Anxiety sucks, and the world is a trash fire. If you're having trouble keeping yourself level at a time when everyone seems stressed out, I have 15
poems to help calm your anxiety, so you can be ready to face the world again.
I recently heard someone say that the theme of the 21st century is exhaustion, and they couldn't be more right about that. Whether it's because we're
overworking ourselves in the gig economy or suffering from intense burnout, millennials like me are the most anxious generation on record.
That short-term relief has taken many forms of late, from a
science-approved playlist to calm anxiety, to weighted blankets, to CBD-infused sparkling beverages. These methods have their benefits, as do breathing methods and other anxiety-reducing techniques. For readers, however, sometimes there can be nothing more calming than a great, anxiety-relieving read.
The 15 poems below can all be read online, for free, today. You don't have to pay anything to take a moment to slow down and read a great passage. No, these poems are not substitute for mental health care, but they might help you slow down for a moment. Many of the poems on this list are short enough to memorize, so you can repeat them as mantras if they do work for you.
"Up-Hill" by Christina Rossetti
Does the road wind up-hill all the way? Yes, to the very end. Will the day’s journey take the whole long day? From morn to night, my friend. Read the poem in full here.
"Allow Me" by Chungmi Kim
If I must worry about how I will live in my old age without wealth I would be without health now and how can I live to be old? Read the poem in full here.
"This Is What Makes Us Worlds" by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
"Dead Stars" by Ada Limón
Out here, there’s a bowing even the trees are doing. Winter’s icy hand at the back of all of us. Black bark, slick yellow leaves, a kind of stillness that feels so mute it’s almost in another year. Read the poem in full here.
"An Old Story" by Tracy K. Smith
We were made to understand it would be Terrible. Every small want, every niggling urge, Every hate swollen to a kind of epic wind. Read the poem in full here.
"Poem Beginning with a Line from 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'" by Maggie Smith
"When we are on the right track we are rewarded with joy" by Brian Teare
I sit and work on a line and lean into the pain my mind continues trying to think and all I come up with is a texture without ideas Read the poem in full here.
"Four-Leaf Clover" by Ella Higginson
I know a place where the sun is like gold, And the cherry blooms burst with snow, And down underneath is the loveliest nook, Where the four-leaf clovers grow. Read the poem in full here.
"Upon the Heights" by Yone Noguchi
And victor of life and silence, I stood upon the Heights; triumphant, With upturned eyes, I stood, And smiled unto the sun, and sang Read the poem in full here.
"May Perpetual Light Shine" by Patricia Spears Jones
Each of us bears an ornament of grief A ring, a notebook, a ticket torn, scar It is how humans know their kind — Read the poem in full here.
"And again I stare at my chest as if waiting for it to bloom" by An Li
The language we currently use to describe ourselves is a form of Boolean algebra. I don’t want scars to remind me that I had to take a knife to this body in order to call it mine. I buy a dress shirt and I feel like a child again. It is a men’s size S and the cuffs go past my fingertips. Read the poem in full here.
"I shall go back again to the bleak shore" by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I shall go back again to the bleak shore And build a little shanty on the sand, In such a way that the extremest band Of brittle seaweed will escape my door Read the poem in full here.
"Life" by Charlotte Brontë
"Six Months After Contemplating Suicide" by Erika L. Sánchez
"October Song" by Marilyn Chin
Let me lower the curtains, my love Our last night together is brief Let me straighten our wedding quilt And warm it for you, my love Read the poem in full here.