The Mighty Logo

Tired of Coloring? Here Are 15 More Things Anxious People Can Do With Their Hands

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I’m someone who deals with anxiety on the reg. As in, someone who experiences anxiety daily, multiple times a day. It has taken me lots of work with my therapist to understand what anxiety is, and more specifically what my anxiety is about and what triggers it. Why is that important? Because once you’re able to identify it, you can start filling your toolbox with things that actually work.

And I mean things that actually help. Techniques that are tried and true — by those who actually understand what it’s like to live with it. Because if you experience anxiety, or any mental illness, I’m sure you’ve been on the receiving end of unsolicited “tips” that claim to help “fix” it. Hello! It’s not something that I need fixed because nothing is broken. It’s all about managing it. And no amount of “drinking water” or “grateful thoughts” is going to help me through an anxiety attack.

A few years ago, adult coloring books became A Thing. And boy was I excited! Nothing helped calm my anxieties like coloring beautiful, intricate patterns. Don’t get me wrong, I love coloring. But sometimes, you gotta switch things up. Not only so you don’t get bored, but because hand cramps are so real!

Are you tired of coloring too? Or maybe you need something that you can do while in a car/transit? Well, look no further, because the wonderful Mighty community has generously shared what they do to help calm their anxiety — no coloring required! I hope these ideas help you, but no worries if they don’t. And if you have tips or tricks, please share them down in the comments!

1. “I cross stitch. The repetitive motion is relaxing and it keeps me focused on something. Plus when it’s done, it feels like I’ve achieved something too.” — Shannon S.

2. “Stress balls! They sell a pack on Amazon of different ‘strength’ stress balls. The medium strength is my favorite! But I use the hard one when I’m having a panic attack.” -Rachel H.

3. “I piece together model kits, sometimes in the hundreds. It helps to keep me steady by forcing my hands to be steady.” — Brendyn H.

4. “I personally love therapy putty. I have a soft and medium resistance that I will fidget with. I will poke it with my nails, wrap it around my fingers, squeeze it as hard as I can. I love the different ways I can use it to stay grounded.” — Ashley P.

5. “Knitting and crochet. Knitting is good when you need to pay attention to something and you can rely on muscle memory. Crochet is a bit more engaging, so I do that on public transportation.” — Katie L.

6. “Having a bottle of halfway frozen water in my hands help me. Feeling the cold bottle on my palms helps keep me cool. I can fidget by squeezing the bottle and breaking up the ice.” — Shawn O.

7. “I practice mindfulness techniques. My favorite one is where I feel the physical symptom of my anxiety in my body, accept it, and then let it move down through my body and into the ground. This practice has saved me from panic attacks.” — Morgan E.

8. “If I’m home, I paint. I recently started mini motivational paintings.” — Caitlin S.

9. “I love fidgeting with the popsocket on my phone. I can set my phone on my lap and no one really notices. I also have a fidget pad (which looks like a mini controller) that I can use discreetly to fidget. Sometimes, when I have a lot of anxious energy, I will shake my hands for a few seconds to get it out.” — Brianna K.

10. “I use fidget items such as a cube or spinner. I also hold something in my hand like a rock or a hot wheel car. I am able to channel my anxiousness to focusing on the item in my hand.” — Sarah H.

11. “I sign the entire alphabet over and over. Not only does it keep my hands busy, it keeps my brain busy too thinking about each individual sign.” — Amy-Lizzy S.

12. “I do Perler bead art. It’s very relaxing to make artworks out of thousands of tiny plastic beads. It’s quiet and lets me focus down on something small and controllable.” — Mark H.

13. ” I played trumpet for eight years… the music always helped calm me down… so now when I’m anxious, I catch myself moving my first three fingers on my right hand, as if I was playing. (Even if it’s nothing but random movements!!).” — Emily E.

14. “Surprisingly, nothing. I fidget constantly but none of it comes out in my anxious moments. I think that not having the compulsion to do anything with my hands and the ability to let them rest is what helps me calm down a bit.” — Sophia M.

15. “I fold a kleenex into smaller squares. Then I feel the outside sides, turning it. I also rub the inside of the square too.” — Ashley M.

What would you add? 

Getty image via ijeab

Originally published: August 5, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home