Everybody experiences anxiety during sometime in their lives, some people more often than others. It is important to understand what anxiety is and how anxiety may differ from other emotions, such as nervousness.
The causes, symptoms, and impact of anxiety are many, and as you’re reading more about what exactly it is, you may find some of these traits familiar to your own life. If you do find that some of what you read resonates with you, I have also included below twelve unusual ways to reduce anxiety within your everyday life.
It is normal for anyone to feel anxious from time to time. The American Psychology Association describes anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”
Other symptomsof anxiety may include sweating, trembling, having trouble sleeping, persistent worry, and even gastrointestinal problems. Many people experience anxious thoughts related to their major life responsibilities, but anxiety may also arise from other issues.
Here is an example may be familiar to many people: Have you ever left your house to go about your everyday life, only to be pestered by the persistent thought that you may have left your curling iron plugged in or your stove on? You may feel your stomach churn, your palms sweat, and your mind racing as you try to remember whether or not you took take of these tasks before you left the house.
The thought may pester you all day and your feelings of anxious may not subside until you can get home and assure yourself that you have, indeed, unplugged your curling iron or turned off the stove top. Again, feelings of anxiousness—like the ones that may arise from a situation like the one I just mentioned—are perfectly normal for most people.
Feelings of Anxiety or An Anxiety Disorder?
However, when feelings of anxiety significantly impact one’s major life activities, it can become a disorder for some people. ULifeline differentiates feelings of anxiousness from an anxiety disorder in a number of ways, including types of stressors the cause your anxiety or anxiousness, the intensity and length of these feelings, other relevant symptoms that arise, as well as the resultant impairment to your major life activities.
While normal feelings of anxiety may arise from normal stressors such as an upcoming exam, conflict with a friend or family member, or an unexpected expense, people with anxiety disorders may not be able to pin down a single source of their stress while seemingly ordinary tasks or obstacles may cause disproportionate amount of anxiety.
Again, feelings of anxiousness become an anxiety disorder when these feelings begin to disrupt other areas of people’s lives in a significant way. If you think you are feeling overwhelmed by your feelings of anxiety, it may be best to consult a medical professional or a licensed therapist.
Whether or not you have an anxiety disorder, everybody experiences feelings of anxiousness, nervousness, and stress from time to time. In a study by the American Institute of Stress, 48% of participants reported that stress has had a negative impact on their personal and professional life.
The same study found that 77% of participants regularly experienced physical symptoms caused by stress while 74% regularly experienced psychological symptoms caused by stress. Stress is clearly prevalent among Americans; and its symptoms can be devastating if not managed.
Anxiety and prolonged stress also impact everybody differently and, throughout our lifetime, we may learn to manage anxiety in a variety of ways. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to reducing anxiety that will work for everybody.
The ways you choose to manage stress can depend on a lot of different factors: your family structure, how you were raised, your access to money and other resources, such as health care, your faith, and even your cultural upbringing.
Not surprisingly, you may reflect on your life now and remember dealing with stress differently when you were younger than you do now. As we mature as human beings, we adopt and adapt our stress management toolbox.
However comfortable you may or may not feeling managing your anxiety, it never hurts to try new techniques and see what does or does not work for you and your individual situation.
Here are 15 Unusual Ways to Reduce Anxiety
Many people bottle up their feelings, leaving so much of our emotions and thoughts swirling in our head like a wild hurricane. In this state, our stress can feel untamable. Journaling is often suggested as a stress management technique for many reasons.
When we write down our thoughts and feelings, it can help us get to the root of what’s bothering us. If nothing else, journaling allows us to externalize and organize our racing thoughts in a healthy way. In this way, it can help bring self-awareness to our anxiety.
There are several ways to start journaling, and you can modify your practice to your needs. One easy way to start journaling is to begin a daily practice of expressing gratitude. This practice can be as simple as making a list of the things in your life that you’re grateful for. You can use a
There are a plethora of resources that you can find that contains journaling prompts if you need help getting started. You can find them on platforms like Pinterest, as well as within books. You can physically write in a notebook, start a blog you keep private or do something as simple as type up your thoughts on a word processor on your computer or cell phone. This is a great anxiety management technique you can bring with you anywhere.
2. Try That DIY Project You’ve Always Wanted To Do
Creative expression is important for many people. Creating with their hands helps a lot of people manage their stress while also expressing their feelings and emotions in a healthy way. Finding ways to be creative can also be deeply rewarding.
Do you have a DIY or craft project that’s been collecting dust or sitting at the bottom of your to-do list? Maybe it’s a paint by numbers kit or knitting a new scarf for your friend or family member’s upcoming birthday.
This project can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be, but the mere act of redirecting your attention into working with your hands on a physical object can be helpful to managing your nervous thoughts and energy.
3. Go for a Hike
Have you ever heard of a forest bath? A hike in nature is soothing for many people, and it may be an effective way to let off a little steam if you’re feeling anxious. When you’re in nature, surrounded by trees, plants, animals, and fresh air, you may find it easier to let go of your daily stresses and anxiety.
While hiking, focus on using your senses to take in the world around you. What do you see and hear? What do you feel under your feet? What do the plants and trees around you feel like when you run your fingers over them? What can you smell?
Many people find peace when they are immersed in nature where their stress and anxiety can remain far away. Hiking is also great because the intensity of this activity can be adjusted for anybody. Last but not least, not only can hiking relieve stress, but it’s also great exercise.
4. Listen to Music from Your High School Years
Another unusual way you can manage your anxiety is by listening to music from your high school years. What songs instantly bring back memories from your teenage years? Many people have important memories deeply connected with music.
