7 of the best things to do when you're feeling anxious
Figuring out what medications best help you and your anxiety is probably a work in progress with your doctor, the way it is with mine. But I like to have other tools in my anxiety toolbelt other than just medication. It’s great to have a well-rounded self-care plan, because sometimes I don’t want to rely solely on my medication to feel better — I like to feel like I’m in control of my anxiety, and just in case other people feel the same way I do, I wanted to share some of my anxiety coping mechanisms. Here are seven of my favorite (and most helpful!) things to do when I’m feeling anxious:
Watch an episode of something.
I have certain shows that are like comfort foods for me. The Blacklist, House of Cards, and Grey’s Anatomy are like a warm, heavy blanket and give me a break from what’s going on in my own life. Just a pro tip: if you’re anything like me, avoid Orange is the New Black because once I start one episode I can’t stop until the rest if the season is over (or really any show that I haven’t seen before, because just like a good book, once I’m hooked I can’t stop).
Setting aside the laptop, iPad, and cell phone is a GOOD thing and, let’s be honest, is a big part of where my anxiety comes from. So I’ve taken up adult coloring books. For me, anything with mandalas is helpful in easing me away from anxiety. With this, having all of the colored pencils is nice but can still be overwhelming. I’ve taken to using self-sharpening colored pencils because the packs are smaller and minimizes pencil shavings.
Use the Calm Me app, or guided meditation in general.
I discovered this app this week and have been using it daily. Meditating on my own wasn’t working; I wasn’t able to focus, let alone bring myself down from a panic attack. With the guided meditations provided for free, I’ve been able to re-focus.
Using a lavender pillow.
I have lavender everything in my house. Lotion, bubble bath, dried and hanging in my kitchen, and growing in my herb garden. But the heavy neck pillow I bought (that can be heated, too!) has really helped a ton. I’ll heat it up while I’m working to help me focus, or put it on my pillow on my bed to help calm myself down before bed.
For me, it’s yoga (closed poses) and horseback riding. Focusing on my breathing, on staying balanced, or on controlling a 1200 lb animal helps create distance between me and my trigger. In an office and can’t just throw yourself in downward dog? Take a walk if you can, even if it’s just around the building. Walk to the bathroom and back.
Hand massages and/or palm pushes.
You don’t need to go to the nail salon to get a good hand massage. Start with pushing your palms together (you can even do this at your work desk!) and focusing on the pressure. If that doesn’t help, start massaging the palm of one hand with your thumb on the other hand.
Write down what you’re worried about. Keep a private Tumblr account, a journal, a notebook — something that’s private and just meant for you so you can just let go. Write about anything. Write about what’s triggered you, about what you’ve accomplished that day. Make a list of what you need to do and prioritize it. Let your thoughts out in a constructive and healthy manner.
Maybe these will help you and maybe they won’t. But making steps towards helping ourselves is a good thing especially when anxiety can be so incredibly crippling.