Adventures In Anxiety: Let's Help Calm Each Other Down

What do you do when you feel like your brain is going to explode?
Publish date:
August 23, 2011
mental health, stress, anxiety, relaxation

I am a stress mess. I've had issues with the overwhelming power of anxiety and stress ever since social troubles and schoolwork drove little perfectionist me crazy in the first grade. If I felt someone didn't like me or a situation was going awry, I'd start to feel physically ill. And I still get like that. What's the deal? Why is that people who have so much to be grateful for still feel like their world is collapsing around them?

While I'm extremely grateful to have a job like this as a creative outlet, there's a lot more swirling on around me that gives me the stressed-out heebie-jeebies. A day-to-day "regular" job that I despise, money issues, worrying about college, being disorganized, a constant feeling of being rushed, or like I'm running out of time, etc. etc. etc. Seeing as this has been a lifelong issue for me (and feels like it's getting worse all the time) I've started to pick up coping mechanisms here and there. But it's still not taking.

This is where you come in, dear readers. I want to know, how on Earth do you calm yourselves down? How do you breeze through life without feeling like you're on the verge of a heart attack? I realize a little bit of stress is healthy, but not when you feel like you're actually dying, 24/7.

So I'm going to share some of my favourite anxiety soothers with you, and then you're going to share yours with me. Because sharing is caring!

1. Get In The Water

I've always felt mellow in water. The bathtub, a pool, the ocean. I guess it's some kind of womb-like calm alien sensory deprivation thing. When you're floating, you feel a little bit weightless, calmer, soothed like a little oblivious baby. It's nice. The only problem with this method is that it's not exactly convenient. If you're having a panic attack at work, you can't really pop in the tub. Unless you work in a bathtub store.

But after a long day, who doesn't feel better laying flat in the tub, head under water, heartbeat pounding in their ears? To make this somewhat beauty-related, I'm going to suggest some bath products that will help make things a little calmer.

Lush's Tisty Tosty Bath Bomb ($6.25,

This is supposed to be some kind of bath-time love potion, but I just feel a lot calmer and dreamier when I've got little rosebuds floating around me. And it smells lovely.

Ombra's Aromatic Lavender Foam Bath ($9.95,

OK, the description for this product begins with the words "STRESSED OUT?" Why yes, I am! It's lavender, which is the most famously calming of all scents. Pour it in the tub, breathe heavily and soon enough you'll feel like a sleepy, gooey pile of mush. Put on some fancy silk pajamas and sleep your cares away. Just don't stay in bed for 15 hours like me. I guess that makes things worse.

If you don't have a tub, go to the YMCA. Swim alone, float, chill out. Or just stay at home and cry in the shower.

2. Supplement Yourself

Every day I try to take Omega-3, Vitamin D, Vitamin B, 5-HTP, and two anti-stress supplements called Venus Calm (seen above) and another called "Women's Serenity Formula." That's 6 pills, and they're not really little. Usually I can manage to remember a combination of 2 or 3, but 6? I'd try the little days-of-the-week pillboxes but they won't all fit.

Do they work? When I'm consistent, sure. Maybe. What do you guys take?

3. Breathe Like A Baby

This technique was recommended to me by a doctor. You know how when babies are sleeping, all relaxed and quiet and dreaming of puppies, their little tummies fill up with air like a ballon and go back down again? Apparently this fills you up with more oxygen and slows your heart rate, making you calmer. Basically, when you breathe in, don't suck in your stomach but breathe so deeply that your whole torso fills up, then breathe out to release, all very slowly. It does help during those times when your heart rate picks up and you feel short of breath. Oh babies, always so helpful.

So, what do you guys do when your life has turned into a never-ending stress spiral? Is it yoga? I'm not particularly keen on the idea of a yoga class because I don't really like being around people. Seems like it would cause me more stress ... But really, tell me what it is that's helped you out. I'm clearly desperate.