17 Offbeat Ways People Relieve Their Anxiety

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A lively discussion popped up on Reddit when someone posed the question,”What’s your best anxiety relieving technique?” to the site’s “Ask Women” subreddit. Reddit users quickly began submitting the tactics they use to self-soothe, and we loved hearing about the unconventional ways they practice self-care.

We decided to compile some of our favorite out-of-the-box responses to see if any resonate with you, too. Take a look:

1. Coloring books for adults are seriously amazing.”

A close-up of someone coloring. Accompanying text: [Coloring books for adults are seriously amazing.

2. “Audiobooks. [They give] my mind something to focus on instead of the repetitive thoughts I get when I’m anxious.”

Headphones on a book. Accompanying text: [Audiobooks. [They give] my mind something to focus on instead of the repetitive thoughts I get when I'm anxious.]

3. “Knitting. Usually my anxiety is triggered away from home, so I bring a small knitting project with me everywhere I go. I consider it on-the-go self-care.”

A basket of yarn and knitting needles next to the text, [Knitting. Usually my anxiety is triggered away from home, so I bring a small knitting project with me everywhere I go. I consider it on-the-go self-care.]

4. “I clean. Seriously clean.”

Two sponges stacked on top of each other under the text, [I clean. Seriously clean.]

5. “Puzzle games. My mom’s technique!

The text [Puzzle games. My mom's technique!] over a background of colorful puzzle pieces

6. “I take a big fluffy makeup brush and stroke my hand or my face with it. So soothing. I keep a small size one in my purse for emergencies. It helps a lot if I’m out.”

A photo of makeup brushes of various sizes next to the text, [I take a big fluffy makeup brush and stroke my hand or my face with it. So soothing. I keep a small size one in my purse for emergencies. It helps a lot if I'm out.]

7. “If I find that I’m freaking out over something, I have to distract myself. Optional ideas are to try to name all of the U.S. presidents or recite the prime numbers backwards from 100, or to count things like light posts or street signs or the number of vowels in a paragraph.”

A photo of dice and board game pieces next to the text, [If I find that I'm freaking out over something, I have to distract myself. Optional ideas are to try to name all of the U.S. presidents or recite the prime numbers backwards from 100.]

8. “The act of taking my hair down and then braiding it always soothes me. So does someone else braiding or brushing my hair.”

A photo of a pink hair brush on top of a blue hair brush. Accompanying text: [The act of taking my hair down and then braiding it always soothes me. So does someone else braiding or brushing my hair.]

9. “Cooking. I can really lose myself in cooking; it’s great.”

A photo of prepped baking ingredients (flour, butter, egg yolks, sugar, milk, wooden spoon and roller). Accompanying text: [Cooking. I can really lose myself in cooking; it's great.]

10. “Making a cup of tea, adding cream and watching the clouds rise.”

A photo of a teapot and tea cup filled with steaming tea. Accompanying text: [Making a cup of tea, adding cream and watching the clouds rise.]

11. “Making lists. I start with the huge stuff I want to accomplish, then list all the little individual steps I need to take. It gives me a starting point for getting big stuff done, and checking little things off feels so good.”

A spiral notebook on a wooden table with the text, [Making lists. It gives me a starting point for getting big stuff done, and checking little things off feels so good.]

12. “Telling myself a story to get my mind back on track.”

Image of a journal open to a written entry and a pen. Above the image is the text, [Telling myself a story to get my mind back on track.]

13. “Wiggling! When I feel anxiety in my chest [and] it’s really bad, I’ll put on a song and literally dance it out. I pretend that I’m physically pulling the anxiety out of my chest, pull it or shake it out of my fingertips and slam it on the ground. This method has gotten me out of a lot of panic attacks.”

A woman in a white shirt and hat dancing next to the text, [Wiggling! When I feel anxiety in my chest [and] it's really bad, I'll put on a song and literally dance it out. This method has gotten me out of a lot of panic attacks.]

14. “Totally counterintuitive, but [listening to] death metal… I listen to other genres of metal all the time, but don’t really enjoy death metal unless I am anxious.”

A pair of headphones. Accompanying text: [Totally counterintuitive, but [listening to] death metal... I listen to other genres of metal all the time, but don't really enjoy death metal unless I am anxious.]

