13 Ways To De-stress When You're Anxious

13 Ways To De-stress When You're Anxious

How to calm your mind and body in times of stress.
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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.

1. ASMR

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!

12. Get a massage

Sometimes doing the actions listed above isn't enough to destress. In that case, get a massage! By pampering your body it can directly affect any negative thoughts you may have. Massages can remove any of the bad feelings in your back/body and lead to full relaxation or sleep.

13. Talk to Someone

In all seriousness, self "remedies" might help, but they almost might not. Talking to someone whether it be a relative, friend, or professional can help you get on the right track to better your mind and body. Remember, this is not your fault and you have people that love you no matter what. It's okay to be nervous, but don't be afraid to seek help
Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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To All The People I've Canceled On, I'm Sorry, It's Just Hard To Be Honest When You Feel So Small

An open letter to all the people I've had to cancel on.

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To All The People I've Canceled On,

I want to see you. I really do. I got up to get ready, but my reflection was empty. I pulled all my tricks; I curled my hair, painted my nails, put on my favorite outfit, but I still felt bad. Overwhelmingly bad. So bad I had to crawl back in bed and count my breaths to keep them from escaping too fast.

My body feels heavy and tired, but I had already canceled on you last week so I have to try again. Sometimes the feeling passes, but today is a tough one. It's as if the harder I try to push forward, the stronger my heart thumps. The knot in my throat chokes me as I try to tell myself that I can do it and that everything will be alright. But today, it is not alright.

So I texted you with tears in my eyes apologizing because I can't make it. It's not intentional, it never is. I really want to go to lunch or the beach or the movies. I want to get fresh air and be in another's company.

My mind and body are at war with each other, and today was simply caught in the crossfire. This constant anxiety is something that I have to live with and today I couldn't figure out how to shut it off. It rings so loud in my mind that I can physically feel it in my body. I try my best to make it work because I value our friendship. Today, it just didn't happen. You've heard my excuses; they've been overused. I say I'm sick or I forgot I had an assignment due, but you know it's a lie. It's hard to be honest with people, though, when you already feel so small.

Please don't be angry at me for this. I wish I could be there. I can't promise you that I'll make it the next time or any other time after that. I can't promise that if I do make it out that I'll be able to stay. But I can promise you that I will try and try again to be the friend that you need and the person you want to keep inviting out. I promise that my intentions are always good and that I plan on attending every date. But today I canceled on you and I'm sorry. I hope to see you soon.

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