5 Hacks to Help Restore Calm

These tried and true techniques can offer relief.

Coping with stress and anxiety.

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Anxiety is a human emotion designed to keep us safe — it alerts people to danger, and has helped humanity survive since the beginning of time. The “right” amount of anxiety stimulates action, creativity and can even help people perform better, explains Mentalhealth.org.uk. A disorder is usually diagnosed when the emotion reaches higher levels than average for longer intervals of time, and interferes with a person’s functioning in daily life. Fortunately, there are a variety of coping strategies available, and millions of anxiety sufferers worldwide lead happy and fulfilling lives.

Although every anxiety disorder is as unique as the person with it, there are some patterns and commonalities that sufferers share. Here are five ways to cope with anxiety that can provide relief and can be a great addition to a prescribed treatment plan. 

Get to know your anxiety

The first step in recovery is acceptance. It takes courage to be okay with it, but when a person accepts they have anxiety, they open doors to infinite possibilities of healing. Therapy can be a very beneficial and safe way to start the process. Becoming more self aware and learning about what triggers the anxiety and its causes allows a person to make meaning of things that might have previously been confusing or unknown. 

Beyond Blue, an Australian platform for mental health, recommends keeping a journal. When things are written down, it can be easier to discover patterns. Keeping a journal and pen on the bedside table or somewhere readily accessible is a great way to be prepared when the negative feelings start to come up.

Thoughtful millennial woman thinking about her anxiety.

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The joy of giving

One of the techniques that helps when anxiety strikes, says the New York Times, is doing something for others. Research shows that kindness, giving and focusing on doing good can actually buffer stress. Physiologically, The Mayo Clinic explains, kindness can actually change our brains and thinking patterns. All kinds of giving count, such as helping a friend pack boxes for their upcoming move, volunteering at a local organization, donating blood and even sending a prayer or positive vibes to someone going through a hard time.

Young woman donating preloved clothing.

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Plan for success

Using a paper and pen planner, agenda or diary isn’t something that comes natural to everyone. Some can’t survive without it, going as far as calling their book “my brain”. Others would never use one even if paid to do so. The truth is, planning is not only a great way to help with time management and remind people of their appointments, they also help their owner stay prepared, something every anxious person desires. 

For some anxiety sufferers, planning is their secret weapon. When a week or month’s planner view is open, it is easier to see the global picture and choose to do certain activities, book appointments, etc. at times that fit with the  person’s mood. For example, if someone knows they will be anxious about their medical appointment next Thursday at 10am, they might want to schedule a walk and shower at 8am to help manage the stress, and even plan for a bubble bath with essential oils the night before to help them sleep. 

Woman focused on planning a successful new project.

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Release feel-good hormones through movement

One of the first things people recommend for mental health management is regular exercise. Some anxiety sufferers use purposeful high intensity exercise, says Healthline as a viable treatment method for their disorder. But how does exercise help?

The long list of benefits include sleep improvement, elevated and stabilization of mood, decreased tension as well as a range of physical health benefits as well. The way it works, explains Mayo Clinic, is that exercise helps the brain produce more of those feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones like dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. So whether a person wants to go for jogs, move along to a fitness video or sign up at their local gym, designating time for exercise is highly recommended.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) indicates that it is important to note that all forms of therapy, including exercise, have a varied effect on each person. Some people respond very positively to even just five minutes of exercise while others find that their mood does not improve much, even though they are still gaining from the overall health benefits of the exercise. As always, make sure to consult with a health professional to get their guidance on what is safe for each patient.

Young friends doing crunches before going for a run.

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Reach out and get support

When anxiety takes over, it really takes over. It can feel almost impossible to get out of the spiral of thoughts and return to the present. One of the most important things a person can do is ensure that there’s  a caring and available support system in place that one can reach out to during such times. 

A support system can include professionals, friends, a spouse, family members and maybe even a therapy pet. Some enjoy sharing with a large number of people and may find it therapeutic to open themselves up publicly on their social media accounts and other online forums. Others prefer getting support and validation from just one or two people. As long as the person is being honest with themselves and their needs and consulting with their professional caregiver, there is no right or wrong when it comes to this. 

Psychologist teaching young woman stress management and other coping skills.

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