15 Quick Anxiety-Busting Tips You Need To Hear
Let's do this.
Anxiety sucks balls. Not any of the nice balls you're currently thinking of – candy gobstoppers, Malteasers, cheese puffs, Tommy from Tinder's family jewels... No. The kind of vile balls that even the most far-out devil in hell wouldn't tickle with his ten-inch forked tongue.
Anxiety can represent a whole spectrum of nuanced feelings and intensities, from being easily fatigued to having full-blown panic attacks that, like a respawning video-game enemy, seemingly materialize from nowhere. Although they will never replace a good therapist, there are tons of simple calming strategies that anybody suffering with anxiety can make use of everyday. We've rounded up 15 quick anxiety-busting techniques to help you lead a happier, healthier life.
Take a breather
If you suffer from social anxiety, or any form of anxiety to be honest, you may end up feeling overwhelmed in even the most objectively chill scenarios. If you've got that hot, bubbling-up feeling or you suddenly feel like you just can't function, give yourself permission to go take a breather – wherever you are. It doesn't make you look weird or rude, it just means you're looking out for your own well-being. Own that shit.
Look at your anxiety like that erratic monkey toy, smashing its symbols together on top of your brain. In the same way the real-life toy would stop running if you didn't wind it up, distracting yourself from the anxiety when you feel it setting in really helps. A really effective way to do this is listing random full names – like, I dunno, Dixie Normous. Regular names work a treat too. Another way to distract yourself is simply becoming more conscious of your environment, making observations like, “that car is blue,” “that dog is a bichon frise.” You could even take it as far as playing a game of I Spy with yourself.
Deep breathing is very underrated. It can be the difference between feeling like you've been thrown overboard in a stormy ocean and kicking back on a lilo in a calm tropical bay. Sit with your eyes closed and focus on your breath, letting it go naturally with no attempt to control it. Be aware of the sensation of breathing and place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
Take a deep breath on the count of four, hold your breath for three and then exhale on the count of four. Notice that the hand on your belly should go in as you inhale and out as you exhale. Keep focusing on your breath and forget everything else; resist the temptation to pick up those anxious thoughts again. Repeat as many times as necessary until your mind settles on your breath and you'll soon start feeling more relaxed.
Breathe to nursery rhymes
If the deep breathing just isn't working for you, here's a slightly wild tip: breathe to the sound of your favorite nursery rhyme. It combines the breath control with the distraction factor to help you shake off the feeling.
Don't be a fighter
When you try to fight anxious feelings, you're attacking yourself. Asking yourself, “why the fuck am I like this?”, “why am I struggling to do simple things” and any other self-doubting question will only deepen your anxiety. Instead, acknowledge your anxious feelings and know that it's okay to be feeling this way; it's not your fault!
Break out the logic
Stepping outside of your cluttered brain for a moment and coming up with logical arguments against your fears is a great way to calm the anxiety. It's easy to get carried away with your worries but if you take back the conscious control and dissect them, the ideas which once seemed so concrete begin to turn to slop.
Eliminate coffee or soda
Did you ever stop to think that your coffee, soda or tea addiction might be accelerating your anxiety? Drastic peaks and troughs of caffeine and sugar can really throw you off balance and add fuel to the anxiety fire. Same goes for the weed and cigs, unfortunately (for some people anyway). Try a week without it and see if you feel any better.
Put it on paper
You know how soothing it feels when you finally get round to organizing your extensive Downloads folder? Actually putting your anxieties somewhere instead of leaving them floating around your head willy-nilly is a real game-changer. Write them on a sheet of paper, in the notes on your phone, wherever – if you can categorize them, even better. Not only will your head feel a little less full, but you'll be able to come back to the list later to a) work out how to actively resolve the issues or b) realize that there was actually no reason to worry about that thing that was driving you crazy last week.
Shelf it for later
Is worrying about whether or not you're going to be consumed by a void of doom going to help you when you're halfway through a meeting? Probably not. Shelf that anxiety and pick it up at a set time, if need be. By the time you get there, you'll probably realize it wasn't worth the worry anyway.
Use the good ol' underwear trick
There's a reason imagining people in their underwear is such a classic: because it really does work. You're gonna feel much more on top of the situation when you think about the gruesome Y-fronts lurking beneath. You can also make your own version; for example, imagining that everyone's wearing a ridiculous helicopter hat, or that they're all just robots in a gigantic simulation.
Be a rebel
Is your anxiety telling you you shouldn't go out? Go out anyway. Is it trying to convince you you'll mess up that presentation? Prove it wrong. Just as it's fun to rebel against your parents, rebelling against your anxieties puts you back in control. Challenge yourself to do all the things it's telling you not to and you'll realize just how strong and independent you really are.
Realize nobody cares
Not that nobody cares about you, but you know all those times you feel like random people might be talking about you or judging you? In actual fact they probably aren't. They've got their own shit to deal with, inside their own heads. Who knows, they might be worrying you're judging them. Slow down and take a reality check and you won't worry so much next time.
Counter the worst-case scenario
Always thinking of the worst-case scenario? While you're at it, think of the best-case scenario too. Putting your overactive imagination to work in a positive way will make it much easier to stay neutral, if not help you change your mind altogether.
Turn it into excitement
In the same way that BDSM blurs the boundary between pleasure and pain, there's often a fine line between anxiety and excitement. You'll know this all too well if you absolutely love parties but find yourself feeling unaccountably nervous before you leave. Instead of worrying about fucking up that job interview, think instead how excited you are to have a shot at the job. Instead of feeling anxious about going on a first date, get excited about how much fun or amazing sex you might have, and so on.
Realize you're not dying
Panic attacks don't kill people, even if they make you feel like you're having a heart attack. If you can, remind yourself during the panic attack that you're not going to die or be harmed after. It should stop the attack from getting worse than it already is.
Next up, this app might help you beat your anxiety.