuddles.
Nothing calms me down quite like a big-a** hug. Find your S.O, find your mom, find your cat, find a pillow, I don’t really care what you find - but find something, cuddle the sh*t out of it and tell me that it doesn’t make you feel better.
9. Invest in a weighted blanket.
The point of a weighted blanket is to not only keep you warm, but to keep you feeling safe and secure amid a panic attack.
Personally, my anxiety is mostly triggered by thinking about the future and all of the things that could go wrong. Mindfulness is training the brain to stay in the present moment. It can cause not only measurable changes in the brain, but also the body. Start with ten minutes a day - sit comfortably and pay attention to nothing but what’s happening in the now. Mind your breathing, the feel of your feet touching the floor, your chest moving, and the little noises going on around you. Don’t work too hard to make sense of it all, the point is to experience time without analyzing or judgement.
11. Breathe (but in a special way).
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, it’s all about the breathing man. Take your hand and make the hang loose sign, plugging your right nostril with your right thumb, breathe in and hold for four seconds. Switch sides, plugging your left nostril with your pinky and exhale. Still plugging your left nostril, breathe in and hold for another four seconds and switch nostrils again. Keep doing this exercise until your breath is under control and your body is no longer tense.
12. Make peace with it.
I’ve found that my anxiety became a lot easier to deal with once I came to peace with it all. When you’re feeling anxious, remember that you’re safe and that it will pass. We all get anxious sometimes, some more than others, but don’t worry - we’re all going to survive.
13. Dig up some happy thoughts.
Think of the best day of your life. Think of the beach. Think of a pile of cute puppies. Think about happy things and it’ll be hard not to give into all the happy.
14. Question it.
When people are anxious, their brains will come up with a whole bunch of outlandish ideas, many that are highly unrealistic and unlikely to occur. When I begin to panic, I usually think to myself - “Is this really that big of a deal or am I just being a huge a**hole?” Chances are, it’s the latter. Don’t waste your energy on small problems, always remember you’ll be alright.
15. Focus on literally anything else.
The worst thing you can do when anxious is to passively sit around obsessing about how shi**y you feel. Read your philosophy textbook, binge watch Shameless on Netflix, look up pictures of cute puppies on the internet. Do anything else but acknowledge the root of your anxiety in the moment, and eventually it will leave you alone.