15. “Building a blanket fort.”

An image of two kids under a blanket fort with pillows. Accompanying text: [Building a blanket fort.]

16. “Playing “Candy Crush” on the toilet (with the music). Seriously.”

An image of two hands holding a smart phone with Candy Crush on the screen. Accompanying text: [Playing 'Candy Crush] on the toilet (with the music). Seriously.]

17. “I sit down and sequentially tap each finger of my right hand to my thumb to a 6/8 beat, and I match my breathing to every time my index finger touches my thumb… And Taylor Swift has dragged me out of more than a few panic attacks.”

A photo of Taylor Swift singing in concern. Accompanying text: [Taylor Swift has dragged me out of more than a few panic attacks.]

Do you have an out of the box technique for relieving anxiety? Tell us about it in the comments.

*Some responses have been shortened and edited.

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13 Things People With Anxiety Are Tired of Hearing, and What You Can Say Instead

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People who live with anxiety often have the pleasure of hearing unsolicited advice and words of wisdom from others. Even when people have the best intentions, this can be somewhat annoying. The Mighty decided to ask people who live with anxiety two things: 1) What’s something you’re tired of hearing? And 2) What’s something you’d like to hear from others?

Here’s what they had to say: 

1. Don’t say: You can’t control what is going to happen, so why are you anxious about it?

Instead, try this: “I understand that you are anxious because you can’t control this situation, but maybe you could try to focus your energy on what you can control.”

Meme that says [I understand that you are anxious because you can't control this situation, but maybe you could try to focus your energy on what you can control.]

2. Don’t say: What do you have to be anxious about?

Instead, try this: “Wow. You’re suffering from anxiety disorder? What exactly is that for you, and what does it mean to be anxious?”

Meme that says [Wow. You're suffering from anxiety disorder? What exactly is that for you, and what does it mean to be anxious?]

3. Don’t say: Get over it.

Instead, try this: “Are you OK?”

Meme that says [are you OK?]

4. Don’t say: It’s all in your head.” 

Instead, try this: “I’m here for you with whatever you need right now.”

Meme that says [I'm here for you with whatever you need right now.]

5. Don’t say: It’s not that big of a deal. Stop worrying too much.” 

Instead, try this: “What can I do to help?”

Meme that says [What can I do to help?"]

6. Don’t say: Don’t worry, things will turn out fine.

Instead, try this: “It will pass. Just keep breathing.”

Meme that says [It will pass. Just keep breathing.]

7. Don’t say: Just trust God. You should have more faith.

Instead, try this: “I’m sorry you are struggling with this.”

Meme that says [I'm sorry you are struggling with this.]

8. Don’t say: You don’t know what will happen so stop freaking out about it.” 

Instead, try this: “It sounds like you’re having a hard time. I’m here if you want to talk, or I’ll just stay with you.”

Meme that says [It sounds like you're having a hard time. I'm here if you want to talk, or I'll just stay with you.]

9. Don’t say: It’s all in your head.”

Instead, try this: “It’s OK to feel this way.”

Meme that says [It's OK to feel this way.]

10. Don’t say: I know, I worry about things too.

Instead, try this: “I don’t know how you feel right now, but I can tell you’re overwhelmed. What can I do for you, or do you need me to do anything?”

Meme that says [I don't know how you feel right now, but I can tell you're overwhelmed. What can I do for you, or do you need me to do anything?]

11. Don’t say: It could be worse.

Instead, try this: “Just don’t give up.”

Meme that says [Just don't give up.]

12. Don’t say: Think happy thoughts.

Instead, try this: “That’s got to be tough.”

Meme that says [That's got to be tough.]

13. Don’t say: Just calm down.

Instead, try this: “What do you need?”

Meme that says [It may have conquered my body, but it shall not have my soul or my mind. Those remain mine.]

What do you like to hear when you’re dealing with anxiety? Let us know in the comment below.  

Related: 31 Secrets of People Who Live With Anxiety 

For more resources on anxiety disorders, or for more information about getting help, visit Mental Health America.



13 Things People With Anxiety Are Tired of Hearing, and What You Can Say Instead
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What I Want Others to Know About Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

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“Just eat the food. All I am asking you is to try it,” my father badgers me as I stare at my food. I’d consumed my noodles, and there was a bowl of strawberries dangerously close to my plate.

