8 ways to calm down when you are feeling anxious for no reason

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I originally sat down to write a post on perfectionism but as soon as I started, I realised something. I’m not really a perfectionist and I don’t have much to say on the matter. 

 

I would be of no use to you. I don’t have any advice for people who obsessively use rulers and match the colours of their clothes pegs. I am not that person. 

 

What I am however, is highly strung. I know all about feeling anxious for no reason. 

 

I carry anxiety around with me like most ladies do a purse. 

 

I am hopeless without structure and routine. I need to be able to plan ahead. I need to make sure I am adequately prepared for any and all eventualities. 

 

Spontaneity, completely throws me off, it rips the rug right out from under my feet. 

 

The older I am getting, the better I am becoming at letting go of control. I am slowly learning how to cope with uncertainty so that it doesn’t paralyze me. 

 

But sometimes when we feel ourselves slipping, we need strategies to help us calm down. 

 

We need tools to help us cope after a stressful day. A routine that can help us to prepare ourselves for something uncomfortable like a dentist visit or awkward phone call. 

 

We need to have a way of cooling off and resetting, a way of bringing harmony into our every day lives. 

 

Because sometimes there is a clear and obvious reason why we are feeling anxious, but sometimes we are feeling anxious for no reason at all

 

These coping mechanisms are especially important for highly strung people, those of us who are always just teetering on the edge of becoming overwhelmed. 

 

We need to know our limits and make sure we take extra special care of ourselves. 

 

So as a highly strung, often anxious person, these are my personal coping mechanisms. These are the ways I practice self care. This is how I manage to stay sane. 

 

8 ways to calm down when you are feeling anxious for no reason…

 

Focus on your breathing

 

When we get very stressed we tend to take short, shallow breaths. The problem is, this only encourages our body’s ‘fight or flight‘ response which ends up prolonging our feeling of stress.

 

The very best thing we can do in any stressful situation is to focus on our breathing.

 

Make a big deal of both your inhale and exhale. Pause and try to count a few seconds after each. Make your breathing as long and deep as possible.

jessica hagy illustration

Illustration by Jessica Hagy.

 

Listen to gentle music

 

Although technically not music, I love listening to nature sounds, especially rain or thunderstorms. There is something soothing about hearing the rhythm of nature. (Unless you look up whale sounds, there is nothing soothing about that!)

 

My favourite album to listen to when I am feeling anxious for no reason is ‘Be Held‘ by Christy Nockels. This is a collection of lullabies for adults which never fail to bring me back to a place of calm. 

 

I also made a playlist of slow, peaceful songs which I’ll put on in the car or as I am working to put myself at ease. Music has a way of reaching us that words simply cannot. 

 

 

Try using a relaxation exercise 

 

In one of my tutorials at university we spent the whole hour learning different relaxation exercises. At the time I thought it was a bit kooky but now I can appreciate the value of it. 

 

The only one I can actually remember involves your five senses. 

 

It goes like this… Find yourself a quiet space and close your eyes. Begin breathing deeply. Then start to take notice of each of your senses individually.

What can you hear around you? What can you smell? Open your eyes and what can you see? 

 

Slowly become aware of your surroundings and allow your tension to dissipate.

 

 

Just write

 

I always find healing in writing. I always manage to un-twinge my tension and stitch up the wounded bits when I write out exactly how I am feeling.

 

The most important thing to remember is that your journal/laptop/back side of a napkin is a safe space. Allow yourself to write freely without judgement.

 

You cannot fully let go of the built up pressure inside you if you are fretting about the things you are writing. So no judgement, just write.

 

 

Paint, draw or colour-in

 

Those adult colouring-in books became really popular a few years ago for a reason. Being creative is relaxing.

 

Painting, drawing and colouring-in bring us back to the present. They allow us to be adventurous and playful, to make a mess and just have fun.

 

They also distract us from the fears and worries that can overwhelm us. Sometimes what we need is a little distraction, a little moment of rest from all the hustle and stress.

