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There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in the world right now, and it all feels pretty scary and overwhelming. But know that you can — and will — get through it. Most importantly, you’re not alone. We feel stressed and anxious, too.
There are some very simple things you can do to help yourself calm down when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. The best part? They cost $0. Keep reading for a few healthy coping strategies.
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1. Breathe deeply and mindfully.
Breathing deeply is meditative, and it will help calm down your nervous system if you’re feeling overwhelmed. You don’t even have to take a certain number of breaths, according to Tamar Chansky, a psychologist and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety. Breathing in and then out for an equal number of seconds can help ease anxious feelings.
Some people like to use an app — like Calm or Headspace — for quick guided meditation or breathing exercises. Just pop your headphones in for a few minutes minutes and listen along. The act of tuning everything out, even for a short while, can help lessen feelings of stress.
2. Get outside.
Going outside for a quick walk can help alleviate feelings of stress almost instantly. That old saying about just getting some fresh air is honestly true. Experts say that simply being in nature is calming. Plus the act of walking is also said to be a great idea generator and creativity sparker (see “Why Walking Helps Us Think“).
Take a longer walk for some light exercise and it will help to boost your happy hormones plus take your “mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety,” says experts at The Mayo Clinic.
3. Call someone you love.
Talking to someone about your worries or fears can help put it all in perspective. It can also just feel good to vent and get things off your chest. But most importantly, talking to a loved one can make you feel less alone. Bonus, your BFF or sibling might make you laugh — so you’ll also be checking off #5 on this list.
4. Drink a glass of water.
Dehydration can make your anxious feelings worse, so instead of grabbing another cup of coffee or sugary drink (it’s counterintuitive, but you don’t need to amp yourself up when you’re feeling down) — instead load up on fresh water to keep yourself hydrated. It sounds simple, but it works. Water will also help your brain function better, too, which will help you cope with life’s stresses.
This may seem hard right now, or maybe even inappropriate, but laughing is actually a really useful tool for calming your anxious feelings. If there’s a video, meme, or listicle that makes your laugh, Google it. Or call a friend who always cracks you up. Right now, the world needs more togetherness, love, and laughter — not darkness and pain.