1. A weighted blanket has done wonders for me. It feels like a giant hug. Add some calm acoustic music and about 30 minutes later I am 10x calmer.
2. Going in a bathroom and putting my hands under running water.
3. Confined spaces. It’s easier for me to calm down when my universe is very small. Even just sitting under a blanket can help.
4. Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, and something you can smell and/or taste. Usually by the end of this your mind has drifted away from whatever anxiety I was having. Remembering to take a deep breath and long exhale helps too.
5. Draw a circle on a pad of paper then place your writing tool in the middle of the circle. For whatever weird reason when I’m not too far gone that actually helps a lot. It’s something my therapist told me a while back and I brushed it off but it helps calm me down.
6. My friend got me out of a panic attack pretty quickly by just having me focus on my hands. Placing them on the table, raising above my head. It re-centers your brain almost like a reboot because for me at least a panic attack is when my anxiety gets so high my brain short circuits and everything is in overdrive.
7. Taking a lap. When I feel like the walls are closing in, I excuse myself from wherever I am and go for a walk around the block to get fresh air and a little exercise.
8. Sleep. My psychiatrist helped me realize that when my anxiety is really bad that it’s related to how little sleep I’ve had. It’s as if my body is too tired to fight the anxiety. Recently when no matter how much sleep I got or xanax I took it still wouldn’t stop, I knew it was time for a daily med change. Just know that it can and will get easier.
9. I usually put on something that would make me laugh. A comedy show or something. I also put on a snuggly sweater or a bathrobe, so I feel comfortable and warm.
But what really helps me out is being able to spend time with someone who gets it and will listen and then redirect me. Playing games with my friends has been good for that.
10. Focusing on tightening and relaxing every muscle in my body one at a time.
11. Crying. I know it sounds weird but its instant relief for me. You just gotta let it out.
12. I just think to myself: “But will I die?”
The answer is always no. I may be anxious about something, but I know I can get through it. It helps.
13. Here’s a trick you can try.
Hold onto the most anxious thought you got in your head right now, and keep asking that thought in your head “so what?” and let that thought constantly explain itself until it runs out of air. For example:
“What if your former classmates will mock you if they found out you still lived with your parents?”
“You’ll never move out of your parents home.”
“You won’t be able to date anyone properly if you live with parents.”
“You will die lonely and never experience true love.”
“If you won’t be loved, you’ll be miserable for the rest of your life.”
“That would be painful.”
14. Being creative, drawing, painting or doing something with your hands helps to take your mind off of what’s causing the anxiety and can be a helpful outlet for getting your emotions out in a healthy way as well.
15. Concentrating on my breath and breathing slowly seems to help me feel more in control of my body and its reaction to the situation. When possible it helps me to try to recall a really happy memory in as much detail as possible: where was I, in relation to what else, what was the weather like that day, what could I smell in that moment, etc. Stepping outside into cool/fresh air also seems to help as well.
Anxiety is a bitch, but you certainly aren’t alone.
16. I carry a small rock in my pocket that i fidget with when I get anxious.
17. Remembering that feelings are temporary and whether it’s in a few minutes or hours or tomorrow, I’m gonna feel better than I do right now.
18. Walking and splashing water on my face help. Slowly drinking water helps (this one can be good for crying kids too! It’s hard to cry when you’re drinking and more water isn’t a bad thing.) Cooler air helps me too, for some reason.
19. I do two main things. One is acceptance of suffering, this just means that I accept I have no right to necessarily feel good all the time and suffering/worrying etc. Is part of life. The other is breathing… more specifically, I imagine there is a cup on top of my belly and I want to make it go up and down… this causes more stomach based breathing witch kinda opens my diaphragm more and helps me relax.
20. Square breathing.
Out for 4. Hold for 4. In for 4. Hold for 4.
Repeat until I feel better.
21. Writing out what I’m feeling. I have a google doc that’s basically an anxiety diary. I write out how I’m feeling, what I think made me feel that way (or simply that my heart is racing and I have no idea why, and that’s okay) and if it’s something I can brainstorm ideas to help, I do that. It’s something just for me so I can be as honest as I need to be. Getting my feelings out and in a place I can see it, contemplate it, organize it better than I could in my head, usually makes me better.
IMO the best site on the internet. Brown noise like rain helps to block out sound and focus me on something.
23. Contextualizing. My therapist taught me to take a step back and try to identify what exactly was making me anxious, then ask myself why. If the brain triggers a fear response to protect you from “harm,” it must have some reasoning to think that response is appropriate. What past experience or knowledge is causing my anxiety to flare up?
No trying to change the response, just trying to understand it. The process of analyzing my own reasoning for being anxious soothes my mind and usually reminds me that the world isn’t ending. This often helps to ground me a bit.
