Your heart is pounding. Your mind is racing. A weight rests on your chest making it difficult to breathe. You’re too restless to sit but you don’t have the energy to stand. You wish you could just calm down, but you don’t know how. You don’t know what caused this anxious feeling. And you don’t know how to get rid of it.
If there was a switch you could just turn off, you would. If there was something you could avoid or something you could do to keep yourself from feeling this way, you would do it. You’re going through all the day’s moments. Did I take my medicine? Yes…maybe…? Did I eat too much sugar? Was it that extra cup of coffee this morning? Do I need to eat something now? Am I just tired? You’re trying to find the cause so you can fix it – so you can stop feeling so anxious.
But sometimes, there isn’t a rhyme or reason as to why you’re anxious – at least not one that ever makes itself clear. Sometimes you’re just anxious. And the only thing you can focus on is surviving that moment. The only thing you want to do in that moment is flee from that impending sense of doom, that fear that’s plaguing you, that dread that’s calling your name.
I’ve been there, in those moments. Maybe not as many times as you. Maybe not as bad as you have it. But I have felt it. I have felt the anxiety that I can’t verbalize or explain. I have fled to the bathroom to have a panic attack. I have cried in public. I have felt my heart racing and my palms sweating and not known why or what to do about it. And when I’m in those moments, all I’m looking for is help. All I’m looking for is a way out of that anxiety trap. All I’m looking for is a way to survive the moment and calm myself down.
I’ve found that there are a few things I can do when I’m feeling this way to calm myself down. I like to think of them as my “reset” buttons. You know how sometimes your phone or computer just needs a good reset – just needs to turn off, dump all its energy, and start fresh again? Sometimes my mind and body just need a good reset too. And these 7 things act as my body’s reset buttons, to turn off the racing thoughts, dump all my energy, and just let me start fresh again.
Here are 7 things I do (and you can too!) when feeling anxious:
Step outside for some fresh air
We often overlook and underestimate the power of the small things in life. We think that just focusing on our breathing won’t help us calm down. We think that a little sunshine won’t make us happy. Yet, our environment has been filled with healing, natural aids for our mind and body. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, step outside for some fresh air. Sit and listen to the sounds of nature – a bird singing, the leaves rustling. Just focus on breathing – in and out, deep soothing breaths. Let your problems and your feelings melt away.
Go for a walk
Walking is my #1 go-to form of therapy. Whenever I feel stuck, anxious, overwhelmed, or sad, I go for a walk. Something about the movement and the blood flowing through my body helps to clear my mind. It relaxes me. It helps me calm down. It helps me realize that maybe my problems aren’t so big. Next time you’re feeling anxious, take a walk outside. Get some fresh air and clear your head.
Take a warm bath or shower
I often get anxious a lot late at night. There’s something that just won’t let me calm down – whether that’s stress from work or thinking about all I need to get done the next day. Sometimes I feel so jittery that I can’t stand to watch TV. I feel full of nervous energy and I can’t seem to shut my mind off. This is usually when I go take a warm bath or shower – not because I need one, but just because I want one. There’s something about the warm water hitting my skin, something about undressing and re-dressing, something about getting fresh and clean that makes me feel calm again. It’s like I’ve taken a few moments to show myself some love, some self-care, and that makes all the difference.
Put on comfortable clothes
I’m a comfort over style kind of girl. I would wear pajamas 24/7 if it were socially acceptable to go to the grocery store in teacup pajama pants and a t-shirt that reads, “First I drink the coffee, then I do the things”. So its important when I’m feeling off that I’m wearing clothes that are comfortable. I don’t need any outside factors irritating my anxiety. So whenever I feel like I’m going to have one of those days, I make sure to wear my comfiest clothes possible. And if I’m at home, I quickly dive into my favorite pair of sweat pants or pajamas. It may seem silly but its my way of communicating love to myself. Think about when you have a cold…do you walk around in a business suit or your sweats? Its the same with anxiety. Recognize that your body needs a little extra tender loving care.
Essential Oils are kind of like my dirty little secret. You can use them in so many ways – in the shower or bath, in a diffuser, or even apply them topically with some lotion. I’m not sure if I’m 100% a believer that they do something, but they do make me feel better. So even if its all in my head, I’m ok with that! My go-to oils when I am feeling anxious are Clary Sage ( I just sprinkle a few drops in my shower or bath for a pleasing aroma) as well as Bergamot, Lavender, and Ylang Ylang (I mix 1 drop of each with some lotion and apply it to my wrists and behind my ears).
Write out your thoughts
I’ve never been a serious journal-er. Probably because I am too self-critical – even of my own private thoughts. But I find that when I am anxious or stressed, sometimes I just need to do a brain dump. I love that term – brain dump. When I think about journaling, I feel like I need to write something profound or poetic. When I’m doing a brain dump, I’m allowing myself to just dump all the thoughts, fears, worries out of my brain and put them on paper. Sometimes I throw that paper away afterwards. Sometimes it becomes a to-do list. The point is that I’ve dumped all the energy swirling around in my mind and recorded it somewhere. My brain doesn’t have to think about it anymore. My brain doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. Your brain is already processing so much, give yourself a break and write out what’s on your mind just to get it out of your head. You’ll feel more relaxed afterward.
Do something calm and creative – coloring, baking, playing piano
Most of us don’t realize or we forget that our brains are constantly changing, forming new pathways. How we use our mind changes the wiring in our brain. So if you’re constantly feeling anxious or engaging in stressful activities, your brain is being re-wired to be stressed and anxious. But the opposite is also true. Engaging in relaxing or creative activities helps re-wire the brain for calm. Next time you are feeling anxious, try engaging in a calm, creative activity like gardening, painting, creating music, cooking, etc.
Next time you’re feeling anxious, try hitting the reset button on your mind and body by engaging in one of the 7 activities above. Test out all seven and see which one helps you relax and calm down the most. Just knowing that there is something you can do to help you relax when you’re anxious will help you feel empowered in the moment, rather than stressed.
What’s your reset button or go-to coping mechanism when you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or exhausted? Tell us in the comments below!