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what are some good and healthy distractions from my anxiety when it gets really bad?

304 Answers
Last Updated: 06/26/2020 at 12:10pm
what are some good and healthy distractions from my anxiety when it gets really bad?
1 Tip to Feel Better
Moderated by

Paola Giordani, Psychoanalyst

Licensed Psychoanalyst

I have helped and am helping people cope with loss, divorce, anguish and parenting. Depression is also a major issue that comes up.

Top Rated Answers
May 9th, 2016 12:17am
I used to struggle with anxiety and panic attacks myself and found it extremely helpful to do some grounding exercises. For example, when you are feeling really anxious, instead of gearing yourself up further in your own mind, focus on external stimuli around you to "anchor" yourself in reality. Focus on the taste of your coffee, the smells of your newly washed t-shirt, the feeling of your smooth cellphone screen, the sounds of the people around you on the street or in the office, etc. Go through all 5 senses and really ground yourself in the present moment. Focus hard on details. It is both a distraction technique and a grounding technique! I also found it helpful to count backwards from 200 in 3s...or something really challenging for my brain. Deep, belly breaths are best, even if they feel forced or awkward initially because you are so tense from anxiety. Lastly, another odd one I still use time to time is "giving in" to the feeling of anxiety. It can be helpful sometimes to accept that you are feeling anxious, tell yourself that this is not the first time, and that it always passes! Always! Then feed into the feelings. Try to make yourself feel as anxious/nervous as possible. Really try to get more butterflies in your stomach, or tense your muscles. Then just let it all go at once. Sometimes, the more we "try" to mimic being anxious, the more it fades away! :)
December 10th, 2014 12:25am
Listening to music..going out for a walk..writing down your emotions in a diary. Watching a movie to distract your mind
September 28th, 2016 3:21pm
Dear friend, Feeling anxious is a very common thing, however there are those who experience it in a stronger level. Here at 7Cups we have some great mindfulness exercises, why don't you givem them a try? Here's the link: If you feel like it, let me know later. I would love to here from you again.
December 9th, 2014 7:57pm
When I find anxiety is starting to take over, I read, watch TV or talk to a good friend. Other ways of coping I find useful are breathing exercises. Breathe in through your nose for 7 seconds then out through your mouth for 11 seconds and repeat a few times and you might feel a little better.
December 14th, 2014 3:00am
I advice googling Grounding Techniques, because there are far more than I can list here. But, what I do is: Breath deeply a few times; repeat a reassuring phrase or quote to myself; count up and down from 100-0-100 repetitively; look around the room and label what I see; listen quietly and notice everything I can hear as far away as i can hear too; touch something and really notice it's texture; go for a walk; journal about your anxiety and THEN fill at least one page with something positive... these are just my favorite options. Come up with a list of 3-5 things to try and keep it close for when you are anxious. Update the list as you find out what works and what doesnt.
December 2nd, 2016 10:36pm
I think it depends on the type of person you are. For me, I was able to identify that I am an introvert. I gain energy from being alone. When I find I need a distraction from anxiety, while some people flock to friends or family, I find that I need to be alone. I take a long shower, or go on a long drive, or simply shut off my phone and sit alone. Once I know that I am safe, alone, and there are no expectations for me other than my own, I find I am better able to either work through what is making me anxious, or move on to something new.
April 12th, 2015 6:43pm
When my anxiety gets bad I like to play puzzles, they help distract me because I start to focus on solving the puzzle
December 8th, 2015 4:49pm
Wouldn't it be great if we could just put our anxiety in a box to deal with it when it's too overwhelming? Unfortunately, emotions don't quite work that way. The only way to get through emotions is to face them. However, you can do things to calm your physiological (or your body's) response to anxiety. Deep breathing (breathe into a permeable paper bag if you are hyper ventilating), progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, or other contemplative practices can calm your body and let you deal with the anxiety. Don't forget: anxiety is like a 3 alarm fire so your judgment may be clouded with smoke when you are anxious, try to calm your body before making decisions.
October 2nd, 2016 4:52pm
I've suffered from anxiety for many years and I see a professional therapist who helps me through it. Some tips in the middle of an anxiety attack are to close your eyes, and find a single happy place. Singing works for me too. Breathing and counting in and out 8-10 times slowly, drawing, writing, or performing any mentally engaging and relaxing activity can help reduce your anxiety loads.
December 10th, 2014 7:52pm
Exercise, calling a friend or family member and asking them how they are doing, partaking in an artistic activity (writing, an art project, etc), listening to some calming music, watching television or a movie, reading a book.
May 1st, 2015 2:03pm
What calmes me down when my anxiety becomes bad is reading books or listening to music. Books are our best friends. They can help us feel less alone and with a good book we can get into a whole new world where our anxiety becomes so small we can blow it away from our sholder. The music is also a good thing to stop anxiety and panic attacks especially if you like classical music like Mozart or Beethoven.
May 1st, 2015 5:12pm
Mmm... a good and healthy distractions? I think listing what makes you feel anxious or by doing something about it. Like talking to here to 7 cups of tea or just by listening to the people who are feeling the same atleast in this you can compare your anxiety level to other people who are experiecing the same. But as practical can be reading a book or having a conversation to your closest relative or friends and if you don't have have talk to yourself. If it still makes you feel anxious ask why your feeling that way. Helping yourself is more important afterall you know yourself better than some strangers.
