Many of us know the tell tale signs of anxiety. Pounding heart, trouble breathing, and just a general discomfort. While it can be difficult to pull yourself out of those anxious feelings, there are many simple things you can do to at least ease them. While many of these tricks may seem small and unhelpful, I have found that sometimes it is the little things that make all the difference.
1. Take a warm shower or bath.
A warm shower or bath will not only relax your muscles, but also your mind. Immersing yourself in warm water or allowing it to run over you mimics physical contact which can help to qualm anxiety. This is also a time to put down any electronics and allow yourself to be mindful of your thoughts. This awareness of both body and mind can have a calming effect.
2. Create something.
Whether it is a piece of writing, a work of art, or an interpretive dance, creating something will take your mind off of your anxiety as well as give you a sense of accomplishment. This will boost your spirit and act as a distraction from whatever is occupying your mind.
3. Try some deep breathing.
Deep and focused breathing (especially if your anxiety causes you to not breathe normally) will refocus your brain. By placing all your attention on the act of mindful breathing, you will be creating a rhythm that should eventually return your body to its natural state of calm. Another form of deep breathing would be meditation or mindfulness sessions which can be done both in times of anxiety and whenever you feel like it.
4. Listen to music.
Listening to music is a form of therapy for many people. Despite the common misconception that the music has to be relaxing, any type of music that you enjoy will do. This can change your mindset from a place of unease to one of familiarity and comfort. Often times, music can help you to relax and remind you that other people may have had similar thoughts to what you are experiencing.
5. Talk to a friend.
This is by far the best option if you have a friend who is available that you trust. While you do not want to become reliant on said person by any means, if you are at a point where your anxiety is so bad that you cannot deal with it on your own, confiding in someone close to you can be the best form of therapy. Whether it is over text, a phone call, or in person, sometimes just knowing that there is someone else there for you will put your body and mind at ease.
6. Play with an animal.
Literally any animal. While I prefer dogs or cats, if snakes make you happy, then find a snake to play with. Animals often can sense feelings of discomfort and will act as a safe companion in times of distress. The act of petting an animal can take your mind off of the anxiety and, well, who doesn't like playing with animals?
7. Go for a walk (preferably outside).
Especially if you are in a hot, stuffy room, go get some air. An environment of that sort can simulate a feeling of being trapped or suffocated which is anxiety-provoking for many people. By taking a breather in the fresh air, you will eventually calm down. Taking a walk (or sometimes going for a run) allows you to zone out in nature and be mindful of your surroundings. Putting yourself in touch with the natural world can restore a peace in you that will ease your anxiety.
8. Organize literally anything.
This is something that helped me a lot. I would put away laundry, do the dishes, alphabetize my books, clean my bathroom, etc. While this is not a good long term habit to develop as the need to organize could become compulsive, for sporadic bouts of anxiety, I have found it to be very useful. It forces your mind to focus on something besides the fact that you are anxious, and, in the process, you usually wind up with a more organized room.
9. Read a book.
Reading is not for everyone, so this will not work for everyone. But if you are a bookworm and reading a book takes you to a completely different place, then try this when you get anxious. Take a book that you know you will be really interested in and begin to read it, even if you have read it before, read it again. By immersing yourself into the plot of whatever novel you choose, you will be taking the focus off of your life and placing it onto the life of the characters instead.
10. Do some math.
I know this one sounds stupid and there are plenty of people who despise math, but just try it next time you are anxious. Random math problems, depending on how advanced your math skills are, they could be simple middle-school-level problems or calculus equations. Either way, the act of computing numbers and forcing a different part of your brain to function will eventually trick you out of your anxiety. The harder the problem and the more focus it takes the better as it will make you think hard about math and not so much about your anxious feelings.