8 Small Ways to Calm an Anxious Mind

Sometimes, the world just makes me want to crawl into the coziness of my bed and never leave. From the tumultuous presidential election, to the constant fear of terrorism, to wondering whether you’ll make rent this month, it’s enough to make anyone feel completely stressed out. If you suffer from anxiety, diagnosed or undiagnosed, here are eight ways to cope with tough situations in your day-to-day life.

1. Get off social media

At different points in your 20s, social media seems to have varied ways to make you feel anxious. There’s “Why is everyone out tonight but me?” in your early 20s to “Why is everyone in serious relationships?” in your mid-20s to “Why is everyone married but me?” in your late 20s. Sometimes, feeling calm again means taking a temporary hiatus from social media. Even just logging off in the evenings or for one day each week will make a huge difference.

2. Get active

I love to go for a jog, particularly on Sundays. It clears my head and gets me ready for the crazy week ahead. Just a simple 30-minute walk or jog does wonders for the body—and soul.

3. Volunteer at an animal shelter

Animals are such calming creatures. I wish I knew about opportunities at local animal shelters in my 20s. Just a simple cuddle with my dog makes me feel calm and happy again. I can instantly feel my breathing getting deeper and steadier. There are many opportunities at local shelters as well as humane societies. Now, I am lucky to have adopted my own dog from a local animal shelter so I get 24/7 cuddles.

4. Pray

When your world seems like it’s crumbling down around you, I always love to find a quiet place and pray. Sometimes, it’s in my bed at night. Other times, it’s while I’m walking my dog in the little dog park near our apartment before sunrise. Find those little moments and use them to your advantage. Talk to God for a little while about your worries and concerns to make yourself feel more comfortable.

5. Eat healthy

Everything in moderation, right? Do you ever feel gross after eating mostly junk food all weekend? That’s your body telling you to eat cleaner and greener. Trust me, I speak from experience—you will feel so much better eating lots of fruits and vegetables. Lately, many magazines and health blogs have been saying “eat the rainbow.” Give it a try, it sure makes for a fun way to plan your meals!

6. Sleep

This is such a simple piece of advice, but sleep is SO helpful. I am more aware of my anxiety when I don’t get a lot of sleep and often feel myself clenching my teeth and breathing shallowly. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night and you will wake up feeling more prepared to take on the day. Some simple and easy ideas to get better sleep include less screen time before bed and not eating after 8 p.m. Even a bit of gentle yoga before bed helps too!

7. Talk to someone

Chances are, many of your friends might sometimes feel a similar anxiety. Grab a coffee and sit and chat about everything that’s bugging you. Sometimes by just venting to a friend, anxiety about a certain issue can seem less overwhelming.

8. Get involved with a supportive community

Getting involved with a community, whether it be your local soup kitchen, nonprofit, or just simply helping those in your community in need can make a huge difference. For example, it took me about four or five churches to find one I truly loved after I moved from Pittsburgh to D.C. for college. The reason why I love the one I attend now? I’m involved. When a couple of parishioners took me under their wings, encouraged me to donate old clothes for their fall clothing drive and become a regular Saturday evening Mass usher, I truly felt welcome. The feeling of comfort in finding a loving and supportive community overrides my anxiety.