 

 

Go outside

 

I am a nature girl. My happy places are all outside. I love the softness of the beach, the ruggedness of the mountains, the quietness of the forest.

 

I need greenery and I need wide open spaces. Nature is soothing for our souls.

 

While you are outside, try out the relaxation exercise I mentioned above. There is nothing more uplifting than listening to the early-morning birdsong.

 

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Get clean

 

Have a shower or run a bath but make it an experience.

 

Fill the bath with bubbles, allow the steam from the shower to soak into your pores, bundle yourself up in a warm, fluffy towel afterwards.

 

Often it is the simple things that bring the most pleasure. For example, when I want to feel especially luxurious I take the time to moisterize properly. I find the nicest, sweetest-smelling body lotion and I make myself soft all over. Simple, but delightful.

 

 

Talk about it

 

Bottling up your feelings will never do you any good. Be brave and open up to someone.

 

It often will feel like the last thing you want to do, but the effort it takes will always be worth it. Just make sure you speak to someone who is gentle and understanding, no judgement in your writing, no judgement in your speaking.


 

I’d love to know, how do you practice self care when you are stressed?

Do you ever find yourself feeling anxious for no reason at all? 

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9 Comments

  • Christina @ Hugs and Lattes

    All such great things to do! I love your point about doing relaxation exercises; I haven’t done those before and I should try them because I’ve been especially anxious lately. I’ve started painting at least once a week and that has been so helpful for me! I can’t do it during the week with all of my classes and assignments, but it gives me something to look forward to on the weekends. It’s currently raining outside right now, and I am eating homemade cinnamon rolls, drinking a cup of coffee, and I have some warm lighting since it’s so gray right now. So right now, I’m feeling very relaxed. 😉

    April 6, 2019 at 1:15 am Reply
    • Megan Hallier

      I’m sorry you’ve been feeling anxious lately 🙁 Painting is so soothing. I need to do it again although I don’t have any paints. I might try using my pastels again. Ooh cinnamon rolls, coffee and warm lighting…that’s so hygge. It sounds wonderful.

      April 10, 2019 at 8:47 am Reply
  • Emily Swanson

    I LOVE these Megan. I love going outside, laying on the floor and deep breathing, listening to Scripture or soft music, baking good food, reading a good book, or doing a gentle workout just listening to music. I SO often find myself getting anxious too, and it’s good to have strategies to deal with it.

    April 7, 2019 at 8:59 am Reply
    • Megan Hallier

      yes! Lying on the floor is so relaxing haha. Especially if you find a wall nearby and lean your legs up against it. I don’t know what it is about that but it calms me right down!

      April 10, 2019 at 8:48 am Reply
  • Julie Hood

    Even just writing all this out must have been therapeutic, knowing that sharing what it looks like for you will help others!!! I want to be spontaneous but I feel really tied to plans and schedules, too. That’s probably because with a husband and 2 kids, I can’t just go do things randomly (unless we’re doing them all together). Spontaneity takes planning and by that point…..it’s not really spontaneity! haha

    April 11, 2019 at 4:59 am Reply
    • Megan Hallier

      Writing is always therapeutic. I really need to do it more. Oh yes, having a family would definitely make it much more difficult to be spontaneous. Although, kids are kinda the masters of spontaneity, maybe just follow their lead? 😛

      April 12, 2019 at 3:27 pm Reply
  • Claire

    Yes to all of these! Especially a long, hot shower + using some nice moisturizer afterwards. I’ve been doing that pretty much every night lately. It’s so soothing and helps me chillout before bed. I guess I’m more on the anxious side at the moment but there are so many unknowns with pregnancy! So finding ways to reduce anxiety has been especially important in this season of life. xx

    April 12, 2019 at 4:07 am Reply
    • Megan Hallier

      I love that you’ve been taking extra special care of yourself at this time. I thought that moving away from the city and having a different pace of life would ease my anxiety- and it has but still I find myself getting anxious A LOT. I think that the reality is that there will always be stressors and things that cause us to feel anxious. So coping mechanisms will always be beneficial.

      April 12, 2019 at 3:29 pm Reply
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