13 Little Life Hacks People With Anxiety Actually Swear ByHave you tried the anxiety scribble?
If you’re someone who lives with anxiety, you probably already know that finding ways to reel in those symptoms can be, well, a journey. That’s because anxiety can show up differently for different people, and what works for one person might not do much for someone else. So, when it comes to how to calm anxiety, it’s helpful to have multiple tools in your toolkit.
First, let’s get one thing straight: There’s a difference between feeling anxious and having an anxiety disorder. Everyone feels anxious at least some of the time, while some people experience a lot of anxiety that’s persistent and debilitating. If you’re in the latter camp, treatments like therapy and medications might help.
And while we’re big fans of seeking professional help for any mental health concern, there’s also something to be said for the tried-and-true tips and tricks that people who live with anxiety use on a regular basis to keep them grounded when they’re spiraling. So, we asked people to tell us the little lifestyle tweaks that help them deal when they’re feeling especially anxious.
Remember: If you’re looking to treat an anxiety disorder, checking in with a licensed mental health professional or your primary health provider is your best bet. But if you’re looking for some simple lifestyle tricks you can try at home the next time you’re feeling anxious? These ideas might be a good place to start.
1. Pout your lips together, then blow air out of your lungs.
“The best thing that has helped me is breathing techniques. Most people will say to take deep breaths, but [for me], a better solution is to pout your lips together as if you were going to whistle. Then blow as much air out of your lungs as you can until you feel like they are totally empty. Then take a deep breath.” —Abi L., 36
2. Try the anxiety scribble.
“[A hack I use to] manage my anxiety symptoms is writing things down. I call it the anxiety scribble. I take a piece of paper and write how I am feeling all over it. I look at each thing I wrote and I scribble them out really hard and rip the paper up. Something about this helps because you are trying to throw your worries and anxiety away. When you're writing everything down, you remind yourself that it will all be OK.” —Carlee N., 26
3. Visualize the scenario that brings you peace.
“My most effective method of managing my anxiety is a [visualization] exercise. I close my eyes and imagine that the worst case scenario unfolds. But I'm watching myself like I'm a separate person, and I let my reactions play out. I keep repeating this exercise until I come to a reaction that makes me feel at peace. This helps me practice controlling my emotions as many times as I need to, since I will not be able to redo the situation in real life.” —Susan L., 35
4. Think of anxiety as a pesky little sister.
“A hack I use to combat anxiety is to bring my mind to the understanding that anxiety is a little sister who tags along with me everywhere I go. She is trying to protect me from things she is afraid of, which is almost everything! When I use this tool, I can actually feel compassion and empathy for what anxiety is trying to do for me.” —Kate R., 66
5. Think of how someone without anxiety would react.
“Something I do to help alleviate my anxious feelings and thoughts is imagine how someone without anxiety would feel or think in a particular situation. For example, if I’m feeling anxious about a work meeting, I think about someone I know who isn’t anxious about work meetings. I think about why they wouldn’t be anxious: Are they confident? Did they listen to upbeat music beforehand? Do they care very little about their job? Etc. Then, I try to embody that and try it out on myself.” —Rachel W., 31
6. Jot down your worries so you can better inspect (and maybe even debunk) them.
“I write down all those thoughts that keep bothering me or clouding my mind. From there, I check if there is any action that can help with any of those thoughts. It can be your checklist about self-improvement or a relationship that needs work. As long as you have a list in hand that you can work on, it can give you some peace of mind. Making things tangible or visible like a list of goals has been working for me so far.” —Andreas G., 27
7. Notice each sensation in your body
“The first hack I ever discovered that was truly a game-changer for me was the practice of awareness. Actively focusing [my] attention on the feelings of anxiety [I’m] feeling without trying to make them go away actually has a settling effect on [my] brain. Breathe slowly, notice each sensation in your body, or simply lie down flat on the floor in silence—whatever it takes to focus your attention on what's happening rather than trying to avoid it or mask it.” —Mike T., 33
8. Go for a run (if that’s your thing).
“I manage my anxiety by [running]. I enter the park while visualizing and muttering to myself that this feeling will disappear. I push myself to run surrounded by nature which helps take my mind off of the choke hold of looming death. The endorphins kick in and quickly alleviate the grip of the ‘invisible rope’ and I can inhale. It forces me to live in the precious moment and not the future. My mind and body are in total sync as my higher self kicks in. I am at peace with my being.” —Bonnie F., 77
9. Come back to your breath.
“If I feel an anxiety attack or even a panic attack coming on, I will take a step back and focus on my breathing. I will only focus on my breathing until it is back to normal. This will really help me relax and focus on me and what I am feeling at that moment. Focusing on my breathing really helps me just calm down and relax.” —Madison T., 23
10. Sing it out.
“One of the things which helps me the most is music and singing. When I feel the waves of anxiety rising inside of me, I turn on my favorite ABBA songs (preferably from Mamma Mia) and sing it all out. It brings me joy and peace.” —Anastasia S., 23
11. Maybe rethink your schedule.
“The most effective solution for dealing with anxiety for me personally was waking up early. I am not a morning person, but once I tried this, I was surprised by how good this made me feel. It helped me find peace and calm myself down. Having so much time on hand, I could do small things that made me happy, and I felt a sense of accomplishment just by waking up early. I feel the most anxious during the night, so sleeping early really helped me tackle it to a great extent.” —Tyler R., 42
12. Talk to someone who gets it.
“[A hack I rely on for managing] my anxiety is talking to a trusted friend. I have this one friend who really understands my mental health because he goes through the same thing, so just talking about it with him and expressing how I feel also helps me calm down and validate my feelings.” —Madison T., 23
13. Tune out the noise—literally.
“I'm a 41-year-old wife and mother of two living with anxiety. A moment of silence can be hard to find around my house, which is hard because I deal with my anxiety better when things are quiet and I can drown out the chaos surrounding me. The hack that I use that works well for me is to put on my headphones and play music when there is too much going on. This way, if my kids are bickering, instead of stressing myself out by telling them to stop, I can ignore the noise and focus on what I'm doing. —Alice A., 41
Wondermind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Always consult a qualified health or mental health professional with any questions or concerns about your mental health.