24. Kittens. Seriously though. I find cuddling up with one of my three cats can be really calming. Also, reading a book, although that may not be for everyone.
25. Physical puzzle games (like the Eno or a rubiks cube)! They give my brain something to focus on and solve instead of getting stuck in an anxiety spiral. Similarly, embroidery! Mostly just stuff you do with your hands that redirects your brain, I guess.
I can force myself to focus on just one thing instead of all the things going wrong and might go wrong and should go wrong. The racing thoughts just stop and is replaced with various tasks for myself, ex. “For this lap, just focus on your arms and shoulders, focus on getting a long stretch. For this next lap, focus on just the push from your legs. Okay, your breathing and heart rate are elevated, slow backstroke this lap and just focus on bringing that back down.”
27. Watching a movie – usually fantasy or sci fi…something out of this world that I can focus my attention on.
28. Focusing on my breathing and then if that doesn’t work, physically stepping away/leaving the situation.
29. Focusing on my surroundings. See what colors are near you, shapes, textures. Listen to sounds. Notice the feeling of the air on your skin, the wind or your breath. Try to really notice the things around you. Do that for a good 30 seconds and it usually helps me calm down and makes the racing thoughts stop and gets my breathing back to normal.
30. UCLA free guided meditation audio links.
31. This doesn’t work if it’s unexpected but my anxiety increases hugely the week before my period. Every month I add notes to those days reminding me that it will get better and to breathe and it will pass etc. When I get really anxious I check my calendar and somehow knowing it’s me telling myself these things helps.
32. Not trying to fight it.
I’m not sure this works for everyone but just accepting the situation I am in, bringing awareness to the fact that I have been there before and it will pass often helps considerably. It’s when I push back that I start to become manic, it’s much the same with my insomnia spells.
Otherwise I just try to focus on my breathing and if there is an invasive thought I just let it ride it’s way through my mind rather than block it out.
33. Cold air or taking a bath. Talking to someone. Reminding myself that I’m in control of how I feel.
34. Music, and video games. Lots, and lots of video games.
35. I have a conversation with myself. I ask why I’m anxious, reasons why I should be anxious, reasons why I shouldn’t, why I’m afraid, how I should deal with it, etc.
Then I just give myself a pep talk afterwards and give myself encouragement that everything will be okay and I’m doing my best. Sometimes it works but other times the anxiety is overwhelming so I just acknowledge it’s there and force myself to go on with my day and take deep breaths throughout and try not to get angry.
36. I wet myself with water and then fill a bottle with water and go outside for some fresh air and it helps a lot.
37. Sitting in the shower.
38. Going home. Sometimes it all gets too much and I just need to be in a safe place. Better than that though is being with my boyfriend. When I’m around him it’s as if my anxiety brain can’t match the warmth and love he gives to me.
39. Laying down and watching youtube really helps me personally.
40. Silence and holding perfectly still. The latter is complicated by the need for oxygen, so I breathe as slowly and with as little movement as possible. After a minute or two I can usually segue to deeper breathing and carefully controlled stretching, and then to normal movement again.
41. Say out loud what is causing me anxiety. “Driving through rush hour traffic is awful and is giving me anxiety!” Helps some how.
42. Blocking out as much sound/light/touch as I can do that there aren’t too many stimulants for my brain to freak out about.
43. Definitely deep breathing. Also trying to distract myself by doing basic stuff like counting things around me.
44. Xanax. I am sure I’ll catch a bit of hell for that but I have tried breathing exercises, therapy, SSRIs, CBD, meditation. But when an anxiety attack hits me, only Xanax and 10 to 15 mins by myself is all that works.
45. My wife’s heartbeat. There’s lots of little things that can help, but hearing that works the best.
46. Cleaning and organizing things/rooms.
47. Small, manageable goals. If I’m having a panic attack, I just have to accept that it’s happening and focus on breathing. It will always pass. If it’s looping thoughts or rising anxiety, I try to focus on factual positives. Things are rarely ever as bad as my brain would have be believe.
48. My big, 72-pound, rescue dog. It’s like he just knows when I’m having a hard time and will come lay with me…
49. Meditation and deep breathing. It sounds cliche, I know, but trust me it works. Learn it.
50. I know a lot of times when I’m feeling super anxious about something my brain just flips the “everything is terrible and going wrong and nothing is right” switch, and it’s just a downward spiral. Learning to just let myself feel every emotion, even if I know it’s just the anxiety talking has helped me work through the attacks. Validate yourself and your feeling, let yourself feel whatever your brain is throwing at you, and then when you’re calmer you can sort through the emotions. It’s helped me a lot.