The Top 11 All-Natural Things That Help Me Calm The F*ck Down

Last night, half an hour before the $1.5 billion Powerball lottery numbers were called out, I was lying in my bed and staring at the wall and feeling a rising panic in my chest. What about all the people I wasn’t going to be able to help if I won the Powerball. $600 million is a lot of money, but it couldn’t save everyone. How would I choose? How would I choose who to rescue and who to leave to die? How would I trap my favorite feral cat and help her settle into the enormous, temperature-regulated habitat I would create for in the backyard of the new house I would buy? What if she stopped eating? How would I get a vet to treat her; it’s not like she’d ever willingly let a human touch her! How could I figure out a way to financially take care of my mom without ever seeing or being exploited by her?

The best thing I could think about winning Powerball was that I could buy one Chapstick for every single pocket of every item of clothing I own. I would never be Burt’s Bees-less for even a second for the rest of my life.

I’ve got anxiety, and lots of it. When my grandma sends me a Facebook message asking me to call home, I know everyone I love is dead. I know at least three serial killers live under my bed. I know my girlfriend is going to get hit by a bus on the way home from work, and if she doesn’t, she’s going to be furious at me when she gets here for not doing the dishes. (She could not care less about the dishes!) I know Riese is going to fire me every day, that I did in fact leave the oven on and the house has burned down, and that there’s no point in trying to sleep when I did something embarrassing in the fourth grade. Oh my god, and then again in the sixth grade!

But it’s not all fretting and belly aches around here. I’ve learned some good ways to combat my anxiety. Here are the top 11 all-natural things that help me calm the fuck down.

1. ASMR Videos

Most people don’t “get” ASMR and that’s okay. I found it accidentally and it has changed my life more than any other thing I’ve ever tried for combatting anxiety. I listen to a video every night before bed, on airplanes, when I wake up in the night with my mind racing, when something gets me going during the middle of the day. Any time I have 20 minutes and Wi-Fi and need to relax, ASMR is my go-to. Emma here is my favorite ASMR-ist. She has seen me through many, many troubled days and nights.

2. Video Games


I am particularly fond of open world RPGs where I always have at least three different character builds going and can hop on and put on some armor and get into someone else’s head for a little while. It’s infinitely more relaxing to decide whether or not to kill a dragon or befriend a feral ghoul than it is to try to get my real world landlord to turn on the heat.

3. Ice Water


I know, I know, tea and herbs and all that. For me, it’s water. Ice water. I like it so cold it gives me brain freeze when I chug it. It’s a shock to my system and it feels like jumping into a cold lake, which feels like it resets my whole train of thought!

4. Pretending I’m Rubeus Hagrid

I always tell people to try to talk to themselves the way they would talk to their best friends about their best friends’ insecurities and anxieties, but for me it works better to imagine that I’m Rubeus Hagrid (which isn’t far off, honestly) and Dumbledore is talking to me. “Really, Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I’m afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time.”

5. Exercise


At least that way I can claim some power over my heart racing.

6. Telling Someone I Trust That I’m Anxious


Anxiety feels like a secret, and for most of my life, instead of telling anyone how I felt (because how do you describe something that you don’t understand?) (and because people mostly have always responded with sayings your preacher would have cross-stitched on a pillow, and that makes me even more anxious), I just kept it all inside of me and let it make me sad and lonely and irritable and alienated. Now I say to my girlfriend, “I feel very anxious for some reason” and just saying it helps. (And also when she hugs me after I tell her, and pets my face and head.)

7. Petting My Pets


Research backs this one up.

8. Dirt and Trees and Grass and Leaves


Being close to nature feels good, but it also has a profound effect on our physiology. I am never happier than when I can smell dirt and hear the rustle of leaves blowing through the trees. In New York City, that’s not easy; and it’s absolutely the hardest part about living here. I’m working on this one. I haven’t figure it out yet, but I’m getting there.

9. Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

10. Bob Ross

Here are 50 happy little things he taught me too!

11. The Great British Bake Off

The greatest show on earth.

Okay, your turn: What calms you the fuck down?