I raise an eyebrow, an internal dialogue going on in my head. Part of me (the part I call Eddie) is telling me I will only get sick and gag if I try to eat the strawberries. I will only get sick the moment that strawberry touches my tongue. The other part of me is saying, “Just taste it, you won’t gag.”

Every single time I’m faced with trying a new food, this internal dialogue runs through my head. I’m hypersensitive to the taste and texture of foods. It is paired with my eating disorder known as selective eating disorder, also known as avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. The short version is ARFID. Those who have ARFID can’t just “try new food.” A dialogue, similar to the one I described above, might play through their heads. Imagine going to a restaurant with a five-page menu and finding none of your safe foods. Safe foods are foods people with ARFID feel comfortable with eating because they are familiar with them.

The exact cause of ARFID is unknown. Some believe it is born out of a fear of choking or vomiting. For me, I believe it came from my birth circumstances. Before I was adopted out of Russia at a very young age, the baby food given to me wasn’t good. My parents told me that I was pasty and in general not healthy-looking.

ARFID has only officially been recognized as an eating disorder recently (the DSM-5 addition). It’s not simply “being a really picky eater.” I’m well aware of starving children and am not trying to be “selfish” with my eating choices, so please don’t try to guilt or shame me into eating. I’ll sit there at the dinner table for hours just staring at the food. I’m hungry, but my eating disorder has so much control over me that I simply can’t eat. Picky eaters typically outgrow their picky habits by the time they’re in their twenties. For someone with ARFID, this problem might persist beyond that age range.

From my own experience on social media with groups dedicated to selective eating disorder and ARFID, some people report hypnotherapy works wonders. Some psychologists and psychiatrists also treat this more like an extreme phobia to try to help their patients. It’s possible to get help, but it requires a lot of hard work from the person with ARFID.

I hope people understand that selective eating disorder/ARFID is not just someone being picky. It is a legitimate eating disorder that’s only now getting the attention it deserves from both the media and scientific communities. I also hope someone reading this has a light bulb go off in their head and realizes they, too, are not alone in their eating disorder.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder and needs help, visit NEDA.org.

Want to end the stigma around mental illness? Like us on Facebook.

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These Temporary Tats Offer People Little Reminders During Their Darkest Moments

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One woman created a unique way of reminding herself and others of what’s important during life’s dark moments.

Janelle Silver, from Australind, Australia, runs an Esty shop called Heart and Hands. Silver, who lives with depression, found that temporary tattoos were a helpful way to give herself positive reminders when she’s feeling down.

The idea came to me as I was putting plans in place for my own self-care,” Silver writes on her Etsy page. “I am a visual person. I am always writing things on my mirror or sticking notes on the walls. I’ve found that when I’m in a dark place with depression, having a challenging moment or day, am stressed, etc., a little visual reminder of what’s important can work wonders in bringing me back to centre and helping me to keep going.”

 

The temporary tattoos are hand-drawn and say things like, “Breathe,” “You are loved,” “Be kind to yourself,” “It will pass” and “No feeling is final.” They’re available for sale on Silver’s Etsy page.

bag of tattoos

Whenever I start to feel myself hitting a low or I’m anxious, I pick the reminders I need or want and then they’re there if and when I need them,” Silver told The Huffington Post.

Check out some of the photos from Silver’s Instagram below:

temporary tattoo of a heart

tattoo that says breathe

tattoo of a band aid

Due to recent publicity, Silver is currently sold out of stock, but the tattoos are available “made to order.” For more information, check out her Esty page here.

h/t HuffPost UK

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What You Should Know Before You Judge My Son’s Mental Illness

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About a year ago, as we were in the throes of begging a Dallas psychiatric hospital to treat our 15-year-old son, a family member made some interesting comments. In a conversation that took place on Facebook, I was accused of spoiling my child, not parenting properly and, in my attempt to obtain treatment, relying on the government to take care of a responsibility that was ultimately my own. The words were harsh, judgmental and they stung. My feelings were deeply hurt.

I engaged in the conversation to defend myself and help my family member understand the entire situation. Unfortunately, I was met with more judgment and even greater hostility. In an attempt to salvage our now deeply fractured relationship, I left the conversation.

