async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: 9 Fun Things You Can Do to Help Manage Your Anxiety During Stressful Times

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

9 Fun Things You Can Do to Help Manage Your Anxiety During Stressful Times

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

Do I even have to say that right now is the probably one of the most frightening times we've lived in since 9/11? The uncertainty, the lack of knowledge and mixed messages, and onslaught of bad news has sent even the calmest of folks into a tailspin. For those of us who are prone to anxiety, it has become very difficult to manage.

I could write a post about all the usual things you can do to help keep yourself calm: limit screen time and avoid the news, get outside for some fresh air, guided meditation and breathing exercises, phone a friend or video chat with a few, working out, limiting alcohol, and avoiding overeating--all things that can certainly help with managing stress. If you have anxiety issues, you know about all these things. You've probably tried some, if not all of them.

All my life, I've dealt with anxiety. Believe me, I've tried all kinds of strategies to manage my symptoms when they threaten to take over. Today I've got you covered with some creative, fun things you can do to distract yourself, make yourself smile, and maybe ease some of your anxiety. What we're dealing with right now isn't one bit fun, but taking a break from all the bad news and stress to do something different just might help ease the pain a bit.



Jump around.
Do jumping jacks. Or burpees. Or jump rope. When you're feeling anxious, do something that will get you moving and take you out of the moment. Anything that gets you to breathe deeply will help you avoid hyperventilating and take your focus off the anxiety.

Dance. Or Sing.
It doesn't matter if you're a bad dancer. Put on some fun tunes and shake your money maker. Sing along. Hook up the Wii and play Guitar Hero. We did this on Sunday and it was a blast! Guaranteed to make you smile, dancing, singing, and/or jamming to some tunes will also make you sweat and give you a dose of endorphins, nature's mood booster.

Put on Earth, Wind, and Fire's Shining Star and do the Elaine!
Stand on one leg and breathe
I know, weird, right? But it's really hard to balance without being mindful. That's the whole purpose of this exercise. Or you could just do tree pose.


Give Your Anxiety a Name
I once saw a young boy in my clinic who came in with what was most likely GERD. He told me he named it Frank. I thought that was brilliant! Why not do the same thing for your anxiety? Giving your anxiety a name can help deny the negative voices in your head.

Why Karen?
Snuggle with a pet
There's a reason that therapy dogs have become a thing for hospitalized patients and stressed out students everywhere. Research shows that petting a dog can actually lower your heart rate and produce endorphins. I've always found the sound of a cat purring to be very soothing.


And while you can't pet a fish, watching fish in a fish tank can be soothing too.

Color
Adult coloring books are all the thing right now. There is such a variety of options--I gave my nephew a People of Walmart coloring book for Christmas! Here's one that's perfect for now. I recommend colored pencils vs crayons. It's easier to stay in the lines. I also found this adult activity book with all kinds of fun things to do, if you're looking for a distraction.


Do a puzzle
Puzzles are all the thing right now too. Building a puzzle helps you focus and take your mind off the anxiety. Don't like jigsaw puzzles? Crossword puzzles, word searches, sudoku and other problem solving are also great tools for helping relieve symptoms of anxiety.

I feel like this could be a thing...
Take a forest bath
Apparently, this is something I've been doing on my trail runs and I didn't even know it. A forest bath is simply immersing yourself in nature. Going for a walk on the trails in the woods has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety and improve your mood. Works for me, every time. Just make sure you maintain proper social distancing.


Walk around barefoot outside
Obviously, it would be preferable to do this in warmer weather. Walking around barefoot is a sensory exercise that puts you in the present moment. Of course, if it's cold out or if there is snow on the ground, you'll be way more focused on that sensation than on your anxiety.



Got anxiety? Try some of these fun and unusual ways to alleviate your stress! /via @oldrunningmom #anxiety #covid19 #socialdistancing


What unusual and/or fun things do you do to alleviate your anxiety? Are you feeling more anxious with the COVID-19 pandemic?

I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics and with the Runners' Roundup: DebbieDeborahSmithaJenRachel, and Lisa.


 




34 comments :

  1. Thanks. All great ideas.

    I’ve doing a lot trail walking.

    And going out for ice cream. Lol.

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    1. We've had some crappy weather--hoping for a change so I can enjoy outside!

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  2. I was going to comment that it's a little cold to be walking around outside barefoot right now!

    Puzzles & coloring really help a lot.

    Of course there's meditation too -- I really do find that to be so helpful, which is why I keep putting out meditation videos even though they don't get a lot of views.

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    1. I cannot meditate. I have tried it but there is just too much going on in my head. That's why movement is good for me.