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. yeeess. i felt the weirdest sense of relief the first time i heard a siren in new orleans before i knew anyone because for years i thought every siren meant my grandparents were dead and the ambulance was on the way.

    i am also usually convinced that a request to call home indicates that everyone i love is dead.

    grateful for this.

  2. this is so good heather! i’ve been watching bob ross every day for the past few days. i feel calmer just thinking about it.

  3. Hey, and I was just thinking “Perhaps reading a bit of Autostraddle will help divert me from the past 2 days of chest tightness and irrational thoughts including ‘These strangers on the bus are laughing at me.'” Thank you for reading my mind and for the good ideas! ^^

  4. I’m sorry to hear your anxiety is so often present and causes this distress. As a fellow person living with bad anxiety, gosh it’s not fun!

    I love the way you write about mental health Heather, I’ve been reading your column Diary of a SAD Girl, and the way you describe living with mental illness is so poignant and has made me feel less alone. It’s come as I’ve dealt with the realisation that my gad and ptsd were as bad and as all-consuming as I secretly knew they were but didn’t want to really acknowledge.

    This is also a very timely post, as my ny resolution was to broaden the range of self care practices that I regularly use. These strategies all sound awesome, and I can really vouch that I use some of them and they are awesome.

    I wanted to bring something up, not as a criticism but just because in the past to my own mind “natural” strategies have always been put in a binary against chemical strategies, and I always believed the natural to be somehow intrinsically preferable to taking medication. There can often be a lot of stigma against medication, and it takes a particular form in feminist and queer circles (I think partly for very good social and historical reasons!).

    I guess I’d like to say though that when the natural is presented, sometimes without an acknowledgement that using chemical strategies is also valid and sometimes helpful, it can add to the discouragement of a tool that can be very positive for some people.

    I’m definitely not saying that this list needed to include medication, but i wanted to chime in to say that medication is also valid, and isn’t necessary in opposition to natural strategies.

    I’ve used an SSRI for the first time at 25 for the last month, after being so scared of trying, and really aware of that natural vs chemical/unnatural binary in my own mind, and they’ve been a real game changer for me. I’ve bee lucky in that I’ve had minimal and passing side effects, and have felt a sense of wellbeing and calm I’d never experienced before (and have been able to feel actually happy about my really joyful and stable circumstances and relationship, which has also been a blast). So I wanted to just add this very long comment to say all this.

    • You’ve put into words something that was tweeking at my mind, too. Basically, I second all of the above.

      I was so scared when I first started to take meds, a couple of years ago, but it was really a game-changer for me, too. Best of luck with it, Sasha X

    • Oh! No, I was definitely not advocating for natural remedies over chemical ones. I take Adderall for my ADHD because that is my main mental struggle, so I’m always looking for other non-chemical ways to help supplement my other brain stuff. My girlfriend is on an SSRI that is vital for her life, and my sister too. I firmly believe in them!

    • SSRIs can be scary, I know. I was put on Lexapro when I was 21 and thought I was such a failure for being on antidepressants. However the combination of a stronger dose of Lexapro and therapy alleviated the deepest part of my depressive episode.

      The biggest thing to know about medication is that you won’t be on it forever, and most people aren’t. Post my treatment, I’ve been taken off of Lexapro and have lots of coping mechanisms that I simply couldn’t master because I was too deep into my depression to focus on them. Medication is a boat, but you have to row yourself out of the harbor.

    • yep to all of this. I take an SSRI (which I am convinced saved my life) and take xanax on occasion when my anxiety starts affecting my physical health. There ain’t nothing wrong with medical help.

    • This very much mirrors my experiences, so thank you for saying it. Zoloft saved my life, even if it helped me gain 10kg.

  5. Listening to calming guided meditations on my walk to school and Bach Flower Rescue Remedy spray.

  6. Thank you for sharing these great solutions, Heather! Here’s something that helps me. I think back to exactly one month ago (hell, even one week ago works), and say to myself, “Something was probably bothering me at this point…now what was it?” And 99.9% of the time, I can’t come up with a thing. Proof positive that I managed to get through whatever it was and get on with life, because here I am now!

