Whether you’ve been diagnosed or not, anxiety and stress can be a daily challenge for some people. As someone who has experienced anxiety her whole life, I now know the drill for handling it. I’ve read a lot of articles and tips for reducing it, but most tips are for the long term. Therefore, I thought it necessary to create a list of tried and true anxiety relief methods that work to make me feel better instantly.
- Deep Breaths
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If you’ve ever sought relief for anxiety, you’ve probably seen or heard this. However, if it doesn’t make you feel better, there’s a good chance you’re not doing it in the most productive way. Close your eyes, if you can, and inhale for five counts, hold for five counts, exhale for five counts and hold for five counts. Do this as many times as you can, and you will feel relief. There are days where I’ve had to do this several times, and sometimes even while I’m in class. It’s the quickest way I’ve found to feel the stress go away.
- Make a “Best Ever” playlist
Whenever I’m stressed or sad, or just not in a good mood, I turn on a playlist I made with all of my favorite songs. I try to avoid current favorite songs because sometimes those can become old or too associated with events in my life. I highly recommend making one of these. The kinds of songs I put on the playlist are ones that make me feel good whenever I hear them, ever since I was a kid. For example, mine includes “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles and “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It totally can be lame, just remember that it’s for you and no one else.
- Pet a cat
Even if you’re not a cat person, hear me out: cats are known for their ability to lower people’s blood pressure when they pet them. While this might seem like some kind of evil cat magic, it actually works in relieving anxiety! If you don’t have a cat, think about volunteering at a local shelter. It will make you and some sweet kitties feel better!
- Watch something funny
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Whenever anxiety is making me feel really bad, I often look for something to make me laugh. One of my favorite methods is sketch comedy. If I haven’t seen it yet then I’ll watch the latest episode of Saturday Night Live, but if I have, I really love Bath Boys Comedy on YouTube. Taking the time to watch a silly video, even if you’ve seen it before, can make you feel worlds better.
It can be really difficult to get motivated to exercise when you’re feeling anxious, but if you can force yourself to do it, it really will help. It’s hard to feel the anxiety when you’re filled with endorphins. I especially recommend yoga for anxiety relief because it forces you to focus on your breathing and relax.
- Drink something warm
I’ve found holding something warm in my hands to be a good way to relieve anxiety. If the caffeine doesn’t make it worse, I suggest coffee, but tea is an equally great option. If you can, ask a friend over or go out to a coffee shop, as doing this with someone can be a reassuring distraction.
- Think about feelings vs. thoughts
Being able to recognize the difference between feelings (accelerated heart rate, pressure in chest) and thoughts (“I’m not looking forward to this or that”) can be really beneficial. Realizing you can control your thoughts will enable you to control the resulting physical feelings your anxiety might cause you.
- See a therapist/counselor
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This has been the most helpful solution I’ve found to reducing anxiety. While some people think seeing a therapist or counselor isn’t cool or makes you seem crazy, just know that it doesn't. Taking care of your self isn’t something to be ashamed of. Being able to talk about anything and everything to someone who isn’t there to judge you and can offer solutions is really awesome. Every university should have psychiatric help, sometimes in the form of free sessions, so there are affordable options for you.
These are a few practical solutions I’ve found to help reduce my anxiety, but something else might work better for you. If so, do that! You know yourself best, but hopefully this list can help you feel even a bit better.
The author is not a licensed therapist. This is personal opinion.