Having anxiety is difficult, but it can often become more difficult when anxious thoughts keep you up at night. It’s as if anxiety waits until our heads hit the pillow to start in on the things we still need to do, ruminate on worst-case scenarios and replay things from the day we wish we could do over.
So to help put these anxious thoughts to bed, we asked our mental health community to share what helps them cope with anxiety at night.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “I have to sleep with the TV on. For some reason, by focusing on what’s on the TV, I can block out what I’m dwelling on.” — Ashleigh T.
2. “I try and recite the alphabet backwards in my head.” — Be B.
3. “Starting from my toes to the top of my head, relaxing each muscle possible in sections. Also, tightening my whole body for 10 seconds, then releasing.” — Amy P.
4. “I cannot sleep without my white noise machine. I have it on the ocean waves setting because the ocean is my happy place.” — Katie C.
5. “Making unimportant lists!” — Karen J.
6. “I diffuse essential oils with calming scents. My favorite [is] lavender mixed with some peppermint. It helps my breathing and the calming scent of lavender can help me unwind and fall asleep.” — Danielle M.
7. “Yoga stretching, really hot shower, petting my kitten, eating a handful of nuts and a breakfast bar, switching pajamas several times, adjusting ceiling fan, repeating military alphabet.” — Rachel S.
8. “Prayer. It calms me, relaxes me and helps me get to sleep.” — Erin M.
9. “Music often comes with too many emotions, but silence is awful. I listen to comedy TV on low. It helps to drown out the thoughts in my head without potential negative emotions.” –Danielle E.
10. “Listening to Sarah McLachlan. I used to listen to her with my psychotherapist and now, when she comes on, there is a calm that just automatically comes over me. I carry my headphones and iPod wherever I go and if I start to feel overwhelmed or anxious, I’ll go sit by myself and listen to Sarah.” — Shannon S.
11. “For me, it’s normally a long cry and a bath. If I’m not too exhausted then I get up and find something to do that will make me sleepy, like a household chore.” — Katie J.
12. “That text from that special one who somehow has the ability to know when I’m falling all the way down and naturally cheers me up.” — Dang H.
13. “Counting my blessings. Visualization of a happy place.” — Marney R.
14. “I lie on my back and tell myself I’m entitled to a good night’s sleep and it’s my time to relax.” — Julie B.
15. “I watch baby animal videos. I can’t help but smile when I see a puppy!” –Hailie H.
16. “Audiobooks set to a timer and soft fairy lights and my dogs asleep at the bottom of the bed. Soft bedding helps and something nicely scented on [the] bedside table. Starting a nighttime routine was important too.” — Edel W.
17. “Listen to my husband snore. It’s actually really soothing to me.” — Bonnie E.
18. “Taking deep breaths and [using a] grounding method. I look around the room and once I’ve gained some control, I walk around and touch five things. It somehow brings me back to the present.” — Anna C.
19. “Hugging my stuffed lion.” — Anita F.
What would you add?