  7. omg look at martha, she’s so cute!

    the great british bake-off is basically the only thing that has calmed me down during this very very upsetting week. if i’m having a tough day, i just think of richard’s eclair stairs.

  8. These are great, Heather. Thank you :) I haven’t heard of ASMR before, so I’m going to look into that with some curiosity.

    Its a cliche one, but music has always really helped me. The ‘Beautiful Freak’ album by Eels in a way held my hand through a mental breakdown a few years back, and has come to mean an aweful lot to me – especially Beutiful Freak itself, Rags to Rags and Not Ready Yet.


    Emancipator has also helped, among other stuffs.
    Sometimes I like music to be fast and angry, punching out energy and emotions; sometimes I like it to be calming, soothing and cathartic, and sometimes I just want to hear something that resonates with my own messed up feelings, so that I don’t feel as though I’m alone with them, or reminds me of good things or my own strengths.

    I know this is a pretty basic thing, and that a lot of people use music the same way, but I’ve found that being conciously aware of what soothes me, and being able to turn to it when I need to, helps.

  9. for the exercise thing, i learned that it has to increase proportionally if the amount of stress in my life goes up, in order to maintain good mental health.

    also there’s a pretty good subreddit called exercise out of depression (eood) that the moderators keep positive and constructive.

    happy friday everyone.

    • last night i couldn’t sleep for hours and when i finally did, i dreamed i got fired from my job and my house was infested with big flying roaches and then i got a new job but on the first day i accidentally set three separate fires. Lol my brain.
      so, even though i have a pulled muscle and no time, i am def going swimming today. i will feel betterrrrrrr.

      • I don’t recommend exercising through an injury if you don’t have an okay from your doc! Ask me how I know

  10. Watching old Nickelodeon cartoons and reading works for me. This list has really good suggestions.

  11. 1. Talking to my girlfriend about feeling anxious, and what I am anxious about.
    2. Listening to Fleetwood Mac
    3. Watching Harry Potter (I call this “Going to Hogwarts”)
    4. Going to the beach. To walk, swim, stare – whatever. I like to be near water.

    When my mother died in 2014, I did these things daily.

    (I’m 39, btw!)

  12. When I am stressed out or anxious about something in my life, the ONLY thing that works is to get OUT of my life, and into someone else’s. Meaning, read a book, watch a movie, watch tv, whatever, as long as I’m immersed in someone else’s story instead of my own.

    This more than occasionally backfires, because often the reason I get stressed out is because I’ve spent the last 8 hours watching TV and now I’m anxious about finishing whatever I have to do on time, and the only way to calm myself down is to…watch more tv. Not the greatest plan.

  13. if my anxiety is like insanely bad, like i feel like i’m gonna maybe die because i can’t stop crying enough to breathe like a person, an ice cold shower works really well. it’s fucking terrible, but it’s a scaled-up version of your glass of ice water, and it gets in direct contact with the nerves that stimulate the diver’s reflex aka your brain’s reset button aka the shut up feelings we have SHIT TO DO like BREATHING button. it’s not a major fix (if i start to think about the problems again i can go back to freaking out) but if i just need to go the fuck to sleep, or get myself to eat a bowl of cereal, or something, it’s very helpful.

  14. “there’s no point in trying to sleep when I did something embarrassing in the fourth grade. Oh my god, and then again in the sixth grade!”


    So here’s what helps me:

    – If I’m alone and feeling anxious I usually say out loud to myself: “I’m feeling anxious. Why am I feeling anxious? I am feeling anxious because… ” and then I list the things that are on my mind. It took me a long time to be able to identify my feelings like this, and to recognize them in connection to my anxiety. It takes practice.

    – Petting my pets – this is the best!!! Really helps when I’m stressed.

    – Also saying to myself “I love you [name], you are safe”

  15. Ugh, heather, this is such a great article and list. I love you so much and I’m sorry that you go through this, but also glad that you’ve found some things that help.

    For me, I listen to music by Rebecca Sugar, i cook and also definitely Great British Bake Off.

