How to chill out, in a week?
October 19, 2011 11:35 AM   Subscribe

I have a week off, during which I'd like to develop habits that will help me with anxiety and stress, both short and long-term.

I'm in a transition (just left my home of 6 years, am spending a week visiting my parents, and then move to a new city with a new job) that is stressful, but I'm responding to it like it's the end of the world. There are a few stressful points pertaining to money, but it's overall a really good situation to be in and the culmination of many months of work. However, I'm in a cloud of anxiety and have anxiety issues in general that are exacerbated by the transition, which leads to innocuous events taking on extreme importance (e.g. I knew there was stopped traffic a few hours ahead on a long drive, and I spent the three hours preceding that stopped traffic stressed out and obsessively imagining myself having a panic attack when stuck in traffic. The attack didn't happen, because I have panic coping skills, but those skills did not help with the anxious three hours leading up to the situation).

I'm at home with my parents right now, spending a week visiting. This basically means I have no plans and no obligations for a week, and I'd like to devote as much time as possible to beating back anxiety, both for this week and for the long-term. I know that beating anxiety is a process, and I have a therapist I'll be seeing regularly in New City, but I'd like to spend my time here productively and leave my parents' with a stronger sense of peace. I've read a lot of very helpful AskMes that had similar issues, but not the availability and time constraints I'm looking at. Recommendations for anything are welcome, especially if you have links to programs or other time-structured guidelines; I can spend up to 40 hours just working on this, but I can't really expend money. So:

What would you recommend I do, in a week, to calm my anxiety and start my new life off in a healthy way?

Thank you!
posted by c'mon sea legs to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Do all the anxiety things: exercise, proper diet, watch the stimulants (coffee), get enough sleep, get a hobby. Take up mediatation.
posted by PickeringPete at 11:55 AM on October 19, 2011

Search on Jon Kabat-Zinn and/ or mindfulness meditation. Or, try a mantra ("Om", "One", etc.) for 20 mins. twice per day.
posted by PickeringPete at 11:59 AM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

I would do the following:

Practice a morning routine that feels centering to you that you can do every morning in New City.
Practice a bedtime routine in the same way.
Plan/commit to waking up and going to bed at the same time in New City.
Accept that one week is not enough time to do much but relax - take the pressure off of yourself to MAKE SOMETHING out of this week - that's an anxiety/stressor right there!

In other words, practice existing, guilt free - relaxation is a part of it.

In all of the things that I've tried to reduce anxiety, having a morning and evening routine have done the absolute best for keeping me centered. At some point I realized - I already HAVE a morning and evening routine, they're just not optimized to keep me calm and centered. Sitting down and thinking about it a bit, then committing to it, practicing it and modifying it has made a HUGE difference in my life, and when I fall off the wagon, I pay the price -- by feeling stressed and scattered.

Knowing what world I am going to be waking up into, and what world I am going to sleep in is a huge sanity saver. And you can actually do this in a week.
posted by pazazygeek at 12:18 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Get outside and do something active as often as possible.
posted by desjardins at 12:32 PM on October 19, 2011

Exercise worked for me.

I picked up cycling at a stressful time in my life and it helped me 'settle my mind down' and reduce my anxiety.

Last year I started running as well, and it also helps relax me and keep things in perspective.

The only other thing I would recommend is a personal phrase that you can repeat in your head when you feel stressed out. My phrase is 'K.I.T. - Keep It Together' (from Bowfinger ;) ) Simply repeating it will take my mind out of the moment and help center my thoughts. Sounds strange, but it worked for me.

Good luck to you!
posted by Argyle at 1:21 PM on October 19, 2011

Here are some things that I do regularly that really help (when I actually do them):

At night:
Make a to do list for the next day
Check my calendar and the weather and pick out my clothes for the next day
Write down 1-5 good things that happened that day, or things I'm grateful for (even if I wrote them down already yesterday)
Pack my bag for the next day
Make sure there are no dishes in the sink.

For your forty hours - for me I think what would help the most is to just walk and walk and walk and walk. For some reason I find that a really good way to be both connected and disconnected at the same time, in a way that leaves me feeling better than how I started. I tend to have to give myself places to walk to. If your parents are out in the suburbs, that shouldn't be hard - walk to where you would normally drive and that should pretty much take you all day!
posted by Salamandrous at 1:49 PM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

Seconding meditation twice a day, as well as a morning routine. I've found both of these things really helpful.

And walking is great too!!
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 2:16 PM on October 19, 2011

« Older Readability for PDFs?   |   Binoculars for a budding birdwatcher Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.