Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental health issues in the United States, affecting up to 40 million adults every year. This week, actor and comedian Bill Hader spoke openly about his experience of living with anxiety, and the unique method he devised for coping — and now others are doing the same. In a thread on Reddit, people have been sharing their best tips for dealing with anxiety.
Of course, the first thing somebody should do if they are struggling is to seek help: a lot of the tools recommended by commenters on the thread come from their own experiences of cognitive behavioral therapy. Many cited the “five senses check” as a means of grounding themselves during an anxiety flare-up: a popular method favored by psychiatrists.
“Identify five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste,” explained one commenter. “It helps ground you in the present and take your mind off of whatever is triggering your anxiety in the moment. Although it may not work for everyone, it’s helped me through many panic attacks!”
Another user recommended “identifying triggers and avoiding them if possible,” and describes “preparing for situations that I know will trigger my anxiety beforehand if they can’t be avoided.”
“I save compliments,” said one guy. “Friend says I’m a good friend? I write that shit down. Boss gives me kudos on my work? I save that email. Stranger likes my outfit? I make a note of that. Twin Bro laughs his ass off at my joke? That’s going in my journal.”
Others advised mindfulness exercises such as long walks, meditation and journaling, all of which can have calming effects. Diet and routine have also helped some people: eating well, sleeping well, exercising and sticking to a schedule keep both the mind and body active, and less susceptible to intrusive thoughts.