  16. So that entire intro is exactly my life???

    But for real I have a newish job that makes my anxiety SKYROCKET because all the people I work with are cool in a way I’ve never been/never been interested in being and it causes so much anxiety because I want my peers to like/respect me, but also like there’s no way to really feel like I’m a part of the group? Basically I feel like a Leslie Knope in the middle of a bunch of Shane McCutcheons.

    Great British Bake off and Bob’s Burgers are very high on my list of anti-anxiety remedies, also really anything on the BBC especially if it’s history related.

    • This is kinda beside the point, I feel like Leslie and Shane would eventually come to some sort of liking/understanding. Shane and April share some chill/cool DNA, and the Leslie/April friendship is ends up being great.

      Oh man a Shane/Leslie friendship…
      *Shane giving Leslie dating advice in the earlier seasons. Leslie starts inadvertently attracting all the ladies.
      *Leslie unknowingly inspiring Shane to get her shit together (at least for a few episodes), through the sheer wattage of her Leslie-ness.
      *Shane teaching Leslie what all the cool kids are saying these days, half-smiling when Leslie bungles it.
      *Leslie going above and beyond whenever Shane needs anything. Ex. when Jenny kicks Shane out, instead of getting a side-eye at Bette and Tina’s, Leslie makes Shane an afgan, buys nine boxes of her favorite cereal, raids Ben’s closet for clean clothes (“You don’t really need all these undershirts, do you honey? You certainly don’t need all these pants” *eyes Ben’s butt*)

      Um. Anyway. If that was helpful at all. lol

      • Hahaha, this is amazing! But imagine the initial awkwardness! That’s where I’ve been living. Also imagine a slightly more socially awkward Leslie (a little less prone to making friends) and also I feel like Shane’s interest would be kind of piqued by someone like Leslie, so that’s a bit of an imperfect metaphor. Imagine a Shane more likely to find Leslie’s quirkiness less endearing and more childish and tacky I guess. That’s a paints a little bit more accurate picture of my situation.

        But now I kind of want to see a Parks and Rec/L Word crossover hahaha.

        • Oh geez definitely, lots of initial awkwardness. I hope your abundance of Shanes eventually turns out to be a less-stressful sitch.

          Also, The L Word would definitely have to come to Pawnee, that would be hilarious.

  17. The Great British Bake Off is majestic and has enormous power to heal. In 2015, after my mother was diagnosed with secondary uterine cancer, I acquired the episodes. It was never overtly stated but we had a pact: we only watched together.

    Imagine a hospital room. Now imagine that with a laptop, speakers and snacks. For a magical hour- between nurses doing observations, doctors and the tea lady- the fuckedupedness that is cancer would disappear. When she was at home, recovering, the GBBO was the only thing that would get her out of bed. A 3 hour round-trip is nothing when it’s saving the life of the person you love (and yourself too).

    There’s a couple of apps I would recommend if AMSR is your jam: & it’s counterpart, Sunny. I use these frequently in my classroom and for migraine relief.

    The last thing I’d like to mention is fear. My anxiety is paralysing. I retreat from the world and spend a lot of time with my cat. But a lot of the time, I’m scared. My psychologist explained to me once that FEAR is an acronym:
    False Expectations Appearing Real.

    I partner this with my 5* (* or 10-30) minute rule. Most stuff is only going to last a short time: If I can recognise my fear, and last 5 minutes in that situation, I can leave whatever it is – and not feel guilty. I exposed myself to my absolute limit; for my own self care, I know anything beyond this is sabotage.

    [Everything I’ve learnt has taken hours of therapy, medication and self-care – don’t give up because it DOES get better].

  18. My yoga instructor. She’s a lifeline and every friday night her voice (just her voice, not even yoga practice) calms me down and soothes EVERYTHING away. It’s now a pavlovian response, I don’t need to wait until the end of the practice to feel the tension disappear: I get in the room, I see her face and I feel that everything is going to be alright for at least an hour.

