Five easy things to try when you are feeling anxious:

5 – Listen to music!  Find some music you haven’t listened to in quite some time.  It may just bring a smile to your face, make you dance or laugh.  Use music to help you get motivated to do something you’ve been meaning to do for a while – and then, do it.  Or, just listen to music that distract you and keeps you from thinking too much.

4 – Turn off the TV!  I know this won’t be a popular one, but we think that television has a calming effect on us and it doesn’t.  Studies show that watching TV actually shows less brain activity than sleeping.  TV is actually stressing us out, especially the news.  Try limiting yourself to one hour a day of television and don’t watch anything that may upset you (like the news) before you go to bed.

3 – Start writing.  Write about your emotions – what are you feeling right now.  Whenever you’re feeling anxious, take out a journal and write about other emotions/feelings going on for you at the same time.  You can even take this time to draw or paint – it doesn’t have to make sense, just create something for yourself and allow your inner child to express him/herself.  Try to let it be about the process of expression and not the product.

2 – Reconnect with your body.  Exercise is a good way to relieve anxiety and stress because you are paying attention to your body and realizing that you have a body.  We are often walking around like floating heads, living almost entirely in our minds and brains and neglecting to recognize that we also have a body.  Sometimes we want to ignore our body because we feel it betrayed us or we have some hatred toward it, so we don’t want to live in it.  Start slow if this last description seems to fit you.  Sometimes gentle forms of exercise like walking and yoga can feel better than a hard workout at the gym.  Do what works best for you at the moment and don’t worry about breaking your normal routine.  Changing your routine may actually help in reducing your anxiety as well.  Also, keep in mind that too much of anything, even healthy things like exercise, can actually be unhealthy – BALANCE is the key.

1 – BREATHE!  Another great way of reconnecting to your body is breathing.  Take a moment whenever you’re feeling anxiety, panic, or fear and put both feet flat on the floor and then just take a few slow, deep breaths.  Focus all your attention on your breath.  Follow the air as it goes in through your nostrils, into your lungs, and out of your mouth.  Notice the rise of fall of your belly as you breathe.  Slow down!  Take the time to listen to your body, rather than your mind for a moment.  You might be amazed at what you discover by just being in the moment.

Kimberly Atwood is a psychotherapist in private practice in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. She specializes in working with women and men in their late teens, 20’s and 30’s dealing with eating disorders, sexual and relationship issues, anxiety, life transitions and personal growth.  Please visit for more information.