As you may or may not already be aware, I have struggled with anxiety from an early age. I have discussed my anxiety a bit on here before, which I will link here, but I still find it important to continue educating myself on how to manage it. I have come up with a list of things I do when I feel anxiety creeping in. I also took some photos to accompany the list because I've found looking at pretty images helps reduce my anxiety and allows me to daydream of happier things.
Light a candle. Lighting affects our minds and moods more than we realize. I prefer natural daylight during the day. Fluorescent lighting truly gives me a headache, so I have to get outside as often as I can. At night, I like turning on my little lamps and lighting candles around my room so that my brain understands that it is finally time to unwind. If you find that your anxiety levels are already pretty bad and you cannot fall asleep, then get up and get out of your dark room. Turn on a light and read until your eyes feel heavy and then turn the lights off. Forcing yourself to lie in the dark while your mind is consumed with anxious thoughts will only worsen the situation.You will begin thinking about how much sleep you are losing and how tired you will be the next day and it perpetuates your already anxious mind. It's best to just get out of bed and do something until you are tired.
Take a bath or shower. The entire process of drawing a bath is soothing to me. I don't take them that often, but when I do I feel more relaxed. I usually opt for a shower and I make sure to slather myself with lavender oil afterward.
Listen to music that soothes you. Whatever music calms you down and helps you feel tired is the best. I distinctly remember falling asleep to Iron & Wine when I was 19. Music that your soul feels connected to will help heal you in ways I can't even begin to describe. I just know that any time I am feeling blue, I turn to music. It's my favorite escape.
Focus on a small task. Whether it's making a cup of tea or washing the dishes, give yourself something to do. I mentioned this in my original anxiety post, but it is very important to focus on the present moment when you struggle with anxiety. One of my favorite quotes is, "If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present." Focus on what is in front of you, on every single thing you are doing in this particular moment, and remember that the things you are dwelling on are not happening. You are in this moment and you are safe.
Color. Grab a coloring book and zone out with colored pencils and crayons. Get wild and use a paint set. Coloring is said to help naturally reduce stress and I find that it helps me calm down. There are even coloring books for grown ups now, like this beauty I found at Barnes & Noble. Really any sort of creative endeavor is good for you. Any outlet that allows you to channel all of your anxious energy into something productive is worth doing.
Read a book. I know, it seems silly to suggest this, but it is the easiest way to transport yourself into a different world for awhile. Put down your phone and your iPad. They will only make you more anxious. Snuggle up with a real book and get lost in the words you are reading. You will more than likely fall asleep, which is what always ends up happening to me, but at least your mind can be at ease for a while this way.
Watch a movie. I sometimes watch an old Disney movie, like Cinderella, because I am apparently still a child. In all seriousness, a lighthearted film can really help you feel better. My go-to movie for when I'm feeling particularly anxious is Breakfast at Tiffany's. I have mentioned this before, but I am mentioning it again. The opening scene of a peaceful New York City street, the beautiful tones of the cinematography, all of it takes me to a place I want to be when I don't want to be where I am. Not to mention Audrey. Someone's voice can really calm a person down and that is exactly what Audrey's voice does for me. The best part is Holly Golightly mentions her own struggle with anxiety, calling it The Mean Reds, and it's nice to be reminded that you are not the only one feeling this way.
Get outside. I personally like to take walks or go on a long, aimless drive. But really any sort of outdoor experience is good for a person. I spend a lot of my time alone because I enjoy my solitude, but I enjoy it even more when that time is spent outdoors. I feel so much more connected to what is real and what is important. There is nothing more grounding than feeling dirt or water under your bare feet, reminding you that you exist and that everything is going to be okay.
"We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves."
I hope this helps.