Mental illnesses are often overlooked and misunderstood, yet they heavily affect millions of people across the globe. Anxiety is one of the most prevalent of these illnesses – 40 million Americans, or about 18 percent of the population, suffer from this disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Even if one does not have anxiety disorder, the American Psychological Association reported that about 80 percent of Americans said they have at least one experience of extreme stress each year.
As someone who has anxiety, I have always struggled with finding ways to calm down. When having panic attacks or moments of heavy anxiety, I can never think of anything else except the topic that is giving me stress. After the more extreme episodes, I'm still shaken by anxious thoughts and cannot de-stress and make my mind go elsewhere. Then, I started searching because I know that my anxiety won't go away but I know I can try and soothe my mind. Below are ways to de-stress when you're anxious or need to be calm; some I use myself and some work well for others.
ASMR, an acronym for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, refers to the tingling someone can receive from listening to stimulating audio or visual feeds. It can feel like a shiver up your spine or static in your ears and minds and does a great way of making you calm. ASMR is even known to help people go to sleep at night if you listen to it. YouTube is full of "ASMRtists" who have various types of videos from whispering to tapping to role plays (for example: hair salon or doctor's office role play).
2. Nature walks
Sometimes submerging yourself in nature and all it has to offer is the best (and free) way to relax and be able to breathe easily. Go to a location that has always interested you and let the views, sounds, and atmosphere encompass you.
3. Breathing methods
Anxiety directly taps into physiological actions and not only can it make your mind a jumbled mess, but also cause breathing problems, nausea, and other pains. If you can control your breathing, it might be the first step to feeling better physically.
4. Pet a cat (or any animal)
In 2011, the Mental Health Foundation reported that over 85 percent of cat owners find that their cats have a positive impact and also make their everyday lives better. A cat's purr is known to help de-stress and make one drift away from their anxiety. If you have a pet, go find them and have fun. If not, go to a shelter or find a friend that has one. Animals are the best.
5. Buy something that makes you happy
Buy anything that makes your anxiety lessen. Whether it be a plant or something that directly taps into the state of your mental health or items that you just want. It's found that distracting yourself in things that make you happy will gradually decrease stress levels.
6. Starting DIYing
Focusing on projects or different types of crafting can distract you from your anxiety. Not only are you calming your mind but also getting awesome decor, too!
7. Express your emotions
By writing, drawing, doodling, singing, or expressing yourself in any other way, you can relieve any stress. It helps you stray away from anxiousness and gives one a medium to show how they're feeling at the moment, and possibly how to act on it in the future.
8. Take a bath, not a shower
Showers are places where most people do heavy thinking. This often can stir up stressful thoughts and make it an overall negative atmosphere. If you take a bath, you can relax, enjoy the bubbles/bath bombs, and be surrounded by comfort.
9. Give your nose a treat
Comforting smells can relax the mind and body. If you have any essential oils, incense, or candles at home, you can light one and distract your stress with a wonderful smell. If not, I recommend going to a candle store, or somewhere like Lush, that has an amazing aroma (and think about buying something with a scent you love).
10. Find a new hobby
Doing something new requires extra focus! And that's just the treatment for stress – by keeping your mind on learning the new hobby, you drift away from any negative thoughts.
11. Search for Spotify playlists
Look into some relaxing music that can soothe your soul. Playlists on Spotify like "chill.out.brain" can have a great effect in helping you with any anxious thoughts. You can always think of music that helps you and curate your own playlist, too!