  19. Omg!!! ASMR is a revelation! I know that tingly feeling and the exquisite accompanying drowsiness that occur every time someone I trust plays with my hair. I had NO IDEA there was a name and entire relaxation-geared community behind it. Wow. This is going to be a game changer for me.
    Thank you, Heather! I also use the soothing power of video games, Hay Day is my favorite, harvesting the crops and tending to the animals, while no one gets hurt or killed. I find the ice water technique entertaining, I tend to go on brisk walks in cold weather with the exact same purpose of resetting my brain. Leaving the room sometimes helps too, as going through a doorway resets the brain, preparing it for new stimuli/activity (which is why we sometimes forget what we came into the room for).

  20. I just started having anxiety attacks about my chosen field a few months ago. Feeling like I’m behind everyone else, feeling like I’m not as good as them, will never achieve recognition for my work–heck, will never put OUT work, because I’m paralyzed by the thought of being nothing. I hibernated for three months, took a long hard look at what’s keeping me immobile, and you know what? I realized most of my worst fears are completely unfounded. But for the days when I feel my breath catching, and can’t talk, I face myself in a mirror and whisper what I know to be true– that I am good enough, that I’m great, that I’ve got my own back, that I can’t let fear keep me from the big failures and successes. And you know what? It helps so damn much. I actually believe in myself, and am proud of myself–two things I’ve never felt before. And I’ve never felt so optimistic about the future. :)

  21. my default anxiety shows are Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Parks and Rec; other temporary solutions that I use include chocolate, tea, knitting, and re-reading The Secret History or Harry Potter (or if at all possible skyping my best friend)

  22. In college, when I’d get overwhelmed, I’d stand on things. Chairs, beds, desks. Like I was literally drowning and just wanted to poke my head above water and BREATHE. Like the ground had turned to lava and going up, up, up was the only option. I don’t know if actually standing on things helped, but I do know it signaled my roommates that I was freaking out and they could talk me down.

    Now it’s mostly playlists for me. Depending on what’s going on – what’s making me anxious, what I’m worried about, what I want to accomplish and what’s holding me back – I have different types of music I go to. If I can’t focus for the life of me, I have a “Hocus Focus” playlist that’s Paramore and Fall Out Boy and kind of lyric-heavy rock music. If I’m feeling like everything is too much, I have a few soothing music playlists. If it’s my social anxiety trying to keep me from going somewhere with friends, I have my favorite dance/Top 40 songs all in one place. When I’m sad and want to feel cathartic about it, I have a Wallowing playlist, when I’m sad and want to snap out of it, I have an Optimism playlist.

    The list goes on. Sometimes even creating playlists is helpful on its own.

    But also I agree that talking about it – no matter how weird – helps me. Like how even just writing all this out made me feel all calm. Though it could also be the music I’m listening to while I write…

  23. i read this because slate published an article about hillary clinton dressing like a lesbian that made me so mad i rage tweeted one million times and i wanted to calm down but then the mary oliver poem made me cry so i don’t know if that’s better

    i’m a raw nerve today i guess. happy friday.

  24. My anxiety has gotten a lot better in the last couple years. I was abused as a kid and then ended up in an abusive relationship in high school and after that it took a lot to heal myself from that. But there are definitely a number of things that have helped.

    1) Being held. Being squeezed or snuggled calms me right down. It’s like magic anxiety suppression.

    2) Talking about my anxiety. Explaining to my girlfriend what I am worried about both makes it sound ridiculous to me. But no matter what I said I was worried about she reassures me. And now, after four years, she can see me in some situations and reassure me about exactly what I was worrying about even before I told her. She is magic or my worries are predictable. Maybe both.

    3) Since my anxiety has gotten more manageable I’ve started using lavender and frankincense oil mixed into coconut oil and putting it on the back of my neck. The combo is calming physically and helps me quiet my mind by myself.

    4) Watching happy shows or gay ones help. I’ve really loved Community, Parks and Rec, and Brooklyn 99 for their happiness. I’ve also started listening to the “Mortified” podcast. Listening to other people’s diary entries is a good laugh and a great way to calm down.

