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3 Anxiety Tips You've Heard, And 7 You Probably Haven't

Which have you tried?

Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed

These days, it feels like there's always something to worry or get anxious about. To deal with MY anxiety, I've come up with a toolkit of habits — both general and specific — I practice on a daily basis to remind myself I'm safe and in control of my life.

Your experience with any of these tips might not be the same. But here are the things I've landed on after a few years of trying many others. (You can read about my month of trying anti-anxiety habits here.)

1. I exercise almost every morning.

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Sure, there are many superficial physical benefits to exercise, but my primary motivation is mood-based. I've found that if I can just get 20-30 minutes of cardio exercise in the morning, my energy levels escalate from introverted zombie into Obnoxious Prom Queen. On mornings I only have seven minutes to spare, I do NYT's Scientific Seven-Minute Workout in my room. I rue the mornings that I sleep through my alarm, because I know I'll be lethargic the whole day.

2. ...and generally make myself a morning person.

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I enjoy nights, but dislike all the ruminating I inevitably do at the end of a day. My own science tells me that most of my unnecessarily bad, self-deprecating thoughts happen after 9 p.m., so I try and go to bed as early as possible.

3. Journaling is my favorite way of processing worries, subconscious thoughts, and memories.

Michelle No / BuzzFeed

I'll never forget the time I read about Dumbledore's pensieve in Harry Potter. If you haven't read the series, a pensieve is a magical basin into which you can store your memories. I always think about that image when I sit down to journal. Writing in my diary is my opportunity to review, process, and think about — in a private, judgment-free space — all the stuff I wouldn't usually have time for. On days I don't journal, I feel all stuffed up and grumpy, like a dog that hasn't been walked for several days.

Now here are the more specific things I do to help me live with my anxious brain:

4. I only look at social media on my laptop.

New Line Cinema

While we can all agree at this point that many of our Instagram feeds are not accurate reflections of the real world, the app nonetheless inspires a comparison spiral that leaves me feeling pretty shitty. I still look at Instagram on my phone from time to time — especially when I travel — but for the most part, I only log on on my laptop when I have a few minutes to kill between tasks at work. This restriction has done WONDERS for my brain and my self-confidence. I'm sure others have figured out other coping strategies, but completely removing the app (and all those tempting ads!) from my life has done the trick for me.

5. I invest in items like ear plugs, white noise machines, and eye masks to ensure quality sleep.

Michelle No / BuzzFeed

As an overly sensitive person, there is nothing I hate more than excessive noise. I remember as a kid, I used to storm out of my room and angrily turn the family TV off to make that point (lol, yeah, I admit it was spoiled and obnoxious of me and my parents weren't fans.) These days, I invest in everything from white noise machines and heavy black-out curtains to the perfect ear plugs and luxurious (but actually affordable) eye masks, to make sure I get at least seven hours of sleep every night.

6. I put my phone on "Do Not Disturb" at work.

Michelle No / BuzzFeed

I am the queen of procrastination. I will engage with any opportunity to postpone whatever work I'm trying to get done for the day, however anxiety-inducing the consequences turn out to be. For me, the "Do Not Disturb" function has been a lifesaver. When I don't have my iPhone lighting up every few minutes, I can concentrate for up to an hour at a time on whatever task at hand. My friends might have to wait an extra hour for me to react to whatever meme they sent me, but with my work done and my full attention, they'll at least know the reaction is sincere and not a cursory "lol."

7. I keep photographic evidence of my door and my oven's knobs when I leave for vacation — because OCD!

Michelle No / BuzzFeed

Every time I leave my apartment for any extended period of time, there's this thought that pops into my brain: Did I leave the stove top burner on? Did I lock my door? And despite how many times I check and re-check my home, those thoughts never fail to torture me as soon as I leave. One easy solution I've come up with is simply taking pictures of parts of my home, so that whenever one of those intrusive feelings comes up when I'm trying to relax, I can look at photos of my home and feel relieved it isn't burning down.

8. I have the same thing for breakfast every day.

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Thinking about food is fun, for the most part, but a little less so when I'm at work, with too many things to worry about. My favorite gift to myself every morning is the same breakfast (and often lunch) every day. My appetite is usually super revved up from my workout — so I'll never not love and ravish it — and it's something to look forward to first thing in the morning.

9. I watch horror movies.

Celador Films

Horror movies give me the opportunity to channel and release all my anxiety in a safe space. Also, nothing bonds me closer to a friend than watching a horror movie with them together 🙃.

10. Whenever I feel my social anxiety flaring up, I imagine myself as my best friend.

Comedy Central

I used to be painfully shy as a kid. And while I've overcome most of that unnecessary embarrassment, I still have moments when I feel extra self-conscious about a social interaction or faux-pas. When such moments come up — say, if I feel that I've made a fool of myself by getting a new friend's name wrong — instead of getting worked up about it, I imagine how I'd feel if I'd watched a close friend make the same mistake. And when the situation really calls for it, I imagine Sandra Oh, because she's my once and forever prez and I can't see her being affected by anything in life. This little visualization helps me shrug off most situations in an instant. It's actually one of my favorite exercises to do and works with most bad feelings I ever feel!

What little things do you do to keep your anxiety under control? Comment your favorite tip below!

And by the way, you can learn more about anxiety disorders here.

And if you need to talk to someone immediately, the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. A list of international suicide hotlines can be found here.

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