A year has passed since that hurtful event took place, and I’ve sincerely tried to move forward in a spirit of love and grace. I believe my family member simply doesn’t understand.

But a whole year later, I woke up to another upsetting comment from my relative. Although this time the words weren’t targeted directly at me, they were just as harsh and judgmental. The hostile nature of the post and the similarities to last year’s dialogue stirred some deep emotions within me.

As I’ve been licking my wounds and processing the situation, a revelation came to me: My relative’s lack of understanding, lack of empathy, lack of compassion and false perception of my family’s situation represents the way most of our nation views mental illness.

I am blessed to be surrounded by a community of people who are supportive, empathetic and who have stepped up and stepped in to walk this horrific journey with my family. As a result, I live in a bubble. I’m protected and therefore sheltered from the harsh critics in our society.

But the harsh critics exist, even in our own families.

Through my tears and in my attempt to understand my relative’s point of view, I found myself filled with a greater desire to bring awareness, provide more education and move our society forward. I’m actually thankful my family member attacked. His words served as a great reminder: People do not understand.

And how can they?

For all of history, society has done everything in its power to sweep the issue of mental illness under the rug. No one wants to be associated with mental illness. No one wants to admit mental illness exists. Certainly no one wants to have a mental illness in their family. No one wants to be mentally ill. Nobody wants to be “crazy.”

But I refuse to walk in shame.

1908102_717154238339939_2500991313459246364_n

Before you judge my son and our journey of treatment, know this: 

My son has a physical illness that affects his brain. He has severe bipolar disorder, which can be extremely difficult to treat. This illness is as real as another person’s heart disease, diabetes or cancer. This illness is not a result of bad parenting, too many video games, being spoiled or lack of faith. This illness is biological. It requires medication and intensive treatment. If left untreated, Cody will get sicker, will likely end up in jail or on the street and his life expectancy could decrease by up to 20 years.

My family is not alone. One in four people worldwide have some form of mental illness. Five percent of Americans have a “serious mental illness,” such as schizophrenia, severe bipolar disorder or severe depression.

Are families looking for a government handout? No. Insurance companies do not cover mental health the same way they cover medical health. In our experience, insurance companies are only willing to cover up to 30 days of inpatient treatment. For a person with a severe and persistent mental illness, like my son’s, 30 days is the equivalent of putting a Band-Aid on stage IV cancer.

No other illness is treated this way.

We’re receiving treatment through our school district. Yes, the school district. Not from insurance and not from any other medical coverage. This is the way our current system is set up. It’s our only means to receive quality care. We have fought for this treatment. The cost for intensive residential treatment that our son’s illness requires is in excess of $8,000 per month. That does not include medications. I don’t know of any family who can afford these kinds of medical expenses out of pocket. It’s not our desire to receive financial assistance, but under our current system of care, we are left with no other options. We are thankful to be receiving help. There are many families who are not so fortunate.

It’s my deepest desire to bring mental illness out of the darkness and into the light. We’ve got to change the way our society views mental illness. We must eliminate the myths and focus on the facts. I long for the day when people who have mental illnesses will be added to church prayer lists instead of being criticized and condemned. I long for the day we will be less critical of one another and more understanding, empathetic and compassionate.

Wouldn’t we be better off trying on the other person’s shoes before offering judgment? Wouldn’t it be smarter to learn the facts before we offer criticism?

I do hope you will not post anything harsh or unkind about my relative. I didn’t write this to invite any more hostility. Instead, I invite you to share anything new you have learned from this information.

How has this helped you be more empathetic and understanding of mental illness?

What can you do to bring change?

If you’re in a family that’s affected by mental illness, how can this help you educate others? Can you find the courage to share your story?

Please post your positive comments. I would love to hear from you!

A version of this post originally appeared on Bold Faith Ministries

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How to Ask About and Understand My PTSD

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When I tell someone I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, most of the time I get the reply, “What?”

PTSD means a trauma happened, and even though it happened in the past, the footprint it leaves in your mind is so severe when something reminds you of it, usually described as “trigger,” your brain undergoes extreme stress, expressed by both physical and mental reactions. Sometimes even recalling the events unexpectedly is all the trigger you need.