  25. Thanks for this article! Gonna try some of these for sure. It’s strange but my tried and true anxiety buster is cooking shows. Something about the beautiful laid out food and methodical chopping and mixing seems to distract me. Also, goodness, I have never been able to read that Mary Oliver poem without crying after reading it at my sisters wedding :’)

  26. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the Mary Oliver entry. I have a copy of that poem on my wall at work because it helps me with anxiety. If I’m feeling overwhelmed I’ll whisper it to myself and feel a little more grounded.

  27. Honestly, reminders like this that I’m not the only one help a lot.

    Also, reading books I have read one zillion times. The Secret Garden, any of the Louisa May Alcott books (though I am partial to Jo’s Boys and Rose in Bloom), the Little House books especially These Happy Golden Years, any of the Harry Potter books, To Kill a Mockingbird. Any one that feels safe because it has always been safe before. When someone dies and that is the cause of my anxiety, always Winnie the Pooh.

    Getting out of the apartment helps too, mostly because anxiety triggers agoraphobia, and it helps to get over myself and remember that nothing outside the door is actually going to eat me. (Though it would be ironic if that actually happened.)

  28. I needed this post so much today! So an hood and headed into therapy now, so I’ll post again later. I love to organize my things when I can’t organize my thoughts!

    An example: I’m anxious right now so I sat in my car and pretended to look at my phone while I watched the mail woman next to me organize her van. Cathartic AF!!!!

  29. This post could not have come at a better time. If anyone has thoughts/feels wrt meds for anxiety, gimme a shout?

    As always, thank you, Heather <3

  30. Oh, I love this! I never understood the appeal of video games for anxiety relief until I started playing Child of Light last week, which I swear has saved me during this, the most stressful week of EVER. I also find that mindful meditation is really helpful. i have a 108 bead mala, and I try to sit with it, in the quiet, and pass the beads through my fingers with the mantra “may i feel safe, may i feel strong, may i feel content, may i live with ease.” I try to start it thinking of one specific person, go through 108 recitations for them, then do 108 for myself, then 108 for someone else. Oh, and the Hufflepuff common room on ambient mixer is amaaaazing.

    Going to read everyone else’s comments now. I really, really love this post.

    • oh gosh, and also, bullet journaling is amazing for anxiety, bc when a thought comes in my head, i have a hard time moving past it unless i physically write it down. i write everything down. i just started back to school, and even though i have a physical copy of my syllabus and an electronic copy, I still had to get out my journal and write shit down so I would retain it. So I just keep a page in my bullet journal where I put unhelpful thoughts, and I swear it helps keep them at bay. it’s also really useful to have a specific place to put down USEFUL thoughts as well, so I’ll know where to find them when my brain calms the fuck down.

    • Commenting because Child of Light. It’s such a beautiful and soothing game!! Have you tried Ori and the Blind Forest yet? It has a similar feel to it, and is pretty relaxing once you’re over being hit by All the Feels from the intro.

      • i haven’t! but i’ve been looking for games to play when i finish Child of Light, so I will for sure be checking these out. Thank you!

  31. I love this list, and SAD girl columns are so fabulous.

    What helps me when I’m getting anxious/depressed/OHGODWHATWHAT:

    1. Videos of baby animals. Too Cute! from Animal Planet especially.
    2. Juggling to chillstep playlists. The focus on movement takes me out of what I’m worried about and it becomes meditative.
    3. Videogames. Oh, the joy of six hours of me time! Seriously, one day I need to write a piece on how Mass Effect (literally) saved my life.
    4. Am I hungry? Am I tired? These actually factor in much more heavily to my anxiety than I ever thought they did.
    5. Planning. Even making plans for stuff that will never happen assures me that if it did, I’d be super prepared.
    6. Exercise.
    7. Private dance parties. In only my socks. Don’t ask why being mostly naked is relaxing.
    8. Music. If a song has a vastly different tempo or pitch than I remember it having, I’m really anxious. Finding the right pitch while listening to it actually does help calm down.
    9. Drawing. Can often express what I can’t really say. I can throw it away and it feels better.
    10. I’m currently working on a blanket for my soon-to-arrive baby niece. Crafting is calming as hell.

    I can’t think of a number eleven, but that’s cool, things don’t have to be perfect.

