4 Unconventional Ways to Combat Anxiety

Whether anxiety is something you struggle with on a daily basis, or if you just suffer from it occasionally, it’s a feeling all of us can relate to. With exam season peering its head around the corner and deadlines fast approaching, it can get harder and harder to think of ways to de-stress.

What happens when you’ve tried everything you can think of? We are all individual people with individual needs. What works well for someone else might not work as well for you. It can be worth trying out a few new things to figure out what quietens your anxiety. These suggestions aren’t perhaps the most obvious, but you never know what will work!

Find comforting sounds

When I’m feeling anxious, I definitely find that some sounds are too jarring. The sound of drums coming from my downstairs neighbour, for example, sets my teeth on edge. However, replacing these sounds with ones that I choose does a world of good. I personally find the sound of people talking relaxing, so radio shows or podcasts work really well for me. There are also playlists on Spotify for relaxation that range from rain sounds to piano music. Earphones that are designed to be noise-cancelling are also a great idea – they are perfect for drowning out the lively chatter of the library in the afternoon. This would probably also be great for people who have trouble sleeping; by focusing your attention on what you’re listening to, you can stop stressing about how you’re not asleep yet.

Schedule your worrying

Someone suggested this to me once and it’s a piece of advice that has stuck with me since. Treat your worrying like an appointment with the doctor – schedule it in. If you know you’re going to worry about something anyway, try telling yourself that you’ll worry about it in the morning, or on Tuesday evening. By scheduling in an hour or so and using that time to purge yourself of all of those anxieties, you can free up other time during the day to not think about it.

Re-read familiar books

Sometimes we all feel the need to retreat to somewhere, or something, that makes us feel comfortable, easy and relaxed. Whilst actually going home is potentially the best way to get that sense of familiarity, it isn’t always the most practical of options. You can, however, recreate that feeling of homeliness in other ways. One of those ways can be reading books you’ve read a thousand times, or even losing yourself in the dog-eared pages of your favourite children’s books. Not only will it take you back to a simpler time, but focusing in on the fantasy worlds of your childhood can help distract you and keep anxious thoughts at bay.

Carry around reference books

This is an unusual one. Recently I’ve begun carrying a dictionary of etymology (the study of word origins) around with me in my rucksack, taking it out at brief moments when stress hits and I need a distraction. I’ve gone from being mildly intrigued to fascinated. Not only is a dictionary of word origins easier to dip in and out of, when compared to a novel at least, but the definitions are short – meaning you can distract yourself quickly but still be ready to concentrate on something else should it arise.

Obviously carrying around a massive dictionary might not always be practical, but you can get concise, pocket versions of plenty of non-fiction books. You could, for example, have a Spanish dictionary and gradually start to learn some words and phrases by occasionally looking up words. Sometimes anxiety is like having a whiny petulant toddler trailing around after you. By distracting it with something you personally find interesting, you can begin to quieten your mind again. Good luck!