September 26th, 2016 6:57pm
During the day my friends will tell me jokes, when I get bad I remember those jokes and that really helps me. You could try that.
September 26th, 2016 8:31pm
Distracting yourself can be a bad thing. Sometimes we need to acknowledge our emotions and listen to ourselves. Ask yourself, "Why am I upset?" Go into detail in your answer. Really listen and pay attention to what you are telling yourself. If you were someone else, listening to your story, what would your advice be? Always remember to be kind and gentle with yourself. Distracting yourself or avoiding your emotions are unhealthy. A lot of times, listening to yourself and feeling your emotions in an understanding and acknowledging way can be what you need to start the healing process. You wouldn't want to be ignored or be told, "That is no reason to be upset," or "That isn't a big deal" by someone, now would you? Don't do that to yourself. Treat yourself to something you love to do that is healthy. Make that a habit. You are important and you matter. Always remember that, and NEVER GIVE UP
November 23rd, 2016 4:06am
Well whenever I had anxiety attacks right before I would have it I would have some sort of pressure on me so I would use it usually squeeze like a rubber ball or I actually would have like a pack of TicTac's and I will just pop one in my mouth and just leave it there and just focus on whatever I was doing .
December 2nd, 2016 11:42pm
I have found afew distractions that really help me one as to carry a stress ball in my pocket and inhale whole squeezing stress ball and exhale while slowly letting go of the stress ball it help calm you down I have also found carrying a object around with me like a water bottle helped it works like a Comfort blanket
June 30th, 2017 6:02am
Going for a walk, or any kind of gentle exercise (yoga, slow bike ride). Listening to soothing music. Making art with your hands (finger painting, sculpting, collaging). Reading a good book with a positive message. Looking at pictures of cute dogs. Watching videos of cute dogs. Honestly, anything involving dogs or animals in general could help. Or trying to focus only on your breathing, and not thinking about anything at all. Anything that helps relax your body and mind will help you when your anxiety gets bad.
December 10th, 2014 6:11am
Abdominal breathing, taking a warm bath, reading a book, talking to and/or getting hugs from a loved one, petting a dog/cat/bunny rabbit, working in a garden or going for a walk or run are all good ways to distract yourself from your fears and worries.
April 9th, 2015 5:25am
Healthy distractions for me include playing video games, calling my boyfriend or playing with either my dog or my two rats. Another helpful distraction is helping others. I get a lot of joy from working with others to sort through their issues and in the end it helps me with my problems too.
September 14th, 2015 2:02am
I find that music, or any sort of hobby that you enjoy tends to help get your mind off of the anxiety. Also focusing your mind on anything else (which is where the hobby can come in at time) will usually help get rid of the anxiety, or lessen it
October 27th, 2015 1:06am
A good distraction is getting a stress ball or silly putty and having it close to you when needed most. And if alone, try doing some meditation.
May 9th, 2016 2:25am
You can do whatever you like best. Read a book, take a walk, go for a swim. Anything that interests you is ok.
September 14th, 2016 4:31pm
I have a worry stone that I can rub when I get anxious. Otherwise I tap my foot or listen to music. I have a necklace with a small little pendant that I hold too
September 21st, 2016 12:33pm
I go outside and feel the sun. I practice mindfulness and remind myself this feeling will pass. I don't feed the fears!
September 29th, 2016 5:22am
One thing I've found helps A LOT with my anxiety is taking walks. Listening to music and just walking around your neighborhood or maybe a nearby park has been proven to work just as well as an anti-depressant for people with depression and anxiety. It helps me clear my all the negative thoughts in my head and I always feel so refreshed afterwards. I was so sick of taking meds to help with my anxiety, and I remember clearly one day deciding to take a little walk out in the rain. I've been taking two walks a day ever since, for three years straight. I know exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do when feeling anxious, but give it a try, you may find the results satisfying!
October 30th, 2016 9:48pm
For me, things that stimulate me and require my full attention are the key. Watching TV or playing video games usually doesn't cut it because those thoughts can still creep in while I'm passively consuming what's on the screen - I need to be actively engaged. Things like writing, drawing, playing an instrument, or reading a thought-provoking book have always been useful to me. I suggest you try doing something along those lines and maybe it'll work for you too :)
November 5th, 2016 6:00pm
You could read a nice book if you like reading, to try and immerse yourself in another world. Or you could watch some videos on YouTube, maybe some challange or some "satisfying" videos.
May 13th, 2017 10:30pm
There are a couple of things that help me when my anxiety gets really troublesome "Grounding" myself, by finding five things that I can Smell, Hear, Taste, Touch and Smell. Focusing on each of my senses individually helps me regain control over myself and my feelings. Taking some time out. Be it reading, or going for a warm bath, I think having some "me" time to just do what I like helps me alot. And last, but not least - Talking to people. Sometimes I just need to vent my frustrations, or get a second opinion and some advice on whats making me feel bad.
July 16th, 2017 7:19am
Try closing your eyes and breathing. Deep breaths in, deep breaths out. I usually channel my anxiety into art; I doodle or sketch or paint. You could try taking a walk. Another thing that really helps is keeping a journal of gratitude. Just take a moment out of your schedule everyday before going to bed and note down one thing you are thankful for. Reading this during a dip can really be a booster.
August 3rd, 2017 3:56am
Imagine a peaceful, relaxing scene like a beach, comeplete with sounds and extreme details. I always imagine myself walking down a gravel road in autumn while it rains, imagining a scene with extreme detail, making sure to imagine how it feels, what the mood is, etc.