The mind is a beautiful, crazy thing.

If you still don’t get it, think of this: Have you ever mentioned something attached to a strong emotion, and then felt that emotion as if it happened? Can you remember tasting a wedge of lemon? Or, men: How about watching another guy get kicked in the groin?

If any of these evoked physical reactions from you as you read about them — your mouth watering at the thought of lemon, wincing at the thought of a groin injury (Sorry, fellas.) — then you can begin to see how PTSD works. Your brain, in all its splendor, has stored a physical memory of that thing. Most everything in life we do has a physical and/or emotional memory attached to it. Even if we haven’t done that particular thing before, we’re reminded of a time we did something similar. When these memories occur, we can often feel very physical reactions.

The most commonly referenced example is a soldier who has seen awful things in war. They’ll often come back “shell-shocked.” But it happens in more scenarios than you think.

What PTSD means to me is if I’m minding my own business in my house and the phone rings, my heart races. I get sweaty palms and feel immediately scared and on edge. Of what? Well, there have been times I’ve picked up the phone only to have abuse hurled at me. I would block numbers and people would call from private numbers. I’d pick up the phone and get a nasty surprise. The verbal abuse and associated behaviors of the people who used to do this was so bad, and lasted for so long, I now hate phones. Especially when they’re ringing.

If I hear someone closing their car door outside, I look around to see what kind of car it was. I peer through my curtains, trying to be invisible, to see if it’s the car of someone I don’t want at my door. Every time. It’s because I’ve told people in the past not to come to my house, and they still have. I’ve been stalked before by people who have caused a lot of harm in my life, and I live in constant fear they’ll find my new address and show up at the door. And if they ever do, I’ll probably have to move.

If I see a car that looks like the car of someone I used to know but don’t want around me ever again, I panic. I could be driving and suddenly be paranoid the car I’ve spotted might be following me. I continue to panic until I see the driver is a stranger and not someone I should worry about. For these reasons I memorize license plates.

If my doorbell rings, or someone knocks, I hush the children and try to pretend no one is home until I can peek through the little peek-hole and see who it is. If it’s a friend who has shown up unannounced, I will still only reluctantly open the door. And even then, I’m a bundle of nerves for a few minutes until I can calm myself down and tell myself it’s OK.

When I’m unexpectedly asked to explain why I have PTSD, I’m filled with sorrow. I end up crying in public. Having to recall events can suddenly put me in a funk, and I will stay in that funk for days. Which brings me to perhaps the most important point:

The reason(s) why anyone has PTSD is none of your business. Don’t suddenly ask them about it. You would not serve your vegetarian friend a rare steak. So don’t ask someone with PTSD to tell you why they’ve got it.

When you ask someone with PTSD to explain why they’ve got it, you’re asking them to recall the incident that caused it. That is most certainly a trigger. Like serving a vegetarian a bleeding piece of meat and forcing them to eat it, this is cruelty for someone with PTSD.

This stuff is no joke. Panic attacks are not fun. Feeling out of control of your reactions is not fun.

If I have a friend with PTSD, I ask, “What do I need to know about this?” and let them tell me what to avoid when interacting with them.

PTSD means, because a trigger could happen anywhere, at any time, I don’t go out much. I don’t socialize much, and if I do, I have to force myself to go and put on a brave face. Because people in everyday life don’t understand, and can easily label sufferers of PTSD “crazy,” the best option for many seems to be to shut themselves away. The lack of understanding of this condition, the same as with most mental health issues, is ultimately like delivering a death sentence to those of us who have them.

Although these conditions could happen to anyone, we’re being forced into cages because of luck of the draw, because of ignorance and because of the stigmatization. In these cages we cope, day by day. Is that really living?

PTSD is like a mental scar from an occurrence that caused a mental wound. In order to not open up someone’s scars, it would be wonderful if everyone took some time to educate themselves on this condition.

A version of this post originally appeared on Talking This and That.

For more resources on PTSD, or for more information about getting help, visit Mental Health AmericaIf you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Do you have a story about your experience with mental illness? We want to hear it. Please send it to [email protected] and include a photo for the story, a photo of yourself and a 1-2 sentence bio. More info here. Thanks!

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