It can sometimes feel good to entertain our nostalgia by rewinding some of the greatest hits from our days in high school. It may help remove us from the present, where we’re in the trenches of our stress, for a short time while we take a sweet stroll down memory lane with our younger selves.
5. Cross Out Those Errands and Chores on Your To-Do List
Another way to get your mind off your anxiety is to complete tasks like errands and chores. Being able to cross off a few errands and chores off your to-do list can help you feel productive and build your self-confidence if you’re feeling mired in your anxiety.
If there are tasks on your to-do list that are related to your anxiety, there’s no better way to tackle it than just getting to the root of the issue! No doubt, it may be more enjoyable and helpful if you ask a friend or loved one to support you in completing your errands and chores.
6. Commit to NOT Being Productive for the Day
On the other hand, if your errands and chores seem too overwhelmingly when you’re feeling anxious, it may actually help to commit to NOT doing anything productive for a whole day. It can feel extremely freeing to not fill your day up with commitments. Instead, simply let yourself do what your body and mind needs the most, whether that’s sleeping up and waking up late, leaving your laundry and dishes for another day, or going for a walk midday for as long as you want. Spend a day unhurried and free of obligations.
Technology is everywhere nowadays. We are constantly surrounded by screens and beeping machines, and the stimulation and the need to perpetually be connected to our phones and computers can easily overwhelm many of us. Instead of endlessly scrolling and amplifying our anxiety with what’s going on in the news or comparing ourselves to our friends and their latest fad diet, turn your phone off, put away your laptop, and just take a day off from technology.
This may sound incredibly difficult for those who may be trying it for the first time, but the break may remove you from unwanted stimulation and allow space and time in your day to focus on doing what you really want. Swear off technology for a day and notice how it impacts your anxiety. It may even help for you to try this out with a friend who can reassure you and keep you accountable.
8. Listen to Binaural Beats
Binaural beats is a type of soundwave therapy that is similar to meditation. Two tones of different frequencies are played in each ear. Binaural beats are sold worldwide but can also be found free across the internet.
There is research to suggest that the benefits of this type of soundwave therapy may include increased confidence, improved psychomotor performance, mood, increase focus and concentration, in addition to lower levels of stress and anxiety.
9. Talk to A Plant
This may sound like another unusual way to reduce anxiety, but talking to a plant has a few benefits. Just like how talking to a friend can help you work through your thoughts and feelings, talking a plant may help in the same way, but one of the benefits here is that talking to plants avoids judgment from other people.
If you can’t get a hold of a friend or a therapist right away, it can help to first talk through and externally process what you’re feeling to an inanimate object, like a plant, just to let off steam without feeling self-conscious about how others may respond.
10. Look Up
Take a look at some images on Hubble’s website or do a search engine and look for pictures of our universe, or better still, get out someplace away from the city and look up at the night sky. That vast and majestic canopy bejeweled by a radiant network of countless stars may just lift you out of yourself. As you gaze up consider the nearest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri, is around 4.2 light-years away.
Light hurtles through space at a colossal 300,000 km per second, fast enough to circumnavigate the earth 7 times in 1 second, and yet, even at this incomprehensible speed, our nearest neighbor is over 4 years away. The most distant star visible from Earth, a star in the constellation of Cassiopeia, is 16,308 light-years away. Even this is just the beginning of what is out there. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by this problem and that problem and beset by anxiety, remember how vast the universe is. It may just make you see things a little differently.
It’s natural that many of us simply have a habit of worrying or feeling anxious about certain things. One way you can reduce anxiety is to try and schedule “worry time” into your day. For example, you can set your “worry time” to 3 PM to 3:30 PM each day, and during this time frame, you allow yourself to acknowledge your anxious thoughts and feelings.
The important part here is to be strict with keeping your “worry time” to the time you allot yourself. You can be gentle with yourself here, but the idea behind setting a “worry time” into your day is that the rest of your free time remains dedicated to remaining focused on your daily life activity.
12. Go to the Movies
Even if it’s by yourself, a good movie can you lift you right out of a bad mood. A good film can inspire you with courage and give you the power to come back fighting another day. That said, even a not so good film will break up your routine just by virtue of the fact you’ve got out and gone someplace else. Simply breaking your routine may go a long way in helping you deal with anxiety. Go and see a movie and see if it helps.
While you may think that coloring books are the sole domain of children, a trend in recent times has seen adults taking up the pastime. Adults who participate find that they are less anxious and, in many cases, able to sleep better. Some have suggested it is down to the fact that immersing yourself in a coloring book subconsciously takes you back to the more simple days of when you were a child. The truth is it could be for a whole host of reasons. Whatever the case, coloring for adults has proven to be a very real way of reducing anxiety for many adults.
14. Cuddle With Your Pet
Our furry companions love us unconditionally, and their presence in our lives is invaluable. Sometimes more than anyone else, they can listen to us and provide a comfort without saying a word. If you are a pet owner, you know there is sometimes nothing better than just a quick cuddle to soothe our biggest, deepest worries.
15. Stick Your Hands in Ice Cold Water (For As Long As You Can)
Focusing our mind on the physical senses can displace our attention from our anxiety to the present moment. Another unusual way to reduce anxiety is to stick your hands in ice cold water and keep them there for as long as possible. The shock to your body can momentarily ground us and interrupt repetitive, anxious thoughts.
These 15 unusual ways to manage anxiety may not all work for you, but they’re all worth trying at least once. Many of these practices are accessible during anytime of day, and many of them are right in your own home!
Again, coping with anxiety will look different for everybody and there’s no single solution that will work across the board. Last but not least, remember: you never have to try and work through your anxiety alone. Reaching out to a friend, loved one, or a medical professional can be extremely helpful if you need that extra bit of support.