8 Ways to Calm Anxiety (and Keep the Anxiety Monster Away)

3 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

Anxiety can be brutal. From now on, I'm going to refer to anxiety as "the anxiety monster" because when I'm having a high-anxiety day, it feels like I'm being tormented by that pesky monster that hides in the closet when you're a kid. (Weird analogy? Perhaps. But we're going to roll with it.)

I've discussed my own battle on my blog, and I'm planning on writing a follow up post to that in the coming days, but for now I wanted to focus on different methods I use to help calm my ever-present anxiety and keep the anxiety monster at bay.

Image: Pink Sherbert Photography via Flickr

These are not to be taken as medical advice. The list below are simply methods I use to calm my anxiety on days when it's very high, or ways I keep it at bay when I feel it creeping up.

Breathe

I know. It sounds so... simple, but when I'm in the throes of anxiety, even the simplest tasks seem impossible. I'm not talking about the "normal breathing that you have to do to live" kind of breathing. I'm talking about closed eyes, counting down from 10 and focusing on each and every breath.

Nice deep breaths. Many call it mindfulness. I just call it deep breathing. If it doesn't work the first time, I try to do it a couple more times until it does work.

Take a walk

I'm not talking miles here. Just a simple jaunt in the fresh air helps to calm me. 5-10 minutes, and I usually begin to feel better. Obviously, the longer I walk, the better I feel, but usually a quick walk helps quite a bit. Plus, we all know that exercising helps with anxiety.

Color

Most people equate coloring with childhood, but it's becoming increasingly popular with adults. Specifically as a way to combat stress and anxiety.

I've always enjoyed coloring. And I've found it relaxing since I was a child. I loved zoning out with my crayons and colored pencils, and coloring the afternoon away. Even when I used to babysit, I loved rainy days because it meant I could sit and color with the kids.

Now that I'm an adult, I have found coloring to be even more relaxing. And it definitely helps when I'm nervous about something or I can feel the anxiety monster coming to visit.

I haven't purchased a coloring book yet, but I've been doing most of my coloring in an app called Colorfy, which is even better, and far more convenient, because I have a simple coloring book wherever I go. Meaning, if I need to take a five minute breather, I can simply open the app and color to my hearts content. No coloring tools. No mess.

Just my iPhone, the app and my finger.

One of my Colorfy creations

When I do have the time to purchase a coloring book, I'll definitely be buying one of these!

Self-Talk

When my anxiety is really high, I won't lie, I yell at the worrysome thoughts in my head to just shut up. Granted, I can't just randomly yell "SHUT UP" in public, so I use that inner voice to do so. Does that sound crazy? Probably. But I don't care. It helps.

But when I'm in a place where I can just yell at the thoughts in my head, I like to tell myself the following (again, with that inner voice of course).

"This is just your anxiety. You have no reason to be worried. Nothing is going wrong. Everything is fine. You are okay."

Listen to my favorite music

Some people might argue that I should listen to soothing music. But I find that if I listen to my favorite songs, I forget about how anxious I feel. Instead, I usually find myself dancing along or nodding my head to the beat.

Write

A surefire way for me to feel better is to write. Put what I'm feeling down on paper. I ask myself:

  • Why am I feel anxious?
  • What is causing the anxiety?
  • What should I do to fix this and feel better?

Usually, by the time I'm done writing, I've begun to feel more like myself again.

Spend some quality time with my camera

My camera is an extension of me. One of my favorite ways to combat my anxiety is to pack up my camera and take a drive. I never know where I'm going to end up. And I love exploring, even it's just a town ten minutes away. Just being one with Nikon makes me feel a whole lot better.

Plus, driving, blasting some tunes and the fresh air helps a lot. {If you're interested in seeing some of my work, check out my Etsy shop!}

Read a book

Reading has always been an escape for me. And it's one of the best ways for me to calm my anxiety. It allows me to escape to a different world and not worry. Plus, I love reading. I get to around 80 books a year.

Everyone who suffers from anxiety has their own methods for calming themselves. I'd love to know yours! Leave your favorite methods in the comments below.

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Eryn Carter
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