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  3. The forest bath is my favourite! It never fails to soothe frayed nerves ;-)
    I never thought from reading your posts that you are an anxious person, although you did mention in the past that it was one of the reasons you started running.
    Your list is great and I think we'll all be able to use some of the tips - be it now during COVID 19 or when we're hit with a personal anxiety-filled event. Thank you!

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    1. i'm one of those anxious people who keeps it all bottled up inside!

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  4. These are great! I've had anxiety for...ever? too so I totally get it. Going outside and standing barefoot totally grounds me too! If I cant do thatstanding barefoot inside on different textures (a blanket, a towel, carpet) can help. The only thing I'd add is water. Get wet- take a bath or shower. Something about being immersed in water can press reset for me.

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  5. I ordered a bunch of jigsaw puzzles yesterday - knitting and TV are starting to get boring. I like the standing on one leg idea, and yes - singing. Sometimes Google Play and I have a loud concert...my work-from-husband doesn't always appreciate that, though. ;)

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    1. I sing in the car--when I lost my voice earlier this year, it really threw me off! I couldn't sing, lol!

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  6. These are really great tips - thanks so much for sharing! I used to do puzzles all the time as a kid and I've thought about starting that back up again.

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    1. I never had the patience for jigsaw puzzles, but I do like puzzle games, like Rush Hour, Tetris, stuff like that.

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  7. Great ideas! I love the idea to color. I have 2 cats and love the sound of them purring too. I also don't like to watch a lot of news. Makes me sad and anxious. I started watching "Cheers" because I needed something to make me laugh. Plus, I've been wanting to watch it after watching "Frasier". I know, it is backwards. :-) Thank you for linking up with us!

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    1. It's fun to go back and watch those old shows. They were the best!

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  8. We've been spending more time on our instruments (piano for me, trumpet for Les.) Playing a soothing piece or concentrating on a more complicated song is a great way to keep the mind busy.
    We got our forest bath in yesterday - a mountain bike ride on our local trail. You can't worry about other things when you're so focused on staying upright!
    I've also been doing a lot of puzzles and word games.

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    1. I was thinking about starting to play the piano again--but with my son doing his virtual learning here, it's probably not the best idea!

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  9. Lots of great ideas! I'm a huge advocate for naming things...naming my IV pole (Guido), PIIC line (Linus), and scar (Voldy) allowed me to have a sense of humor during a rather challenging time. I'm sure many were rolling their eyes at the ridiculousness of it, but it definitely made my situation more bearable. Our youngest daughter has a coloring book called the F'it Book, with all kinds of choice words and sayings LOL

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  10. Thank you for sharing these! My anxiety was high for a while postpartum and it's back again with the pandemic. I noticed my anxiety was starting to rub off on my baby, so we started listening to lots of upbeat music during her wake windows. Getting outside and spending time with my dogs definitely helps also!

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    1. The sun is out and when I'm done listening to an update from work, I"m going to sit out on the deck and bathe in it for a while. This is a tough time!

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  11. Love it! Thanks for your honesty, fun ideas, and the hilarious pics/vids with each

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    1. Thanks Kemmy! I hope you are doing ok! <3 Are you working in the ER?

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  12. Stress levels are running high for many reasons, all exacerbated by COVID-19. I’m definitely in on the jigsaw puzzle craze and love seeing others doing them too.

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  13. These are great ideas! I participated in some mindfulness webinars for work this week that had all kinds of breathing strategies. Some were targeted for kids and seemed a lot more fun than just sitting still and taking deep breaths! I like the idea of standing on one leg because its so simple and you can do it anywhere.

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    1. It's all about mindfulness--and we really need that right now.

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  14. I'm doing great with this list! I love being barefoot and I wonder if that's always been a subconscious way of dealing with stress and anxiety. I also love my adult coloring books (I have one that is all dog butts, which is epic!) and I have been standing on one foot as part of PT forEVER. Singing? Girl, yes. I rock out all my Broadway soundtracks whenever I can.

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    1. I'm thinking I need to master one of those TIkTok dances, just saying...

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  15. I appreciate all the fun ideas. I will try some of them, especially the jumping around. That sounds like a good way to pound out some stress!

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  16. I love a ton of the ideas on your list: puzzles, mind/logic puzzles, dancing, singing, going for a walk, and coloring. I've also gotten back into PiYo since I can't go to the gym, and I can't run every day (my body gets unhappy with me if I do more than 3-4 days in a week). My other go-tos: reading, listening to podcasts, and knitting!

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    1. I so wish I liked to knit. I see all the cute socks everyone is knitting and I have FOMO!

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  17. You find the most hilarious memes....thank you for those!

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