  32. Lydia! Surprisingly not headless! I find practicing the piano (in addition to all your awesome suggestions that work for me too) helps a lot. Literally anything that distracts me from focusing on my internal dialogue helps a ton.

  33. Thanks Heather, this is great. I also very recently and unexpectedly discovered ASMR and it has been wonderful and also very helpful to have a concrete explanation for why I’ve gotten tingly over some rather odd things!

    I find this checklist super helpful for calming down, the title sounds a bit naff, but it really works for me in terms of having a calm list of things to go through when my head isn’t maybe in the place to think clearly through what I could do to calm down and feel better! I usually only make it halfway down the list

    Everything is awful and I’m not okay: questions to ask before giving up >

    The other things are watching Friends, Brooklyn Nine-Nine or How I Met Your Mother on Netflix, because they’re so relaxed and Friends – in particular – I have seen every episode countless times, that it’s just calming.

    Or, sometimes I’ll put on Taylor Swift 1984, and make myself get up and bop around and shake it off to Shake it Off. Which probably sounds kind of lame, but bopping around really helps cheer me up!

    Thanks again Heather for writing this, it will be interesting to read what other folks do to calm down!

  34. I imagine i’m a dragon. Specifically the fire and the total absolute irrelevance of the little stick figures running. Or, fuck flying, i could simply fall asleep for a century.

  35. Lately I’ve been binging Nurse Jackie. Watching someone else’s chaotic life unfold puts all my problems into perspective or just serves as an excellent distraction depending on the day.

    • Same here. My partner broke up with me the night before NYE and Nurse Jackie has been my lifeline through these three hellish, anxiety- and tear-filled weeks.

      • Omg I’m sorry. I’ve also been going through some hellish, anxiety-filled weeks. I just finished the last season and I wish it had a more uplifting ending.

  36. I listen to music, read, do deep breathing exercises…. Rain sounds relax me completely and watching massage videos does it too (I know it’s weird but it works).
    Writing down what’s wrong helps me get out of my head. If I get anxiety when I’m driving I’ll listen to stand up comedians on Pandora.

  37. You can’t befriend the feral ghouls, they’re mindless zombies (although you can pacify them by wearing the mask in 3.) You’re thinking of the intelligent ghouls like Gob or Raul. :)

    ASMR has become my number one relaxation technique even though I don’t experience any of the euphoric sensations other people seem to. It’s just nice to have someone whispering to you. Anyone with insomnia/anxiety should definitely try it.

  38. For me, guided meditation (generally imagining myself on a beach and timing my breathing to the waves crashing) really helps. Baking is also really comforting – I have my mom’s cookie recipe down to muscle memory, so I don’t have to worry about messing something up. And the repetition of swimming laps (especially in the tiny pool in my apartment building) clears my head like nothing else.

  39. If I’m feeling like I’m about have a panic attack, I will:
    1. use the SAM anxiety app on my phone (reading or saying the quote about panic being a natural, temporary response over and over helps me)
    2. make myself laugh, even though nothing funny is happening – something about the actual physical action of laughter helps slow my breathing down
    3. tell myself to ignore it
    4. count something, like the beads on a bracelet or tiles on the ceiling or words on a page
    5. find all the colors of the rainbow in my immediate surroundings
    6. send a very long text to someone about anything at all. Distraction is key!

    If I’m just feeling anxious in general, I will:
    1. watch or read something very familiar, like The Office or Harry Potter
    2. ask my girlfriend to rub my back or head
    3. go for a run or walk
    4. cross stitch
    5. plan what I’ll say to my therapist the next time I see her.

  40. I did not know about ASMR and I feel all tingly after watching the video! I’m going to try to use it to help me sleep tonight. Thank you so much!

    As far as combatting my own anxiety, I’m still working on that, but the natural things that have helped the most are: grounding myself, distraction, and counting (I’m autistic, so this may not help most people, but for me, when I’m super anxious it helps to find an intricate pattern I can look at and count the repeated things with my eyes. IDK if this makes any sense).

  41. Super late to the comment game, but– I leave this article open in a tab on my phone and even just opening it and reading through it and the comments is the first step to calming down!

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