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21 Habits of People Who Are Thriving With Anxiety

Sometimes knowing you’re not alone isn’t enough.

Of course, it can bring enormous relief, and it’s important to know you’re not the only one going through whatever anxiety makes you do, think or feel.

But once you know you’re not alone, what do you do about it? Yeah, it’s nice to know you’re not the only one waking up with racing thoughts, but if you’re still waking up with racing thoughts and it’s impacting your day in a negative way, what then? How do we reduce those racing thoughts? How do we deal with our anxiety?

Most importantly, how do you live the life you want to, even with anxiety in tow?

It’s easy to feel resistant to any kind of advice about your anxiety journey. I’m sure you’ve been burned before by suggestions that minimize what you’re going through. That’s why, instead of finding easy cures, we turned to people in our community who get it, and asked them to share one habit that helps them live well with anxiety.

The kinds of “habits” you develop might be different — maybe you find meditating every morning keeps your anxiety in check. Maybe your routine involves going to therapy or reading self-help books. Maybe each week, you expose yourself to something that makes you anxious, and that’s what reduces your anxiety long-term. Everyone is different, and there are tons of options for people who struggle. The most important to thing to remember is that just like anxiety isn’t your fault — you’re also not helpless. There is hope. The goal isn’t to be anxiety-free, but to not let anxiety prevent you from living the life you want.

We hope these habits provide some inspiration. Feel free to share your own in the comments below.

Here’s what they shared with us:

  1. “I check my phone a lot because I’m always worried something bad is going to happen. So I put a really encouraging quote or passage as my lock screen and it immediately grounds me again.” — Bri E.
  2. “Every time I panic I take a deep breath and I say the words, ‘It’s OK. Deep breaths. Just one step at a time. You can do this. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight.’ I just have to remember to be patient with myself and remember I’m just human.” — Caelynn C.
  3. “Going for a long run helps so much. It lifts my mood and gives me time to think and clear my head. Many people don’t understand how I can run long distances, but it’s very therapeutic for me and my brain never shuts up so I’m never bored.” — Michelle D.
  4. “I have battled anxiety for over five years; through many trials of self -care… I finally grasped the reality that my key to happiness and peace is not in someone else’s pocket, it is in my hands and I need to take control. I started to do more of what I love to do. Spending more time outside, cutting back hours at work, focusing on my faith, working hard in college classes, etc. Life changes when you prioritize your happiness and peace. When a flower doesn’t bloom, you don’t have to change the flower, you may just need to change the environment. Stay strong everyone, everlasting happiness is obtainable.” — Heather S.
  5. “I tell myself the mountains of laundry story. It goes like this: Before you are mountains and mountains of laundry that need to be washed. Dirty laundry as far as you can see. Looking at the mountains you are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do. You can see no end to it, but if you just grab one pile of laundry by your feet and focus on that, you see the mountains get smaller, so it’s not as intimidating. You keep going and those mountains become a hill, and one day all the laundry is clean. When I’m having a panic attack I tell myself mountains of laundry to get me to focus on the moment — not the panic.” — Julia A.
  6. “I take a walk every day in my local cemetery. Moments when I feel my mind racing or feeling like I’m going to have a panic attack, I try to walk and breathe through it. I turn my music off and intentionally soak in my surroundings — nature, the sun, the trees. I try to ‘leave’ the weight of what I’m carrying on that trail. On days I don’t walk, I notice a massive difference. My walks help me manage and it flows into my work and relationships. Each step, every drop of sweat — it’s like I get a little piece of control over my anxiety back. It’s now part of my daily routine.” — Nicki J.
  7. “I create a list of tasks I completed at the end of the day. Helps keep me reminded that I am still able to function, but it also helps me track when I may be in trouble.” — Lea B.
  8.  “I’ve developed a safe place. When I get anxious, I go to my safe place and think about, if I was there, what I’d feel, smell and hear. Also grounding. When I get anxious, I’ll press into something near me with my feet or hands to refocus myself.” — Liz T.
  9. “Taking care of others and being of support to them helps take the focus off myself, thus resulting in me feeling less worried or sad. Of course, I am still reasonable and practice useful and beneficial ways to be kind to myself, as well — since we can’t pour from an empty cup.” — Aliana D.
  10. “It sounds odd, but I cry. I’m never afraid to be in my feelings for a little bit, cry it out then get back to business. It keeps me bottling up the anxiety so it doesn’t grow to the point that I can’t function.” — Evonne T.
  11. “Grounding exercises help me focus when I’m in a panic attack. Ice cold water also seems to calm me down. If all else fails, I allow myself a good hard cry. It’s therapeutic just to get my emotions out.” — Melissa S. 
  12. “Sometimes I just need to breathe regularly. I’ll go to the bathroom and close my eyes to focus on my breathing. This is if I’m worried or having a panic attack, especially if I’m in public. And at the end of the day I walk an additional two miles in the afternoon. It really relieves all my worries and focus.” — Grace B.
  13. “Counting when anxious — numbers are steady and consistent. ordered and stable. Blowing bubbles when panicky, focus is on the out breath, slowly which calms. Can’t blow bubbles when breathing is wobbly!” — Krystal C.
  14. “Talking it out. For example, if something changes in my daily routine at work that makes me uncomfortable, I speak to a manager I trust. I often catch myself thinking out loud; somehow it’s easier to organize my thoughts. Writing my thoughts down either in my phone or on paper helps a lot. Keeping myself organized and keeping my apartment clean is a very healthy habit that helps with my anxiety.” — Jessa P.
  15. “Self-soothing! Anything that involves using one or more of your five senses. For me, touch is the most helpful. My house is full of soft blankets and I always have some form of putty with me to hold/play with when I’m anxious.” — Emily S.
  16. “Sleep. If I really concentrate on going to bed at a decent hour every night, it makes a huge difference on my ability to cope and stay calm when things go slightly askew.” — Ashley J. 
  17. “Saying ‘no’ to people and things. Took me years to master this. Sounds simple. But when you are used to always going and doing and helping and participating, retraining yourself to say no can be hard.” — Trisha S.
  18. “Very recently I started using an idea I saw floating around the internet. Every time I have an anxious and negative thought about myself like: ‘No one really likes you,’ or, ‘You look horrible in that shirt,’ I imagine Donald Trump saying those negative things to me. When I change my thinking like this, I can just tell that inner voice to shut up.” –Briana W.
  19. “I have bi-weekly self-care nights to relax. Bubble bath, face mask, mani/pedi and a movie. It’s important I take time to relax and recenter myself.” — Sydney S.
  20.  “Bathroom breaks when I don’t need to and ‘cigarette breaks’ outside even though I don’t smoke, just to get some peace and quiet.” — Ida H.
  21.  “I try to get everything done in the morning because if I don’t, I just spend the whole day worrying about it and by the evening I’m too stressed to.” — Katie K.

What would you add?

Getty image via AkilinaWinner