An anxious mind can be hard to deal with. Your mind spins a mile a minute and you can feel paralyzed by possibilities and options and worries. I’ve been working on identifying moments where my mind feels like a runaway train and working to learn how to pump the brakes of my brain. I’ve been working on taking back control and I’ve found 8 ways to calm an anxious mind that have been helping me a lot, so I thought I’d share.
These ideas aren’t about crippling, debilitating anxiety disorders. If what you’re experiencing is beyond the realm of having some anxious thoughts, and is recurring and scary, please see your doctor. I live with obsessive-compulsive disorder and as a result have understood the true weight of a brain out of control, and I don’t ever want you to think that these suggestions replace a professional diagnosis and treatment.
Here are 8 ways to calm an anxious mind.
1. Cut the caffeine
The moment I start to identify that I’m starting to lose it (for me, an inability to sit still or think of something else and feeling like I can’t figure out what to do next), I will immediately cut off any and all caffeine. Coffee is my most favorite drink in the world, but coffee + anxiety is a terrible combination, so it’s good to stop right away. Drink some water (you can always heat it up and add lemon).
2. Make a (realistic) list of things you need/want to do
I find that when anxiety hits me, I cannot begin to figure out what I need/want to do so I will just sit staring blankly for hours if left to my own devices. Instead, I make a list of what I’d like to accomplish to feel like I’ve done something. Sometimes I’ll write “get dressed,” because little victories are still victories. You can also reverse this and make a list of what you’ve ALREADY done, so that you’ll be able to see quickly that you were able to (get out of bed, wipe down a counter, put something away, read, etc).
3. Diffuse some essential oils
I first tried essential oils to help with my emotional wellness, and in the past few months dōTerra has released an essential oil that has given me a lot of support with my anxiety. The Magnolia touch roller is my current go to – I apply it on my neck, wrists and behind my ears when I’m feeling anxious. Some other good ones are lavender, basil, bergamot and frankincense. Smells send molecules to the limbic system, which is emotional control center. Smells are powerful. I choose mine plant based.
4. Listen to familiar comforting noises
John Mayer, Ernie Halter + a playlist I made called “Peace” are all incredibly comforting sounds to me. This + the aforementioned things all combined is a powerful PAUSE to my system. I breathe deeper, feel a little more grounded and I honestly think that music can change the atmosphere. It’s one of the easiest, quickest ways to calm an anxious mind. You can find the Spotify playlist here or play it from this page 🙂 You are very welcome.
An open journal with comforting sounds and smells with a warm decaf tea can help you flush out what you’re feeling. Journals don’t tell you to get over it, give you advice, or glance at text messages. Much like we throw away expired and smelly foods, sometimes just the act of getting something out can be enough. While writing what’s bothering us, what we want to happen, and why we’re stuck, we can sometimes even identify more of our own personal ways to calm an anxious mind.
This one is here for me more than anyone else. The past year has been hard for me, spiritually. Justen’s asked me point blank if my current state of insecurity, unease, anxiety, etc. has anything to do with the same reasons I’ve not been going to church. and since then, I’ve not been able to shake the reality that they’re connected. So now I’m trying to retrain my faith muscle and pray and remember the ways God has spoken to me about the #1 of all ways to calm an anxious mind (spoiler: really digging in and trusting Him).
7. Go for a walk
Fresh air + sights and sounds + exercise can all help, even if the walk is down the street and back. Sometimes you just need to get out of the space that’s closing in on you for a minute. Exercise gives you endorphins, which trigger a positive response in your body that last for a few hours. Find some encouraging, uplifting podcasts and walk around while you listen. When looking for ways to calm an anxious mind, this is a lot of bang for your buck. 🙂
8. Take a nap
Put that stuff to bed, literally! Set an alarm, but allow yourself to sleep some things off. Often the things that make it hard to fall asleep because I worry about them look so much different in the morning. Sleep can be miraculous, even for 45 minutes.
Every day I’m trying to be a little bit better than I was the day before. Learning how to identify and figure out ways to calm an anxious mind (mine!) is great preventative maintenance before a massive breakdown occurs. Also, share your successes! Drop some things that work for you in the comments. Tell your best friend, parent, spouse or pet when you’ve quieted your mind. It’s a big deal. <3