Statistically speaking, I can almost guarantee that you either are, or have in the last 24-hours been, a little stressed out. Maybe it’s your job, an assignment, the time of year, or maybe Jupiter’s in retrograde. Whatever the reason, you clicked on this headline, and Heaven knows that not one day of the year goes by that my mother doesn’t send me a link to an article like this or I don’t go seeking one out because I’m about to start screaming into the void.
So, if you’re a worry-wart like me (which I think we’ve determined you are), here are five easy little things you can do to start feeling some much-needed calm.
Drop the coffee
I’m a dedicated, to the point of self-destruction, coffee-consumer. While I do practically live for the panicked rush of sitting at my desk and feeling my own heart race out of my chest until I think I might see the face of God, there’s no denying that that kind of caffeine intake is a huge contributor to feelings of anxiousness. Although there is substantial research to indicate caffeine consumption in excess is actually linked to a variety of health benefits (hyperlink), a calm and peaceful demeanor is not one of them. If you’re on the verge of screaming internally, put the cup down.
Put everything into perspective
I think one of my most stressful memories from growing up was the process of driving into my high school’s parking lot. The entrance was very poorly designed, which meant that no matter what time one arrived, there was bound to be a substantial amount of traffic getting to school. I was constantly terrified of being late—which I often was. Finally, one morning, sitting helpless and frantic in my car, the actual weight of the whole situation dawned on me: that there was no weight. So what if I was five minutes late? Who was going to die because I walked into class after the morning announcements? Where was the gravity of the situation? Was worrying about something entirely out of my control going to accomplish anything at all? Just asking these questions gave me the necessary reality check to help me understand that my problem wasn’t worth the worry and give me the calm that I needed.
Sometimes, when all I want is to scream (being nervous makes me feel like I want to scream—could you tell?) the most healing thing I can do is go for a walk or a run or something that involves me expending energy or exerting myself. Even a momentary change of scenery and pace help me to shake off all the nervous energy I’ve built up as well as escape the probable epicenter of my worry-fest. “Blowing off a little steam” really does do wonders.
Give it a voice
I tend to make mountains out of molehills—or rather, anthills, as the case may be. My best mode of defense against mentally spiraling out of control over something entirely miniscule is to pull someone aside that I trust and proceed to confide my worry or fear. Describing the problem out loud often serves to show me either A) my problem is, in fact, not a problem at all and of my own imagining or B) my problem is very easily fixable.
Find something that makes you happy
I find that, often enough, the best way for me to avoid being anxious is to cut the whole sensation “off at the pass,” so to speak. That meaning, I sprinkle little moments of peace and gifts to myself into my day, which keep that panicky feeling far, far at bay. For instance, I start my day with a calming playlist; I block out time to plan my days by the hour, giving me peace of mind; I take a little time for a nap or reading a book or taking a cup of tea and a cookie or just being in a space that I find comfortable and “zen.” The best defense is a good offense: find the thing that you do for/give yourself when you know you’re overwhelmed and do/give some version of that thing every day.