Feeling a little anxious here and there is a part of the human experience, but for some people anxiety can be crippling. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association, there are over 40 million people in the U.S. living with anxiety disorders. People with anxiety disorders often experience intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear.
Dealing with anxiety is difficult thing to navigate, but there are countless ways to make it a little easier. In a recent r/AskWomen thread, a user asked, “What’s an anxiety hack that has changed your life?”
Many people were quick to chime in, offering several anxiety tips and hacks that have been useful for them. Some of these suggestions were passed on from therapists. But before you try these, it’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health. Do your research and if possible, talk to your own therapist.
That said, here are 20 ways people are dealing with their anxiety.
1. Name it
My therapist taught me to talk to my anxiety as if it’s a person. We named it Lisa. So when my thoughts are spiraling out of control, and I’m getting overwhelmed, I’ll say something like, ‘Lisa, you’re being really unhelpful,’ or, ‘Lisa, none of the things you’re saying make sense because of xyz,’ and so on.AppleButterToast
2. Treat them like annoying kids
I’m a therapist and often tell people I relate anxious thoughts to a kid who keeps interrupting you. You can acknowledge them and tell them you’re busy with something else right now, and then return to what you are doing.Robotro17
3. Try scheduling it
My therapist taught me to ‘schedule’ when I’m going to feel anxious about something. For example, if I’m anxious about Christmas, I can decide that I’ll think about it the day before and feel anxious then. This doesn’t always work perfectly, but it does help me not to dwell on things for a long time in the lead-up.r0sad14zxx
4. Stay present
Staying in the present moment. My anxiety is mainly triggered by worrying about shit that hasn’t happened yet.limeblue31
5. Bait your anxiety
I took my therapist’s advice of baiting my anxiety. One time, I started having a particularly strong attack come upon me while I was driving, so I began talking to my anxiety. I said, ‘It this all you’ve got? No, no, go on, and get worse. Come on, make me pull over to the side of the road and pass out from hyperventilation. Do it! I don’t care if I’m late, or if you make me bawl my eyes out. I’ll just wait until you’re done and then get on with my day.’ Guess what my anxiety said? Nothing. I kept hyperventilating, but after another few minutes, the attack was over.Realistic_Peak6340
Honestly, what has really helped me is meditation and mindfulness. It seems silly at first, but it really worked for me and helps me manage panic attacks.[deleted]
7. Find the best part
My therapist once had me ponder what the ‘best part of a panic attack’ is. She was of the mindset that anxiety is your body trying to tell you something — to stop doing something, start doing something, etc. Once I looked at it that way, it was so obvious. The ‘best part’ of my panic attacks was that I was so embarrassed, I’d force myself to get away from people and be alone, whether I go to a bathroom or for a walk. I needed to be alone more.Passton
Putting a bag of ice on my chest has helped immensely! I’ve only had about three memorable anxiety attacks, but I get overly anxious a lot. Whenever I feel one coming, I put ice in a bag, sit in bed with the lights off, and try to calm down.thrxwawxy888
9. Focus on your breathing
Square breathing: Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold your breath for four seconds.kalex925
10. CBT charts
When feeling most irrational or anxious, I had to document the stressful event, my immediate reaction, the scale of anxiety (e.g. feeling 70% stressed), and what I thought would be the outcome of a scenario. Then, I’d re-examine the situation, document the most likely and rational outcome, and then re-evaluate my stress levels after writing my way through the problem. Over time, I learned how to skip over the irrational fears and immediately consider the rational scenarios when coming across new stressors and uncertainties.kalex925
11. Talk to yourself
Tell yourself, ‘Future Me already did this!’Lynnface614
I just started running, and it really helps. It sucks while I’m doing it while out of shape, but I found that I have less anxiety for most of the day when I run in the morning. I didn’t even notice until I went a whole day feeling okay and made the connection. It’s not a cure-all for sure, but it helps. I try to get a good run in if I have stuff to do later in the day. Maybe it’s a placebo, but, hey, if it works, I’ll take it.Mkbbbbb
13. Cry it out
Crying. It sounds stupid, but honestly, when I’m spiralling because of anxiety, a good cry helps me clear some the anxiety to think properly.ehdenousdsten91
14. Commit to the work
It takes consistent, sustained hard work, and dedication to healing. That’s the only thing that truly works. For me, that looks like weekly therapy, daily meditation, mental health medication, sobriety, a truly clean diet, and challenging physical exercise. This coming from a PTSD and GAD diagnosis. I wish there were hacks that truly worked in the long term, but for me, the above has absolutely transformed my life. They heal the root causes as opposed to treating the symptoms.westcoastwomann
This is sometimes vague and described differently by different psychological sources, but in general, externalization is the act of separating the anxiety from the self. This can take a few forms and can be very simple, like referring to anxiety as ‘the anxiety’ rather than ‘my anxiety.’ It can also be about talking about the anxious feelings or thoughts, and externalizing them by bringing them out of your churning mind. This doesn’t need to be done with a therapist, but they’re better at coaxing it out than a random person would be. Still, just talking about it to anyone who would be willing to listen is often very helpful, and it’s rather sad to hear how many people lack this form of outlet.AbortionSurvivor777
When I was a teenager, one thing I learned in therapy was HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Is my anxiety being caused by some underlying problem that’s exacerbating the situation at hand?
I am a total grump if I’m hungry or tired. Sometimes, I need a snack or recognize I didn’t sleep well the night before, and that might be why I’m in a bad mood or my anxiety is exacerbated.
If I’m already angry about something else, it can add extra stress and has nothing to do with the new thing causing me stress. If you feel lonely, reach out to someone or find something comforting. That is just one technique I use I find comes in handy at times.TAA200002
17. Reduce caffeine
Lowering my caffeine intake when I was so keyed up that I was triggered 24/7. I began drinking herbal tea; looking for things to be grateful for at the end of the day; writing a worry journal, wherein I dedicated one hour to paying attention to my fears, and then telling myself I could only worry until that hour the next day; meditating to bring me back to my body and the present.
I recently went through my worst bout of anxiety. It lasted two weeks. I was on edge so badly that I thought my mind was breaking, and these things saved me. I’m a firm believer that it takes multiple tricks when it gets that bad. Now, I have these things whenever I need them — like prescriptions to take as neededDissociating_biscuit
18. Focus elsewhere
My grown daughter taught me that when I’m starting to feel anxious, I should use my senses — feel something around me, look at something, listen to something, and see what smells are in the air. I almost always get minor attacks at night, and this helps calm me so I can eventually go to sleep.Puzzleheaded_Age6550
Regular orgasms. I know it sounds a bit over the top, but it’s true. Having regular orgasms really takes the edge off of life in general. Sometimes, when everything feels too difficult and overwhelming, I’ll push myself to masturbate. It really helps calm me down and clear my mind, like post-nut clarity.wifelost
20. FOG filter
I’ll use a FOG filter — Fact, Opinion, or Guess? Is what’s causing me anxiety (often particular worries) a fact, opinion, or a guess? If it’s fact, and I can support it with actual evidence, then I know what to do from there. If it’s an opinion, I’ll ‘argue’ it. If it’s a guess, I’ll look for evidence both for and against to help make it less of a guess.golden_ember