11 Little Ways Anxious People Can Find Balance

Biology is weird. It wires our brains to think in a way to perpetuate survival, even if it also comes designed to allow potentially day-wrecking anxieties rooted in nothing concrete (haha, thanks, science). However, there are little things anxious people can do to calm down during the day to stay balanced. Sometimes all you have to do to ease your anxiety is take a few minutes out of your day, or maybe just a few moments, and carve out some time for your health.

When excruciatingly stressed out or worried, I get a compulsion to tear at the skin around my fingernails. Which means, yes, that one scene in Black Swan made my hands feel numb for just a moment. I recall a specifically challenging moment in my life when, working as an office manager for an advertising start-up, I had rushed all over Soho looking for a certain kind of gas cans for a catered lunch. I prepared with the wrong type and had to run half a mile in the rain in ankle boots to correct the error before lunch was to be served. It was so totally absurd and not my fault exactly, but that paired with a tall pile of freelance writing deadlines to tackle after my day in the office made me physically shake. Standing soaked in the elevator with a bag of heavy cans, I noticed a fellow passenger looking at me with concern. I hadn't noticed, but during all the insanity, I'd apparently shredded my fingertips. As I jammed the ninth floor button, blood quietly trickled down a few fingers. Clearly, I looked kinda insane.

But! There's way better ways to deal with anxiety than bloody hands. (Gotta say when I worked professionally framing art, people don't much like globs of blood on the matte board.) Here are some of them:

Hit a cardio class

I really wish this one weren't true. I keep trying to like exercise, but it hasn't happened yet. Alas, it seems aerobics help maintain overall cognitive well-being. Apparently an especially intense work-out can help relieve anxiety symptoms for up to several hours and overtime, regular practice can take on a more lasting effect.

Get affectionate

This doesn't apply to only romantic relationships (although we'll get there in a second). Studies show hugging a person you care about can greatly reduce stress, ergo chill anxiety! Sorry if this is news non-touchers did not want to hear. (And good news: You can learn to fix that.)

Make a booty call

An orgasm literally "lets your brain go" for just a moment when it shuts down the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for inhibitions. It's hard to feel anxious about anything when all your thoughts are quite literally someplace else.

Treat yo'self, DIY style

You knew this was ~coming~. If you don't have a partner handy and helpful in doling out orgasms, you can always get one yourself. Here's some tips on how to get there, sans vibe.

Bust a few yoga poses

Fully engaging in yoga—that is to say, making sure you don't topple over—demands some mental focus. While you're busy try to keep all your limbs intact, your brain has to to take a vacation from whatever was stressing it out in the beginning. The effects of yoga, too, can be physically soothing by bringing new blood into your brain and slowing your breathing.

Maintain a neat, clean environment

This might be a personal preference here, but if I'm already a little stressed or feeling an anxiety attack on the rise, piles of dirty clothes or unwashed glasses immediately surrounding me does not help. The mess actually helps enable feelings of a loss of a control. Science says clutter is too much stimuli for your brain when it's in overdrive and won't let any part of you relax. So taking small breaks throughout the day to keep your apartment or work space tidy and manageable can really help you keep cool and focused.

No, seriously—clean your apartment

The physical act of cleaning is an effective way to de-stress, so keeping up with it can help eliminate problems before they happen. Because, remember, a build up of stress can often lead to deeper or additional anxieties.

Make lists

Instead of operating in a world of 14 tabs on average, keep a notebook handy to record ideas or concerns as they come up. Multitasking doesn't work anyway. This tactic can help you keep organized without forgetting stuff that has to happen. Once one task is complete, you can scope out the list to evaluate what should be tended to next.

Don't indulge in a ton of coffee

Caffeine lists anxiety as a side effect, which makes total sense. Know how a handful of lattes make you feel borderline insane with imprecise physical actions and manic thoughts? See? It's basically helping anxiety do a job that it already does too well.

Avoid booze, too

Alcohol acts like a totally faulty Band-Aid on issues giving you anxiety. It can help quiet it, but only momentarily, so when you wake from the temporary dulling, you wake with your problems still going on and possibly also with a hangover. There is also a possibility of generating Alcohol Induced Anxiety. Also, if we're talking about all these tips as daytime things, it might be good to mention here day-drinking should be done only during non-working hours. And even then, don't go too ham on the practice. You're an adult. Being drunk on a random day by 1PM isn't cute anymore.

Escape for a minute

It's healthy to break up your day instead of sitting completely still in front of your work computer, or whatever it is supplying all the stress, which then funnels into the growing anxiety pool. Go on a little walk, throw on a record you have always loved, pet your cats—anything that will provide a healthy, finite distance between you and the environment you were just in. Once you catch your breath, you can return to start again. And this time? It'll be far, far more chill.

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